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I have not vanished -- been busy today getting my phone and internet service switched over to Comcast -- and have just now had time to sit down and read over some off-day online articles.

Found this long, detailed article about Ryne Sandberg and how he has really changed since his playing days, when he had a reputation for being quiet, according to his teammate Rick Sutcliffe:

To Sutcliffe, the change has been staggering. Besides all those quiet rides to the ballpark with his teammates, Sutcliffe remembers the day Sandberg came to his home to visit the pitcher after his shoulder surgery. He barely spoke.

"I knew he was there to see me, but he couldn't tell me that," Sutcliffe says. "He had a hard time communicating."

Sutcliffe first noticed the change a few years ago, when Cubs President John McDonough asked Sandberg and him to speak for 20 minutes at a Cubs function.

"I laughed out loud," Sutcliffe remembers, "figuring if we were supposed to speak 20 minutes, 19-and-a-half would be me. But then he got up there and just wouldn't stop. And I sat in awe. He was funny, entertaining. It was perfect.

"He's like a different person. His whole personality, everything has really come out. I don't think he could possibly be any happier. And I couldn't be happier for him."

There's more, including quite a bit about his managing tenure so far at Peoria (he's been tossed a Piniellaesque four times already). Worthwhile reading on a cloudy, coolish Thursday afternoon (69 degrees outside my window in Chicago).