Chicago Cubs – Standing Pat for 2011? by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Scanning newspapers from around the country this morning, I saw one phrase that was troubling.  Gordon Wittenmyer writes in a piece about the potential for the return of current first baseman Xavier Nady returning to the Cubs, “It’s the only every-day position the Cubs don’t have locked in for next season.”  Really?  Yikes!

Sure, the Cubs have been pitching well and thumping the mediocre of the National League since Lou Piniella’s sudden return to Tampa, but the offense and defense are certainly nothing to get excited about looking ahead to next year.  It takes balls for a general manager to stand in front of reporters, as Hendry must have done or why would Wittenmyer suggest the Cubs are locked in, minus first base.

If Hendry believes his work is done in building the next Cubs team that will try to end the skid that has lasted a century-long lap, he could teach poker champion Phil Ivey a few things about slow-playing a hand.  The Cubs need great players if they are going to be a great team.  They have two potential great players, and none who are great right now.  How many hall of famers do the Phillies & Yankees have?  How many play for the Cubs?  Let’s take a look at the starting position players Wittenmyer believes the Cubs will open with in 2011 (assuming they spend whatever cash is available to bolster starting pitching that was very suspect until the last month):

Catcher – Geovany Soto (.280, 17 HRs, 53 RBI, 0 SBs, 61 Ks, 53 BBs)

Hard to complain about the 2008 or 2010 version of one of the best offensive catchers in baseball, and a guy who has developed nicely as a handler of pitchers.  A lighter and assumedly hookah-less Soto was excellent, leading the Cubs in OPS with an .890 mark.  Not only is an upgrade unnecessary behind the plate, it’s not possible.

Soto is as good a backstop as there is – as long as he is dedicated to being that.  Stay away from the pizza and ganja.

First Base – Xavier Nady (.264, 6 HRs, 33 RBI, 0 SBs, 74 Ks, 16 BBs)

That he hit 25 home runs in 2008 during a season split between the Pirates and the Yankees is irrelevant in judging Nady’s value.  In over 300 at-bats in 2010, Nady has a paltry six dingers.  Minus speed and an average glove at first with a mostly silent bat, Nady is not a piece that should return.  He’s 31, so maybe he returns to form as a power hitter.  He’s typical of many of the hitters Hendry has accumulated – lots of strikeouts, few walks, no speed.

If Nady is the starting first baseman for the Cubs in 2011, fans should take the year off from liver-testing weekends at Wrigley.

Second Base – Blake DeWitt (.235, 4 HRs, 19 RBI, 1 SB, 33 Ks, 14 BBs)

DeWitt just turned 25, so his best days are ahead of him, but how much better will those best days be.  The former Dodgers second baseman from Sikeston, MO, the home of Boom Town the most horrifying giant retain outlet in in world because of its selection of fireworks, tobacco, alcohol, and the little quarter pushing machines that are nothing more than low tech slots for the toothless, was a first round pick, but so far has shown no power or speed.  Nice glove though.

Hendry’s confidence in DeWitt might be well placed, but if Nady is at first, power needs to come from somewhere.  It isn’t likely to come from DeWitt.

Starlin Castro (.305, 3 HRs, 41 RBI, 9 SBs, 65 Ks, 27 BBs)

This is the kid.  If he works hard and develops, the ceiling on Castro is hard to see.  Plus everything – but brain.  Great speed, and will develop pop.  He needs to learn fundamentals – like tagging baserunners.  Castro could be the Derek Jeter of what the Cubs become.

Aramis Ramirez (.241, 23 HRs, 76 RBIs, 0 SBs, 84 Ks, 32 BBs)

The slow-starting oft-injured, quick-aging Ramirez will cash checks totaling $14.6 million next year, unless he has a stroke and exercises his player-option to escape it and earn one-third that total playing for someone else.  No doubt he is on the downside of a solid career.  Ramirez is paid like a potential hall of famer, but has no chance to finish his career as one of the few third basemen to make that grade.  Not only has his offense been abysmal when it mattered in 2010, his defense has become a joke.  I hear my Dad’s voice as he hit me hundreds of ground balls every time a ground is hit toward Ramirez, “Move your feet!  Get in front of the ball!

