Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Congratulations Bruce Sutter

That's 2 Cubs players in 2 years to get in (3 in three years if you count Dennis Eckersly, which I don't). Hopefully Hawk's day will come soon.

I listened to some of the Alito questioning today. Lindsey Graham is batshit crazy. Going on and on about war and enemy combatants and all. Hey, Senator, the phrase didn't exist until KGB and evil Dick came along. At one point, Alito referenced the Civil War, and old military Graham said "Let's not go back that far." Yeah, you know why? Because your state (South Carolina) started it. You represent a state that actually took up arms against this country! So don't get all sanctimonious about the military, bub.

My senator, Dick Durbin, is leading off tomorrow. He went after Alito more than the others, I thought, in the opening statements, so we'll see what happens. I wonder if he'll go back to the recent mine disaster and lay it at Alito's feet somehow. That could get interesting. And I think Schumer could be laying the groundwork to call for a filibuster. As mild-mannered as Alito is coming across, he's dangerous and needs to be stopped. A CAP bombshell would be nice, but I'm sure the wingers have gone back and scrubbed everything by now. Still, the truth always comes out, doesn't it?

Here's my revised Cubs rant, which I'm going to post on a Cubs board or two before this weekend's Convention. Fine tuned a bit, but the message is still the same.

This is it?

Are the 2006 Chicago Cubs now in place? No other players to add, no other trades to make, nothing? Simply put, it’s not good enough.

Trading Corey Patterson, and adding Jacque Jones in right field, Juan Pierre in center, two middle relievers and John Mabry is not marked improvement over last year. In fact, speaking strictly in terms of player salaries, it’s a large step backward. The Jones signing finally completed filling in the $8.25 million that Nomar received (and can we now admit that trade was a bust?) and some of what Burnitz was paid. I may be only a fan, but I can tell you that the way to improve a 79 win team is not to spend less on player salaries.

And then there’s Sammy’s money. All $15 million dollars plus. Where did it go? Last year it went to Baltimore, because the fans were never going to take him back after he ran out on the team. I understand that. But that’s over now. Where does all that money go for next season? Apparently into the new bleacher seats, which will not help if winning a championship is on the to do list for the foreseeable future.

Misery loves company. And the Cubs’ misery was shared, for way too many years, by the White Sox and the Red Sox. Now, in the course of two seasons, that’s all changed. So why is there no urgency to address this? Jacque Jones, Juan Pierre and the others do not say “urgency” to me.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean by urgency. After the 2002 season, Jim Thome was a free agent. All those stellar years in Cleveland proved that he was a premier player. He’ll be a Hall of Famer some day. And even though he was commanding a high salary, the Tribune has the resources to write a big enough check to get him. I even remember talk of the “home town discount” he would give in order to play for the team he grew up rooting for.

The reason the Cubs didn’t want him is because they were convinced that Hee Seop Choi was good enough at first base. So Thome followed the money and signed with Philadelphia. They rolled the dice. That says urgency to me.

So what happened in 2003, Thome’s first season in Philadelphia? He hit 47 home runs and drove in 131 runs. Adding those numbers to the 2003 team means the Marlins do not clinch the pennant at Wrigley. Steve Bartman and all the other fans with tickets for Game 6 would have needed ticket refunds instead.

And what did Hee Seop Choi do that year? After that scary incident in the Yankees game, where he was taken off the field in an ambulance, he was never really a factor. He had just 43 at-bats after the All-Star break that year, and batted a dismal .140. The acquisition of Derrick Lee after the 2003 season was a clear admission that Choi wasn’t the answer the organization thought he would be.

Lee’s a very good player, maybe even a great player in the making, but the only reason he came to our attention in the first place was because of what the Marlins were able to accomplish that year. And they accomplished it, in large part, because the Cubs (meaning Jim Hendry) let Thome get away.

I have been hearing that Jim Hendry will get a contract extension, and then Dusty Baker will get his extension, and all will be good on the North Side. But not in my mind, it won’t. One division title, one playoff berth, and no pennants (which, thanks to the White Sox, is where the bar will be set for the foreseeable future) is not enough to show after three years of Hendry/Baker.

The Mets and Dodgers are adding players like they have the urgency. And both of them have already won championships during the Tribune’s era of futility (now at 23 seasons and counting). The Cubs, on the other hand, are content to upgrade the ballpark. That’s where their bread is buttered, after all.

Not buying tickets for any home games next year is all I can do to say “enough.” By continuing to flock to the park, Cubs fans are feeding the beast that is the Tribune’s lack of interest in winning. They will deny this, of course, but what has Jacque Jones ever won? Or what about Dusty Baker? He burned out the Cubs’ pitching staff when he came here in 2003, and hasn’t had a whiff of anything since. I would not be surprised if Joe Girardi wins a World Series as a manager before Dusty Baker does.

If something should happen next year and the Cubs start winning, I’ll become a bandwagon jumper for the first time. But this team won’t win the way it is now. And, upon minimal reflection, anyone who knows baseball can see that.


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