View Full Version : The Moron column count '02: Flubs 16, Sox 6

05-13-2002, 12:18 PM
After the way the Sox played this weekend, I was *glad* to see the Moron waste his ink on the dreadful Flubbies.

I give this one a 3.

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

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

Flubs 16/58/3.63
Sox 6/19/3.17


Cubs' hope: Kids can play

May 12, 2002


From youth comes hope, the Cubs always tell us. That brings to mind a quote from William Shakespeare, who once wrote, ''The miserable have no other medicine but hope.'' With all their might, Andy MacPhail and Don Baylor are extolling the merits of Bobby Hill, who arrived on zero sleep as the latest would-be Wrigleyville savior.

''He's going to be a very good second baseman,'' Baylor said. ''He has a swagger about him. Everybody can feed off it.''

If only it was that simple. Look, there are no quick-fix solutions in Cubdom. On a dismal ballclub, Hill's promotion marks the latest in a line of long-awaited prospects who will determine whether a ballyhooed farm system is legitimately productive or recklessly overhyped. With every swing and miss by the gutless Fred McWhiff and every ache from the creaking body of Moises Alou, you realize the Cubs are moving into a new phase of an eternal rebuilding process. At 13-21, the summoning of kids is simply another way of echoing a familiar refrain.

Wait till next year.

To be sure, Hill is a ball of nervous energy, an element sorely needed on a team of various slouches, stiffs and mopey old geezers. Watch him between every pitch. He unfastens his batting gloves, refastens them, adjusts his helmet, moves his neck from one side to the other, then jams his hand into his chin. From first pitch to last, a hustler, a thinker and a basestealer. In a poignant scene at the start of his big-league debut Friday, he bounded out of the dugout with his teammates, sprinted beyond second base and stopped in short center field, where he knelt in the grass and said a prayer. All the while, he was wearing No. 17, Mark Grace's old number, which lended a certain poetry to the scene.

''I want to wear it with pride, the way he did,'' Hill said.

Now, he just needs to produce. His idol is Ozzie Smith and his fidgety mannerisms suggest Nomar Garciaparra, but until further inspection, let's be fair to Hill and not label him as anything but a talented newcomer trying to make it. I'm impressed he could function as well as he did on 24 hours of unintentional sleep deprivation, in part a byproduct of slapstick front-office desperation. He received the official phone call in Iowa at 5:20 p.m. Thursday and was told to catch a 7:20 p.m. flight to O'Hare--this only hours after a flip-flopping MacPhail told reporters, ''You don't bring up a player when he's hitting .125 at Triple-A.'' Fact is, Hill was on a torrid two-week streak with the I-Cubs and was approaching .300. Either MacPhail isn't paying attention or is wasting too much valuable time toying with reporters. It was clear he and assistant Jim Hendry had to counteract the lackluster play of Delino DeShields, who has joined the Crime Bow-Wow as the leading pariahs of the Unfriendly Confines.

When Hill arrived in his hotel room about 10 p.m., he was besieged by phone calls from family, friends and ''friends I didn't know I had.'' The calls stopped at midnight, but he was in no position to sleep. ''I was just laying in bed looking at the wall, trying to fall asleep,'' he said after going 0-for-4 with a walk. ''I was counting to 100, trying to go backwards. Nothing worked. But now I'm here and I've got to live up to it. My adrenalin is running pretty high.'' Eventually, Hill might get around to pressing his clothes, which were thrown in a heap into his travel bag.

A hodgepodge lineup now has two kids: the developing Corey Patterson and Hill. If the hype machine has predicted greatness, the more restrained likelihood is that both will be good major-leaguers for a long period. Patterson was advertised as a five-tool superstar, but his power is spotty and he is best as a No. 2 hitter. The Cubs may be overexuberant about Hill for ulterior reasons; after the dreadful trade of Jon Garland to the Sox for washed-up Matt Karchner, they can gain some measure of revenge with the success of an infielder the Sox didn't sign after drafting him in 1999. They will be joined in Chicago--sooner than later if the Cubs keep losing and pack in the season--by slugger Hee Seop Choi and third baseman David Kelton. But who knows how many of the prospects are real and how many are frauds perpetrated by the organization?

Of course, no one doubts Mark Prior's authenticity. While Hill and the others learn on slower curves, the only question about Prior will be the extent of his immediate major-league impact. MacPhail has made his way to Des Moines to scout the pitching phenom today, and assuming he continues to dominate, Prior could be in line to start Friday in Milwaukee. There is no reason to wait, as I've been harping since spring training, because of his extraordinary mechanics and poise. When he's throwing 94 mph in the eighth inning and barely laboring, it's clear he shouldn't be wasted on the minor leagues. It's sad how Baylor has contributed to Juan Cruz's problems by publicly alluding to the kid's battered psyche, but the longer he's having control problems, the more critical it is to remove him from the rotation.

The answer: Promote Prior, team him with Jon Lieber and Kerry Wood, and at least give the Cubs a fighting chance three of every five games. What some don't realize is that Prior and his father, Jerry, have been reluctant about being rushed to the bigs too soon. ''I could use four, five, six more starts,'' Prior said. MacPhail will have to sit with them and make his case, but if Prior sparkles again today, the debate is moot.

As long as the world is filled with indefatigable Cubs fans, there will be hope. Just as Hill has been received this weekend with warm ovations, Prior will be greeted like a rock star. During Friday's loss to the lowly Brewers, the WGN telecast spent the last few innings focusing on a loon in an inside-out, backward cap who kept dancing, bouncing, hoping and trying to put a hex on enemy pitchers.

Wonder if he reads Shakespeare?