Home Sports Cubs’ Craig Counsell takes it in stride as Brewers fans boo their former manager’s return to Milwaukee

Cubs’ Craig Counsell takes it in stride as Brewers fans boo their former manager’s return to Milwaukee

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Chicago Cubs manager Craig Counsell speaks to reporters before Monday's game in Milwaukee, where he spent a combined 17 years as a Brewers player and manager. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MILWAUKEE – If you didn’t know better, you would have thought the dozens of media members gathered in the visitor dugout at American Family Field were there for people like Shohei Ohtani. But the pomp and circumstance went to former Brewers and now Cubs manager Craig Counsell, who returned to Milwaukee for the first time since he took his new job in Chicago.

After downplaying his return and the attention that would surround it over the past month, the Cubs manager opened his trip back to the ballpark he called home for nearly two decades.

“Life takes different paths, man,” Counsell said before the Cubs’ 5-1 loss to the Brewers. “I don’t want to plan my life forever. I want to do things that challenge me. That excites me, so I don’t make plans like that. You have to take the journey of life and see what happens. This wasn’t something he necessarily expected to happen. But you have to get on the ride and go.

“I was in one place for a long time. I think when you’re in a place for a long time, you naturally think, ‘What if I did something different?'” Counsell said. “It was part of that. And that happened over the last few years. Not just last year. Frankly, the departure of David Stearns (former Brewers president of baseball operations) made you think about it a lot. I don’t know how he couldn’t “That’s how it happens over time.”

While any manager returning to a place he’s been in for a long time draws attention, Counsell’s return to Milwaukee is probably even bigger for Counsell than it would have been for others. It’s not just that he managed in Milwaukee for nine seasons, he played there for six seasons as a player and worked in the front office for three seasons.

It’s the fact that Counsell is also one of Wisconsin’s native sons.

The Cubs captain grew up just 15 minutes from American Family Field in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. The park in Whitefish Bay named after Counsell was vandalized in the offseason after Chicago hired him.

Counsell seems to realize how his departure from Milwaukee and move to Chicago has been taken by the fan base that used to cheer him on. But she brushed off his newfound disdain for him as she waited for his response.

Brewers fans wasted no time in “welcoming” their former manager with a round of boos during his brief tribute video and when he came out to exchange lineup cards with Brewers manager and old friend Pat Murphy or when He took the field at any time. during the Cubs’ loss to the Brewers on Monday.

“Cheer up, boo, whatever, man. Just have a good time in the game,” Counsell said before the game. “That’s what fans can do. So have a good time. It’s Memorial Day, you’re not going to work today. And let’s all have a good time.”

While Milwaukee fans currently have no love for Counsell, Murphy knows what the two mean to each other despite the changes of the last seven months.

“We have passionate fans. I mean, that’s something I’ve come to know,” Murphy said. “I was here for almost every game Craig coached. And I know how much (Brewers fans) respect him. I know how much the Brewers accomplished when Craig was the manager. And I think when he goes out, he expects anything. … I know that at the end of the day, 20 years from now, when we all look back, Craig will be recognized as a big part of the Brewers.”

“(Craig) would do anything for this community. “That’s who he is.”

Counsell’s tenure in Milwaukee was very successful, going 707-625 under his watch with five postseason appearances. After a disappointing sweep of Arizona in the NL wild card last season, Counsell’s contract expired in November, making him a free agent for the first time.

But in a move that shocked the baseball world, the Cubs signed Counsell away from their NL Central rivals five days later and also fired David Ross in the process.

If Counsell were to leave Milwaukee for any other baseball team, the public response would almost certainly be different. But choosing Chicago adds even more chapters to the long relationship between Counsell and Milwaukee.

“It’s not my job to tell people how to feel about it or even find out,” he said. “Let people feel what they want to feel and that’s fine with me. And it doesn’t have to be all positive. We are in a public job. And we are working with the fans and the fans are allowed to feel whatever they want.”

Unlike other sports, due to the nature of baseball and the fact that there are games almost every day for seven months, it does not usually allow for sentimentality. In a series between two teams at the top of the division, with the first-place Brewers playing well and the Cubs not, it can almost be easier for those involved not to feel.

Counsell, who has always been known for his stoic and professional attitude, rarely shows much emotion and that fits his personality. But in some ways, the Cubs manager seemed almost relieved that the day had come to have a sense of closure and try to enjoy the moment in the process.

“When you see people and talk to them, that’s what makes you reflect and enjoy it,” Counsell said. “That happened when we were in Chicago with those guys and it will happen here this week in Milwaukee with more people who weren’t in Chicago.

“So I hope to do that and I want to do that. That will be fun. So I really want to do it. And that’s certainly the human part, but it’s because of your connections with people.”

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