People don't see the majority of the work Cubs skipper Mike Quade does -- it's away from the field. From juggling playing time and lineup combinations to handling 25 different personalities to dealing with the media,
like HBO a big league manager's job is 24/7.
Quade, as a person, is very likable. When I worked for the Cubs, he was nothing but nice. Extremely polite and personable. He would always take the time to thank me for simple tasks like bringing him his monthly Vine Line. (Lou would mumble something and point at his desk.) Quade also has the largest, most impressive calves I've ever seen on a normal sized human being of his age. In short, I am partial (mostly because of the calves thing).
The Cubs manager seems to have the perfect disposition for the modern day player. He keeps the clubhouse loose, his players informed and has no issue taking the blame. He is the Rex Ryan of baseball, without the brass and flair that makes the Jets head coach a polarizing figure.
Quade does all the things players and fans love. If it's taking the Red Line to the field on Opening Day or rocking out to Led Zeppelin, he, dare I say it, is cool. He is what the media calls a "players coach", but more importantly what players mean by a coach "they want to play for", win for. However, there are consequences to his style. I should know.
When I'm not here penning pure gold, I'm the Director of Baseball Operations for AcademyELITE Baseball in Glenview. That's a fancy way of saying, I'm a baseball coach. Quade and I have very similar philosophies when it come to a clubhouse. The looser the better. However, sometimes our approach to managing, -- not coaching, two very different concepts -- when not checked, can allow a team to play without an edge. They fall into a carefree routine, rather than looking for the kill. The Cubs look as if they have fallen into a pattern of indifference.
Quade tried to install a sense of urgency on Monday night after the Cubs surrendered a 4-0 lead in the seventh, losing 7-4 to the Reds, calling a closed door meeting. The message was clear.
"Nothing is (blanking) easy up here," Quade said. 'You've got a nice 4-0 lead and 'Z' is cruising and everything is hunky-dory. I've got news for you. It ain't routine until the freaking thing is over. We've got to play that way. … We're not good enough to coast at all."
It was not received. On Tuesday, the Cubs blew a pair of leads on the back of four errors, losing to Cincinnati 7-5.
Sometimes a team, for whatever reason, doesn't have what it takes to pull themselves out of a hole regardless of what the skipper does. It seems Mike Quade has taken over a team that lacks that ability.
‘‘If we haven’t reached rock bottom with this, we’re pretty damn close,’’ Quade said.