Sandberg might return to minors -- elsewhere
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Sometimes words are unnecessary.
And in the case of Ryne Sandberg, his next move might speak volumes.
Sandberg has been talking to several teams about major-league coaching and Triple-A managing jobs, after telling the Cubs he was no longer interested in managing their top minor-league affiliate.
Last week Cubs GM Jim Hendry announced what everyone else already knew, that Sandberg wasn't returning.
But Hendry added, "I don't think that was ever in (Sandberg's) plans, to be in the minor leagues after this year."
Sandberg was surprised to read that statement in the papers, not to mention the suggestion that Sandberg could "come to spring training" if he wanted.
To do what, sign autographs and be a Cubs ambassador?
"I'm committed to baseball and what I'm doing," Sandberg said Monday of his tenure in the minor leagues. "My goal is to reach the majors again, just like everyone else in the minor leagues.
"But I want to coach and teach and continue to do that, whether it's in the minors or the majors. I'm committed to that. I always have been. I never stopped."
Sandberg -- who learned of the opportunity to return to Iowa (AAA) by watching a Cubs news conference -- said he has a real fondness for Tom Ricketts and harbors no ill will toward anyone with the Cubs but had little else to say about the Cubs' situation.
You don't have to be a genius to see he had no future with the Cubs under Hendry, and Hendry doesn't have to apologize for that.
He should hire and fire anyone he wants as long as he's got the power to do so, but his statements show how distant their relationship has been, and how little he knows about Sandberg.
"Ryne felt it was in his best interests, and (Cubs) ownership's best interests, to not accept the job at Iowa," said Sandberg's agent, Jim Turner. "He did not want ownership or the fans or Mike Quade to feel that he was sitting there waiting for a disappointing result and an ax to fall in Chicago. That's not how he's built."
Sandberg said a few weeks back that, "I had more press conferences this year because of what was happening (with Lou Piniella) in Chicago than I had the year I went in the Hall of Fame."
Another year of that wouldn't benefit anyone, so a clean break was best for all.
"By not accepting the Des Moines job, Ryne's sending a clear signal to the 29 other teams," Turner said. "He's serious about reaching his goal, and that goal can be reached with any major-league team."
The Red Sox and Phillies have Triple-A openings, as do a few other teams, and Philadelphia is intriguing if for no other reason than the Phillies drafted Sandberg in the 20th round in 1978, and he played at every level of the Phillies' minor-league system before his trade to the Cubs in 1981.
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA) reside in Allentown, Pa., about 75 minutes north of Philadelphia, and last season were the top draw in Triple-A baseball.
Sandberg declined to discuss which teams had called but said there are several in play at both the major-league and minor-league levels, and he thinks he may know within a couple weeks where he'll be working in 2011.
All we know for certain right now is where he won't be working next season.
While Buffalo is ranked 26th defensively, this week the Bears face the NFL's fifth-ranked defense in the Vikings.
Of their final eight opponents, six are in the top 14 in defense, and the Bears are now 29th on offense.
This isn't going to get easier, but if Mike Martz is willing to keep it simple, the Bears and Jay Cutler still have a chance to survive.
The NFL Network is publicizing the Bears' visit to Miami on Nov. 18 as some sort of rematch, throwing in highlights from the Bears' infamous loss to the Dolphins in 1985.
Yes, it's 25 years later and it's the same two teams, but other than that there doesn't seem to be any connection between that game and the one next week.
If it's designed to make Bears fans relive the misery, it accomplishes that. But beyond drudging up ugly memories of Bob Kuechenberg dancing on the sidelines, it's an odd way to promote the game.
Fielding award winners will be announced the next two days, and you have to think Mark Buehrle is a lock to repeat with his second career Gold Glove, especially since his wife reportedly congratulated him already on Facebook.
Buehrle, who made the play of the year on Opening Day, was among the AL leaders in total chances, assists and double plays, while making no errors.
White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez and Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd also should get some consideration.
It should be noted that at 1:54 p.m. (Chicago time) Sunday, after the Bears took a 14-7 lead over Buffalo with 6:21 left in the third quarter, Jay Cutler was spotted smiling on the sidelines.
Hoffman Estates e-mailer Tom Barnicle: "Only the Bears could turn 'The Greatest Show on Turf' into 'Martz Madness.'"
Lovie Smith: "We're halfway through our season and we haven't peaked yet."
And finally …
NBC's Jimmy Fallon, on the New York City Marathon: "It's a chance for the best runners in New York to come together and get crushed by a guy from Nigeria."
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