Ryne Sandberg went by the book during his playing career. Then, the Hall of Famer humbly retraced his minor league path the second time around in order to earn a major league managerial spot. 'Ryno' hasn't relied on standard scorebook strategy since he embraced that opportunity, which is why the Philadelphia Phillies have a shot at real renewal.
Even though everyone knew exactly what was coming, no one could stop Philadelphia's ascent to baseball immortality through the mid- to late-2000s. And then Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske on that stirring October night in the fall of 2008 as everyone cheered their team.
The cheering masses eventually became fully polarized toward Charlie Manuel. As with many things 'Philadelphia', revisionist history was endlessly written as soon as it became apparent that the downside had arrived. And so it became cool, in some widening circles, to blame 'Uncle Cholly' for all that ailed 'his' team.
Meanwhile, back at the Park, those who tried to balance logic with emotion saw that Manuel's American League style, which was right for those times, wasn't working with his post-World Series-winning crew by the time the St. Louis Cardinals took the National League Division Series in 2011. More strategy was needed to work with an increasingly rigid roster. And so, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. (another maligned man) and his staff rolled out the 'Ryno' strategy in November 2010.
Manuel, on the bench, and Amaro, as part of Pat Gillick's staff, helped to create this organization's second 'Golden Era'. Sandberg's emergence as the new face of the Phillies gives the team a chance to be good again.
Patience isn't something many Philadelphia fans count as a blessing, which has resulted from all that they've endured in every major sport. No one truly knows what it's like to be part of that pack, unless you're a wolf in wolf's clothes.
And so, Sandberg is facing his second great diamond test. The person who created the words within this digital dimension believes that he'll retain majority respect and push 'his' team back into the playoffs within one season, at the latest.