Tyler Colvin (.254, 20 HRs, 56 RBI, 6 SBs, 100 Ks, 30 BBs)

As he recovers from his near-death encounter with a maple bat, it’s time to ponder whether Colvin is going to continue to evolve into a breakthrough talent or whether he is as good as he’ll get.  If Colvin can cut down on strikeouts, he’s a keeper in right field.  Not a great arm or great speed, but by swinging at strikes, Colvin can hit 25+ home runs and drive in 90.  If he’s pleased with himself as a starter for the Cubs – as Soto was in 2009 – he will be a disappointment.  The Cubs need a player – other than Soto – who is the -est at something.  Pennants aren’t one by a collection of moderately talented players.  Some need to be excellent, and Colvin appears to have that kind of ability.

Colvin reminds me a little bit of Rafael Palmeiro during his rookie year, except that Palmeiro rarely swung and missed early in his career.  Who knew that the left-handed power hitter the Cubs needed was Tyler Colvin?

Marlon Byrd (.294, 12 HRs, 63 RBI, 5 SBs, 88 Ks, 29 BBs)

While we bust Hendry’s balls for his missteps in piecing together pieces into an awkward looking and performing team, signing Byrd to a modest three-year deal that actually reflects his value to the Cubs.  Byrd has played almost every game, been enthusiastic, and produced the kind of stat line that fans expected, and has exceeded expectations in center field.  Seems to be the kind of chemistry guy that the Cubs had in Mark DeRosa.  Him, the Cubs must keep.

Alfonso Soriano (.254, 22 HRs, 75 RBI, 5 SBs, 115 Ks, 39 BBs)

This guy seems to make the least productive outs of any Cub I can remember.  What happened to the Soriano that led the American League in hits, runs, and steals in 2002?  It doesn’t matter because he isn’t coming back.  Soriano strikes out too much, walks and runs too little, and goes deep just enough to tease you into believing that he might do something good today.  2010 was a good year for Soriano, who stopped the year-to-year decline in production that frustrated fans who expected the former Yankee, Ranger, and Senator to show up after Hendry signed him to one of baseball’s all-time worst contracts.

Bench

Kosuke Fukudome (.272, 12 HRs, 40 RBI, 6 SBs, 61 Ks, 59 BBs)

While Fukudome isn’t good enough at anything to be a guy to be counted upon as a starter, because of his knowledge of the strike zone, he is second on the team in both OPS (.825) and OBP (.379).  Always hits the cutoff man, and has made one error this season.  In no way is Fukudome going to be the engine that drive the Cubs to the postseason, nor earn even a fraction of his bloated contract ($14 mil this year; $13.5 mil in 2011), but he is a solid back-up and defensive replacement

Jeff Baker (.272, 4 HRs, 21 RBI, 1 SB, 50 Ks, 14 BBs)

Occasional power and a glove that neither helps nor hurts, make Baker another valuable guy off the bench.  Baker is another of the types of guys that Hendry takes chances on – good bat speed, but hasn’t broken through yet.  Nothing wrong with keeping a guy like Baker around (a recurring theme with these guys).

Overall

To do the same thing again and again expecting a different result is craziness.  If the Cubs finish the balance of the season 7-5 for a season record of 75-87, as I predicted before the season started, but open 2011 with seven of the same eight starters and expect to contend, they are not thinking clearly.  Nothing wrong with standing pat in an effort to build for 2012, but at least be honest about it.  “The Biggest Bar in Chicago Has a Quaint Tradition of Losing.  Come Enjoy Mediocrity and a Beer!” should be the marketing campaign for 2011.



