MESA, Ariz. — By any standards, 1985 wasn't a particularly tame year for Chicago Cubs' President-General Manager Dallas Green.
But by previous Green standards, the Cubs' chief was actually more calm during a season that tested his patience and his fortitude.
The Cubs were expected to be a contender to repeat as National League Eastern Division titlists. Instead of contenders, they were pretenders.
For most of the long 1985 season, Green sat back and let his players play and his coaches coach and his manager manage.
Don't look for the same type of understanding in 1986.
"I probably will take people to task if I don't see it done the way I want it done this year," promised Green, threatening to bring back the Dallas Green of old to Wrigley Field. "I pretty well let (Manager) Jimmy Frey and the coaches and everyone do their own thing last year."
It isn't that Green quarrels with Frey's thinking. In fact, he thought Frey did an outstanding job in 1985.
What Green was probably hinting at is that he won't take kindly to any soft handling of players who aren't performing. The aura of a championship has worn off his club and Green is hungry to get back on top.
"I want to get the best out of our ballplayers," Green said. "That is all that I'm asking."
When Green first arrived in Chicago, he sent an individual letter to each player ordering them to come to spring training in shape. It wasn't a request. It was a demand.
Conditioning has always been a high priority for Green and 1986 will be no exception. He wants to exert his influence that his players, superstars and reserves alike, be in better shape than in 1985's injury-plagued campaign.
"I hear a lot about weights and bicycling," Green says, "but you can't bicycle between first base and third base."
Steve Trout, one of the injured pitchers in Green's stable last year, actually missed a turn late in the season after falling off a bike. That start coincidentally was the one in which Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds tied Ty Cobb's career hit mark at Wrigley Field.
"I would like to see us go back to running. Running a lot," Green says. "That may be old fashion but that's the way I see it."
Green's view from the third base box he occupies caused him some anguish in 1985 but he seldom interfered. A former manager himself, it is quite possible Green will take a more active role with the Chicago Cubs--1986 style.
"I don't believe in interfering with the manager," Green says. "That's not my style. But if I see something that I don't like, I'm not going to shy away from saying anything about it."
In addition to coming off a title-winning season in 1984, Green had become more occupied with non-baseball chores in his additional capacity as team president. There was the question of lights that continues to haunt the Cubs and the issue of whether to expand and improve Wrigley Field or leave for the suburbs.
But Green has additional help this season with a vice president in charge of baseball financial operations. His front office team is entirely his and it is one he trusts.
That may leave more time for Green, more of a baseball man at heart than a club executive, to carefully monitor a club he believes is still strong enough to contend and win it all.
"We've paid dearly for some of our players, including the free agents we've signed," Green said. "We've taken care of their families and themselves. Now we want production. And I'm here to see we're going to get it."
Other than player moves, it is unlikely any radical changes on the field will be ordered by Green. He likes Frey and his managerial style seems to be in sync with Green's style.
"I had a talk with our coaches at the All-Star break last season and told them I wanted more production out of our club, but for the most part, that was about all I did in the way of coming down," Green says. "I want more this year and I think everyone in this organization knows it . . . or ought to know it by now."
Green's position with the Chicago Tribune-owned club is secure. But others on the field who don't enjoy that luxury could be in for some vintage Green lectures come this spring when the Cubs begin the 1986 season.