8:48 AM CDT, October 25, 2011
Tip to Theo Epstein: Don’t call your new team the “Cubbies.’’
It’s lame and reeks of carpet-bagging. It sounds as if you’re here for some easy cash and looking to cross another item off your bucket list.
Something else: Chicago second-guesses and criticizes like any other place. It’s going to happen. Deal with it. Don’t be thin-skinned the way a lot of Cubs managers, general managers and team presidents have been. Or at least don’t let it show the way Lou Piniella and Dusty Baker did. Don’t act as if a city or fandom or media isn’t entitled to second-guess and criticize because a team hasn’t won for a century.
The story goes that Piniella told a friend “if you lose a game, they take off the belt.’’ Maybe, maybe not. But that attitude sounds a lot like “I’ve won, you haven’t, shut up.’’
Point is, that sentiment reeks of an outsider’s arrogance. Piniella’s sounded worse when you consider he worked in New York previously, as if only he knew winning and only he knew criticism and only he knew pressure. He acted as if it wasn’t deserved here.
What a crock. Don’t be that guy, Theo. Be the guy who changes that part of the culture. Piniella couldn’t have been more wrong if he had lifted Carlos Zambrano in the sixth inning of a tied playoff game to get him ready for his next start --- oh, wait, never mind.
Fact is, the criticism, second-guessing and pressure arguably belong at Wrigley more than anywhere else.
I mean, it’s pretty obvious where futility lives. The Cubs have hold the mortgage on it. If you’re looking for expertise on bad baseball, this is the place. We know lousy.
Here’s the big thing that Piniella, Baker and the old TribCo wonks missed: They believed they had a no-lose situation because of all that losing. Instead, they lost and got exposed.
Don’t be those guys.
Be the guy who won in Boston with the combination of a reliable player development monster and the willingness to make bold moves.
Anything close to the Red Sox’s system that produced Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard has got to be better than the Felix Pie-Bobby Hill-Gary Scott pipeline.
Epstein’s free-agent signings have been a coin flip. His history says he can waste millions as badly as Jim Hendry did. But Epstein traded Boston deity Nomar Garciaparra (dumping him on the Cubs, as a matter of fact, and you owe fans here big-time for that, pal) and won a World Series. Epstein traded Manny Ramirez after the second World Series, a move that did not lead to a third title.
Making the Cubs a winner will involve risky moves that willingly risk criticism amid the pressure. Be that guy, Theo. If it works, congratulations, you’re immortal. Be the guy who told the Boston Herald that he was ascending to the Red Sox job originally by channeling the zeitgeist of Chicago-centric “Risky Business:’’
“Sometimes you’ve just gotta say, ‘What the (bleep).’’’
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