The Cubs’ new front office team of Epstein & Hoyer has completed the initial phase of their managerial search having formally interviewed four candidates (Pete Mackanin, Dale Sveum, Mike Maddux and Sandy Alomar, Jr.) with a fifth candidate (Gummo?), ex-Red Sox manager, Terry Francona, also in the running for the job to replace Mike Quade.
The interview process was reputedly lengthy and challenging, each candidate made to watch tapes of 2011 Cubs games (which in and by itself, may be violating the Geneva Convention!) and asked how he would manage a given situation during the game. Apparently, none of the candidates fled the room screaming or else that man most assuredly would have been judged the sanest of them all and immediately hired.
Each candidate was also made to host his own press conference afterwards and answer questions from the Chicago media. According to published accounts, Maddux had the best sense of humor among the four which would probably make him the Groucho of these four would-be Marx Brothers. Add to that, he already possesses a distinctive moustache, so there is no need to dab on one of greasepaint for the role.
Maddux also possesses a famous surname in Cubs’ legend, his brother Greg having begun his presumed to be Hall of Fame career in Chicago before thinking better of it and signing with the Atlanta Braves for the best years of his life. The more dreamy-eyed speculation has Mike and Greg forming a brother act to run the 2012 Cubs, despite the fact that Greg’s post playing career as assistant to former general manager Jim Hendry might only qualify him for working across the street from Wrigley Field, either at McDonalds or Dunkin’ Donuts.
Alomar also has significant baseball lineage in his family with his brother already enshrined in Cooperstown. However, there has been no rumor of bringing Robbie and Sandy, Sr. into the Cubs’ fold for the purpose of some as yet unrealized family dynasty. Mackanin’s father met my own father during the 1970’s when each man worked in the construction industry in Chicago, but no one has suggested Pete and I team up to run the Cubs next year either.
Sveum actually had the proverbial cup of coffee in succeeding the fired Ned Yost as Milwaukee manager toward the end of the Brewers’ 2008 season and promptly spilled that coffee in his lap during the playoffs, resulting in his termination before 2009. Yet, he was kept as a Brewers’ coach which proves that the only thing Sveum and shame share is two words that rhyme.
Francona endured his own personal hell in September watching his Red Sox, whom he had managed to a pair of World Series titles under Epstein’s front office leadership, fall from grace and the AL East standings like Wile E. Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon. Baseball numbers crunchers have deduced that the Red Sox 5-20 finish to last season was the single worst collapse by any team in MLB history. And Mssrs. Epstein and Hoyer are both high priests of all things statistically baseball having nothing more than perhaps a skinned knee in childhood to suggest they ever played the game themselves.
Current Tampa Bay manager, Joe Maddon, he of the most fashionable eyewear in baseball since the invention of flip-down sunglasses, is rumored to be available if the pursuer can meet the price of extricating him from the last year of his current contract. The Cubs already owe the Red Sox for Epstein in the as yet to be determined compensation package, now in its second full month of deliberations. If it goes on any longer, not only will MLB Commissioner Bud Selig have to intervene, but it may eventually include Congress, the GOP presidential candidates and whoever is left running Penn State University to the bureaucratic madness.
In all likelihood, the next Cubs manager will be appropriately push-button and non-descript for the future is Theo Epstein. He is the new, handsome young leading Mad Man – Don Draper come to Wrigleyville wowing us all with his smart charisma and selling us the new brand for 2012 and beyond. As if 103 years and counting wasn’t far beyond enough.