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   1. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 29, 2006 at 01:49 PM (#2042174)
The most depressing thing to me was that (as Neil pointed out) we ended the Sunday game with 5 second basemen on the field:

Walker 1b
Womack 2b
Perez ss
Bynum lf
Hairston rf

Well, that and the record crowds. The Trib's not going to feel the need to change anything if the fans keep turning out in record numbers.

The Cubs are now 1-9 in their last 10, including being swept by the team with the worst record in the National League. Of course, if we keep playing like this then there's no way that will happen again this year.
   2. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 29, 2006 at 02:23 PM (#2042195)
*) On the other side of town, the White Sox stop a small losing streak after a profanity-laced tirade by the Sox manager against his team’s recent sloppy play.

I'm a big believer that it is unfair to criticize a manager for appearing to remain calm and not openly yelling at his players, whether that manager is Lovie Smith or anyone else. The fact is that we *don't* know what is being said behind closed doors, and just as we all want to see a manager with "fire," not only does this not prove anything, but it often leads to scapegoating. I guess I should feel the same way about Dusty.

I do think that Dusty is too soft on his players, though -- not because he isn't openly calling them out for physical errors, but because he's always been quite lax when it comes to mental errors, such as baserunning, plate discipline, throwing to the wrong base, etc. Just as bad, Dusty tends to ignore (if not side with) players who act petulantly off the field as well.
   3. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 29, 2006 at 02:32 PM (#2042199)
All that said, though, I do keep thinking about Mike's question: "Has there been a more difficult time to be a Cub fan?" Seeing that I've been actively watching/following a new team for the past several months, I think I have to think this is the toughest time to be a Cubs fan.

I do feel compelled to add, though, that the reason I find these times so tough isn't because of the lousy play -- although it may not be reflected in the W/L record, I know I've seen similarly lousy play by several other Cubs teams in the past, as recently as 2002 and, to my eyes, going back to the mid-'70s.

What makes these times so difficult to me is the frustration with the Cubs "Braintrust" -- the daily messages that everyone feels bad, is sorry, and accepts responsibility . . . while no meaningful changes are made, none are planned, and ultimately no one is accountable. To the contrary, while Rome is burning to the ground, our Emporers Nero continue to fiddle away, insisting that it's not fair to even consider any changes until Lee and Prior return, even if that takes a month or longer.

It's not the team's play; it's the management's philosophy of "PR first, baseball a distant second" that irks me to no end.
   4. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: May 29, 2006 at 02:33 PM (#2042201)
The feelings of Cubs fans towards their team and management make me think of Mets fans just after the Kazmir trade a few years ago.
   5. The New No. 2 Posted: May 29, 2006 at 02:39 PM (#2042203)
One thing I would like to say here is that you can't use the 41,000 as a reasonable proxy for the fans attitudes. Most if not all of those tickets were bought and paid for well before the season started (when people thought that this could be a decent to good team). It isn't like the Cubs are offering refunds because of their play. The reprecussions from this season will be felt in next seasons attendance figures now that Baker and Hendry's talents for assembling a baseball team have truly been exposed. I don't think that there really is anybody left who thinks that these guys are the right guys anymore except for Mcphail.
   6. John DiFool2 Posted: May 29, 2006 at 02:53 PM (#2042208)
I watched some of yesterday's game on WGN-the fans' attitude is completely different than 20 years ago, when they were much more laid back-lots of booing yesterday (not
that I blame them)...
   7. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 29, 2006 at 02:53 PM (#2042209)
Although the disdain and frustration is just as open, I think the situations are different in two meaningful ways --

1. The Kazmir deal was one singular event. Yes, it reflected a lousy management philosophy and I suppose at the time it may have appeared that other lousy moves would follow, but in the final analysis, it was just one lousy trade.

This Cubs ordeal is different because it is being played out on a daily basis, over several months (of not years). It isn't being triggered by a single event; it is a chronic, recurring untreated injury rather than an acute trauma.

