CHICAGO — It could end up being the most stunning move of the baseball offseason, and it was the north siders that made it happen.
On Monday, the Cubs fired manager David Ross after four seasons and hired Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell, signing him to a reported five-year, $40 million contract. It caught many people off guard around baseball as the team made an aggressive move to begin the offseason after narrowly missing the playoffs.
With Counsell, the Cubs got the most coveted managerial candidate this offseason, beating out the Brewers to retain him along with the Mets, who were also in the running to hire the 53-year-old skipper.
While this was quite a shock, it certainly has happened in Chicago sports before, including the Cubs.
Here are a few instances of that through the years.
2014 – Cubs fire Rick Renteria to hire Joe Maddon
After just one season and their third rebuilding under team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, the Cubs surprised people by firing manager Rick Renteria after just one season.
It was done after Joe Maddon had exercised an option to be released from his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, and the talented manager was officially hired by the Cubs in early November.
The manager, who was hired as the club’s long-term leader in the dugout, led the Cubs to four-straight playoff appearances as the 2016 World Series title.
2020 – White Sox fire Rick Renteria to hire Tony La Russa
After he was fired by the Cubs, Renteria was hired by the White Sox to replace Robin Ventura as manager in 2017 as that club began to rebuild.
After earning a Wild Card spot in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the team surprised many by firing Renteria, who was an American League Manager of the Year candidate.
Even more stunning was the club’s decision to hire 76-year-old Tony La Russa to take over, doing so 35 years after firing him after his first stint with the club from 1979-1986.
He would lead the White Sox to the 2021 American League Central Division title but the club’s play slipped in 2022. Heath problems forced La Russa out of the dugout in August and he was forced to leave the club before the end of his contract.
2008 – Blackhawks fire Denis Savard to hire Joel Quenneville
A legend with the franchise on the ice, Denis Savard nearly led the Blackhawks to the playoffs in the 2007-2008 season in which Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews made their debut.
But just four games into the next season, after the team went 1-2-1, he was fired on October 16. Joel Quenneville, who had just joined the team as a scout, was promoted to head coach soon after.
Over the next decade, he would oversee the greatest on-ice era in the history of the team, leading them to nine straight playoff appearances and three Stanley Cup titles. Early in the 2008 season, Quenneville was fired in a similar fashion as Savard and immediately replaced by Jeremy Colliton.
1989 – Bulls fire Doug Collins to hire Phil Jackson
In his three seasons as coach of the Bulls, Doug Collins had gotten the Bulls one step farther in the playoffs each season.
But after advancing to the second round in 1988 and the Eastern Conference Finals in 1989, general manager Jerry Krause decided that he wasn’t a longterm fit for the team. In July 1989, he surprised many by firing Collins with one year left on his contract.
Krause would promote Phil Jackson, who just completed his second season as an assistant for the Bulls. Of course, you know the rest, as the head coach would lead the Bulls’ dynasty in the 1990s, with his unique style of coaching helping the team led by Michael Jordan to six championships.