For once, Phil Rogers has written something that does not make me want to throw up.
I approached this subject with Dave Duncan and am ready to do so with Ryne Sandberg.
I've never been a fan of former star players becoming coaches and managers -- mostly because it rarely works out. But Ryno seems to be different. He holds several intangibles that make me think he might be the perfect successor once Lou Piniella hangs up his managerial thinking cap.
And here's why.
He knows the youngsters
Stops at A-ball and AA have given Sandberg a glimpse of what is coming down the pipeline for the North Side Nine. When the contracts of Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster expire, there might not be anyone in the organization equipped with more knowledge than the guy who once managed the players who are scheduled to get the call to the big club in the near future.
He's paying his dues
A lot can be said for someone who is willing to live like a scrub because he loves the game. It would be easy for Sandberg to travel via a separate car or charter flights, but Sandberg has yet to give in to his mega-star status. Could you imagine Michael Jordan in a vehicle that amounts to being a small upgrade to a school bus traveling with guys who combined still wouldn't hold one-tenth of the talent Jordan had in his weakest moments.
Well, that's what the Hall of Fame second baseman is going through right now.
A breath of fresh air
When the Cubs wore thin on Dusty Baker's act, Lou Piniella was brought in to shuffle some things around and ruffle some feathers. The Cubs were introduced to the concept of taking pitches, on-base percentage and not allowing players such as Cesar Izturis play everyday.
Now, it's Piniella's act that seems to be wearing out its welcome in Chicago. And unlike Sweet Uncle Lou, Sandberg will never confuse the North and South sides of Chicago. Nor will he ever refer to the "ivory" in right field. But hopefully, he will oversee a team that will have fans singing "Go Cubs, Win" deep into October for many years to come.