Wednesday, July 21, 2010

With Lou Piniella Calling It Quits, The Cubs Need To Clean House


On a warm sunny afternoon at Wrigley Field, one of the finest venues in America, the Cubs are still delayed of success, a wretched franchise, visibly entertaining a bellyaching crowd mainly because of the traditional seventh-inning singing and the expensive taste of beer.

It’s almost overwhelming that much activity hasn’t been seen on Waveland Avenue—oddly enough, becoming a quiet street as a depressed population hasn’t even bothered to catch a home run ball that sometimes drops into the street. These days, however, the Chicago Cubs are hopeless and pathetic and yet downcast fans invest three hours of their afternoons in watching a lousy ball club play at Wrigleyville for a sense of pleasure, unconcerned with the team's inferior track record.

In truth, the Cubs fans are burnt out from the dreadful seasons, known as a haunted curse, which offers a clearer explanation as to why the fans are tortured and belittled. This is a disgrace, especially when a town and the local media sadly scourge the famous Cubbies. This is a real shame, especially when the Cubs are deprived of championships, with a chance in recent years to end the futility.

The perception that the Cubs are cursed appears to be realistic. The worst night for Cubs fans happened when Steve Bartman, Chicago's most hated man, who sat in Aisle 4, Row 8, and Seat 113, infamously interfered with a ball. The last time we saw Bartman, he was being escorted out of the Friendly Confines by security, as his fellow Cubs fans showered him with boos.

Yes, he pathetically may have cost the Cubs a potential World Series bid. But rather than hold grudges and point fingers only at the fellow and disowned supporter who is obviously not allowed to visit Wrigleyville even when he has vanished from the public, fans believe the Cubs are culpable, just as much as Bartman.

The Cubs are mediocre and brings back memories of their three-game postseason sweep, one of the most heartbreaking collapses in sports, a tragic ending in 1969. And even in the modern age, the Cubs have underachieved from lousy postseason runs and miserable 162-game seasons.

Maybe we can blame some of the Cubs letdowns on Sammy Sosa—you know—the lying cheat who confronted the ordeal about his performance-enhancing drug use. As it turned out, he was deceptive and said he only took Flintstones vitamins, but the truth was uncovered when Sosa's name had been linked to the mysterious list of 104 players.

Maybe we can blame some of the headaches on Milton Bradley, the no-good, brainless, psychotic nutcase. Honestly, he was an enigmatic board game no one could ever figured out, spelling out the word "TROUBLE" and blaming his issues on the managerial staff, teammates and fans.

Beyond all, there are worst problems that have unhinged the Cubs, who are viewed as a joke because of dugout altercations and postgame rants. And while the Cubs believe in psychotic athletes, the organization filed bankruptcy as the Tribune Co. had difficulty selling the team to the Ricketts family.

At this time, the Cubs don't care much about their longest drought. We haven’t seen the Cubs win a pennant for decades, let alone a World Series championship, during a century when players are overpaid and underachieve.

It is really embarrassing that the Cubs are doomed in their 102nd consecutive season, blinded by their failures and misfortunes. But even scarier is the much-scrutinized Jim Hendry, a general manager who flirts with the farm system and dismantles a club with his poor decisions and bad trades, giving up valuable talent for uninspired players.


When Lou Piniella was hired for the managerial role three years ago, he walked into the Cubs' clubhouse and accomplished very little in a brief tenure, suddenly deciding to call it quits after this season.

Now that he is older and mentally drained, maybe the managerial role is too much of a burden, maybe he’s stressed out and pressured to try to change the direction for a disappointing franchise and knows he is held accountable for the Cubs failures.

As Piniella is almost in his early 70s, he announced Tuesday that he is retiring as manager at the end of the season. While the Piniella's era isn’t considered a success, he announced his retirement at the worst possible time and hasn’t met the standards, considering that he’s absolutely burnt out from it.

As the years progress, Piniella knows he’s almost 67, and that a tremendous amount of pressure on his shoulders is very stressful. The timing couldn’t be better to escape, as the mediocrity continues to tear down a once-beloved franchise.

“I couldn’t be more appreciative of the Cubs organization for providing me the opportunity to manage this ballclub,” Piniella said in a statement. “I’ve had four wonderful years here that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I’ve grown to love the city and fans, but at my age it will be time to enter a new phase in my life. It will enable me to spend more valuable time with my family—my wife, my kids and my grandchildren. God has blessed me to have been able to work this many years in the game that I love.”

By using common sense, Piniella wasn’t planning on coming back next season. He apparently had initially planned to retire in the final year of his contract with Chicago, which expires at the end of the season.

Throughout the season, Piniella ranted during postgame press conferences and threw on-the-field tantrums with umpires, after arguing a bad call that forced the longtime skipper to explode. But as of lately, he has stopped charging onto the field and kicking dirt on the umpires. He has mellowed considerably, as he is a manager with experience and wisdom.

Despite the failures, Piniella led the Cincinnati Reds to a miraculous World Series sweep of the Oakland A's and won his only championship, so he is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

Now that he retires as a Cub, he’s departs from the game with a 0-6 drought that could smear his legacy. Because the Cubbies never have postseason success and end miserable World Series droughts, Hendry should be canned for his faulty mistakes, spending wastefully and squandering much of the team’s payroll.

Let’s reflect back on the shoddy investments that backfired in Hendry's face.


For decades, the Cubs have made cartoonish moves, a resemblance of Tom & Jerry, with all the botched maneuvers that exploded in Hendry's face. He lavished an unproven pitcher, Carlos Zambrano, with $91.5 million based on a few performances, but Zambrano has turned out to be bust.

If anything, he has divided a clubhouse by throwing hissy fits and getting involved in verbal and physical altercations with teammates. It’s also worth noting that Hendry spent unwisely when he gave a $136 million deal to an overpaid Alfonso Soriano. If Hendry is running the business, the fans will very likely experience another miserable, long-suffering season.

“Our goal is to win the World Series,” Tom Ricketts said. “Our goal is to put a team on the field that can win a World Series every year. I can’t envision an era without that and still calling it a success, no.”

And now, it is a good time to dismiss Hendry. It’s the only way the Cubs will ever put an end to a ridiculous curse that ruins all the endless possibilities of winning the pennant and World Series. Until then, Hendry will run a franchise with unnecessary baggage and drama.

The troubles aren’t only on the field, but in the front office, and the dumbest move was when Hendry signed Bradley last year. The next time we see Piniella, he may likely call it as he sees it from the broadcasting booth if he decides to accept a job offer as a commentator, while the Ricketts should clean house. It starts by firing Hendry, who has dismantled the Cubbies as teary-eyed, saddened fans painfully witness it.

Honestly, the franchise’s 100-year drought will never end, unless Hendry is run out of town.