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Columnist
Quade looks like he might be all right
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/22/2010 12:00 AM

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You're probably wondering why I went to Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.

Simple answer: All the dentist offices were closed.

No, seriously, it wasn't to see whether the sign atop a building across Sheffield had clicked off another year for how long it has been since the Cubs won a World Series (it was stuck on 101). Nor was it to assess whether the visiting Giants are capable of winning this year's (they aren't).

Come to think of it, either of those would have been a good reason to take in a game.

But the best reason was to get an up close look at Prospect High School 1975 graduate Mike Quade before the season ends next week.

Quade is the Cubs' interim manager who entered the evening with a 17-7 record.

Quade's 24-game start is the best for any Cubs manager since 1932, and 17-8 isn't too shabby either after a 1-0 loss to the Giants.

The Cubs' recent 8-1 road trip was their best ever of that many games. Our suburban homeboy is doing OK.

(Remarkably, the Cubs haven't moved the Harry Caray statue again to make room for Quade's.)

Anyway, day by day, game by game, victory by victory, Quade became a more viable candidate to be the Cubs' permanent manager.

The much fancier Ryne Sandberg hovers over the process like a balloon at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Then there is Yankees manager Joe Girardi if he becomes available, not to mention myriad former major-league managers being considered.

Compared to them, Quade's Q-rating is in negative territory. But compared to them - who knows? - he might also be the best man for the job.

Until recently Quade was an anonymous baseball lifer whose time in the minor leagues makes Sandberg's four seasons a blink and twitch.

Quade also has experience in the majors as a coach for the Cubs and A's, something Sandberg has none of.

Everyone at Wrigley Field seems to like Quade's self-effacing manner and respect his work ethic.

Sit in on one of his pregame media briefings and Quade's appeal is obvious: He comes across as a real person whom real persons can identify with.

Folks, this is someone easy to pull for, the anti-celebrity manager like Lou Piniella or Dusty Baker were and Sandberg would be.

Quade didn't want to comment on baseball's maple-bat controversy because, as he put it, smarter people than him are working on the issue. He didn't take credit for the Cubs' recent hot streak because, as he put it, he hasn't thrown a pitch or swung a bat.

After the formal pregame media session ended, Quade put his feet up and bantered with reporters, smiling a lot, joking some and being at ease in his own skin, right up to his bald scalp.

On a day Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was in Arizona interviewing Sandberg for the field manager's position, Quade was in Wrigley Field pitching batting practice as part of his duties as interim manager.

Does any of this mean Quade would make a good Cubs manager? Of course not. Does it mean he wouldn't? Of course not.

It just means that forming a positive first impression of Mike Quade made the trip to Wrigley Field worthwhile.

You know, just in case the next impression to be made of him is as the Cubs' permanent manager.

mimrem@dailyherald.com