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by Editor, Rick Cabral

 

Ryne Sandberg's On A Mission  

Standing around Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, looking into those cool, green eyes, one is reminded of the term that describes our military's Special Forces: Quiet Professionals. Sandberg is certainly one and could probably hang with those guys in another lifetime.

Sandberg

Sandberg and his Iowa Cubs are in Sacramento for a four game series against the RiverCats.

His lifetime has been a career in baseball and it appears he has a long future ahead of him. The skipper of the Iowa Cubs is a top candidate (some say "the" top) for the Chicago Cubs managerial position, which will open when Lou Piniella steps down at the end of the 2010 season. Sandberg, however, is not a lock for the job. Several top baseball men, including Cubs color analyst Bob Brenly and bench coach Alan Trammel, have indicated a desire to resurrect the once proud franchise that was a Bartman away from going to the World Series in 2003.

 Sandberg_Legends

But Sandberg is aware of the competition. Just as he did during a 16-year career in the major leagues, he continues to work hard at attaining his goal of one day becoming a major league manager; if not in Chicago, then some other club. At present, that means instructing the Iowa players and teaching them the right way to play the game. Something Sandberg excelled at while earning 10 All-Star selections, nine Gold Glove, seven Silver Slugger Awards, and the Most Valuable Player award in 1984, making him one of the top performing—and highest paid—players of his generation. He was rewarded with induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

"From what I see baseball is back to what it should be. It's the game that I know," he replies to a question alluding to baseball's recently stained steroid era. "It's about asking the players to do all the little things to win baseball games. It's not about self promotion. It's more about the uniform you wear and team play."

Admittedly, it's unusual for a "Hall of Fame-type player" to be a good teacher. But Sandberg remembers how hard it was to play at a high level, which makes him a special instructor. "I struggled every single year I played, one time or another," he remembers. "I always had to find ways to get out of (the slump) and battle. It wasn't easy. I always remember this is not an easy game. But I also know with a game plan and practice routine, this game can become easier."

Sandberg says when he was a young player he emulated and learned from the best—Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Doc Gooden, and Pete Rose—and those players in turn helped him take his game to the top echelon. He now preaches that same thing, telling the Cubs' Triple-A players to 'Watch who's hot, who's playing well, whether it's your team or the opposition. See what they do, and maybe that will fit in with their game," he advises.

It's clearly working. Two of Chicago's top young talents—Starlin Castro (.316/3/37) and Tyler Colvin (.252/18/42)— are having terrific rookie seasons in the major leagues after working under Sandberg last year at Double-A Tennessee Smokies. More importantly, the Iowa Cubs presently hold the best record in the Pacific Coast League (70-52, .574), a fact surely not lost on the Cubs new ownership, the Ricketts family.

Asked what he'll do if he isn't selected as the Cubs' next manager and another team comes calling, Sandberg doesn't flinch. "I don't think you turn down a job at the major league level…I'm concentrating on what I'm doing in Iowa with this team and these players, trying to the best job I can, gaining experience along the way. If somebody in baseball thinks I'm ready to manage their team, and wants to call" Sandberg says he will be ready to listen.

The mark of a Quiet Professional.

 

 Uploaded 08/17/10

All contents Copyright Rick Cabral 2010

 

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