SAN FRANCISCO - Nobody needed to speak with Kendrick to know that he was mad as hell either at Ryan Howard and Chase Utley or at manager Ryne Sandberg -- maybe all of the above -- for coming out of the game after a sixth-inning defensive meltdown. Kendrick's body language and angry dash from the mound and down the dugout steps was a damning quote in itself.
Kyle: You wanted to see me, Skip?
Sandberg: I sure did, Kyle. Why don't you take a seat.
Kyle: Listen, I know why I'm in here, and I just wanted to say I'm sorry. The frustration has been mounting, and I let it get to me. I apologize, whole-heartedly.
Sandberg: Kyle, I understand.
Kyle: (brightening) Yeah?
Sandberg leans forward, folding his hands on the desk.
Sandberg: Definitely. And, y'know what else? It's a long season. We all need friends in here.
Kyle: It sure is. And I appreciate yo-
Kyle notices the glimmering World Seres ring on Sandberg's hand.
Sandberg: Something wrong?
Kyle: I just... is that my World Series ring?
Sandberg: What, this old thing?
He admires it.
Sandberg: I just found it lying around. It's so funny what you can find in this clubhouse, Kyle. People will just leave their most treasured possessions out in the open. For anyone to find.
Sandberg: Anyone, Kyle. Who knows who's going to come through here.
Kyle: I figured mostly just people on the team.
Sandberg: (Has a good, patronizing laugh) Ah, yes. The team. I remember the team. In my day, a team would stick together. I played for the Cubs, Kyle. The Cubs. There were some years so bad we'd lose half the team to the secret, mystical netherworld on the other side of the ivy wall.
Kyle: There's a-
Sandberg: But we never turned our backs on each other. We never showed each other up and we never let each other down. Except for those countless times, when we lost. But let me tell you something: the call of that fantasy realm beyond the ivy was so intense at times I turned to street drugs, just to quiet it.
Kyle: I... I'm sorry.
Sandberg: Night after night, they'd send their dream-fueled airship to me as I slept. "Join us, Ryne," the sirens would chant. "Just walk into the wall like the others."
"I can't," I'd say, "It's made of brick."
"You just have to believe," they'd whisper, "Like with the train station in Harry Potter."
"What the hell is that?!" I'd shout back, in tears. "It's the '80s, remember?"
And then I'd wake up to my wife demanding to know whose street drugs were under my pillow.
Kyle: I... I swear, Ryno, I had no idea...
Sandberg: Uh huh. Now get outta here. I have a ring to pawn for street drug money.
Kyle: (Runs from room, weeping)
SAN FRANCISCO - The morning after he angrily stormed off the mound after a defensive collapse by teammates, Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick apologized to manager Ryne Sandberg for his actions.
"We talked," Kendrick said before Sunday afternoon's game. "I know it wasn't the right thing to do."
PHILADELPHIA - [David] Buchanan, a 25-year-old rookie who has made 14 starts in the big leagues, was not happy about being lifted after five innings Saturday night.
"I didn't expect that and I wasn't too happy about that," the right-hander said after throwing 90 pitches and allowing eight hits and two runs.
Sandberg: Do you not like my management style, David?
David: Of course I... well, maybe you should say what it is first.
Sandberg: (Chuckles) Oh, you kids.
David: (Nervous laugh) Heh, heh. Yeah I guess.
Sandberg: You terribly young, naïve children.
Sandberg: You thoughtless, gutless, mindless, cowardly babies.
Sandberg: You have no idea the sort of pressure I'm under. Every night, answering new questions, filling new holes.
David: I'm sorry, Skip; I'm sure you're struggling too.
Sandberg: The press is relentless, the front office is immobile. What am I supposed to do? Give up?
David: Of course not.
Sandberg: Did you know I keep pictures of my family in here, just in case any given night is the last time I ever see them?
David: Yeah, that's - wait what
Sandberg: (Opens desk drawer, places family photo on desk, stares at it) Hello, family. I'll miss you when I'm gone. Where I'll be, who knows... but just know, I'll be watching. Always.
He caresses the frame of the picture gently.
David: Are you... (Looks around, panicked) Is someone threatening to kill you?
Sandberg: Kill me? Ha, ha. C'mon, David. This isn't about life or death. This is about baseball. Or death. We all know the rules when we sign up: "Be good all the time, or get disappeared behind the ivy wall."
Sandberg: Are you trying to tell me that's not a thing? Because I am sick of people telling me that it's not a thing.
David: (Pretending to hear something) What's that? Oh! I actually - I think McClure's mustache is bristling. I better - I'm gonna -
He flees. Sandberg caresses the picture frame again.
Sandberg: I'll never leave you, my babies. (The picture is of the Wrigley Field ivy. Is it... is it actively growing in the picture?)
PHILADELPHIA - Buchanan met with Sandberg Sunday morning.
"That's been addressed," was all Sandberg would say of the meeting.
PHILADELPHIA - [Domonic] Brown... insinuated that his recent decline in playing time contributed to his inability to make a catch in left field Saturday night. That play was followed by Brown's making a throwing error that led to a run.
Sandberg: You good, Dom? How's that stance?
Dom: Solid as ever.
Sandberg: Good to hear, good to hear. Because I know you've struggled.
Dom: That's tough to deny, coach.
Sandberg: Struggled on a stance, I mean. You seem like one minute your hands are over your head, then they're a little lower, then they're back over your head, then maybe you're holding the bat upside down.
Dom: I'm just... I've been trying to find my rhythm.
Sandberg: (Eyebrow arches) For how many years now?
Sandberg: It's almost like somebody's been sneaking into your room at night and whispering stupid batting stance advice into your ear so that you subconsciously adopt it as fact! Ha ha!
Dom: Ha ha?
Sandberg: But that would be pretty crazy. Pretty effective, too, I'm sure. But pretty crazy.
Dom: Pretty crazy, yeah.
Sandberg: Crazier still would be if the person doing that was suddenly too busy with their third base coach duties to keep whispering in your ear at night, and without that interference you had the best month of your career.
Sandberg: It would almost be like that person held your livelihood in their very hands.
Sandberg: I mean, it would be that. It would be exactly that.
Dom: (Inwardly questioning everything that's ever happened) I suppose it would...
Sandberg: Ha ha, wow. Y'know what? That person would control whether you were completely irrelevant or could actually one day contribute to a baseball team. And who knows! Maybe even the general manager working above whoever was whispering in your ear was in on it, and they got together at the bar afterward, and performed a toast to your destruction, laughing as they did. The GM would never trade you, and the manager would make sure you were terrible. For no purpose other than to get off on the total control they had over your life.
Dom stares in horrified confusion.
The phone rings on Sandberg's desk. He answers it.
Sandberg: Hello? Ruuuuu-ben! What's up buddy! We getting beers later? After the, you know...
He looks up at Dom and winks.
Sandberg: ...the "thing?" Yeah, you know the one. Nope, he has no idea. I know, right? So funny.
PHILADELPHIA - "I have no beef with Ryno; everything is good," Brown said after Sunday's game. "We talked. He just wanted to make sure we're on the same page and we are. Everything is good. Ryno's doing a great job."