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Sunday, February 02, 2014

Salisbury: Getting the read on Ryne Sandberg

Sandberg became fed up with the game and abruptly retired, walking away from nearly $16 million, in June 1994.

“I was caught between two generations, the one I came up with, which still cared about the game, and the one I left behind, which hardly cared at all,” he wrote in the book. “In the ‘90s, I saw too many guys having fun after losses because they got a few hits or did something good for themselves. That didn’t appeal to me at all. There’s a lack of respect today for the game and for each other.”

Sandberg wrote about players being more concerned with hitting the streets in Montreal after a game than the game itself. He complained about players being obsessed with personal stats. He explained that while he could have become a 30-homer, 30-stolen base guy, he never did because he did not care about personal stats.

A decade before his hiatus from the game—his fire returned and he made a comeback in 1996—Sandberg enjoyed an MVP season with a storybook Cubs team that won the NL East in 1984. With some advice from manager Jim Frey, and using a Larry Bowa model bat, Sandberg became a power hitter that season. He won his second Gold Glove as all those extra fielding sessions with the driven Bowa paid off.

Thanks to Doom Awaits Barnald.

Repoz Posted: February 02, 2014 at 10:48 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, phillies

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   1. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 02, 2014 at 11:43 AM (#4650055)
Every generation has its goof offs and its crotchety old men.
   2. McCoy Posted: February 02, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4650059)
Yep. Every generation thinks those who came before them cared and the generation that comes after them doesn't care. What most people fail to realize is that when viewing the previous generation you're looking at the group of people that have "made it" while when looking at the new generation you're looking at a huge crop of young people many of whom are going to drop out long before they become the previous generation.

In baseball most post 30 year old players are going to be the type of people that take their profession seriously while a good chunk of 20 to 24 year olds are not.
   3. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 02, 2014 at 12:16 PM (#4650063)
Kids these days with their mop tops and flower shirts and rockity roll music.
   4. eddieot Posted: February 02, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4650064)
I fear Sandberg and Bowa as a two-headed monster are going to lose this clubhouse in record time. This Phillies season is going to be a disaster...
   5. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 02, 2014 at 12:24 PM (#4650065)
I fear Sandberg and Bowa as a two-headed monster are going to lose this clubhouse in record time. This Phillies season is going to be a disaster...


The Phillies have planned ahead by avoiding having many good young players.
   6. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 02, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4650098)
Bowa is back on the coaching staff? Ye gods.

Hopefully Bobby Abreu can provide a positive lazy role model to counter Bowa's approach.
   7. Padraic Posted: February 02, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4650101)
What most people fail to realize is that when viewing the previous generation you're looking at the group of people that have "made it" while when looking at the new generation you're looking at a huge crop of young people many of whom are going to drop out long before they become the previous generation.


But it's not even accurate on that level. Mantle and Ford, the 80s Mets and, hell, just about every player in the 70s was going out on the town. I mean in what decade of baseball history were players - even those who had it made - not "hitting the streets" and trying to post good numbers.

He's already put in more stringent rules than Cholly (not hard to do!), like an enforced report time to standing in unison for the national anthem.

I'm not seeing it with this team...My guess is that lots of players will object to this, but that Brown will be singled out because of race and age, and that he will have a terrible season, be run down by the team, and flipped by August.
   8. McCoy Posted: February 02, 2014 at 02:49 PM (#4650104)
But it's not even accurate on that level.

And Ted, Stan, Warren, and Hank did not. The point wasn't that every single player throughout baseball conforms perfectly to this view but that in any given time the "older generation" is a biased sample pool and the "younger generation" gets a biased view against it because of the young kids who wash out.
   9. bobm Posted: February 02, 2014 at 02:52 PM (#4650105)
“In the ‘90s, I saw too many guys having fun after losses because they got a few hits or did something good for themselves.


