As clock ticks, Joe Espada’s candidacy for Cubs’ manager job seemingly gets stronger
If the list of candidates truly is down to two — Espada and early presumed favorite David Ross — then there isn’t much mystery about which one fans prefer. It’s Espada, who was running at about 70 percent to Ross’ 30 percent, as a Twitter poll conducted Tuesday passed the 1,800-vote mark.
OK, so maybe Joe Espada isn’t the next Joe McCarthy, who won seven World Series as a big-league manager, tied for the most in history.
He probably never will catch Joe Torre, who won the Fall Classic four times as a manager, either.
If Espada does get his managerial shot — with the Cubs or any other team — he’ll have a long way to go before he even begins to compare with another Joe, the one with thick, black-rimmed glasses, a love of RVs and street cred for life around Wrigley Field.
Joe Maddon, who formally will be introduced as the Angels’ new manager Thursday, is still kind of a big deal.
But Espada is no ordinary Joe himself. In the space of a little more than a week, he has gone from a virtual unknown in Chicago to a candidate for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy whose popularity — among the team’s decision-makers and fans alike — seems to be growing by the day.
And if the list of candidates truly is down to two — Espada and early presumed favorite David Ross — then there isn’t much mystery about which one fans prefer. It’s Espada, the 44-year-old Astros bench coach, who was running at about 70 percent to Ross’ 30 percent as a Twitter poll conducted Tuesday passed the 1,800-vote mark.
#Cubs fans: If it comes down to David Ross or Joe Espada, who's your guy?— Steve Greenberg (@SLGreenberg) October 22, 2019
Espada had a second interview with the Cubs this week before heading back to Houston for the start of the World Series against the Nationals.
Like all teams with managerial openings, the Cubs are expected to wait for a non-game day — if not the conclusion of the baseball season — to trot out their man. There are World Series days off scheduled for Thursday and Monday.
If it’s Espada, who scouted and coached with the Yankees before joining A.J. Hinch’s staff with the Astros, there will be lots of getting-to-know-you to do — sans ‘‘Grandpa’’-like narrative — which perhaps makes it a bit odd that many are rallying around the idea of his candidacy.
As we continue to learn about Espada, consider the words of a longtime major-league executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of respect for Cubs president Theo Epstein and his process:
‘‘You’ll never see Joe take a day off. He’s into it every day. He won’t let players half-ass it — he works them hard — but people will respect him because he’s very positive and he’s out there working harder than anybody.’’
Then again, one easily could imagine the same words being used to describe Ross.
According to one prominent betting site, the heaviest action on the ‘‘over’’ side of any NBA team’s season victory total has been on the Bulls. Their number was at 34½ heading into their opener Wednesday.
Thirty-five or more victories? The Bulls were 22-60 last season.
My very rough calculation: Zach LaVine plus Lauri Markkanen minus Jim Boylen equals a lot of suckers out there.
• Is ‘‘Very Cavallari’’ a thing anymore?
Believe it or not, some of us never have seen the reality show starring Kristin Cavallari and her husband, former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Some of us don’t even know if it’s on anymore, nor do we care to find out.
But I do know this: The reality show I need in my life right now is centered on Cutler watching Mitch Trubisky play quarterback for the Bears. Maybe mentoring Trubisky, too.
Call it ‘‘Very Cavalierly’’? Hey, it’s a spinoff.
• Illini Nation has been in celebration mode since Illinois’ giant upset Saturday of then-No. 6 Wisconsin. It’s fun and exciting. Maybe the worm really has turned and Lovie Smith’s program is ready to surge toward the top — well, the middle — of the Big Ten.
Back on Planet Earth, though, the Illini are 3-4 and 9½-point underdogs heading into their game Saturday at 2-5 Purdue. It’s a fine line between true change and more of the same.
Another amateurish equation, if you will: Beat Wisconsin plus lose to Purdue equals nothing to see here.
• Smith vs. Matt Nagy.
• A long, long time ago, a Chicago Teachers Union strike lasted 19 anxious days. It was 1987.
For a Lane Tech senior football player whose father was a teacher in the union, it was frustrating and confusing. Just from the sports point of view, though, at least it happened at the start of the school year. A couple of games were missed, but seasons went on — playoffs and all.
What a different, harsher deal for these CPS athletes today who are facing — among other hardships — the cancellations of their postseasons.
They deserved better than this.