2. At least IMO, my frustration has to do with a management whose first goal is to foster public relations and where baseball is a distant goal. Addressing failed philosophies and making meaningful change is not something this organization will consider -- indeed, they won't even recognize there is a problem. All they care about is holding on to their partnerships like millstones and planning when it will be appropriate to announce Dusty Baker's 2 year extension.

In the Mets case, while it was (is?) true that there is a problem in dealing with the ownership and getting the idiots out of power, it is slightly different in this case because (a) the Braintrust has/is actively, openly, and contractually committing to each other and (b) the Cubs care much more about how this will be/is being portrayed to the fans.
   8. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 29, 2006 at 02:59 PM (#2042213)
I think it's a valid position to not want a manager to throw players under a bus for physical errors. Like you, I have always found mental errors -- especially when they're repeated and not addressed -- much more worthy of pointed criticism.

But I think the juxtaposition between Guillen's and Baker's approaches to their teams' recent sloppy play is quite telling. However a manger chooses to do it, he must at times send a message to his team that repeated head-up-your-butt baseball will not be acceptable. In the case of Baker, I firmly believe the opposite message is consistently delivered even if it isn't always delivered in direct ways. It's no mystery why players stick up for him and love to play for him. I used to love having a substitute teacher in class, too: I knew there would not be a lot of ramification for my actions that day.

Ramirez made a physical goof, which I agree doesn't require Baker to to nail him in public. But it also doesn't necessitate that Baker provide his special brand of excuse-making for that play. It's simply insulting to fans and not productive for the culture of the team, IMO. Off the top of my head, how 'bout something like this? "Aramis would be the first person to tell you that that ball should have been caught. Physical errors happen in this game and there's not a lot you can say. But that's a play that obviously should have been made." End of statement. To suggest that the play was a difficult one or that the wind provided any real reason for botching it creates the excuse-making cuture that runs too rampant inside this team.

A time ago, I was more receptive to the idea that it's unfair to nail Baker for his demeanor in public because we don't know what happens in private. To be honest djf, I just don't buy it anymore. Baker Cub teams have fallen apart mentally too many times, and there seems to be few real ramifications or evidence of urgently addressing those kind of displays. We all have heard Baker's excuse making in public. We've seldom seen players benched for repeated mental laspses. We've seen players continue not to hustle on Baker teams. And we've heard players interviewed about what it's like to be managed by Baker. I remember how weak Baker was with his comments last year when Glendon Rusch failed to cover 1st base three times in a single game.

Juan Pierre loves his manager because Baker "treats him like a man." I just don't get the feeling that there's this Dusty Baker behind closed doors that is so significantly different than the one we see in public. I know we'll never know for sure, and this is open for conjecture. But for me, the proof is in the pudding.
   9. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:00 PM (#2042214)
One thing I would like to say here is that you can't use the 41,000 as a reasonable proxy for the fans attitudes. Most if not all of those tickets were bought and paid for well before the season started (when people thought that this could be a decent to good team). It isn't like the Cubs are offering refunds because of their play.

I'm not sure about this. Yes, I agree that the tickets were sold months ago and this is likely the biggest reason fans are showing up. Another would be the nice weather.

Still, if the lousiness truly made a difference to fans deciding whether to go to Wrigley, it wouldn't just be reflected in 2007 ticket sales Even now, there would be a large number of no-shows, with fans selling their tickets to scalpers, etc. I don't see this, which bothers me a bit.
   10. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#2042215)
1. The Kazmir deal was one singular event. Yes, it reflected a lousy management philosophy and I suppose at the time it may have appeared that other lousy moves would follow, but in the final analysis, it was just one lousy trade.