Cubs Winning Puts Hendry in a Tough Spot by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry needs to hire the right guy as the next manger of his team. By allowing Mike Quade an opportunity to become the interim manager after the departure of Lou Piniella, he has made the task of getting the right guy more difficult.

The underachieving Cubs mirrored the mood of somnambulist Piniella as they sleepwalked through the first 125 games. Since Piniella returned to Tampa to recuperate from a season of dugout naps, the Cubs have gone 14-76, playing the kind of baseball fans expected out of a team with a $146-million payroll and three low-paid rookies having very solid years in important positions.

That resurgence under Quade, if it continues, will make selecting Ryne Sandberg or Joe Girardi much more difficult. Heavily lies the head that wears the crown, and being second-guessed is part of the game for every person who manages others. Hendry continues to add weight to his crown by making the right decision, rather than the prudent one.

If Cubs bench coach Alan Trammel was not going to be considered for the full-time gig, he would have been perfect as the man to help the Cubs limp into an offseason filled with already complicated decisions. Of course, if the Cubs went nuts and won 20 straight, that would have been worse.

Hendry seems to be a relentlessly nice man who wants to help those who have given their lives to baseball – like Quade, who has managed over 2,500 minor league games, and now 21 in the majors.

The Cubs 14-7 record under Quade, including the road sweep concluded last night against the St. Louis Cardinals, makes him an increasingly serious candidate for the full-time gig. The Cubs have played better since awakening from their summer slumber. They are playing loose and with focus, and the pitching, particularly that of the mercurial Carlos Zambrano, has been quite a revelation during this 21 game stretch.

Zambrano is 6-0 with an ERA under two in the eight starts since his return from his exile. Some anger management expert rewired Zambrano, and all of a sudden he’s getting guys out. Predictably, Aramis Ramirez is hitting the ball like a guy making $16-million a year should. No, that’s not close to true, and that I would write it shows how ridiculous the pay scale is in baseball.

Ramirez will never make it to the Baseball Hall of Fame – not even close. If he ever receives more that 10% of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America for induction into the Hall, I’ll buy America lunch at QDoba. Yet, he makes more money per game that 85% of working Americans make in a year. That’s madness, but a digression for a different post.

His average is up to nearly .250, and he now leads the Cubs in home runs and RBIs.

As though the Cubs shouldn’t be stocked with talent as owner Tom Ricketts signs enormous checks for the services of the mediocre and aging, two bona fide rookie of the years candidates are having excellent years. Tyler Colvin hit his 20th home run of the season last night, and despite silly defensive lapses, Starlin Castro is among the league leaders in batting.

And then there is the bald fellow, who at the age of 53, has finally gotten his chance, and might make the offseason and subsequent several seasons most unpleasant for Hendry.

Just as Hendry likely regrets his decision in late 2006 to hire Piniella instead of the guy everyone says he should pursue now – Joe Girardi, he may regret either hiring or not hiring Quade, Sandberg, and again Girardi. (What the hell is Hendry thinking as he agrees to interview Bob Melvin? Good luck explaining the decision to hire Melvin to fans at the Cubs Convention. He’ll never make it out of the Conrad Hilton alive.)

On one hand, good for Hendry. He gave a guy a chance of which he is taking full advantage. On the other, he has made making the “right” decision much more difficult, and after the postseason misery in 2007 and 2008, and the season long misery of 2009 and 2010, Hendry doesn’t have many bullets left in his gun with fans.

After spending money like the Jordan kids on a Vegas bender, Hendry probably doesn’t have too much latitude with the Ricketts Family. Nothing like spending the inheritance of the kids to get people nervous – really nervous. Just ask Tony George, who was the czar of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway until his mother and sisters looked at the financials before their first bloody Mary and decided that impending poverty might get in the way of happy hour merriment.

