Craig Counsell was officially introduced as manager of the Chicago Cubs on Monday, although the shocking move has been discussed at length in the baseball world over the past week.
The Milwaukee Brewers saw Counsell become a true free agent as a manager, and he was expected to be a hot commodity for those with an opening.
Instead, Counsell and the Cubs reached an agreement that led to the firing of David Ross as the team’s manager.
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Counsell was a name Brewers fans knew for 17 years as a player and manager, so heading to an NL Central rival hurt the masses in Milwaukee. Speaking to reporters in his now-former hometown, Counsell admitted that he didn’t realize the backlash that would come with his decision.
«It was 17 years,» Counsell said. «I started to understand that. It’s been a long time. They were people who mean a lot to you and will continue to do so. But that dynamic has changed. I understand it all. I understand the emotion.
«And I did. I underestimated the emotion of it all. And that’s probably why it hits you so hard.»
Counsell spent six years in a Brewers uniform as a player, including his final five years from 2007-2011, before taking over as the team’s manager in 2015. And in that span, Counsell was a member of the Brewers front office immediately. after retiring. at the same time he works as a radio analyst to call games.
BREWERS OWNER THROWS SHADOW AT CRAIG COUNSELL ON THE SAME DAY SIGN WITH THE NAME OF THE FORMER MANAGER FOUND VANDALIZED IN THE PARK
As manager, Counsell led the Brewers to the postseason in five of the last six seasons.
«My time in Milwaukee working for the Brewers was wonderful,» Counsell continued. «The experience that I think we’ve all had there, I think, has been pretty good. I’m grateful for that. Very, very grateful for that. I hope we can all be grateful for that, really.»
The Brewers were publicly frustrated with Counsell’s decision during a media session to discuss what the city and surrounding areas in Wisconsin were facing.
«I’m not going to speak for Craig,» owner Mark Attanasio said. «He talked a lot over the last few weeks about what he was trying to do. We’ll see if he was successful or if it was a one-off.
«[We’re all here] today because we lost Craig, but I’ve reflected on this. Craig has lost us and he has lost our community too.”
A sign at Craig Counsell Park in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, was also vandalized after reports surfaced that he joined the Cubs.
The Cubs will see their divisional foe over the next few seasons, and Counsell is not expected to receive the warmest welcome from the Brewers faithful when he returns.
In fact, the move likely heightens what was already a rivalry.
But Counsell and president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer were all smiles as a new era entered Wrigley Field on Monday.
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As Attanasio said, we’ll see who made the right decision in the end.