View Full Version : The Moron column count '02: Flubs 19, Sox 7

05-17-2002, 09:31 AM
Wherein Jay does his damndest to prove Rick Morrissey wrong...pretty hilarious. The battle of the thin-skinned.

Oh, and can someone tell me why on earth Tom Kelly thinks the Flubs are "one of the premier franchises in sports"?

I give this one a "2" for the Flubbies, as it's more fire-Baylor negativity.

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

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

Flubs 19/65/3.42
Sox 7/22/3.14


There's no denying truth about Cubs

May 17, 2002


It isn't pleasant when a ballclub woefully underachieves. The little boy comes out in everybody--players, executives, fans, even media people who should know better. When the Cubs are losing, though, there always is a certain helplessness that spreads like a disease and settles permanently.

What's amazing after a week of rapid-fire commentary is that absolutely nothing has changed. Every day, someone has spoken up in the clubhouse, and the next day, the Cubs have come out and played like dead fish. First Kerry Wood, then Don Baylor, then Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou by their lockers. Who's next, Chip Caray? Doesn't matter. Consider it more sturdy evidence of what was written here three days ago: The day-to-day culture needs a dramatic overhaul, and the best way to achieve it and rescue a lost season is by replacing the manager.

Tom Kelly. Buck Showalter. The fat guy in ''Major League.'' Anyone but Baylor.

Whether he wants to admit it or not in his backpedaling mode, I believe Wood was alluding to Baylor's leadership flaws during his rant in St. Louis. I don't believe Wood when he wakes up the next day, sees his harsh comments interpreted in a variety of ways in the national media and decides to cover his rear end corporately when some of us suspect he's referring to Baylor. If you know pro sports operations, it is perfectly reasonable to soak up Wood's most revealing comment--''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.' That [bleep] ain't working''--and wonder whether Baylor is his target.

Tired of hearing the same (bleep)? Hmmm. Who addresses the club after every game? Who is in position to make something ''work'' or not? Who often uses those words in postgame news conferences? That would be Baylor, the sleepy manager who, not coincidentally, finally ripped his club behind closed doors the next day. In his criticism, Wood was addressing motivational problems. Last I looked, motivation is part of the manager's job description. He got around to criticizing teammates and mentioning himself, but if Wood is keeping score of those who think Baylor was his target, he'd better call a number of TV and radio hosts and columnists. And, for that matter, a hell of a lot of Cubs fans. You can't control public opinion, Kid K. Once you open your trap, anything goes. Live with it or shut up.

Need I remind anyone that Wood and Baylor have a history? Last season, when the Cubs fell apart in August and September, he was among the pitchers who put up a full-frontal protest against Baylor when he feuded with pitching coach Oscar Acosta. It seemed a juvenile act by Wood and the boys, and Acosta was fired. Wood since has gotten over the fiasco, telling me in spring training: ''That's in the past. It was just something that happened in the heat of losing.'' But recalling Wood's anger that week, it's hard to believe he suddenly is president of the Don Baylor Fan Club.

Nor should he be. Much as team boss Andy MacPhail has erred in spending Tribune megabucks on Fred McGriff, Todd Hundley and Alou, the sluggish everyday mood of the club is the manager's responsibility. These are painful times for the Tribsters, who have spent $76 million this season for a 13-25 mess. When MacPhail says of Baylor, ''I have no plans to make any changes at the present time,'' be certain to focus on two words: present time. Surely, he is putting together a short list of candidates in case the Cubs are swept in Milwaukee. If that happens, Baylor can't possibly face the angry masses next week at Wrigley Field.

There are capable interim managers on the coaching staff in Rene Lachemann and Larry Rothschild. But long term, MacPhail primarily should be focused on Kelly, his onetime partner in championship crime in Minnesota. I recently asked Kelly, now in ''retirement,'' whether he would be interested in working again for MacPhail.

''Andy's the best,'' he said.

Then I asked whether he would be interested in managing the Cubs if the job ever opened. ''I don't talk about positions when men are in them,'' he said, ''but the Chicago Cubs are one of the premier franchises in sports.'' He then mumbled something about going fishing and not wanting to manage any time soon. Chances are, he wouldn't enter a situation in midseason. But Kelly's credibility makes him attractive.

Showalter has a bad rap that might not be entirely fair. He had the odd distinction of being fired by the Yankees and Diamondbacks just before each team went on to win the World Series, which is also why we called it Buck's 2001 Fall Classic. In Arizona, stories are rampant about his strict rules and smothering dictatorship.

His reputation is haunting him. After he was rejected for the Kansas City Royals' managing job, which went to Tony Pena, Showalter was hurt that a Royals player sought out general manager Allard Baird and said he wouldn't play for him. If Baird hired him anyway, the player reportedly said he and other teammates would demand trades. ''I don't want somebody to be checking my socks,'' the Kansas City Star quoted the player as saying. ''This isn't kindergarten.''

Said Showalter, now an ESPN studio commentator: ''I understand how networking and word of mouth goes. You deal with it. I know I've always tried to treat people the way I would like to be treated. ... We didn't have any sock rules. That's ridiculous. When I was managing, players made the rules. I didn't have rules. Players policed themselves. Sometimes, what people say, it's almost comical. But what can I do? I would still like to manage in the right situation.''

Are the Cubs the right situation? Or would Buck bang Sosa over the head with his boom box?

Anything would be an improvement over the current scene. The last resort is a clubhouse brawl, the traditional cure-all. But seeing how the Cubs have responded all week to hot air, they surely would swing and miss.