My 10-year-old son and I recently attended a Cubs game. We arrived early to obtain an autograph from his favorite players in Jason Dubois, Corey Patterson, Derrek Lee and Ryan Dempster.
Dubois signed his ball and even spoke to my son. It's a moment he will always remember.
However, Corey Patterson will be remembered for his complete and utter arrogance. He motioned to my son to wait until he finished his wind sprints before he could sign the ball. My son waited patiently not wanted to disturb him while he stretched and ran.
After about 10 minutes, Patterson turned his back from my son and walked to the dugout ... no signature, no wave, no smile, nothing.
My son was devastated.
"What did I do?," asked my son. "I waited like he wanted Dad, is he mad?"
i am rolling on the floor laughing, folks. that's an awful tale of woe, but it is sweet music to my ears -- because it means the cubs are shopping patterson.
remember all that lot that went on around sammy last winter, not even waiting for the season to end before the attack dogs were unleashed? and how that was followed by a certain deal of some note? remember how they had done the same thing to sammy in 2000 when his contract negotiations were pending? remember the "corked-bat" fallout with mark grace that tainted the legacy of another of the great cub players of the last twenty years?
any player the cubs invest time, money and hype into must be destroyed before leaving town. why? it's the defense of the collective. the tribune knows it has a good thing going, and cannot afford to let fans be distracted by personal sympathies to individual players when they count on them to buy tickets from the team.
to reduce the chances of fans being alienated from the team by any personnel moves, the cubs' marketing efforts have assiduously promoted wrigley field over the years as the star of the show. but that's not enough, of course, in the age of individual heroism in sports, and the cubs do market individual players as well. but they own a certain kind of insurance against that in the world's greatest newspaper and all its media tentacles.
the mother ship makes sure to turn its engines of popular influence against any key player when a difficult contract negotiation approaches or the player becomes the object of negotiations with another team. any minor incident will do to become the center of a media firestorm which sullies the player, turns the fans against him and ensures that the team will play the role of the good guy in dumping him.
the autograph-denied-to-a-little-angel story the trib today ran is to korey what leaving early on the last day was to sammy and the corked-bat joke was to grace: the death knell.
chances are that patterson will be moved before the deadline. keep an eye on the story; if more korey-in-a-black-hat tales show up in print, it gets all the more certain.