View Full Version : The Moron column count '02: Flubs 18, Sox 6

05-14-2002, 10:52 AM
I give this one a 2, though it's funny to watch Jay pretend he didn't praise Andy McPhail to the heavens when he signed McWhiff and Ow-lou.

By the way, a 3:1 column ratio with a team as lousy as the Flubbies is a bit of an insult, no?


I have never gotten on this so-called "Sox bandwagon."

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

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

Flubs 18/63/3.50
Sox 6/19/3.17


Baylor gets the blame

May 14, 2002


ST. LOUIS--Kerry Wood is tired of Don Baylor's sleepwalk act. So am I. Sometimes, what baseball purists consider the easy way out--fire the manager!--is genuinely the right thing to do. When a major-market ballclub is flat, uninspired and not living up to the highest payroll in franchise history, someone has to be targeted in order to shake up the losing culture.

Monday night, Baylor became the rightful target.

In a memorable rant after a limp 3-0 loss to the Cardinals, Wood boldly suggested his manager's tolerance of losing is a major part of the Cubs' problem. ''I'm getting real [bleeping] tired of hearing the same [bleep] when the game is over: 'Keep your head up and we'll get 'em tomorrow,''' Wood said. ''That [bleep] ain't working.''

I will take it a step further: Baylor needs to go.

The Great Tipped-Pitch Saga faded out on a peaceful evening at Busch Stadium, giving way to the more urgent matter of the manager's future. It's clear now that Baylor, in the third year of a four-year deal, isn't fit to be the field boss of the Cubs. Not only is he an avowed supporter of veteran players in an organization moving toward a youth movement, he also is not doing much to prod a group of sluggish underachievers best defined by Feeble Fred McGriff. You sense that the Cubs should be faring much better than they are, even with a series of injuries, and that the future near and far would be better served by leadership fresher than Baylor's bump-on-a-log approach.

Does Wood want the job? He showed more fire in a few minutes by his locker than Baylor has in his Cubs career. He said what the skipper should have said weeks ago: that he's sick of being around a bunch of quitters who think it's August, not mid-May. ''It's frustrating, and it's getting real old,'' he said.

He's absolutely right. Anyone seen any fire this year? Here was a great chance to light a flame, with Tony La Russa and the Cardinals greeting the Cubs with a new round of smirky pregame propaganda. First you had Matt Morris, the pitcher who vowed to stick a fastball in a Cub's ear, sticking a fork into his flapping tongue and promising not to provoke a beanball war. ''I said that [as] a figure of speech, but it was stupid to say. I'm not going to retaliate,'' said Morris, who didn't in a complete-game shutout.

Then there was La Russa, admitting to reporters that Morris ''made a bad comment'' but sounding disingenuous as he continued to accuse the Cubs of tipping pitches to their batters. ''We had been warned in spring training they were up to it, and we saw things that made us suspicious and we responded,'' said La Russa, adding that he suspects the Cubs of making ''sounds from the dugout'' that tip pitches. While emphasizing he meant no disrespect to Sammy Sosa, who hit the homer off Morris that propelled the accusations, La Russa made it known this conflict was about him and Baylor--the latest episode in Baylor's unproductive feuds with managers.

The question was how the Cubs would respond. Would the sight of Cardinal red draw their ire in ways the Milwaukee Brewers didn't in an ugly sweep? Predictably, Morris smoked them, dropping the sickly-hitting Cubs to an unacceptable 13-23 in an up-for-grabs division. All night, Baylor simply stood in the dugout, as if resigned to a bad season and his ultimate fate.

So why wait? Why doesn't embattled boss Andy MacPhail make the move and call the best manager who isn't working, Tom Kelly, who won two world championships with MacPhail in Minnesota and worked well with veterans and youth? Felipe Alou is older and might not want the hassles of working for the Cubs, but he also is good with kids--maybe even his own kid, struggling Moises, who is under contract two more seasons and could use a boost. Just do something, anything, to appease the undying loyalists who line up around Wrigley Field in snowstorms to buy tickets.

For a while, anyway, MacPhail will make us wait, not wanting to admit a mistake and fire a longtime associate before Baylor has been given every last chance to succeed. Deep down, MacPhail must realize the team's problems are in large part his own doing. Any executive whose three recent big expenditures have been McWhiff, Todd Hundley and Alou--and who is going on 0-for-8 in the division-title department--surely has a nagging conscience. If Tribune Co. evaluated its baseball chief on wins and losses instead of Cubs-generated revenue, MacPhail's job security, too, would be wobbly.

But realistically, he probably is safer than anyone in the Tower empire but Allison Payne. Thus, we are conditioned to examine the manager, a seat that has changed rumps nine times in 21 years of Trib ownership. MacPhail prides himself on loyalty, patience and the fact he has employed only three managers in 17 years of running big-league clubs, yet the latest Cub Flub is painful enough that even he stops short of ruling out a change. When asked about Baylor's status, MacPhail didn't issue the same full-blown endorsement he has on other occasions.

''Let's get our team on the field,'' he said, referring to the injuries.

His argument is no longer valid. Other than Alex Gonzalez and the hapless Hundley, everyone is back in the everyday lineup. Flash Gordon and Kyle Farnsworth haven't pitched most of the season, but how many games have the Cubs lost by the seventh inning? No, MacPhail can't use the injury crutch. Basically, this team lacks punch, verve, leadership, life. Since Aug. 1--four days after McWhiff arrived--the Cubs have been one of baseball's lousier outfits, going 39-54. If the boss was anyone but MacPhail and the team any other but the Cubs, Baylor probably would be gone.

But the Cubs don't have to make that call yet. While some teams dump managers based on attendance concerns, the Cubs don't have such problems at Wrigley. Which is all the more reason the Tribsters should be ashamed. You sympathize when managers are made scapegoats by low-budget teams like Milwaukee and Kansas City, but the Cubs have no excuses about market size and revenues. The reason they've ''stunk,'' as Joe Girardi describes their play, is because MacPhail and Baylor have combined to bring down the ship.

Both should go, but only one can. As usual in Cubdom, it's the manager.

05-14-2002, 12:20 PM
Originally posted by Moronotti
Since Aug. 1--four days after McWhiff arrived--the Cubs have been one of baseball's lousier outfits, going 39-54.

"I knew all along that McWhiff would ruin the Cubs. That's why I never wrote 3 columns begging him to come to Chicago, and why I never questioned how he could even think about not wanting to play at the most magical, sacred ballpark in the universe. And I certainly didn't guarantee that the Cubs would be "all right", win their division and make a major World Series push because of McWhiff's delicious arrival. Nope, I knew they were doomed all along."

"It's getting deeper than my litter box in here."