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updated: 9/17/2013 8:34 PM

Hopefully, baseball lifer Sveum will be rewarded

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  • It's encouraging that manager Dale Sveum is a baseball guy who cares more about the Cubs now than he does the future.

    It's encouraging that manager Dale Sveum is a baseball guy who cares more about the Cubs now than he does the future.
    Associated Press


The more Dale Sveum is around, the easier it is to appreciate him.

The unshaven look, the tattoos, the occasional lapse in grammar reek baseball lifer.

That's opposed to so many other Cubs decision-makers whose clothes fit, every hair is in place and every sentence is perfectly constructed.

In other words, they are men who seem better suited for the classroom than the clubhouse. They're fine for the Cubs because that's where the game is in this age of button-down baseball.

It's difficult to tell whether Sveum is a good manager, bad manager or, even worse, Terry Bevington. The clean-shaven guys have given him so many inferior players during his two seasons here that Tony La Leyland couldn't win with them.

But at least Sveum cares whether the Cubs won that day's game, as opposed to whatever it is the Theo Epsteins and Jed Hoyers care about.

OK, so we do know that Cubs baseball president Epstein and general manager Hoyer care about the team not embarrassing them in, say, three or four years.

Sveum cares about the team not embarrassing him now, which is why he went off on pitcher Edwin Jackson the other day.

It doesn't matter what Jackson did, which was complain about Sveum pinch hitting for him in the top of the fifth inning. A pitcher with an 8-16 record, 4.75 ERA and $52 million contract deserves to be yelled at on principle.

All season Sveum has issued honest assessments concerning the shortcomings of players, including supposed Cubs cornerstones Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.

If honesty isn't enough reason to appreciate Sveum there also is the sense that a baseball guy like him wonders whether the Cubs really do have to lose so much now to win in the future.

Anyway, I had to smirk when the Cubs hired someone to manage their new spring-training facility in Mesa, Ariz. He has a background in sports management but didn't start out as a groundskeeper in the minor leagues.

No, a news release stated that his first career was as "a senior consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he specialized in process analysis and integrated management and technology solutions for the world's largest corporations and government agencies."

Gargle that for a moment.

Look, I get it. The gentleman's background is perfect for 21st century baseball, where everything has to be efficient, empirical and economical.

So why is it just a little sad to me that modern baseball has a place for someone who has a bachelor's degree in Operations and Strategic Management from Boston College? Maybe it's just that I'm more at ease with sports people who have degrees in Dirt Biking from East Gopher Ball Community College.

Expect a future hiring announcement to read something like this:

"Has degrees from Harvard, Northwestern and Stanford and began his professional career in the waste management firm of Dolan, Dolan and Dolan, where he was responsible for engineering the public privatization and private publication of interoffice software that educates employees in the art of identifying which Dolan is which Dolan is which Dolan."

Seriously, doesn't anybody start out as a good field-no hit corner outfielder in the minor leagues anymore?

Sveum is a product of the game from the start. He blurts baseball rather than algebra and hardball rather than moneyball.

Or at least he combines elements of both in occasionally, adorably, comfortably bad grammar.

If the Cubs ever become good, hopefully Dale Sveum will still be around to manage them.

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