- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- Managing the Cubs would be a dream come true for Chicago native Pete Mackanin.
"I grew up in Chicago," Mackanin said Friday. "It would be a thrill to take this Cubs team to the top and be a part of it."
Mackanin became the first candidate to officially interview for the Cubs managerial job, meeting with members of the front office on Friday before being turned over to the Chicago media as a final test. The 60-year-old Mackanin initially had dinner with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and VP of scouting and player development Jason McLeod at a downtown hotel on Thursday night.
"It was very comprehensive," he said. "They didn't let me up for air. They just keep pounding questions at you. It's very interesting. It's fun getting to know these guys and seeing what's on their mind."
The Cubs are looking to replace Mike Quade, who was fired Wednesday after a 71-91 season that extended their infamous championship drought to 103 years.
Mackanin has spent the past three seasons as the bench coach for Charlie Manuel and the Philadelphia Phillies. A South Side native who attended Brother Rice High School and the University of Illinois, Mackanin has extensive experience managing, coaching and scouting over the last 30 years.
Mackanin's only managing experience at the major league level came as an interim manager with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2005 and with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. The Reds had the worst record in baseball when he relieved Jerry Narron but finished in second place in the NL Central by the end of the season.
Mackanin also interviewed with the Red Sox on Oct. 28.
"I'm not going in here with the politics," Mackanin said. "If there is an opportunity that arises at either place (Chicago or Boston) then there is a challenge for people who have gone through my type of career and aspired to manage at this level. But it shouldn't be about playing one against the other."
Mackanin has worked for the Cubs before. He was their minor league coordinator in 1987 before taking over as manager of Triple-A Iowa in 1988.
Game simulations were a part of the interview process, and for Mackanin, that meant watching the Cubs play the Phillies with management. He was given lineup cards, statistical information, pitchers' workloads and any other relevant information. At various points, Cubs executives would stop the video and ask what he would do.
The process will be similar for other candidates.
Mackanin might have made one mistake when he told the Cubs he rooted for both Chicago teams growing up. He said Epstein joked, "Don't ever mention you were a Sox fan again."
If he gets the job, Mackanin will be taking over a team that's burdened by big contracts belonging to Alfonso Soriano and the troubled Carlos Zambrano but also boasts one of the game's top young players in star shortstop Starlin Castro.
Turning around a fifth-place team could take a while, and Mackanin sidestepped the question when asked how he would do it, saying, "It's kind of premature for me to go into my plans on how to get this team going. I think it's just too early for me to step into that."
He did say he believes in statistical analysis, which should sit well with management, along with managing from his gut.
"Statistics mean something," he said. "It's just not a number. ... Those things all help paint a picture of what a player looks like and, in the end, what he might be able to contribute. It'll help you make a decision."
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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