As you say, at the time no one could know that it would only be a singular event. Flawed team building and drafting by the Steve Philips Experience and that bizarre Yankee fetish in the Mets FO seemed at the time to be continuing, even to the detriment of the on-the-field club. So at the time, it was a very direct signal that the lunatics were running the asylum and that the FO was completely out of step with the fanbase regarding player evaluation, and thus that Mets fans should get used to great prospects traded for completely mediocre veterans.
   11. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:11 PM (#2042218)
I also reject the constant narrative that the Tribune is just happy selling out Wrigley and collecting their TV money. I think that if you make the Cubs a constant Red Sox-style contender every year, or even a Twins-style a few times a decade, they could get far more money from their local broadcaster so as to make it completely worthy.
   12. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:12 PM (#2042219)
>I do feel compelled to add, though, that the reason I find these times so tough isn't because of the lousy play -- although it may not be reflected in the W/L record, I know I've seen similarly lousy play by several other Cubs teams in the past, as recently as 2002 and, to my eyes, going back to the mid-'70s.<

This is a great point. I couldn't agree with it more. Any Cub fan for any length of time has been through miserable win-loss records and dreadful seasons. But this feels even more anger-inducing...not simply because they're lousy but because the lousiness is being excused and almost sanctioned, because there is not a shred of evidence that a change in direction is being considered, because Cubs brass is not even going through the motions of creating a "new plan" in response to one that isn't working.

Perhaps another way of asking the question is this: Have you as a Cub fan ever felt as disregarded or taken for granted by an insulated management as right now? For me, the answer to that question helps explain why this stretch of Cub fandom feels different than even the worst of times in the past.
   13. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:21 PM (#2042222)
Ramirez made a physical goof, which I agree doesn't require Baker to to nail him in public. But it also doesn't necessitate that Baker provide his special brand of excuse-making for that play. It's simply insulting to fans and not productive for the culture of the team, IMO. Off the top of my head, how 'bout something like this? "Aramis would be the first person to tell you that that ball should have been caught. Physical errors happen in this game and there's not a lot you can say. But that's a play that obviously should have been made."

I can agree with this -- at least in the sense it would be realistic and would draw respect not only from fans, but from the players themselves. Baker's excuses are almost comical.

I also completely agree that the entire team -- players and management alike -- need to be held accountable for their wrongdoing. When a player has a complete braincramp in the field, he needs to have a reserved seat for him on the bench, next to the manager. Instead, Dusty will come up with some "dog ate my homework" excuse and continue to trot the player out on a daily basis. To do what Bobby Cox once did with Andruw Jones -- call him into the dugout mid-inning -- would be unthinkable for Dusty.

I agree this is a major problem for Dusty (if not the franchise).

My point, though, is that while I want to see accountability as much as the next guy, and I certainly agree that Dusty coddles his players too much and (although we don't know) we can probably guess what isn't being said behind closed doors . . .

. . . I don't agree that this team would be better if Dusty started laying into Ramirez (or anyone else) with some sort of profanity-laced tirade, or if he got into some sort of huge argument with an umpire and threw bases, bats, etc. I just don't see that as productive. For that matter, as much as I would respect Dusty more for not making excuses, I don't think his excuse-making is really that much a cause of where we are today.

Yes, I'm sick of the excuses and sick of hearing how everyone involved feels bad about the situation. Yes, it would be entertaining and to see Dusty go on some Lee Elia-style tirade, but what would truly make me feel better would be to see him actually hold players accountable for their lousy play -- not by yelling at them or calling them out to the media, but by putting them on the bench.

Of course, this excludes guys like Ryu, Hill, Williams, Wuertz, and Aardsma, who he can scapegoat and yo-yo back and forth between here and Iowa without really affecting anything particularly important.
   14. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:27 PM (#2042224)
Of course, this excludes guys like Ryu, Hill, Williams, Wuertz, and Aardsma,

Isn't that the cast of Street Fighter II?
   15. Neil M Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:31 PM (#2042227)
I remember how weak Baker was with his comments last year when Glendon Rusch failed to cover 1st base three times in a single game.

