Over the weekend the Philadelphia Phillies parted ways with long time manager Charlie Manuel. Longtime Chicago Cub fan favorite Ryne Sandberg was named as the interim manager of the Fighting Phils. After years in the minors, as well as third base coach for the Phillies, Sandberg will finally get his chance to audition for a managerial chair in the big leagues.
Ryno was originally drafted by the Phillies and later traded to the Cubs where he made a name for himself and built a Hall of Fame resume. Sandberg became a perennial All-Star, Gold Glove winner, and MVP for the Chicago Cubs. He is arguably the best second baseman in history at his position, and in 2005 was inducted into the Hall of Fame with one of the best speeches in recent memory.
After his playing career, Sandberg ventured into the managerial ranks and became the manager of the Cubs Class-A Peoria Chiefs in 2006. Around Chicago, it was a not so secret rumor that Ryne was grooming himself to one day lead the Cubs at the corner of Clark and Addison.
In his first season as manager, he took the Chiefs to the Midwest League Championship Game. After two seasons, he was promoted to Class Double-A Tennessee and the following year was promoted again to Class Triple-A Iowa. In 2010, he was named Manager of the Year in the Pacific Coast League and in turn making the rumor mill grow louder on the North Side.
Following the 2010 season, Sandberg was a strong candidate to replace Lou Piniella as Cubs manager. It was viewed as Ryno’s job to lose and it would create a perfect storm for fans to have a manger they would adore and love, even if the team’s record was subpar. Eventually the job was given to Mike Quade, a not so popular choice.
After the decision, Sandberg headed back to the minors to manage another season, only this time it was for the Phillies top affiliate. Once again, Sandberg turned out another winner, leading the squad to their first ever playoff appearance, the International League Championship series, and being named 2011 Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America.
During the 2011 off-season, the Cubs again had another vacancy at the manager position. Sandberg’s name resurfaced again but not quite with the same buzz. The job was eventually given to current skipper Dale Sveum. Sandberg stayed in the Phillies organization and was named third base coach for the big league team.
Ryne held that position until this weekend where he now was named interim manager of the club. However, he did receive a not so good welcome has his first games were against the hottest team in the league, the LA Dodgers and ace pitchers Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. It took the Phillies three games before they could score a run for their new manager.
It will be interesting to see how Sandberg fairs for the remainder of the season and what his fate will be during the off-season. Will he be granted the full time role by the Phillies, or will another team try to snag him away? One thing is for certain, Sandberg has the pedigree, and he has developed a style that wins. His resume boasts that greatly.
As for Chicago Cub purists, how do they feel? The general consensus is that Sandberg fans are happy that Ryno finally got his shot, although it is not wearing Cubbie blue. Sandberg #23 jerseys and t-shirts are still widely popular at the friendly confines. Sandberg’s jersey is retired by the Cubs and if you are curious to see what a true reaction will be of Cub fans, the Phillies come into town for a weekend series August 30-September 1.