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.
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.
We’re going to try to do the same thing against the Reds that we did in St. Louis, which is play well. We’re playing a contending team and we want to keep the streak going and try to win a series. Quade’s doing a good job, everyone’s still playing hard, as we’ve been doing all year long. The bullpen has been shutting guys down like we need and we’re scoring enough runs for the starting pitchers. We’ve got a Reds team, they might like us as players, but I think every team in the Central loves to beat the Cubs and they’re one of them. We can play the role of spoilers and make it tight for this Central race. Let’s see if we can win a couple here and let St. Louis gain some ground, and, at the same time, killing two birds with one stone, we play well. We’re trying to finish up strong. It’s a nice atmosphere in here when we’re winning.
It’s just a different voice with “Q.” Sometimes change is good for a team. At the same time, we lost a legend. It’s got to be tough on “Q.” It’s just something where I don’t know if it shocks players when you see a guy like Lou leave. Older guys have seen it. Young guys, it might be a little shock to their system. “Q” brings energy that he’s brung all year long. It’s just a different voice, and I think it’s showing in how we’re playing.
Larry Bowa was my first manager. Frank Robinson was my second. With Bowa, you’re talking about one of the greatest shortstops of all time, even though people forget that. He had 2,800 hits and Gold Glove defense and played on championship teams. He was a fiery, fiery guy, sort of like Lou. Frank Robinson, I don’t have to say anything about him. A Hall of Famer and one of the greatest of all time — 586 home runs, a little short of 3,000 hits. I’m sure he could come back now and get them.
Then I played for Ron Washington. He’s probably the only one who’s different. I think if you mold all those guys together, you have Lou. He’s a clubhouse guy, a players’ manager as well as knows his X’s and O’s on the field. Baseball is going to miss him. He’s always going to be known for his fieriness but at the same time he’ll be known for taking teams to the playoffs and having very good teams.
Silva was on a team in 2006 with the Twins that was 14 games back at the All-Star break and on the last day of the season, made the playoffs. I saw the Twins do it a couple years ago when they caught Detroit and played that extra game and ended up beating them. I saw the Phillies come back from seven games out with 17 games to go and they caught the Mets. Lou’s done it. They were 14 games out and wanted to dismantle the Yankees and they ended up winning the World Series.
When you have a good team, you can’t count that team out at all. You see how everybody and every team has been playing us — they play us tough. There’s a reason. They know how good we are. We have to start believing that and get back to that feeling of knowing how good we are and having that swagger on the field. A 9 1/2-game lead, 8 1/2-game lead, 10-game lead can turn around quick. I believe we can get that down within five games by the All-Star break, we’ll be where we need to be. The second half, like everyone says, it’s 0-0 again.