In the interest of fairness, Rusch only failed once. Williams failed to cover earlier in the game and Remlinger was guilty later. Three pitchers, three lapses - arguably worse.
   16. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:46 PM (#2042240)
I'm not sure that the attendance means that much, either -- I'm as ticked off as anyone by the present administration of the Cubs and even I contemplated getting a ticket to a game this weekend, just because it's been an absolutely picture-perfect weekend for baseball.

I'm not putting no credence in the idea that the Cubs are being complacent so long as complacency doesn't hurt the revenue streams, but my hypothesis is that the real problem is that they have a plan, they've executed the plan to something approaching the best of their abilities, but it's the wrong plan.

My guess is that the Cubs believe that the #1 gold-plated plan to winning baseball is making contact and putting the ball in play. If you believed that, you'd assemble a team of high BA, low (relative) OBP guys, and you'd prevent the other team from making contact by assembling a pitching staff full of guys who nibble on the black and battle and throw a lot of strikeouts and give up a lot of walks. (Walks are OK, the cost of doing business, at least they didn't put the ball in play, where Anything Can Happen.) You'd bunt for hits and you'd bunt for productive outs. You'd assemble a bench full of slap-hitting bat control guys. You'd end up with a team, in short, that looks a hell of a lot like the 2004-06 Cubs.

Thus, in the minds of management, the problems with the club are purely problems of execution -- the batters haven't made enough contact and the pitchers haven't struck enough guys out. Viewed through this lens, a lot of things that we think of as essentially nuts -- the Neifi contract, the fetish for weak-hitting utilitymen, the overvauling of Rich Hill, the continued support of Dusty Baker (he's preaching the "right" things, the players just haven't come through so far) -- make "sense".
   17. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:47 PM (#2042241)
It's clear we agree on a lot of this.

I guess somewhat of a disagreement is over whether a louder, angrier Baker would be better for this team.
There is such a long way between Baker's comatose reaction to the mental and physical poop he sees from his team and a Lee Elia-style tirade. I don't think one has to choose between the two to criticize this aspect of Baker's managing.

But yes, I would like to see Baker jump on an umpire at times during a terrible stretch of baseball to try to shake up his team. I would like the manager of the team I root for to have been thrown out of a game or two because of a questionable call during this kind of display. Although I completely agree that Baker railing at umpires and expressing disappointment in "louder" fashion would not make the difference to what we're seeing, I still think it would help and be good for the team.

At the very least, it would send a message to his team (and to fans) that I just don't think is being delivered now. And it might also help a team's players stay in better control of themselves. For all of the comments about Baker being a player's manager, it's interesting that he seldom protects players from "losing it" by taking on their frustrations when they threaten to become out of control. Bobby Cox is beautiful at doing this to name one example of a much better manager.

In the past, we've seen blowups by many key Cub players in critical situations whether from Hawkins and Alou to Barrett this year. Too many Cub players self-destruct with Baker doing little at all to put that frustration on his shoulders.

Did Guillen go too far with his players during this latest tirade? You certainly could make that case. But Baker is so rooted in the other extreme that it doesn't take long for me to decide which way I'd rather have my manager react to very bad baseball -- both mental and physical. I vote Guillen myself.
   18. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#2042245)
In the interest of fairness, Rusch only failed once. Williams failed to cover earlier in the game and Remlinger was guilty later. Three pitchers, three lapses - arguably worse.

My mistake. I remembered this incorrectly. Thanks much for the correction. Three pitchers in one game made the same fundamental little-league mistake. What I remember more vividly is how weak Baker's response was to these unforgivable repeated lapses. And I believe they were the kind of lapses that were happening fairly regularly then.

Thanks again for clearing this up...
   19. Boots Day Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:56 PM (#2042247)
I can't understand at all the criticisms of the fans for showing up at the most beautiful ballpark in the world on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. If I were in Chicago and had a ticket, I certainly would have gone, too.

Many times I have heard people criticize a town for not supporting a team. Never before have I heard of a team's fans criticized for gong to a game.
   20. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 29, 2006 at 04:03 PM (#2042252)
I heard this voice saying "Remain calm, all is well" several times over and thought, "Who has the radio turned to WGN. Because that sounds just like Jim Hendry."

