Big-name managers don't always work out for Cubs

  • Like Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella was a popular big-name manager for the Cubs who failed to end the team's World Series drought.

    Like Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella was a popular big-name manager for the Cubs who failed to end the team's World Series drought. Associated Press.2010 file

Posted10/31/2014 5:18 AM

So we are thisclose to Joe Maddon coming to town to manage on the North Side, and my friends are all excited.

My Fox Sports producer in Los Angeles, Chicago native Jonas Knox, and my wife Be-Be are both Cubs fans and in separate conversations they are saying the same things: love the hire, Cubs going in the right direction, etc.


Believe me, the fever pitch is already getting euphoric, just like when Dusty Baker came to town. "In Dusty We Trusty" was the mantra, and with Kerry Woods and Mark Prior on the roster, wmy wife and Uncle Joe were ready to buy World Series tickets.

When Dusty came here, his arrow was pointing up, but by the time he left in 2006 he had become a scapegoat for losing the National League playoffs in 2003 to the Florida Marlins and was a bitter man.

Then "Sweet Lou" came to town. Even I was caught up in the excitement, and Lou had a couple of very good seasons with the Cubs in 2007-2008, but in 2010 the once mighty Lou quit during the season and his career as a manager was over.

The pattern started in 1969. I was a vendor at Wrigley Field selling soft drinks and living large (bringing home $25-$30 a game) while I watched Leo Durocher manage the team. His catch phrase was, "Nice guys finish last." He stayed with the Cubs seven years and his best year was 1969, when he won 92 games but failed to win the division. It left loyal Cubs fans devastated. By the time Leo's tenure was over, he was embattled and haunted by his team's failure to win.

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Now it looks like Joe Maddon is coming to town, and once again my cousin Monty is excited and my friend Gooch is euphoric.

I think I can safely say this regime finally might have the arrow pointing up, but let's slow down a bit.

This Spencer Tracy lookalike may be the right man for the job, but history is stacked against Maddon. If Theo Epstein, the team's president of Baseball Operations, fails to produce in the next couple of years, how long will fans have to wait?

So bring your parrots Joe -- this fan base is ready to explode. Let's hope this team is as fundamentally sound and aggressive as your Tampa Bay team was.

Maddon seems to be a loosey-goosey type of manager, a fun guy to play for who knows the game. Well, so were the guys I named, and managing in Chicago in front of a full house is different from playing in front of 17,000 in Tampa Bay.


Two of the best managers the Cubs ever had, however, were Jim Frey and Don Zimmer. They weren't big names, but they were very good baseball men.

Good luck, Joe. While I'm excited for you, I'm going to stay calm because I've seen this show before.

Program notes:

Follow me on Twitter@ north2north, and tune in Friday as I fill in from 2-6 p.m on WLS 890-AM. Listen to Fox Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman and myself from 5-8 a.m. Monday through Friday on Fox Sports radio, and check me out on iHeart radio or

• North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at For more, visit

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