Friday, May 26, 2006

stay of execution

with the cubs languishing at rock bottom, dusty baker's metaphysical egg timer expired last night around 9pm -- and not a single iota of change exhaled from tribune tower regarding the dismal and pathetic laughingstock that is the 2006 chicago cubs. no players acquired or dumped. no coaching changes made. no front office reshuffle. the lack of movement to accountability, however, was plainly no surprise to this page.

but this page has an inkling that the decision to keep baker has already been made by jim hendry and andy macfail and is basically immutable, the organization caring nothing and indeed openly despising its sheepish, slavish fanbase -- expressing its contempt yet again is surely not difficult for such an insular regime.

surely, it hopes otherwise -- if there is no accountability, no impetus, no sincerity of effort here, after all, could one reasonably expect that there will ever be any under macfail? almost certainly not. but hendry has shat out one of the great franchise losers of the last few decades (which is saying something) -- and for it, he was rewarded with a contract extension. should we expect any greater culpability for baker?

in lieu of anything meaningful, andy macfail, the commodore macsweatervest, deigned to be interviewed before the masses both by staff flack fred mitchell for the paper and on the blowtorch by in-house public liaison dave kaplan. (this writer hasn't been able to locate a streaming audio for that interview, but 1060west guru and devoted masochist ccd listened in.) as might have been expected, macfail said nothing -- indeed, simply propogated the same tired lies that are easily disproved by even a cursory examination of the statistical facts. hitting with runners in scoring position is indeed a problem -- the cubs are dead last in the national league -- but this is to ignore that the cubs are dead last in almost every meaningful offensive catagory by almost any split, and often by a wide margin. the cubs aren't hitting with risp because they aren't any damn good at getting on base at all. macfail is deliberately obfuscating the issue, claiming bad luck by focusing on an decontextualized detail, when in fact he and jim hendry simply built a bad offensive team without sufficient depth or ability. any small bout of bad luck -- which is almost inevitable in any 162-game season -- was going to send this offense and this team into a death spiral. if they didn't know that, they should have -- because this page isn't exactly an oracle and it knew it, in examining both infield and outfield.

this team lays completely broken at 18-28, a record which puts it on pace for 63-99. even if this spell of putridity lifts somewhat, yet another 90-loss season likely looms -- the team need compile a 55-61 (.474) record or better henceforth to avoid it, and that is probably at or beyond the upper limit of its capacity. when it happens, it will be the fifth season of macfail's 13 as team president in which the cubs have lost 90 or more games. this time, it will represent a particularly inefficient use of tribune capital resources.

consider that for a moment, dear reader. the cubs are surely one of the financial powerhouses of the national league, very comparable to the boston red sox of the american league. while boston has gone to the playoffs six times since 1995 and won a world series with only one losing season in 11 -- and is probably headed to the playoffs yet again this year, for the seventh time in 12 years -- the cubs have foundered, losing over 90 games four (likely soon to be five) times and compiling a losing record six (certainly soon to be seven) times in 11 (soon to be 12) seasons.

forget dusty baker -- if that isn't an ironclad case for aggravated incompetence and summary dismissal of the entire senior management, this writer isn't sure what would be.

that macfail in both interviews invoked the hopeless haunting ghost of the once-in-a-generation 2005 astros -- the last refuge of deepest denial -- hardly bears any promise for a recognition that this season is as dead as abraham lincoln and a move forward to play for years to come. what is left of this lost season could still be turned to positive account -- if only macfail has the intelligence, courage and moral strength to lead this team to where it can go instead of trying to deceive its delusional and irrational faithful like a preying coward into thinking it can go where it can't, thereby wasting precious time by again indulging a particularly stupid manner of hope.

but there is, at least, some small hope this morning that at least some tattered shard of sensibility remains in cub management. following on the heels of barry rozner's excellent column for the daily herald, the tribune ran a lengthy article on the prospects of dismantling the team before july 31 which included what the marketing department would consider some very big names. in the perpetual corporate game of managing expectations, this is indeed a good sign.

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