Monday, October 16, 2006

Distant replay--the Baker hiring

As we wait on the formality of the Cubs press conference to announce Lou Piniella as their new skipper, I took a look back on the excitement that accompanied Dusty Baker when he came to town, 4 long years ago.

It was November 19, 2002 when the Cubs announced the hiring of the now departed Dusty Baker. Hope and optimism rang throughout Cubdom as Baker came into the mix. Baker was a veteran manager of the wars in October. He was going to be the man that took the Cubs to the promised land. Thanks to the interweb we can look back on the spin that was being force fed to Cub fans by John McDonough's marketing machine:

During his coming out party with the Chicago media Tuesday afternoon, Baker made one thing very clear: he wants to win and he will do it by his rules. Now that the ink is dry on the contract that he and the Cubs reached Friday, the real work begins. His challenges ahead include hiring a coaching staff, getting in touch with his new players and helping his boss in the free agent recruiting wars.

and there was this:

Baker inherits a team that went 67-95 under two different managers in 2002. Besides the on-field struggles, there were plenty of behind-the-scenes problems as well with reports of infighting in the clubhouse, a player caught napping on the job and team members reporting late for work.

Of course as always Cub fans were portrayed as happy-go-lucky:

"He wouldn't demand anything from his players he wouldn't expect from himself," Sofia said. "His teams don't make any mental mistakes. He also controls the egos and promotes teamwork. He has what it takes."

Tom Dillavou lives in the Wrigleyville neighborhood and wandered over to the park to see if he could get a ball signed for his son.

Dillavou echoed the sentiments of other fans staking out the area under the famed Wrigley Field marquee that read simply, "Cubs welcome Dusty Baker."

"I think he's going to break the curse," Dillavou said of Baker and the Cubs' 94-year drought of World Series victories. "The main thing is any time teams have a superstar, you have to get that star to play with the others. If he can get Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent to get along, he'll have it easy with Sammy Sosa."

Ahh the curse talk and keeping the clubhouse straight. You can't beat the crap they discuss about a bad team after a bad season. What about bad pitching and hitting?

It will be real interesting to see how the media spins the hiring of Piniella. Hiring Piniella was not the smooth public relations move that hiring Joe Girardi would have been. There is no doubt that Lou can manage. His track record proves this. Still, like another manager, he needs his "horses". Without the players, this move is pointless. Hendry's most important offseason moves are in the days ahead.

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