Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Singin' a Familiar Tune

This just in from the Department of the Obvious... the Chicago Cubs are not good at baseball.

This comes as a shock to only one, that being Cubs manager Lou Piniella. "Sweet Lou" apparently hasn't watched Sportscenter in the last 100 years, or he would have known what he was getting into when he agreed to coach the most famous losers in the history of sport. Now, Piniella's tirades over his team's ineptitude are constantly on Sportscenter. With the Cubbies off to another dismal start that will likely end with a familiar dismal finish, I have one question for Sweet Lou: what the hell did you think was gonna happen?

Lets set history aside for a brief second, and focus on the here and now. The Cubs are a disaster on the base paths (they recently had a man thrown out at second for over running the base while advancing on a walk); nobody can name one member of their bullpen, which is good, because these men would prefer to not have faces put to their names; multi-million dollar uber free-agent Alfonso Soriano has as many homeruns as me, and only one more RBI; and oh yeah, theres Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.

Wood and Prior, once thought of as the makings of the greatest pitching tandem ever, started off another season in the trainer's room, and it looks as though the season may already be over for Prior. The last 6 (I think; it may be more, may be less) seasons has seen both of these potential aces end up on the DL, usually for the duration of the season. When they manage to stay healthy, they are two very good pitchers. The problem is, they pitch for the Cubs, and the Cubs are just as cursed as the Madden cover.

The Cubs suffer from a curse that lies deep in the lore of sports legend, the Billy Goat Curse. In 1945, the last time the Cubs made it to the World Series, a man and his goat were admitted to the park to watch the game (the man bought a seat for the goat... whack job), but were ultimately ejected due to the odor of the goat. The man then placed a curse on the Cubs, saying they would never win another pennant or World Series. So far, he's right.

Which brings us back to Sweet Lou. Piniella is a good coach. Piniella is not a great coach. It's going to take the greatest baseball coach of all time to break the Billy Goat Curse. Piniella is apparently delusional, thinking that his pedestrian resume (one World Series win, in 1990 with the Reds) can conquer a curse that lives on when it has no business living on. People want to see the Cubs win (except me... I wanna see the O's win); they've been "Lovable Losers" for so long that it takes people with very cold hearts to not want to see them succeed (I'm frigid). But Lou Piniella is not the answer to the Cubs problems. The problems lie way deeper than Lou Piniella.

The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. That's almost 100 years. A century. Ten decades. Theodore Roosevelt was President. The last World Series they won was World Series V. They were working on breaking a pretty hefty drought before all the Billy Goat business in 1945, and now haven't been back since. They went 20 years without a winning record. Most of those 20 years saw them finish in last place. Even when they get close, people like Steve Bartman act on behalf of the Billy Goat just to ensure that defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory. This is not a problem one season or one man or one act can solve.

And that's most of the problem with the Cubs... they want to solve the whole thing in one felling swoop. Last season, after Wood and Prior made their annual pilgrimage to the DL, fans called for then- manager Dusty Baker's head, saying he worked them too hard in spring training. The ownership listened, and axed Baker, who I think is a better coach than Piniella. Piniella is a time bomb, as any of his tirades will tell you, and he hates to lose. He is a glutton for punishment, as well, seeing as his last two coaching stops (the Devil Rays prior to the Cubs) are with two teams who are currently redefining losing. So now, the Cubs have a lesser coach with a shorter fuse, and Wood and Prior are still on the DL. Some things just aren't meant to be, and the marriage of Piniella with the Cubs is one of them. Piniella is a horrible fit for the Cubs, and the Cubs are a horrible fit for Piniella, but both parties are delusional, so what can you do but fugghedaboutit. Fire Sweet Lou, and try again next year.

To recap: the Cubs have sucked for 100 years; they filled their head coaching vacancy with a short tempered average coach who hates losing; the coach is shocked at the incompetence of the team, and takes it out on the media. Wow. I just thank my lucky stars that the Orioles are only a tenth of the way to that point.


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