Dale Sveum is either an optimist or a guy with big bills to pay. He not only showed up for his second season as the Cubs' manager but somehow seems confident it will be better than his first.

It better be, right?

Sveum has no plans to mention the 101-loss forced march through the National League when his team assembles around him for the start of spring training.

"I probably won't mention last year, to tell you the truth," Sveum said Sunday, during a break from staff meetings. "This is about this year and the 25 guys we want this year. I won't talk about last year at all."

No one alive knows exactly what Sveum will face this year. If anyone did know what it would be like to be in Sveum's shoes, it was the late Leo Durocher. He was the last Cubs manager to enter a season coming off a 100-loss campaign, and he did it 46 years ago.

Both were intense shortstops when they played, but that's where any parallels between the two end.

Durocher, hired by Phil Wrigley after his best years as a manager had come and gone, was a tyrant who embarrassed players and motivated through fear. He craved — at times demanded — the spotlight and loved high society as much as highballs. He generated creative tension long before it had a name, challenging umpires and rival managers (even players), and sometimes skipped games because he was hung over, pouting or disinterested.

Sveum is comfortable riding shotgun but might pick the back seat just to be polite. He leads by teaching, not screaming, and took great pride in how well his players got along last season.

Durocher and Sveum took over the Cubs under very different circumstance. Wrigley, as decent of a man Chicago has produced, was rumored to have an interest in the crude, offensive Durocher as early as 1956 but wrote off those reports as "ridiculous." He hired him for the '66 season because newspapers had begun to criticize Wrigley for the Cubs' status as perennial also-rans. He was finally interested in winning and looked to Durocher to make it happen.