Many people figured Ryne Sandberg, the legendary Chicago Cubs second baseman, would manage at Wrigley Field one day. Just not in the visitor's dugout.
But on Friday, as the Philadelphia Phillies come to Wrigley for a weekend series, that's just where Sandberg will be. He's the interim manager of the Phillies, hired two weeks ago to the day to replace Charlie Manuel. Sandberg's 8-6 so far at the Philly helm.
This will be one of those Brett Favre-playing-against-the-Packers moments where a guy so identifiable with a franchise for so many years now finds himself across the field. In Sandberg's case, he hasn't played actually in a Cubs uniform since 1997. But he suited up for 16 seasons with the Cubs, becoming a Hall of Famer and a fan favorite.
He then came back as a coach and was pegged by many as an heir to the managerial throne one day. That day didn't come. Two opening came and were filled. Instead Sandberg went to Philly, where he thought he had a better shot of not being overlooked.
About his return to Wrigley, the man Chicago fans know as Ryno told the Philly Inquirer:
"The first thing is, I'll probably check out my flag out there on the right-field pole. I'm sure all the memories of all the games will come and I'll reflect on that. Then I'll put myself in that spot over there in the visitors' dugout, and once the game starts it will be business. I'll feel good about it."
In Wrigleyville, sentiments are split. These two pics snapped by Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune show a nearby bar and an ATM inside Wrigley. One is happy to have Ryno back. The other wants to cover him up.
Surely there will be others in the Cubsophere this weekend unhappy to see Sandberg in a Phillies uniform. But before they think about booing or heckling — they wouldn't, would they? — they should remember that it was the Cubs that spurned Sandberg first.