Turns out my grandsons were watching the movie "Animal House" and it was the street scene when all h*ll is breaking loose and the Kevin Bacon character is standing there repeating that phrase while people are running willy-nilly.

But I'm telling you, the similarity was AMAZING.............
   21. Meatwad Posted: May 29, 2006 at 04:27 PM (#2042264)
this must be a good time to be a brewers fan
   22. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 29, 2006 at 04:28 PM (#2042265)
I also reject the constant narrative that the Tribune is just happy selling out Wrigley and collecting their TV money.

If that were the case, there might be more concern. Cub TV ratings are down - what 45%? - from a few years ago.

I'm a big believer that it is unfair to criticize a manager for appearing to remain calm and not openly yelling at his players, whether that manager is Lovie Smith or anyone else. The fact is that we *don't* know what is being said behind closed doors, and just as we all want to see a manager with "fire," not only does this not prove anything, but it often leads to scapegoating. I guess I should feel the same way about Dusty.

I do think that Dusty is too soft on his players, though


Yea, I'm a big believer in the old Connie Mack approach -- if you have anything bad to say to a player do it in private so he keeps his dignity. Ultimately I don't know if either the Guillen or Mack approach is inhernelty superior to the other, but either way has to be handled right. As of now, it doesn't look like Baker's handling it right. Would a profantity-laced tirade help? I don't it. I think it would add to the death-spiral image surrounding the team. It would be the managerial equivalent of punching AJ in the face. What he needs to do is call Rameriz or St. Neifi or whoever into his office, and take the player out to the woodshed so to speak. He's already classified as a Mack-style manager, getting out of character would wreak of desperation, not inspiration.

Re: attendance, management & attitude by the front office to the fans.

Cub management has always struck me as being very clueless about how to run a ballclub, but exceedingly savvy about catering to fans. That's fairly obvious. I think their real success however, has been their ability to nip frustration in the bud before it becomes full blown. There's always been a cyncial belief out there that the management doesn't really care about winning, but I know very few who seem to really believe it or act like they do. Every once in a while they'd get a play-off appearance or a big free agent signings (I'm thinkg the Bell-Jackson-Smith trinity fiasco) to drum up excitement that would last for a few years. The 2003 near-miss created by far the most excitement and the most notable bump in attendance.

A few things have changed that indicates to me at least that unless the Cubs make some changes the 22 year run of outdoor-beer-garden-heaven may be in trouble. 1) So far this year they're extraordinarily deaf to fan complaints. They threw Zimmer under a bus, Baylor under a bus, Ed Lynch under a bus. Everyone gets there turn. But Dusty's sacred. I'm not saying those guys were unfairly fired (far from it) but the constant turnover has helped retain people's enthusiasm. 2) The Sox won it last year, and are off to a great start this year. There's a lot less complacency among the fan base at the same time there's apparently increased complacency among the front office. 3) Wrigley's been the great outdoor beer garden, a great place to have fun and occassionally watch a game if you're interested in it, but will that be the case if the Friendly Confines are no longer so Friendly? If 40,0000 show up, and 20,000 boo the home team throughout the game, wouldn't that just kill the buzz for the 20,000 Trixies and Chads? I think so. If it becomes a depressing experience, why not go get your ya-ya's out elsewhere? Sure Wrigleyville's a giant amusement park for yuppies & suburbanites, but it's not the only neighborhood in Chicago that's undergone gentrification. I could be wrong but I believe housing prices are currently skyrocketing in Bridgeport. I've never heard so much booing so regularly at Wrigley Field as I've heard this year.

If you're a corporate season ticket holder, would you be less inclined to re-up to buy a full-load of tickets in boo-central? A smaller package maybe? How about splitting and getting a 20-seat package here and a 20-seat package at Comiskey?

