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Doug Glanville On Jimmy Rollins And Ryne Sandberg

The always-thoughtful former Cub on the Rollins/Ryno tiff and its lessons.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Ryne Sandberg hasn't yet managed the Phillies on Opening Day, but there's already controversy in Phillies camp regarding shortstop Jimmy Rollins, as noted by's Doug Glanville:

This week, Sandberg, the Phillies' manager, held Rollins out of the lineup. Rollins appeared caught off guard, expecting to be penciled in the lineup even in spring training. The idea of losing his job in March probably never crossed his mind, especially given a career that includes an MVP trophy, three All-Star appearances and a World Series ring.

This apparently has been discussed between the two men and solved, but Glanville has particular insights on what the two men might be thinking, since he was both a teammate of Sandberg (in 1996 and 1997 with the Cubs) and Rollins (2000-02 and 2004 with the Phillies). Of Sandberg, Glanville writes:

Every time Sandberg did say something, it was witty and disarming. He would slip in a question in Spanish when you didn't even know he knew Spanish. In one game, I led off and had a good game against the Expos and Carlos Perez. I kept getting on base, and Sandberg kept driving me in. So, he pulled me aside and said "That a way, Glan, you get on, and I'll bust him!" I was just happy he knew my name and even happier he had given me a nickname. I didn't see it coming.

Even more important in Glanville's article, I believe, is this:

Sandberg was told in the minor leagues that he needed to show more passion, to break his helmet once in a while. So one day he did just that, and he realized that he accomplished two things: He showed he could break a helmet, and he destroyed the one helmet he had for the season -- none of which led him to believe he was suddenly better equipped to beat the pitcher on the mound. Passion has nothing to do with anger.

This is, I believe, correct. We have often talked here about "passion" and "fire" and how the Cubs could use more of it. But Glanville is right when he says "passion has nothing to do with anger." Think about what you remember seeing of Ryne Sandberg on the field. Did you ever see him lose his temper? Did you ever see him yell at an umpire, an opponent, his manager, his teammates? I don't. I don't specifically recall him ever been ejected from a game as a player. Yet it was absolutely clear to me that he played the game with passion. It showed in his actions, not his mouth.

True, Sandberg was ejected from several games while managing in the Cubs' system, and you might recall being surprised seeing video like this from Sandberg's time managing the Iowa Cubs (see him start getting angry about 40 seconds in). I think that was all part of the learning process for him as a manager. You didn't see that in the Rollins kerfuffle this week; it was, from all accounts, handled professionally.

Glanville draws this conclusion:

One of the toughest adjustments to major league life is learning that everyone who has made it to the show earned the right to be there in his own way. In baseball, many different personalities can work in the same space, and, throughout a given season, each personality style will reveal its advantages and its disadvantages. Bad losing stretch? You need that patient statesman or that fire-you-up guy. Big game? Maybe you need that egomaniacal star or that cool-as-ice player.

That's the summation of the life of a big-league manager in modern baseball. The best of them learn how to manage all those different personalities into a coherent whole that can go about the business of winning baseball games.

This article isn't intended to be a lament about Ryne Sandberg not being Cubs manager; that ship sailed long ago. I simply thought it would be worth looking at and discussing, as a detailed view of inside baseball written by a man who's been there.