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updated: 6/1/2011 8:26 PM

Quade can start managing Cubs any time

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  • It wouldn't hurt Mike Quade, left, if he started acting more like a major-league manager than a major-league friend to the 25 Cubs on his roster.

      It wouldn't hurt Mike Quade, left, if he started acting more like a major-league manager than a major-league friend to the 25 Cubs on his roster.
    Associated Press


For the casual baseball fan who's been caught up in basketball and hockey the last few months, there's something you ought to know before you spend some time with the Cubs.

This will probably come as a shock, but they aren't very good.

And not even the reincarnation of John McGraw could manage the Cubs out of the mess they're in this year.

So, no, this is not Mike Quade's fault.

Nevertheless, they are at times an embarrassment and as the most public part of the show Quade has been a prominent feature.

Count me among those happy for a baseball lifer who finally got his chance to manage in the big leagues, rooting for the local kid made good, hoping a good guy could take advantage of a good opportunity.

But now you can count me among those wondering if he was ready for this, who think he's going to have a very short major-league career if he doesn't stop being pals with the players and start understanding he's their boss, not their friend.

He doesn't have to rip his players, but when he pretends the sky is blue as golf-ball sized hail is blasting holes in his sunshine-and-lollipops argument, fans think he's either clueless or dishonest.

Fans are not stupid, despite the belief most organizations have of their paying customers, and they can't be fooled by happy talk after a game that paints a pretty picture of an ugly performance.

Maybe Quade's afraid of losing players by telling the truth, but losing fans is also a big deal, and right now they've tuned out the postgame, excuse-making sessions.

Too many times we've heard it's hard to pitch when the wind's blowing out and hard to hit when the wind's blowing in. Other days, we're told it's too sunny, too cloudy, too hot or too cold.

The reality is he is too good with clichés and they are too bad at baseball.

This is not the minor leagues, and maybe what no one's told Quade is while the players claim to love him now, players don't really give a spit about anyone and they'll toss Quade under the bus as soon as necessary.

So he should be managing in a way that's best for the organization, not for the players, and that's how it's gone thus far.

No wonder the players wanted him back last fall, with Ryan Dempster saying, "He's one of us."

So far, he has been one of them. He's their friend. He lets veteran starting pitchers decide how long they want to stay in games, and he's reluctant to move former stars out of key spots in the order despite poor performance. He doesn't bench the lazy and unproductive.

He seems unwilling to criticize or discipline, and when players know this they take advantage, which is what they've done.

There have been dozens of examples so far this year with "Demp," "Garz," "Z," "Sori," and "Rami," to name just a few of his buddies.

And the most humiliating moment came Tuesday night when Quade allowed a bit of honesty to creep out in saying he didn't like Carlos Zambrano busting a bat over his leg.

He then caught himself and though he hadn't spoken to Zambrano, Quade quickly said that Zambrano also "doesn't like that."

Really? Obviously Zambrano does like it, and when asked if he intended to talk to Zambrano about it, Quade said he didn't have to, avoiding the conversation and a possible confrontation.

When Zambrano was told the manager didn't like it, Zambrano said, "What manager?"

When told again that Quade thought it was a bad idea, Zambrano said, "That's OK. If he doesn't like it, he doesn't like it. What can I do?"

Thing is, if players respect a manager and know he has their backs through sticking up for them on the field and with communication, they'll be able to handle a little truth in advertising.

If they can't, then the GM collected the wrong players.

It's just a shame that after waiting so long, Quade has chosen this route.

Yes, the Cubs have had injuries, but even before that Quade was enabling and coddling instead of teaching and managing -- and the Cubs were fumbling and bumbling.

They are making the same fundamental mistakes and have the same mental approach they've had since the first day of spring training.

Down 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday, World Series-winning manager Bob Brenly was baffled in the booth when Tony Campana led off the inning and grounded out on the first pitch.

Apparently, no one had suggested Campana needed to see a few pitches in that at-bat.

Not much of what's occurred is Quade's fault, but any time he wants to start managing -- and maybe even play small ball since they can't hit home runs -- it would be a welcome addition to the campaign.

And it might be beneficial to his career.

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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