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October 2010 Archives

Sure, we would rather have the White Sox about to start playing another World Series than be celebrating the 5th anniversary of their last victorious trip. But, it was hard not to feel all warm and fuzzy inside today reading about the final key moments leading up to the 2005 title, as well as the two 2005 Sox making it back to the World Series this year--Aaron Rowand and Juan Uribe.

You could have made a pretty good case for Uribe as the NLCS MVP (the honor went to Cody Ross). He had the game winning RBI in the last two NLCS wins by the San Francisco Giants, and made several great defensive plays throughout the series. It was a reminder of how he almost single-handedly shut down the Houston Astros the the final inning of the 2005 championship with a crowd-surfing foul-pop catch and a hustling charge-and-throw on a grounder for the last out.

Rowand also had at least one signature moment this year, coming in Game 4 when he threw a man out at the plate to keep the score tied in a game the Giants eventually won on Uribe's sac fly. You have to believe that his character and personailty, much loved by Sox fans, helped fuse these Giants into a World Series contender.

Since 2005, I thought the Sox had realistic chances to head back to the postseason almost every year including this one. Alas, they have only made it once. In some ways, it seems like barely yesterday that they won it all. At least we have our not-too-distant memories to keep us warm this winter.

Quade keeps his job, drops the 'interim'

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In a development surprising only for its timing--because basically any timing would have been surprising--interim Cubs manager Mike Quade is formally being announced as the new manager today, with a two-year contract.

It's probably the right move and the right length of contract for a guy who guided the young Cubs of the latter part of the 2010 season to a 24-13 record. He probably will be working with pretty much the same group next season, and there was no reason to hire a World Series winner like Joe Girardi if the Cubs aren't planning to add much next year.

It seemed like maybe the Cubs were going to wait for Girardi, which would have very publicly made Quade or Ryne Sandberg second choice if Girardi had turned down the job. Of course, the most obvious choice prior to Quade's late-season tryout was Sandberg, and if Quade hadn't done well it would still be Sandberg.

I'm wondering if the timing has something to do with Sandberg turning down a behind-closed-doors offer to be one of Quade's coaches. The Cubs may now have to watch Sandberg take a manager job elsewhere, and if Quade stumbles early, fans surely will be calling for his head--and GM Jim Hendry's--and demanding explanations for why Sandberg wasn't hired as manager. Had Quade never been given the chance by Hendry, most fans probably would be behind Sandberg as top choice, but Quade's success leaves them conflicted, and, as always, hopeful. says that's Jon Heyman says via Twitter (Does this make it third-hand info?) that the Seattle Mariners are about to hire Eric Wedge as manager. This means the Cubs won't be hiring him, not they Cubs GM Jim Hendry was planning to. Seeing Wedge's name in the mix was an odd addition from the start, given the Cubs have at least three other candidates in mind--Joe Girardi, Mike Quade and Ryne Sandberg--who all have a good understanding of Cubbie occurrences and century-plus-long pressure that comes with them.

If Wedge goes to Seattle, that also means that White Sox third-base coach Joey Cora won't be going there. Cora reportedly has been considered for that job before, and presumably was being considered again. He also reportedly has a shot at the manager job with Milwaukee.

Hahn headed elsewhere?

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Last month, I talked about candidates for the Sox GM job if Kenny Williams somehow exits the position. I forgot to mention probably the most obvious choice--assitant GM Rick Hahn. To tell the truth, I sort of forgot hahn was still around--he has been mentioned in connection with so many GM job openings the last few years.

I may still prefer Dan Evans, though it actually doesn't matter either way because Williams isn't going anywhere, and Hahn apparently is. There are lots of reports out of new York that Hahn is looking like a top candidate for the Mets GM job.

If Hahn does depart, it will be interesting to see if the Sox promote from within or go looking to steal an up-and-coming exec from another team to fill his job. It will also be interesting to see what's lacking in front office moves without Hahn aboard.

Watching the play-offs

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Well, even though the Cubs and White Sox didn't come close this year, we still have a postseason worth watching, and some former Chicago players are making contributions.

It was nice to see Jose Contreras, key member of the 2005 World Champion White Sox, come out for the Phillies last night and hold down the fort to get the win. And it was just plain sad to see star-crossed Dusty Baker watching his own team become suddenly error-prone and give up a 4-0 lead with just a handful of outs left. It wasn't quite deja vu, but close enough.

In San Francisco, look who's overcome his penchant for late-inning implosions--the Farns. Kyle Farnsworth, now with Atlanta, got the win last night by pitching 1.2 not-perfect-but-good-enough innings. I was certain after the Giants blew the lead that the reliable Farns would provide them with a storybook comeback in the 11th inning, but he did the job for the Braves, who really had few options but to leave him in the game. Derrek Lee was 2-for-5 with two key runs scored.

And, of course, both Sox fans and Cubs fans are watching the Twins-Yankees series with interest. So far, Sox fans are getting exactly what they had hoped, with the Twins down to their last chance and unable to spook the Yankees the way the do the Sox. With every Yankees victory, however, Cubs fans may be forced to wait a little longer to find out who will be the next manager. Joe Girardi's postseason poise is something to make Cubs fans salivate, but I think the further the Yankess go, the less likely he'll figure in GM Jim Hendry's decision.

Finally, who isn't rooting for Kerry Wood? He has pitched a scoreless 1.2 innings this week as the Yankees set-up man. From heroic rookie pitcher to injured mess and 2003 NLCS Game 7 loser to even more injured mess to effective, but unwanted Cubs closer to Cleveland and finally to the Yankees, who seem to have figured him out. Here's hoping that one last Cubbie occurrence isn't lying in wait for the former Cub.

Former Sox Nick Swisher also plays for the Yankess, but let's not even go there...



And then we came to the end

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White Sox 2010: 88 wins, 74 losses

Cubs 2010: 75 wins, 87 losses

The final records never tell the whole story, of course. The Sox improved their record by nine games over 2009, at times looking like they were going to win 95 games, at other times looking like they would struggle to .500. But, 88 wins only gets them a distant second place this year, and for the most part, fans will go away disppointed rather than hopeful for next year. Not that there isn't plenty to be hopeful about. The starting rotation is in good shape for next year, and several positions are set, but we still don't what will happen with guys like Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Bobby Jenks.

The Cubs were eight games worse than 2009, but for most of the season looked like they would end up with 95 losses. There's fair reason to hope, with young players getting important experience and looking good doing it, but there's plenty to be disappointed about. The arrival of Rudy Jaramillo as hitting coach promised a better offense that never showed up, and veterans played themselves into a funk under a manager who seemed lost and unable to motivate them. Mike Quade's audition as manager should be something to be happy about, but it more or less just complicates a decision to be made by a general manager that may not deserve to stay himself.

It should be an interesting off-season, and whatever happens, next April can't come fast enough for both our teams.

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