Craig Counsell had to have known Brewers fans would not be thrilled with his departure from Milwaukee, especially since he joined a division rival in the Cubs.
But he readily admits now he underestimated how much the decision would incense his former team’s fanbase.
Counsell joined the Cubs earlier this offseason after nine years with the Brewers. Widely regarded as one of the best managers in the game, Counsell repeatedly got Milwaukee to perform well above expectations – though that never resulted in a trip to the World Series.
He takes over now for a Cubs team that is on the rise, supplanting David Ross who had just weeks earlier been given a vote of confidence from team brass.
The reaction in Milwaukee – where Counsell grew up – was, in a word, emphatic. Fans were irate, with a sign for Craig Counsell Park getting vandalized in the aftermath.
Counsell was asked about the backlash Monday on Bernstein & Holmes after getting introduced as Cubs manager.
“I think I underestimated that reaction for sure. Miscalculation on my part for sure,” Counsell admitted. “And yeah, it doesn’t feel good. It does not feel good. And it’s why I said it’s been an emotional week. Today really helped, today really helped. I understand you’ve got to live with that and it’s real for people and it's what they’re experiencing and it’s what the fans experience. Being a fan is being emotional, and I’m cool with that man, that’s why we’re all here.
“I’m confident that what I did, how we performed, the experience we gave our fans in Milwaukee over the last nine years was good, I know that that was good, and I do think that will age well, and so I have to be comfortable that this upsetness, the fact that people are upset will heal a bit over time.”