My win in the Cubs turnaround is the very real possibility that my prediction for a 75-87 record is a very real possibility. All they need is a 10-6 record, and I will hit the number of wins on the head for a second straight year.

Hendry needs a win, and Quade’s good fortune in sitting in the big chair as the Cubs come out of hibernation (the worst tagline in the history of baseball marketing in for the 1982 Cubs) could be the downfall of e Hendry regime, which finally is showing signs of a payoff in 2012.



Chicago Cubs Need to Litter the Streets with Statues by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Billy Williams was on hand as his statue was unveiled at the corner of Addison and Sheffield.  It’s the third statue, not counting “the Noodle” is the shadows of the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  Williams joins Ernie Banks and Harry Carey in being immortalized.

I love it.  There should be more statues.  Lots more.  If Banks, Caray, and Williams get statues – and we can only guess that Ron Santo and Fergie Jenkins aren’t far behind – how about casting the images of some guys who actually led the Cubs to a World Series.

Gabby Hartnett was one of the top three catchers of the first half of the 1900s.  Charlie Grimm gave nearly his entire baseball life to the Cubs.  How about Stan Hack and Phil Cavaretta?  Hack Wilson played five great seasons with the Cubs, and even I don’t see that as being a reasonable resume’ for a statue – even for a guy who was only 5’6″.

Cap Anson was allegedly a racist, and that DQs him.  Frank Chance and Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown get statues.  Brown won 29 damn games the last season the Cubs won a World Series, and Chance won just shy of two-thirds of the games he managed for the Cubs and hit .297.

If Harry Caray gets a statue, then by God Jack Brickhouse gets one.  No, he never sang, and people didn’t come to the park to see him, but he broadcast more than 5,000 games, and never took an inning off.  His glasses were just as big, and while people don’t talk about Brickhouse’s night time habits like they do Caray’s, but Brickhouse was a trooper in a tavern.  I talked him into keeping his moustache in late 1988, and all that combined is enough for me.

That’s seven statues for the old timers.  Granted, the ceremonies will be sparsely attended because most peers and family are deceased, but that can’t be the only measure of worth.  If no one comes, that’s fine.  Let’s get cracking on Cavaretta though.  He’s 94.

Ignoring the first 80 years of the franchise is silly, and saying that the banners inside Wrigley suffice is equally knuckleheaded.  After the old guys are added to what is destined to become a maze of iron, the Cubs can immortalize Santo and Jenkins.  Then, lets get Ryne Sandberg, Greg Maddux, and Mark Grace.  Lee Smith does not get a statue.

Now we are up 15 statues.  That’s a nice number, but for symmetry’s sake, we need one more.  One on each corner, and three between requires 16, so let’s pick Bill Veeck.  He planted the ivy and served the Cubs for many years while his dad was an executive for the team.  Veeck spent his later years shirtless in the bleachers rather than at Comiskey Park, and that’s enough for me.  He was the quintessential fan, and would be the perfect representative for all Cubs fans.

Someone forward this to Tom Ricketts ASAP.  Statues aren’t crafted overnight.  Cavaretta isn’t getting any younger.



Chicago Cubs Manager Search – Quade Makes Stand by kentsterling
September 7, 2010, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Chicago Cubs, Kent Sterling | Tags: , ,

by Kent Sterling

There should only be one criteria for owner Tom Ricketts and GM Jim Hendry as they search for a manager for the team that underachieved the most in the 2010 season.

Current manager Mike Quade is doing some good things that might have made a difference had Hendry pulled the trigger in mid-May, as he should have, and as I begged him to in a series of repetitive and increasingly negative posts pointing out the obvious disconnect between Lou Piniella and his team.

Yesterday, Quade benched shortstop Starlin Castro yesterday after a series of ridiculous mental errors that are to be expected from a 20-year-old kid with so little professional experience.  Missing tags, delaying relays that allow a run, and losing track of the number of outs have been a little bit maddening, but the kid is third in the National League – hitting .317.

