Ryne Sandberg has been a good soldier.
When a player of his stature wants a major-league gig, he can often find it right away. At the very least, he can work as a hitting coach, or a third-base coach, or any number of byzantine assistant's jobs that major league baseball clubs stock their dugouts with. So if Ryne Sandberg wanted to be in the major leagues right away, he could have done it.
Instead, Sandberg's spent the last few years coaching the Cubs' minor league affiliates. But he's doing so for a reason: Sandberg wants the top spot in the Cubs' dugout, and he's not afraid let people know:
"I'm doing it for the experience to get to the major leagues," Sandberg said on the "Waddle & Silvy" show on ESPN 1000. "I know that's what I want to do right now; get to the major leagues.
"Obviously, being a Cub and still being with the Cubs, [managing the Cubs] would be the ideal situation for me."
But what are the chances of Sandberg actually getting the job? Right now, not very good.
Think about it.
Despite the team's sale and the consistent losing, the Cubs have established themselves as a team that wants to be considered among the premier organizations in baseball. They want the huge payroll. They're anxious to sell out on a daily basis. And in the clubhouse, their last two managerial hires -- Lou Piniella, a walking legend, and Dusty Baker, fresh off a World Series run with the San Fransisco Giants -- have been "name" guys. It's fairly obvious the Cubs want someone premier in the clubhouse, that not just anyone will do. Sandberg, with a mere three years of minor league experience might not quite fit the bill.
Then again, Sandberg is a name to Cubs fans, and the reality of managing a baseball team is that there is pretty little impact managers have on the day-to-day outcomes in a season. Once you settle the lineup -- most of which is determined by who's making how much money anyway -- and pick your players, you sort of just let them go out and play. It's not a mathematical detriment.
Maybe Sandberg is being groomed for the job, and maybe he'll have to wait a while. In the meantime, though, his path to the major leagues -- sweating it out on the buses in Springfield -- is at the very least admirable.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.