It took Sandberg quite a while to notice that Rafael Palmeiro was apparently having fun after losses in the '80s. ;-)
   10. McCoy Posted: February 02, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4650108)
The knock on the Cubs of the 90's was always that the players knew they never had a chance to win and never took the game seriously. Several players commented on how different it felt to play for another team after they moved on from the Cubs and several managers and GM through the years have made numerous opening remarks about how they were going to change the culture of the Cubs. See Don Baylor and him going after Sammy Sosa in his opening remarks and Dusty talking about how his players were going to play the game the right way.
   11. Transmission Posted: February 02, 2014 at 05:12 PM (#4650138)
Looking at the Cubs 1994 roster... Derrick May, Tuffy Rhodes, and Sammy Sosa were 25. Jose Hernandez was 24. Trachsel was 23, Willie Banks, Kevin Foster, Frank Castillo all 25, again. I wonder who the partiers were in that group.

Assuming that the incident Sandberg is referring to about players hitting the streets of Montreal after a loss happened in 1994, before he retired, it can only be this game. The next day, the Cubs were at the Mets beat them, 9-5.
   12. Knock on any Iorg Posted: February 02, 2014 at 05:17 PM (#4650143)
...and Dusty talking about how his players were going to play the game the right way.

Yes, but he didn't have Brian McCann to show him the RIGHT right way.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: February 02, 2014 at 05:39 PM (#4650153)
1. Those 90s Cubs teams featured noted late-nighter Mark Grace as one of its better players.

2. The 93 Cubs were a pretty veteran team with the only youngsters of note being Sosa, Derrick May and Frank Castillo. The 94 Cubs added three young pitchers in Trachsel, Banks and Foster. And we're still talking guys who were 24-25 at that time, not exactly the crazy kid age. Foster was a bit of a disappointment but only because he was so awesome in 94.

2a. When he came back in 96, Sosa, Castillo, Trachsel, Foster, Grace were still there. Just how much paryting could Derrick May and Willie Banks have done?

3. Still Sandberg was less than 10 years older than these guys, hard to call this a generation gap.

4. It's an odd coincidence that Sandberg retired in the middle of a season in which his personal stats were terrible.

5. It had never sunk in that the year Sandberg retired was also the strike year.

As McCoy suggests, I can well believe that the Cubs losing culture grated on Sandberg but I doubt it had much to do with the late-night antics of the "next generation" although I can imagine a young Sosa could have gotten his goat. But I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Grace (30), Hill (29), Wilson (38), etc. were doing more late-night partying than the kids were.

So I'm calling old-man shenanigans on this story. Sandberg hit a professional and personal wall in 94 and decided the best thing for him was to walk away. I have no reason to question that decision but it wouldn't be surprising if someone in that situation looked back on it in a way that put more of the "blame" on others.

From an employer's perspective, I'd be asking him about that in the interviews. It was 20 years ago of course but I'd want to know what lesson he learned from that. I understand getting fed up and walking away (I've done it) as the article suggests but it's not exactly an example of great leadership. What is he going to do when the Phils are on pace for a 100-loss season, some vets are traded away so he's now surrounded by under-talented kids and (to pick a possibility) Domonic Brown seems focused on hitting 30 HR more than driving the team somehow to 67 wins?
   14. Swedish Chef Posted: February 02, 2014 at 05:58 PM (#4650159)
I mean in what decade of baseball history were players - even those who had it made - not "hitting the streets"

Well, there was a time when players didn't need to hit the street because they could get what they wanted from Ryne Sandberg's wife.
   15. Srul Itza At Home Posted: February 02, 2014 at 06:00 PM (#4650162)
"hitting the streets" and trying to post good numbers.


That sounds like a good description of Babe Ruth.
   16. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 02, 2014 at 06:19 PM (#4650166)
kind of puzzled what made ryne so bitter

his wife sleazing around him is more than a decade in the past

it's a curious thing. he never showed this side as a player
   17. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 02, 2014 at 07:06 PM (#4650178)
But it's not even accurate on that level. Mantle and Ford, the 80s Mets and, hell, just about every player in the 70s was going out on the town.


Apparently Ruth like a good time.

