View Full Version : The Moron Column count '02: Flubs 14, Sox 5

05-06-2002, 09:56 AM
Hey everybody -

Sorry I've been slacking on the latest, delicious developments on the Moron front. But, uh, I did just get married on Saturday (and the Sox punked out that slut Tim Hudson!). Anyway, I really, really enjoyed Jay's 180 degree turn on the Flubbies. So funny, so venomous, and so predictable. Didn't he write something last year after the McGriff signing about "Holy Harry, they're going for it"? *****!!!

At least he realizes early on that they're a mediocre if not bad team this year....

I give this one a 2 on the scale. He could have been even more negative, but he held back.

5=Extremely positive
3=equal parts positive and negative
1=extremely negative

That makes the totals (columns/points/average points):

Flubs 14/50/3.57
Sox 5/15/3


The honeymoon's over

May 5, 2002


While baseball people rave about Andy MacPhail, all I see is a faded pedigree, a polo shirt and an outdated pair of wire-framed glasses. Excuse me, but what is so brilliant about a boss who commits $40million to Todd Hundley and Fred McGriff? What's so special about an executive who is in his eighth season in Wrigleyville and has yet to win a division title or playoff game?

Stop telling me what MacPhail accomplished years ago with the Minnesota Twins and start realizing most men would have been fired for achieving as little as he has with the Cubs. What's so great about a CEO whose operation junks up a national shrine with spiteful screens, then watches his high-expectations club stink out the joint? Such are the priorities of a businessman who talks about being competitive and making profits but never shows interest in discussing the holy grail of the Cubs' mentality.

That would be the World Series. Ever hear MacPhail mention it? Think he loses sleep when he doesn't get near it?

Any assignment of blame for a 94th consecutive year of world-championship-less baseball--yes, I'm conceding already--extends beyond the manager's seat. If Don Baylor looks like he might be more excited caulking a bathtub, we also would be wrong to ignore the continuing inconsistency of Mac-Phail's decisions and the holes he has left in the daily lineup. After years of being cautious with Tribune Co.'s bank account, he has dared to dust off the corporate booty and spend more than $75million, the highest payroll in team history and the highest this season in the National League Central. For that investment, the Tribsters expect a boom. What they're seeing so far is a bust.

Baseball men in large markets are judged on their major expenditures. MacPhail's last three big acquisitions have been such disappointments, we're back to spelling his name MacFail. Hundley is officially a lost cause, unable to maintain his confidence or health. McGriff has become the new pariah of Cubdom--sleepy and carefree, not thrilled to be here, stealing money with his puny production. As for Moises Alou, it would be unfair to dismiss him too soon, but it's unwise to think he'll earn his $27 million the next three seasons on disabled lists and trainer tables.

Five years ago, this is a cool team. Now, it's old and hobbled, with MacPhail once again penalized for wanting things both ways--a veteran team mixed with young talent, some sizable salaries mixed with cheap plug-ins. He thinks he can cut corners, but he only gets burned. A serious team doesn't wait a year for a healthy Bill Mueller, hardly George Brett to begin with, by using Chris Stynes as the regular third baseman. A serious team doesn't wait for Bobby Hill, the jury's-still-out prospect at second base, by suffering with Delino DeShields. A serious team doesn't trot out Joe Girardi to catch while hoping and praying Hundley finds himself.

It's MacPhail's way of buying time. Fans of this team have no more time.

What bothers his detractors is the free pass he keeps receiving. Be it the Tribsters, his baseball brethren or media locally and nationally, he hears as little criticism as any high-profile executive in U.S. sports. He comes from a famous family--father Lee and grandfather Larry were Hall of Fame baseball executives--which shouldn't make him immune from accountability but does. Commissioner Bud Selig just adores Dandy Andy, regularly singing his praises and placing him on a special labor task team while ignoring his record with the Cubs. You sense MacPhail could be here 30 years without a World Series appearance and still hold a high place in the baseball hierarchy. Don't be shocked, for that matter, if he's commissioner someday.

First, we'd like to see his ballclub reach .500.

If the Cubs have improved noticeably in his days here, it's in developing prospects. But let's not gush about it prematurely, as Baseball America did in calling their farm system the best around. Corey Patterson has been the pleasant surprise of a dismal start, flashing all five of his tools in various moments. But is Juan Cruz going to be OK after hard luck and painful results? And until Hill, Hee Seop Choi and David Kelton arrive and prove their worth, who knows whether they'll be productive big-leaguers? The one gimme is pitching phenom Mark Prior, who should be making his major-league debut any day now. But it's not as though the Cubs have contributed much to his development, having had him for one spring camp and a month of Class AA ball.

The MacPhail administration is underachieving and unreliable, a far cry from the two world championships he won with the Twins. But his bosses love him nonetheless, if only because the turnstiles spin and the Brinks trucks keep pulling up to beautiful, ultra-profitable Wrigley Field. Of course, Ronnie (Woo Woo) Wickers could run the Cubs and produce the same attendance figures. But that hasn't stopped MacPhail's reign as the Tribsters' golden boy.

Which hasn't stopped him from offering humdrum rationalizations that insult fans and, for that matter, quick-starting Central clubs such as the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates. It's still early, MacPhail emphasizes, failing to realize the Cubs aren't exactly the New York Yankees.

''Eventually, we're going to have to play better, obviously,'' he said. ''But at the risk of antagonizing people, I really don't think the Pirates are going wire-to-wire this season. I generally keep an eye on St. Louis and Houston, and the fact that they haven't gotten off to great starts gives you some solace. Cincinnati can be trouble for us because they have good position players, but health and how their pitching holds up is going to be the key barometer for them.

''You remember how Oakland got off to an 8-18 start last year and Seattle got off to a tremendous start. In '91, we were world champions in Minnesota, and we got off to a horrific start. So it is generally not the first 30 games of the season. There are certainly a lot of things that are going to happen in the next 130 games. You just have to ride it out and play better. Don't panic.''

Cubdom is too numb from decades of futility to panic. But if the losing persists, I'll join the grumbling masses in calling for a new Andy to take over the Cubs. Andy Frain, Andy the Clown, Andy of Mayberry, Andie MacDowell. Any Andy but this Andy.

05-06-2002, 10:24 PM
Don't worry. If the Cubbies get hot, look for Jay to take it all back.
In the meantime, I rate this column a 'D' for delicious.