Sunday, May 21, 2006

For those of you scoring at home

Michael Barrett's cheap shot on Saturday is just the latest example of a baseball team that from top to bottom doesn't get it. The 2004 Cubs team will be remembered for bitching and moaning about everything from the fans to the umpires to the broadcasters. There's a difference though, the 2004 team won 89 games and stayed in the wildcard race until they folded the last week of that season. This team of malcontents is on the road to 100 losses.

Barrett's cheap shot at one of the biggest pricks in baseball.

So here's a rundown of how this "class" team--that has taken the lovable out of lovable losers-- has behaved during the first quarter of the season:

APRIL 24 - Jacques Jones wins a game with a dramatic eighth inning home run. Following the ballgame the struggling small market player takes a shot at the Wrigley Field faithful who have been booing him. This from Mike Kiley's AP column:

"I'm hearing all kinds of stuff in the outfield. I try not to pay attention. But it's so loud and so angry right now. It's almost funny. They have a right to voice whatever opinion they want. But it's not going to make me play any better. It's not going to make me play any worse.

"Where I came from (the Minnesota Twins), they were passionate about baseball. We probably didn't draw as many, but through thick and thin it was, 'Let's go, we can do it, we know you can do it.' It's something I got to get used (in Chicago)."

Jones is hitting .209 and expects to hear more catcalls with the Cubs home all week long.

"I'm blocking it out as much as I can," he said. "As long as I'm playing as hard as I can play, I can look myself in the mirror and know I'm doing the right thing."

Jones even made a reference to Cubs fans turning on former right fielder Sammy Sosa when he hit the skids in 2004. He also alluded to his buddy, reliever LaTroy Hawkins, without specifically naming him. Hawkins was booed out of Chicago last season, traded in May.

"I've seen friends go through it," Jones said of the crowd hazing. "Sammy Sosa hit 60 home runs three years and went into a slump and..."

Between APRIL 25-MAY 18 - In response to Paul Sullivan's article in Tribune detailing the Jones gaffe described above. Andy MacPhail and Jim Hendry meet with Sully and Tribune Sports Editor Dan McGrath. According to reports Andy MacPhail is uncharacteristically upset and unprofessional in his dress down of Sullivan. Sullivan correctly points out that his story was no different than those written in the Bright One, Daily Herald and Daily Southtown. I'm just happy to know Andy's still around. I was getting ready to put the APB out. This from Sneed's column in Friday's Bright One:

All in the family? Sneed hears top Chicago Cubs executives Andy McPhail and Jim Hendry berated Chicago Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath and Cubs beat writer Paul Sullivan over what they felt was the paper's unfairly critical coverage of the team. The expletive-laced tongue-lashing supposedly took place last week at Wrigley Field, according to a source.

Sneedless to say, shouldn't the team execs be apologizing to their bosses at Tribune Co. for the Cubs' shabby record?

MAY 12 - A frustrated Michael Barrett in an outburst that would foreshadow a bigger outburst 8 days later. Jawed with Padres outfielder Dave Roberts who stole third in a blowout. Here's the Tribune description of the outburst:

Talk about freaky Friday: three errors that included a timeout that wasn't, a near-brawl, an umpires' warning to both benches and an umpire-ordered trimming of a relief pitcher's sleeves. All of that as the Padres' lead grew from 3-2 to 8-2.

"Actually, I think we've been through a lot worse, believe it or not," said catcher Michael Barrett, who was in the middle of a vocal confrontation.

Barrett was standing at the plate when Dave Roberts, after stealing third base, scored on Mike Cameron's double. The catcher said something to Roberts, who turned and replied. Suddenly, the umpires were trying to keep the peace as Padres mingled about. After a short conference, the umpires warned both sides that any retaliatory pitching tactics would not be tolerated.

MAY 16 - After beating the Nats 4-0, Todd Walker calls out the fans.

"Understand the game a little more," Walker said. "Back this team because we have a great chance to do some good things."

MAY 20 - The bench clearing brawl at US Cellular. David Haugh's article in the Tribune says everything in the headline: "The 'cheap shot' heard 'round city". Here's Chris De Luca's description from the Bright One:

On a routine sacrifice fly to left field and tag-up at third base, Sox
baserunner A.J. Pierzynski bowled over catcher Michael Barrett. After slapping home plate, Pierzynski got up, strolled toward his batting helmet and bumped into Barrett, who put the opposing catcher in a bearhug and punched him squarely in the jaw.

So there it is. Unprofessional/classless behavior from the top of the organization on down.(And I am not getting into complaints about the strikezone or any of the crap that the skipper gives us on a daily basis.) Dusty Baker enables his players to behave like this. (He's also had this team quit on him, but that's a whole 'nother topic).

What is funny to me is the poor behavior by the Cubs President and General Manager in relation to their beat writer from the Tribune. I guess when you have a General Manager that dresses like a gym teacher on a booze cruise, you shouldn't expect much. It is my opinion that if the Tribune (or the new owners) want to make the Cubs a world class outfit, they'll have to start by eliminating MacPhail and Hendry.

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