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Some Blog I Wrote

stuff i think about and then type on a keyboard

Friday, July 08, 2005

Fire Baker? It won't help.

The good news is my in-laws get to see some Major League leadoff hitting and center fielding.

The Cubs have dropped eight in a row, sent two struggling outfielders to AAA Iowa, and have the privilege of facing the much hotter Marlins before a much-needed break. A franchise commanding the fifth highest payroll in the Leagues will enter the All-Star Break significantly below .500 and behind many other teams in the Wild Card race.

What's wrong? What isn't. I doubt firing Dusty Baker would have much impact. After seeing the expressions on Baker's face and on the face of every player in the roster over the last week, I don't think anyone in the clubhouse really cares any more. Or perhaps they care too much, which would explain their recent bout of freeswinging. Given Baker's alleged excellent ego-stroking abilities, firing him might do more harm than good.

What's interesting is the Chicago sports media for the first time in a long while can't whitewash the Cubs. The superb performance of the White Sox this season has forced even the most unyielding of Cub fans to realize the Northsiders are a complete mess. Unfortunately, the positive White Sox press is outweighed by the negative Cubs press. I'm certain the Trib's ownership of the Cubs has some impact.

As someone not born and raised in Chicago, I enjoy both teams. After all, they play in different Leagues and engage in some friendly "crosstown scrimmaging" every season. I chose to follow the Cubs for reasons I can't exactly qualify. Perhaps it was because Kerry Wood grew up not far from me. I never followed baseball before moving to Chicago, and it's hard to ignore it once you live hear. The Chicago climate prompts residents to absorb and cherish every aspect of summertime, including the alleged national pasttime.

I thought 2003 was the beginning of good things for the team. Dusty Baker brought clout with him. Jim Hendry appeared to be building a new dynasty. The Cubs organization seemed interested in at least entering the World Series before the centennial of their last big win, which is still three years away. Instead, we're getting more of the same -- mostly mediocre players who experience very hot and very cold hitting streaks, pitchers whose full potential is realized with other clubs, pitchers who are ultimately too good for the lousy run support they have, a terrible bullpen, and clubhouse bickering. The Cubs are a cautonary tale for lackluster management in spite of a large budget.

Instead, Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen have built a quality team across town that plays the season one game at a time and doesn't give up until after the final out. The Southsiders don't have headliners like Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Mark Prior (who all three deserve the praise heaped upon them), Nomar, Wood, or Maddux, but they have a team that plays well together and enjoys playing baseball. The only chip they have on their shoulder is due to the aforementioned lack of attention from the Chicago media. I have a feeling all of that will change in a few months.

What's a Cub fan to do? Steer clear of sports radio and wait 'til next year. Or, as I said before, wait 'til last year.


Phil Rogers of the Trib says it better, but, then again, that's his job.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 8:48 AM
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