In the past, when people get irate the Cub brass responded by throwing a lower-eschleon object of dissatisfaction under the bus (with cause). My own guess is that if Hendry won't do it he might get tossed. But MacFail loves him it seems. (Then again he seemed to love Lynch, too). If this filters out all year long I'd be very interested in seeing what happens to their season-ticket and multi-pack ticket sales this off-season. Especially if the White Sox go to the post-season again (which they likely will).

Also, one additional reason for the attendance was not only were most seats paid in advance, not only was it a nice day, but it was Memorial Day weekend.

And an even bigger reason why the crowd was so huge compared to prevoius years: they expanded the bleachers. Comparing this year's attendance to last year's is an unbalanced comparison because all other things being equal they should have more people this year.
   23. Meatwad Posted: May 29, 2006 at 05:42 PM (#2042344)
i have never been more down and depressed about the cubs as i am now. they havne nothing really watching. i miss the days when at least sosa had a chance to hit a few home runs. now theres just nothing at all
   24. dcsmyth1 Posted: May 29, 2006 at 05:55 PM (#2042364)
they havne nothing really watching. i miss the days when at least sosa had a chance to hit a few home runs. now theres just nothing at all

Well, admit it or not, there is certainly some masochistic pleasure in seeing how they'll find another way to lose today. I mean, it's like seeing a guy slip on a banana peel; you don't want it to happen to him, but it's nonetheless fun to see. Plus, it's kind of fun to wake up and see what angles the newspaper columnists and sports radio shows have come up with to rip the Cubs a new one...
   25. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 29, 2006 at 06:23 PM (#2042417)
I would like to see Baker jump on an umpire at times during a terrible stretch of baseball to try to shake up his team. I would like the manager of the team I root for to have been thrown out of a game or two because of a questionable call during this kind of display. Although I completely agree that Baker railing at umpires and expressing disappointment in "louder" fashion would not make the difference to what we're seeing, I still think it would help and be good for the team.

Here's the $64,000 question -- which would you rather see:

1. Jacque Jones trots lazily after a base hit, then airmails the cutoff man, enabling the runner to reach 2B. Dusty points to Freddie Bynum and sends him out to replace Jones, who sheepishly walks off the field. Jones then snaps at Dusty in the dugout, but Dusty says nothing. After the game, no one has a comment, and Bynum starts the next day.

or

2. Same play happens. After the inning, Dusty gets into Jones's face, reading him the riot act. Jones sits there stunned, wondering what got into Dusty. Nevertheless, Dusty keeps him in the game. Afterward, reporters hear Dusty screaming in the locker room and ask him about it. Dusty says that if these multimillion dollar players can't do what they are supposed to do, they'll be shipped out . . . and they know who they are. The next day, Jones starts in RF.

To me, as much as I'd like to see #2 -- just because it would be nice for someone to raise a public stink about this -- the truth is that I think #1 is more helpful to the club, because it is more than simply yelling; it's actual accountability.
   26. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 29, 2006 at 06:46 PM (#2042459)
One way or another, a manager shouldn't put up with unmotivated, lackadaisical play like the Cubs have exhibited for the last couple of years. There are different ways to deal with it, but it is unacceptable. Baker doesn't show that. For many years in San Francisco, Baker fielded teams that did things right. Maybe that had nothing to do with him, and maybe he's doing something different now, but all he does is make excuses. He's not the only one doing it, but it will never change as long as everyone in charge is blaming the Cubs' problems on acts of God.
   27. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 29, 2006 at 06:46 PM (#2042460)
Here's the $64,000 question -- which would you rather see:

Since we're in the hypothetical, is there any option I can choose where Jones and Bynum are not on my roster? :-)

I am not in favor of option #1, but the problem is that both of these options are far removed from Baker's managing. The second option obviously recalls the Bobby Cox incident where he took out Andruw Jones early in his career for not going after a ball with enough "gusto." I'm with you: I'd love to see that response on occasion because it, too, would send a message about what is expected of the team's effort.

