It wasn’t the year we wanted to have or the year that I was expecting. This team is built to win. It didn’t happen. We didn’t play the way we wanted to, didn’t play up to our capability as a team. Everyone knows that, everyone sees that. At the same time, we never gave up all year long and played hard. We had some changes at the end of the season. Lou had to go home, Quade came in and we still played hard. You can see it in our record against teams that are still in it that we do have a good team. We just showed it a little bit too late. At the same time, we’re missing Ted Lilly, we’re missing Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot, and Mike Fontenot. We wish them well. They have a chance to play for something. I wish we could’ve done it over here. Through everything, the fans have been out every single game. It showed last night and the past three nights. The fan base here hasn’t changed. Everyone loves the Cubs. Next year, we’re going to have to figure out a way to give them something to cheer about all year long and through October. When the end of the season comes, you start thinking a little about next year, and that’s what I’m doing now.
You don’t see 900 hits celebrated on ESPN or anything like when a guy gets his 1,000th hit. If you put it in perspective, 3,000 hits is a Hall of Fame career. Half of that — 1,500 hits — is a big goal of mine, especially considering where I started. I wasn’t sure after my rookie year going into my second year, when I lost my job, if I was ever going to be a starting outfielder again. To have 900 hits is huge. One thousand is a great career. If I get 1,500, that means I haven’t slowed down at all and that would be real nice.
I think the fans have to understand that getting hits in baseball isn’t easy, staying in the big leagues isn’t easy. I’ve been designated for assignment and placed on waivers. I’m going to keep going to see how many I end up with. I didn’t get the game ball. You get the ball on your 1,000th hit, 1,500th, 2,000th, 2,500th. I’ll work toward 1,000 next year and get that ball.
I know there are a lot of questions about how this team is playing and how we’ve responded since Mike Quade took over. We played as hard as we could for Lou and tried to win and it didn’t work out. He had to go home for more important business to take care of his family — everybody knows that. Quade has come in and done an unbelievable job. The atmosphere is the same, we’re still playing hard, everyone is still working hard. The coaches are still going about their business but for some reason, he’s getting wins. You have to attest a little to him.
He’s doing a great job. He’s putting guys in the right position and the right spots to win and for this team to win. I guess it’s like riding a bike for him after all the years he managed in the Minors. He took over, had a little meeting, and was ready to go on Day One. He’s done a very impressive job. He can manage and does a great job. He gets guys out there prepared and ready to play. If he’s not going to be here, hopefully he is managing somewhere soon because a team needs him and deserves him.
There’s not more energy here, it’s just a more relaxed atmosphere. I’m not saying it wasn’t like that when Lou was here. Now, it’s like, “All right, what else can we do? Let’s go play baseball and have fun.” There was pressure here because we were expected to win. I don’t know if that pressure is gone, but whatever Quade is doing, you can attest the wins to him.