Sandberg's drive for manager surprises Dawson

Sandberg's drive for manager surprises Dawson
August 31, 2010, 1:00 am
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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.