So what now for Ryne Sandberg?
"That's a good question, Sandberg said Tuesday morning after learning he finished runner-up to Mike Quade. "I haven't had time to think about that yet.
Sandberg had hoped to be the one with the news conference Tuesday afternoon, but in reality Quade secured the job as far back as mid-September.
Quade was a favorite of GM Jim Hendry and assistant GM Randy Bush a college teammate of Quade's and Sandberg had little chance to bridge that gap once Quade was named interim boss on Aug. 22.
But Sandberg worked the process as best he could, trying to sell himself to Hendry and owner Tom Ricketts, and now he's left wondering about his future.
There's no chance he'd return to Iowa (AAA), so his focus remains on finding a big-league job.
"It's hard for me to answer questions I haven't thought about, Sandberg said. "I was thinking about what I had to do to get the Cubs' job. Now I move on and think about what else might be out there for me.
What Sandberg probably realizes now is that he never had a legit shot at the Cubs' managerial job, though he refrained from stating any such opinion.
"I've been in baseball my whole life, so I understand there's a lot in baseball that is out of your control, and you have to focus on the things you can control, said the 51-year-old Sandberg. "I feel like I did all I could do, and I can live with that.
"I hadn't thought about what's next, but now I am. I'm still looking for an opportunity to get back to the major leagues, preferably managing.
"I'm optimistic about the future. I was optimistic about the Cubs job. I wasn't thinking, 'What if there's no other job out there for me? What if I don't find a managing job or coaching job?' My mind doesn't work that way.
"I was focused on doing my job well and developing players, and then the last few weeks have been about this job. Now, I move on.
Sandberg said he isn't at all sorry he got back into baseball and spent the last four years in the Cubs' minor-league system.
"It's been a great learning experience and very gratifying seeing young players grow up and get better and get to the big leagues. That makes it all worth it, he said. "I'm not sorry about any of it.
"There's nothing I would do differently, no wishing I had done this or done that. It hurts to hear you didn't get the job and I'll lose sleep over that. But I won't lose sleep thinking I could have done something different.
The Hall of Famer also harbors no ill will toward the Cubs.
"I wish Mike Quade nothing but the best. He's put in his time in this game and managed a long time and he did a good job in an interim situation, which is never easy, Sandberg said. "I'm grateful to Jim Hendry and the Ricketts family for the opportunity with the Cubs, and for considering me as a candidate, and I wish the best for them.
It sure sounds like Sandberg is saying goodbye to the Cubs.
"I haven't thought that far ahead, Sandberg said. "I'm glad I spent four years in the minors, but I feel like I'm ready to get back to the majors.
And that isn't likely to happen with the Cubs.
"I'm thankful they gave me a chance to get back in the game, and it felt good to be back and working on a day-to-day basis again, Sandberg said. "I know more about the game of baseball as a whole after going through the last four years, and I look at those years under my belt and think about the possibility of doing something in the future that gets me back to the big leagues.
That could be a major-league managing or coaching job for next season.
"I hope so, Sandberg said. "All I'm sure of is I worked hard and did my best. I learned as a young player that if you do that, it will work out for you, and it always has for me.
"I think it will again. So I have no regrets. No regrets at all.