Young men, wealth and fame..it's the perfect storm for carousing. I think most of us who are honest with ourselves if put in a similar position; 20's, wealthy, famous and single might have indulged just a bit.
   18. Publius Publicola Posted: February 02, 2014 at 08:53 PM (#4650307)
# 14 is kind of cruel.

Made me snicker anyway.
   19. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 02, 2014 at 09:07 PM (#4650334)
#16, I'm wondering if Sandberg's negative attitude has shown through before and is part of the reason the Cubs never seemed interested in giving him the manager's job
   20. Bruce Markusen Posted: February 02, 2014 at 09:19 PM (#4650354)
I don't see why Sandberg is getting such heat here. He praised the players of the eighties and knocked the players of the nineties, guys that he played against. The persnickety folks here usually get upset at players who say how much better the game was in "their day," but Sandberg is actually saying that players toward the end of his era didn't impress him.

Sometimes ex-players can't win here.
   21. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: February 02, 2014 at 10:00 PM (#4650444)
OK, now I understand why Sandberg is in the HoF and Whitaker isn't. Sweet Lou has a World Series ring and a (presumably) faithful wife, and Ryno doesn't and didn't. So the voters felt sorry for Sandberg and let him in.

Now it makes sense.
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 02, 2014 at 10:20 PM (#4650491)
my mistake
   23. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: February 03, 2014 at 10:45 AM (#4650619)
Ernie Banks was mostly on bad teams, and I've never heard of him not having fun. Of course, the stories about Banks are from before and during games. Maybe after losses he was Sandberg-approved bitter.
   24. McCoy Posted: February 03, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4650626)
If he wasn't Santo would have been there to punch him in the face.
   25. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 03, 2014 at 10:54 AM (#4650627)
I don't see why Sandberg is getting such heat here. He praised the players of the eighties and knocked the players of the nineties, guys that he played against. The persnickety folks here usually get upset at players who say how much better the game was in "their day," but Sandberg is actually saying that players toward the end of his era didn't impress him.

He ran out the standard complaint that his generation was a bunch of hard-working guys who cared about the game, and the "next generation" of was a bunch of stats-obsessed party animals who didn't care about the game. You may like that kind of crap, but I don't.

   26. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 03, 2014 at 01:54 PM (#4650838)
I think the Phillies players will like Ryno. Everyone wants to win, and they'll like having a manager harping on this. Too many here are focused on his distorted memories of the past, which we all share.

I'm betting Mark Grace has said something similar to "sure I was out till 4 am every night, but I still got up, sobered up, and played my ass off every game, because I respected the game, not like these present day nancies whining about days off and irregular sleep cycles!'" at least once by now.
   27. Squash Posted: February 03, 2014 at 01:56 PM (#4650841)
I thought kids these days ruined the game in the 80s with their drugs. Actually the 70s with their drugs and their free agency. Actually the 60s with their music and their hair and their drugs. Actually the 50s with their carousing. Actually the 40s ... well, maybe kids didn't ruin the game in the 40s. Or the 30s, maybe. But definitely in the 20s with their home runs and their carousing. And in the 10s with their gambling. Definitely in the 00s with their American League. The 1890s with their sliding, the 1870s and 1880s with their famousness. Their 1860s when they went professional. Come to think of it, the kids pretty much ruined baseball on the second pitch of the first game Doubleday ever arranged. The first pitch, perfect. Since then it's been all downhill.
   28. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: February 03, 2014 at 07:50 PM (#4651064)
Actually the 40s ... well, maybe kids didn't ruin the game in the 40s.
The kids who took the first chance to go fight Hitler instead of playing baseball just didn't love the game enough.
   29. tshipman Posted: February 03, 2014 at 08:35 PM (#4651071)
OK, now I understand why Sandberg is in the HoF and Whitaker isn't. Sweet Lou has a World Series ring and a (presumably) faithful wife, and Ryno doesn't and didn't. So the voters felt sorry for Sandberg and let him in.


Uh, Sandberg has a significantly better peak than Whitaker (not that Lou didn't deserve to get in). Whitaker's best season would be Sandberg's fifth best.

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