The Cubs continue to pull away from the field in one ugly statistic – unearned runs allowed.  Through September 6, the Cubs have given up 94 unearned runs.  Division leading Cincinnati Reds have only allowed 32.  That’s roughly a one-half run per game difference.  They also lead the NL in unintentional walks.

Whoever leads the Cubs next, he must find a way to get this team to play with focus and maintain a vigil over the little things.

The most meaningless statistic is the 9-4 record the Cubs have posted since Quade took over.  After the lethargy that Piniella tolerated and displayed, it’s predictable that the Cubs would have a little extra hop in their step.  More important to their recent success is the quality of their opponents.  The Cubs lost one to the Braves, swept three from the Nationals, took one of three from the Red, and two of three from the Pirates and Mets, and won the first game of the current series against the Astros.

That’s not a murderer’s row of competition for the Cubs and Quade to overcome.  Judging Quade based upon results from the remainder of this season would be the knee-jerk response of a boob.  More and more, despite the construct of this Cubs team, I think of Hendry as something more than a boob.  He has entered the realm of the competent based upon the way he, Oneri Fleita, and Tim Wilken have rebuilt the farm system.

I think he’s going to make the right decision, and while Quade is worthy of being mentioned in the discussion, the job will probably fall to either Ryne Sandberg or Joe Girardi, if the Yankees have a stroke and allow the Cubs to steal a toy from their sandbox.

My only qualm about Sandberg is that in the biggest game of the year and the championship of the Pacific Coast League, Sandberg was ejected in the first inning of a 15-inning loss.  Not sure a guy who loses his shit with that level of bad timing is ready to lead the Cubs out of this 102-year-young worm hole of mediocrity.

There is a rumor that Girardi and his wife are building a house in Lake Forest.  That coupled with his love for Chicago, and the failing health of his dad in Peoria might make the Cubs a player for their former catcher’s service



Chicago Cubs Should Think Twice Before Dealing Carlos Zambrano by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The Cubs would be wise to take a breath before they send mercurial pitcher Carlos Zambrano to the scrap heap of former Cubs for a couple of middle of the road prospects just to get his $37-million off the books for the next two seasons.

The Cubs aren’t alone in giving up on pitchers who appear broken, nuts, and/or sotted, but their failures are fairly monumental.  In 1987, the Cubs traded Dennis Eckersley for Brian Guinn, Mark Leonette, and Dave Wilder.  If you have never heard of the three players the Cubs got in return, you are not alone.  As Eckersley built a hall of fame career as a relief pitcher, those guys languished in minor league anonymity – known only as bargain basement price for one of the top five relief pitchers of all time.

In 1983 and 1984, the Cubs put Rick Reuschel on the payroll as he rehabbed from an arm injury.  He pitched seldom, and GM Dallas Green allowed Reuschel to leave via free agency.  All Reuschel did in 1985 was post a 14-8 record with a 2.27 ERA for the Pirates, whose team record was 57-105, as the entire Cubs rotation went on the disabled list simultaneously.

How about Jamie Moyer.  The Cubs traded the soft throwing lefty in 1988 to Texas along with alleged home-wrecker Rafael Palmeiro for Mitch Williams among others.  That’s not a tragedy, but they re-signed Moyer in 1992 only to release him as spring training came to a close.  They offered Moyer a spot in the organization as a pitching instructor.  Moyer wanted to give pitching one more try, as he was only 29.  Since then, he has won 233 games and counting.  He has cashed checks for pitching totaling more than $81-million.  He’s not the first guy who decided to avoid listening to then GM Larry Himes and won.

Greg Maddux missed an arbitrary deadline for agreeing to a contract offer from Himes and the Cubs by 15 minutes, and was told the pay window was closed.  Maddux went to Atlanta, and won 194 games for the Braves along with three straight Cy Young Awards during 11 seasons.  In 1995, Maddux went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA.  Nice work, Himes.