Nowhere though have I advocated that I favor Baker chewing out players in public or in the middle of games. I do favor Baker working up more of a lather against umpires once in awhile to show both some piss and vinegar to his team and the fans and to protect the team against its own impulsive frustrations.

I think we're in agreement that we would not like to see Baker turn into a Larry Bowa tinder box even if he could. But there is so much room for Baker to do more than he does and fall way short of that. I simply believe that when a team is losing almost every day, is not hustling and is committing fundamental idiocy on a regular basis, the manager should respond by doing more than just chewing on his toothpick more rapidly and acting in post-game press conferences as an excuse-maker and like his puppy was just hit by a car.
   28. Neil M Posted: May 29, 2006 at 09:19 PM (#2042604)
U have no more time for Baker's public persona tham anyone else does, and the track record would indeed suggest that he is as lenient in private, but I've heard one player's testimony that might suggest otherwise.

Last season, watching a Cubs/Cards game on the net, courtesy of the Cards feed I saw a pre-game interview with Mark Grudzielanek in which he was asked to compare TLR with Dusty. To my surprise, his first response was that Dusty was far nore likely to get angry and chew someone out than LaRussa was.

Of course, maybe TR is a loveable little puppy-dog behind closed doors, or maybe Grudz was being diplomatic, but that's not how it came across.
   29. Neil M Posted: May 29, 2006 at 09:21 PM (#2042609)
U should be 'I'. I'm the world's worst typist. Except for meatwad.
   30. Bunny Vincennes Posted: May 29, 2006 at 11:04 PM (#2042690)
I simply believe that when a team is losing almost every day, is not hustling and is committing fundamental idiocy on a regular basis, the manager should respond by doing more than just chewing on his toothpick more rapidly and acting in post-game press conferences as an excuse-maker and like his puppy was just hit by a car.

I was just thinking about the comments Billy Beane made in "Moneyball," regarding the posture he wanted his manager to take in the dugout during games, down to facial expressions. Dusty looks asleep, bored, and lethargic, just like his boys on the field.
   31. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 30, 2006 at 01:45 AM (#2043077)
Prior struggled in his rehab start today. He threw 44 pitches for Peoria against Kane County, and allowed four hits and three runs (two earned) in two innings, with three Ks. He's expected to make one more start for the Chiefs, then move to Iowa.

-- MWE
   32. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 30, 2006 at 04:16 AM (#2043589)
44 pitches in 2 innings? That's not good. He doesn't seem to be where Wood was when he was in Peoria.

Looks like it might be late June before we get Prior to Chicago.
   33. Bunny Vincennes Posted: May 30, 2006 at 04:24 AM (#2043594)
Looks like it might be late June before we get Prior to Chicago.

Does it really matter at this point?
   34. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 30, 2006 at 05:22 AM (#2043616)
Of course not. This team needs several air disasters before they have any shot at all in the NL Central. But if Prior can come back healthy and the team loses anyway, that's one less excuse they can use to justify not firing Dusty.
   35. Bunny Vincennes Posted: May 30, 2006 at 05:32 AM (#2043621)
But if Prior can come back healthy and the team loses anyway, that's one less excuse they can use to justify not firing Dusty.

I was assuming this was your justification and it makes sense.
   36. Walt Davis Posted: May 30, 2006 at 08:47 AM (#2043661)
As #26 alludes to, the key point is that whatever method Dusty is using to address sloppy play is failing miserably and has been for at least three years now. I've said before that I think the Cubs need a "professional" manager not a "fiery" one, but for sure Dusty's excuse-making is embarassing. Someone should compile all the excuses over the last few years (I still dearly love the "no LH batting practice pitcher") ... plus maybe the "and he feels bad about that"s.

But hey, they won today (and even hit 2 HR) and I still say any day with a Cub win is a good day.

Thus, in the minds of management, the problems with the club are purely problems of execution -- the batters haven't made enough contact and the pitchers haven't struck enough guys out.

That's hard to argue since they're #1 in pitcher Ks and only #14 in batter Ks.

