Sandberg's drive for manager surprises Dawson

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Sandberg's drive for manager surprises Dawson

Monday, Aug. 30, 2010
9:45 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

The brand is so powerful that Andre Dawson has been recognized by Cubs fans in Japan and Hong Kong. Around the world, people are wondering who their next manager will be.

Thats part of what makes the job so attractive. Every candidate dreams about running from the top step of the dugout to the pile of players celebrating on the infield grass. He will be remembered forever as the manager who guided the Cubs to their first World Series title in more than a century.

The front office is trying to define what sort of leader that man should be. Ryne Sandberg has shown that hes willing to ride buses, eat peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and break a sweat throwing batting practice.

With a search that could last into November, fans and reporters alike are curious for any detail. Sandberg played with Dawson for six seasons and lobbied for him to get into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Im still kind of amazed that he wants to do it at this level, Dawson said Monday. Its different at the minor-league level when youre doing more evaluating. Youre working with the kids and youre trying to get them to the next level.

Here its just egos, attitude, business and youre under the microscope a little bit more. Ryno (was) a little bit more laid-back, quiet. Maybe theres a different animal now thats trying to surface.

Last month, Dawson joined Sandberg in Cooperstown, N.Y., and for that induction, he was honored during a pregame ceremony at Wrigley Field, which was largely empty on Monday night when The Hawk walked in from the right-field gate.

The fans in the bleachers once poured beer on Dawson when he played for the Montreal Expos, but he again credited them for the second act of his career. His knees ravaged after 11 seasons of playing on the artificial turf at Olympic Stadium, he needed to play on natural grass.

Insulted when the Expos asked him to take a 200,000 pay cut, he offered a blank contract to the Cubs and Atlanta Braves. He doesnt know how long he would have lasted in baseball without the surge of energy he experienced playing in Chicago. His numbers 438 home runs, 2,774 hits, eight Gold Gloves, eight All-Star appearances would almost certainly look different.

It might take the Cubs telling Joe Girardi to draw up his own contract to lure him out of New York and the empire the Yankees have built.

Sandberg took a risk when he decided to leave his comfortable post-playing existence and start out managing at Class-A Peoria in 2007 before working his way up the organizational ladder to Triple-A Iowa.

Youd never know (hes a Hall of Famer), Iowa outfielder Sam Fuld said. He doesnt just rest on his laurels. If you saw his work ethic, youd think he was a guy who never played above A-ball.

Mike Quades high point as a professional player came at Double-A Buffalo in 1981, and on Monday night, the Mount Prospect native managed his first game at Wrigley Field. Even as a third-base coach, Quade always tried to take a moment each day to look at the rooftops and all the scenery and appreciate his surroundings.

That the Cubs chose Quade when Lou Piniella decided to step down last week does not necessarily signal a lack of faith in Sandberg. Iowa is trying to make a playoff push, and imagine the media circus if a Cubs legend just showed up in the clubhouse one afternoon.

How will Quades record after this 37-game audition be judged?

I hope that the overall picture is taken into account, Quade said. Im sure wins and losses will be a part of it. To what extent? Thats for the people that are evaluating me to (decide).

Ironically, Quade used to have Sandbergs job in Iowa, and he is wearing No. 8, just like Dawson did during his MVP season in 1987. Dawson thinks Sandberg can handle this, but knows that he wont be viewed the same if he becomes the 52nd Cubs manager in franchise history.

There are going to be certain expectations, Dawson said. Its a tough situation to put yourself in because youre used to success. Youre used to being put on a pedestal. (With) your accomplishments, your achievements, theres always been a lot of hype.

Now youre in a different situation where (youre) trying to get players to perform at a certain level. (And) if you cant do that, youll know right away whether youre cut out for it.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Today on CSN: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs face Reds

Today on CSN: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs face Reds

The Cubs face off against the Cincinnati Reds today, and you can catch all the cation on CSN. Coverage begins at 3 p.m.

Starting pitching matchup: Kyle Hendricks vs. Robert Stephenson

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Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes

World Series thank-yous follow Kris Bryant to Las Vegas

World Series thank-yous follow Kris Bryant to Las Vegas

MESA, Ariz. – Kris Bryant didn’t need to pose for a Crate & Barrel billboard in Wrigleyville or walk a goat around a Bed Bath & Beyond commercial shoot. Cub fans just kept sending him free stuff.

The wedding gifts actually shipped to his parents’ house in Las Vegas, where he honed the swing that landed him on a new Sports Illustrated cover that asked: “How Perfect is Kris Bryant?”   

This happens when you mention your registries on a late-night show with another Vegas guy (Jimmy Kimmel) after leading an iconic franchise to its first World Series title in 108 years.        

So Bryant will be the center of attention in Sin City this weekend when the Cubs play two split-squad games against the Cincinnati Reds. But that spotlight will pretty much follow the National League’s reigning MVP wherever he goes. 

At least this gives Bryant a chance to chill at the pool and organize the house he moved into in January. 

“My mom just kept throwing stuff in my car: ‘Here, take it!’” Bryant said. “Opening all those boxes, I can’t believe how many presents we got from fans. It was unbelievable. Jess is going to have to write all the thank-you notes. I’m just signing my name on them. You have literally like 700 thank-you notes to write.

“I said: ‘You need to just go get the generic thank-you.’ She’s like: ‘No, they took the time out of their day to buy us a present.’ This is going to take her the whole year. So if there’s anybody out there that’s waiting for one…”    

The wait is finally over for generations of Cub fans. Spring training will always have a “Groundhog Day” element to it. But this camp – with no major injuries so far or real roster intrigue or truly wacky stunts – has felt different. As the players get ready for a new season – one without 1908 looming over everything – they can’t escape what they did. 

“Every day something reminds me of it,” said Kyle Hendricks, who will start Saturday in Las Vegas. “Even going to throw in these spring games, when they announce your name and the whole crowd erupts because of the World Series. That wasn’t happening last year. 

“Little things like that make me notice. Something every day is brought to my attention, so it’s still getting used to that part.”  

The Cubs insist there won’t be a hangover effect in 2017, believing that this young group is too talented and too focused to get derailed by distractions and overconfidence. But the Cubs could go 0-162 this season and Bryant would still probably be breaking down boxes for recycling.   

“It’s funny,” Bryant said. “We just put cameras on my house for security and I’ll just look at it sometimes. I’ll randomly see my mom just unloading boxes. I’m like: ‘Mom, what’s going on? Are we getting more stuff?’ She’s like: ‘Yeah, we keep getting more boxes.’”