Not to belabor the point, but in early 1969, the Cubs traded young Joe Niekro to the Padres for Dick Selma.  Niekro went on to pitch through the 1980s and win 197 games for teams not the Cubs.

Zambrano is undergoing some treatment for anger management issues, and has seen a rebirth since returning from his suspension following a dugout dust-up with Derrek Lee at the Cell.  He’s posted wins in his last four decisions, and while unlikely to ever pitch well enough to earn his 18+-mill per, he sure might win 15 again, and that’s better than fans can expect from Casey Coleman.

To dump Z’s salary like poop from a recreational vehicle tank (I’m still all about the RV experience) is premature.  One more outburst, and it’s time to get a bag of balls for Zambrano and call it a day, but let’s exercise a little caution here.

No need to extend by another the lineage of former Cubs GMs who said goodbye too soon and got little or nothing in return.



Cubs Should Hire Joe Girardi by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Forget the dimwitted decision in 2006 to hire Bittersweet Lou Piniella instead of then out of work Joe Girardi.  Cubs GM Jim Hendry made the decision because he couldn’t see the forest for the trees, and the Cubs paid the price.  A team that needed badly to relax and just play, was would tighter that a Titleist Pro V-1, and flamed out in the playoffs twice before recommitting to the mediocrity that has been a part of baseball since man scribbled on cave walls to impress women.

The reason to go all in and hire Joe Girardi as soon as the New York Yankees make their final out of 2010 is retribution.  In 1930, the Yankees hired a 44-year old manager out from under the Cubs.  In 1926, the Cubs were bold and took a chance on a 39-year-old kid with no experience named Joe McCarthy, who paid them off by leading the Cubs to five straight winning seasons and a pennant in 1929.

The Yankees stole him out from under the Cubs, and all McCarthy’s teams did over the next 16 seasons was win eight pennants, seven World Championships, and average 96 wins a season (not counting 1946 when McCarthy only managed 35 games).

In 24 years with the Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox, McCarthy never suffered through a losing season, and never finished in the second division of the standings.  He is arguably the greatest manager baseball has ever known, and the Yankees stole him out from under the Wrigleys (strictly speaking, McCarty was fired toward the end of the 1930 season by the Cubs, but my bitterness gravitates toward the scenario that has the Yankees swiping him).

Now, it can be the Cubs turn to do what needs to be done, pay the price to leave the Yankees wanting, and undo the foolishness of the 2006 decision.

There are reasons for Girardi to leave Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Pettitte, Rivera, CC, and Posada, along with the rest of a team whose payroll makes the Cubs look like spendthrifts.  The Cubs, despite the Tribune Company and Jim Hendry’s efforts to spend like big stack players, have put together a roster of louts and malcontents who will be lucky to win 70 games this year, but Girardi still loves the Cubs – the team he grew up watching.  His Dad still lives in Peoria, and is suffering from Alzheimers.  He attended Northwestern and broke into baseball with the Cubs, and is supposedly building a home in Lake Forest (35 miles north of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan) for his family.

This is a guy who still calls Chicago home.

The Yankees are persuasive and have pockets that are deep and wide, but if they fizzle in the playoffs this year, will the Steinbrenner brothers decide it’s time to take a long look around after one pennant in three years.  The Cubs have won zero pennants in 65 years, but the Yankees are a bit more demanding than the Cubs.

It can be argued that Girardi has done nothing more than what my Aunt Ginna might have done as manager of the Yankees.  They have a team that demands more of itself than its fans, and has seven potential Hall of Famers.  How could they not win 90+ games every year?

But Girardi won 78 games as the manager of the 2006 Florida Marlins, a team whose entire roster should have been in Triple A.  The starting eight average age was 24.5, and the rotation (minus the resolutely ineffective Brian Moehler) was a crazy 22.6 years old.  Joe Borowski was the closer.  For his efforts, Girardi won the NL Manager of the Year Award and a trip to the unemployment line.  Girardi was not shy about telling his owner exactly where he belonged in the ballpark when the owner heckled home plate umpire Larry Vanover.

