During Joe Girardi's second stint as a Cubs player, I stayed at the same hotel as the team every now and then.
Of one thing I could be pretty sure: When I went downstairs for breakfast, there was a good chance I'd see Girardi at a nearby table -- with his family. We'd exchange "good mornings" and then Joe would try to keep the Cheerios from spilling all over the floor as he helped feed the baby.
In the end, it was this same commitment to family that apparently kept Girardi in New York as manager of the Yankees. On Wednesday, the Yankees announced that Girardi had decided to stay in the Bronx for four more years in a deal worth a reported $16 million.
Girardi and his wife, Kim, have three kids now, and they're all firmly established in the New York metropolitan area. "To my family, this is where we wanted to come back," Girardi was quoted by the New York media as saying.
The Cubs wanted Girardi as did some in the media, who openly cheered for the North Siders to hire him.
Girardi checked every box that Cubs president Theo Epstein put on his list last week when he fired Dale Sveum: someone with major-league managerial experience or strong leadership skills and someone who would help young players develop.
It seemed a longshot that Girardi would come "home" to the Cubs. People in New York privately said they'd have been very surprised if Girardi left Yankee Stadium for Wrigley Field, where the Cubs face an uncertain future, even given the work Epstein has done in rebuilding the organization.
In addition to Girardi's media friends, the Cubs' business-side people might be the most disappointed, as they no doubt saw a big jump in interest, and ticket sales, if the favorite son took the job in the Cubs dugout.
So now, the Cubs move forward. There are no big-name candidates on the open market, except for Dusty Baker, and we know that's not happening.
Epstein will continue going about his business, interviewing the likes of A.J. Hinch, Manny Acta and Rick Renteria.
Hinch and Acta have had their problems as big-league managers. Renteria has not managed at the big-league level, but he's a highly regarded bench coach of the San Diego Padres, and he managed Team Mexico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
This Cubs thing no doubt is turning out to be a little tougher than Theo thought it would be.
Remembering Andy Pafko:
One of my favorite pieces of trivia surrounding Cubs favorite Andy Pafko is that he was the left fielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers on Oct. 3, 1951, when Bobby Thomson hit his "Shot Heard 'Round the World" to lift the New York Giants to the National League pennant.
Pafko died Tuesday at 92. He lived for many years in Mount Prospect and was a frequent visitor to Wrigley Field and an attendee at the annual Cubs fan convention.
He played for the Cubs' last pennant winners, in 1945, and he also played in the World Series for the Dodgers in 1952 and for the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and '58.
Always with a good word for everyone, Pafko loved to talk about his days with all three teams. Of his 213 career home runs, 126 came with the Cubs, for whom he played from 1943 to 1951, when he was traded to the Dodgers.
"I think people still remember me as a Cub," he told me in a 1997 interview on the eve of the Cubs playing the Milwaukee Brewers in then-interleague play. "I spent my first 7½ years with the Cubs. When I get fan mail, I get it from the second or third generation: 'My dad talks about you. My grandfather talks about you being a Cub.'
"So I think people recognize me as being with the Cubs. And I live in Chicago, so I feel at home. I still feel like I'm a Cub."
The Cubs on Wednesday reduced their 40-man roster to 37. Outfielder Darnell McDonald, catcher J.C. Boscan and right-handed pitcher Trey McNutt cleared waivers and were outrighted off the 40-man.
McDonald and Boscan are journeyman players who saw big-league time with the Cubs this season. McNutt is a onetime prospect who has had nagging injury problems.
Right-handed pitchers Rafael Dolis and Zach Putnam and outfielder Thomas Neal were activated from 60-day disabled list, cleared waivers and were outrighted. All saw brief action for the Cubs this year.