The Cubs have already righted one of their wrongs by letting Jim Hendry go, but they need to go further than that. And repairing the damage done to their relationship with Ryne Sandberg is the next step they need to take.
Sandberg was a great player, no question about it. From the first game I ever went to in 1987 (and for years before that, even), until he retired for good in 1997, he was a fixture in the middle of the infield. He won in an age when the Cubs didn’t know how to win. There’s certainly something to be said for that.
And there’s even more to be said about what he’s done since he retired from playing. He’s made his money, and could be forgiven if he spent his days on the golf course or buying an island or whatever it is that athletes do when they retire. Instead, he went back to the lowest rungs on the minor league food chain and paid his dues, riding around on buses and playing nursemaid to teenagers with big league ambitions and/or big league talent.
And he’s won wherever he’s been. He hasn’t won World Series titles like LaRussa or Francona or Girardi, but he hasn’t yet been in that position, either. I saw him manage–while coaching third base at the same time–in a single-A game at Wrigley Field in 2008. He wanted to manage then, and he surely wants to manage now. I think he’s earned a shot to manage at the big league level.
I know that the General Manager search hasn’t been resolved yet, and hiring Sandberg might conflict with whoever wants to bring “his guy” in as manager. But I’m going to suggest that whoever does take the GM position should be able to work with a Hall of Famer and a proven competitor in the dugout.
It’s often said that whoever does finally win here in Chicago will be remembered forever, not that it automatically confers any job security (have fun in Florida, Ozzie Guillen). I want to see Sandberg scratch his championship itch with the Cubs, and he’ll probably get the kind of slack from the fans (at least from me) that would have never been afforded to Mike Quade.
Sandberg is employed by the Phillies organization, and they are still in the playoffs for another two weeks or more. I could understand it if the Sandberg issue were tabled on their end until the season ends. But I also think that it made sense to hire him last year, and it will still make sense to hire him now for next season Go ahead and take the plunge, you Cubs powers that be.