Whether Girardi or Ryne Sandberg are hired as manager, the success of the Cubs will bedetermined by the guys hitting, fielding, and throwing.  Hendry and scouting director Tim Wilken are doing a nice job of building the farm system, so that a culture can be instilled in these kids – a Cubs culture.  For decades, the Cubs have relied on what others had – with the exception of the bounty of talent that came up in the early to mid-1960s (Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Ken Hubbs, and Lou Brock), and then again in the mid-1980s (Greg Maddux, Rafael Palmeiro, Jamie Moyer, Shawon Dunston, Mark Grace, and Girardi).  GMs John Holland and Jim Frey then lost their collective minds and dealt some of that talent for lesser young players and veterans at the end of their effective use, sending the Cubs to their doom.

Girardi or Sandberg can help the Cubs do it the Cubs way for the first time since the 1930s and 1940s, but Girardi can give us something a little bit sweeter than Sandberg – hiring him can make the Yankees wince.  Holding a grudge back to 1930 is silly for someone born almost 40 years later, but grudges are a tradition with the Sterlings that stretches back to the last time the Cubs were champs.



Sammy Sosa and the Chicago Cubs Both Failed in Raising Sammy the Ballplayer by kentsterling
August 24, 2010, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Chicago Cubs, Kent Sterling | Tags: , , , ,

by Kent Sterling

When Dr. Frankenstein created the monster, was the monster the only guy accountable for him raising hell?

A rare (smart move by Sammy) interview with Shane Tritsch of Chicago Magazine prompted a rather expansive article about Sammy Sosa’s career in Chicago.  The fallout from the article has landed directly on Sammy’s oddly small head.

The article features a few quotes from Sosa that show he’s lost none of his ability to see the world through only his eyes, “All I did all my whole life was play hard and give everything I had for the organization and the people of Chicago,” and, “[The Cubs] threw me into the fire.  They made [people] believe I’m a monster.”  He refused to talk about allegations of steroid abuse.

The other story the piece tells is about how Cubs management was complicit not only in creating the monster, but in destroying him when economics made that decision just as convenient.

There is no doubt now, just as there was none then, that the Cubs enabled Sammy’s infantile need for control and attention.  For a decade, people came to Wrigley Field to see Harry, Sammy, and/or ivy.  When Harry died, they put up a statue and scrawled a caricature on the press box.  Bill Veeck planted the ivy in 1937, and it isn’t going anywhere.  Sosa who hit 60+ home runs three times had his infantile need for attention and appeasement.

Yeah, Sosa is a wingnut.  The guy packed on 75 pounds of muscle through his career, and hit 609 home runs while being a total pest and diva.  That’s what gets all the media attention because it’s easier to explain, but a spoiled brat doesn’t become spoiled by himself.  He has a parent or two who refuse to implement or enforce any rules.  Sammy was not held accountable by the Cubs, and he never matured.

Read the piece which gives a complete look not just at Sammy, but at the dynamics that

John McDonough

caused Sammy to be excused for being an asshole.  Before exhausting ourselves hammering Sammy, throw some blame at former Cubs presidents Andy MacPhail and John McDonough.

Whether Sammy Sosa belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame or not is going to be left to the same sportswriters who took nine years to elect Andre Dawson, who was without debate the best right fielder in baseball during the 1980s.  What is sure is that Sammy isn’t the only person to blame for Sammy being Sammy, and someone should take an honest look at them.

Steroid and HGH?  Probably, but for a guy people assume is a buffoon, he’s the only ballplayer without a paper trail leading investigators or anyone else to evidence of his using.  No doubt, he thought the Cubs universe rotated around him.  There is also no doubt that the Cubs front office spun that universe around him.

Who’s more to blame?