I'd usually put something like this in the game preview, but this is a significant event in Cubs history -- yes, it is -- and so I'm posting this item about Ryne Sandberg's first game as a major-league manager in Wrigley Field separate from the preview, which will be coming along at 11:30 a.m. CT.
How do I know this is a significant event? Because the Cubs themselves have been running both radio and television ads this week promoting Sandberg's appearance as a reason to buy tickets. That says quite a number of things, including the thought that there's a huge chasm between the marketing/business side of the team and the baseball operations side of the team.
The baseball side -- two different executives, in fact -- decided, for better or worse, that they didn't want Sandberg managing the Cubs. But the business side replies, "Look! He's managing! Come see him!"
Only time will tell whether Sandberg will be a good major-league manager; the 2013 Phillies are kind of a mess and he's managing the last quarter of a lost season for them. So far, he's managed 14 games and has an 8-6 record. That's not enough to tell us anything.
My position on this is well known; I wanted Sandberg named manager in 2011, when the job went to Mike Quade, and in 2012, when new front-office management gave the position to Dale Sveum. At some point, I'd still love to see Sandberg managing the Chicago Cubs. I think it's a good fit because of his career here, and the fact that he went back to the bottom rung to learn managing, did an excellent job that was highly praised by almost everyone (have a look, for example, at this article quoting James Russell on how much Sandberg helped Russell as his manager at Double-A Tennessee in 2009), and now has major-league coaching and managing experience.
Sandberg will, obviously, be greeted with a standing ovation, whether it's just for bringing out the lineup card (I don't know if he does that for the Phillies or if one of his coaches does), or for making a pitching change (Cubs fans should cheer that, because it will mean a Phillies pitcher is in trouble). That will be well-deserved. Keep in mind that there will be people attending the games Saturday and Sunday who weren't there Friday, so the ovations might go on all weekend.
As you know, the Cubs have put baseball-card photos on every season ticket this year. It would have been beyond weird if Sandberg had appeared on today's ticket. He doesn't, but have a look at tomorrow's:
The season tickets for this weekend's games feature the three players involved in the deal that brought Sandberg to Chicago -- Ivan DeJesus today, Larry Bowa Sunday.
I could have titled this "Welcome Home, Ryno", because Wrigley really is his home; even his one hit in a Phillies uniform was at Wrigley. I'll save that title for the day, if it happens, that Sandberg is named Cubs manager.
I hope the Cubs win these three games, but other than that, I wish Sandberg well in his managing career, wherever he ends up. No modern Hall of Famer -- that is, anyone whose career began after 1970 -- has done what Sandberg has done in becoming a manager. For that, he deserves kudos from all of us.