Among the Cubs' many problems is their belief that with Wood, Prior and Lee, this is a 90+ win team. It is of course absurd for Hendry to say we can't judge Baker until he has everyone healthy. We already know perfectly well what this team is like when healthy and with Baker at the helm and that's, in a good year, somewhere in the 79-89 win range. Woo-hoo!

There is no great mystery with this team. They have little power (even with Lee), they don't walk, they're mediocre defensively, they have a lousy bench, they have little pitching depth. What more are we expecting to learn in a month when everyone is "healthy".

The team also regularly fails to develop young players, pretends problems don't exist for as long as they can, and are slow to solve those problems (even when they're easy to solve like a RH partner for Jones or a 1B who can hit better than Neifi).

This season is now about making sure Lee is healthy, developing Cedeno, Murton, and Marshall, finding out if Ryu, Williams, Hill, and Guzman can pitch in the majors, maybe finding out if Theriot can give us anything and giving Pie a couple month audition. I'm not overly optimistic any of those things are going to happen.
   37. More Indecisive than Lonnie Smith on 2nd... Posted: May 30, 2006 at 02:18 PM (#2043749)
During the broadcast of Friday's game, I heard Jim Hendry for the first time. For some reason, within 10 words (and not knowing who it was, being engaged in some things to handle before the holiday weekend) I knew it was him. The sort of voice you expect to hear at the airport when your flight is delayed for the third time because someone forgot to put fuel in the airplane, but you're supposed to just "remain calm, we'll get this corrected shortly."

I'm a Braves fan and indirect beneficiary of MacPhail's, Hendry's, and Baker's incompetence in the sweep this weekend--and I STILL feel sorry for Cubs fans. Sort of reminds me of the same ineptitude the Braves exhibited mid-80's, still resting on the laurels of a division championship early in the decade. And it certainly took new management to turn that around.

I've almost become a Cubs supporter of late, because I've never enjoyed the whole "train wreck in slow motion" feeling.
   38. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: May 30, 2006 at 05:33 PM (#2043913)
I was at Sunday's game (it's un-American to turn down FREE tix, IMHO) - and I have to say... I couldn't help but laugh my ass off when the ball bounced off Aramis's head.

I had a hell of time finding anyone in the park to really talk baseball with - but did have some success standing in line for nachos in the 10th. We were talking about how a "win like this" really can turn a team around, comparing it to things like the Sandberg Game, the 9 run comeback against the Stros in 89... or the Les Lancaster double in the same year...etc.

For a brief couple innings - I actually bought the MacPhail bull. I actually thought "yeah, you know? It can be done. We just need a spark, something like a big come-from-behind win. It's not like Houston and St. Louis don't have some issues of their own."

Then... voila!

A truly amazing, comical, and completely fitting event ends up turning it into just another loss.

I really do think I'd have to go back 10-15 years (say... about the time since Maddux left, it became obvious Derrick May wasn't going to be a star, and Raffy Palmeiro clearly eclipsed Mark Grace --- but in Texas) I felt so hopeless about this franchise.
   39. More Indecisive than Lonnie Smith on 2nd... Posted: May 31, 2006 at 09:03 PM (#2045828)
From ESPN.com:

What's the deal?
May 31 - According to the Chicago Tribune, GM Jim Hendry says the Cubs are not in a seller's mode, but some teams reportedly have called about the availability of Jerry Hairston and Freddie Bynum, two role players whose roster spots will be in jeopardy once Derrek Lee returns from his wrist injury.

"I haven't thought about any selling because first and foremost you still have to get some time to fight back in [contention]," Hendry told the newspaper. "I don't think there is any message that needs to be sent that, 'Oh, we're going to give up with 100 games left.' At the same time, some of the guys who probably haven't performed as well as we would've liked in tough times after Derrek went [down] are certainly guys you can still win with in the future. I really haven't been in that [trading] mind-set at all."


What a genius. Perhaps he thinks the Astros look vulnerable and desperate because they just signed a 43-year-old pitcher.

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