June 27, 2009

"I've had enough"

To someone with a passing interest, it might appear that all I do is bash on the Cubs. While I get great pleasure in watching the implosion and collapse of the "lovable losers", I truly don't go out of my way to talk about them. They just make it so easy! Honestly, I've just never been one to avoid talking about the 800 lb. gorilla in the room.

Did anyone, besides myself, think that what happened yesterday was funny? (Not "Ha ha" funny, but "are you serious?" funny) I mean, this is the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black. Lou Piniella banished Milton Bradley from the Cubs dugout in the 5th inning, after Bradley flew out to right field then had a temper tantrum in the dugout. Bradley threw his helmet and "murdered" yet another Cubs water cooler. Were the Cubs NOT aware of who they were signing? This is not new behavior from Bradley. Bradley has had some of the most memorable meltdowns in baseball history.

I suppose the reason I couldn't stop laughing is the fact that Piniella has never been a role model in a baseball uniform. We would never tell our kids to model their behavior after Lou Piniella. What's even more humorous is the fact Carlos Zambrano is a serial killer when it comes to water coolers. I believe that Igloo has requested a restraining order against Zambrano. Carlos is like a 4 year old who missed his Ritalin, and then you see him at the check-out at the grocery store acting as if he needs an exorcism because mommy told him he couldn't get the Chicklets. This is accepted behavior as far as I've been able to see. I've not seen or heard Lou chastise Carlos for acting like a spoiled child.

In the post game press conference, Piniella said that he sent Bradley home because he'd "had enough" After all of the temper tantrums, broken bats, thrown helmets, destroyed water coolers... Why now? Why has he "had enough" now? You know, we used to love to watch Earl Weaver lose his temper and get tossed out of a game. He was a white haired, pudgy, little old man, who was also looked up to and admired by the fans and his peers alike. Lou isn't Earl Weaver. He just comes across as former player who can't find a razor, and is getting over the worst hangover of his life....every day! The players are supposed to learn from their manager, but in the Cubs' case, I'm not sure what Lou is teaching.

If I were a a Cubs fan, (Thankfully, I'm not!) I would be outraged! At some point, sanity and control needs to be returned to the organization. Lead by example, and right now the example isn't a very good one. Chicago has the best team in the Central Division. (I can't believe I just said that!!!) Across the board, they have the most talent, and the deepest roster. The problem is apparent to me. They don't have anyone who knows how to get the most out of that talent. They would rather spit, swear, and kill water coolers than pull together and work in unison as a team. It all starts with the leader, and I'm sorry to say... the Cubs have a poor one. Put it this way.... When is the last time you saw Tony Larussa kick dirt on an umpire, pull a base out of the ground and throw it, or have a meltdown at a press conference? I can tell you....... You haven't! He hasn't won 2500 games by accident!

The Cubs have the talent. They don't have the leadership.


Head In The Ivy said...

OK, ok, ok. You had me for a little while. Here is the real truth...you admittedly said that the Cubs have the best team on paper. I agree with you there. I'm not foolish enough to blame the manager for the Cubs' woes, there is way more to it than that. The Cubs are being decimated my injuries and bad play, and they are still in the hunt. I put way more emphasis on the GM than the Manager and I am very satisfied with Andy. Although, I wasn't happy that they let D-Ro go. Congrats, you got a great player Cardinal fans. The point that should be made is that these are professional players and managers don't play as much as a role in the majors. Yes, there are some managers who are inspiring and get the absolute most out of their players. Lou is not one of these guys, there aren't too many of them out there and your buddy Tony isn't one of them either. It seems that grizzly old veterans are the norm for the major league managers and they always will be. When an old timer is winning it's said that it's because he is a throw back (Jack McKeon), but if he is losing he is out of touch with the modern game. (insert about 20 managers here).

As for Milton Bradley, as I mentioned before the season, he is "mentally weak". I'm sure there is a lot going on behind the scenes that we don't even know about. I am sure Lou is trying to stop the bleeding before it's too late. He probably doesn't want to see Milton move from assaulting cooler to play by play announcers. Lou is a hot head himself but sometimes it's his duty to lose it and get thrown out to inspire or take the heat off a player to get him to not get thrown out of the game. This is where Lou is at his best. Big Z is an emotional guy and I would much rather see him taking down a water cooler that punching out his catcher.

Let's not make LaRussa some great manager. First off, he's lost the last two years to Lou is you are counting that way. Also, Tony is one of the biggest crybabies in the sport and is always complaining about signs being tipped, being spied on or whatever conspiracy theory he can think of next. I would hardy say that he inspires his players, maybe Rolen, Edmunds and Isringhousen might want to weigh in on that. When your closer gives you the bird during a game you know you have some issues. He's also had his share of hot heads in the dugout...see Julian Tavarez.

The Ghost of Jack Buck said...

A few differences of opinion, which I believe are healthy, but let me explain to you why you are wrong! (You have to admit... that's some funny stuff there!)
First of all, the manager plays a HUGE role in the outcome of games on daily basis. Moreso in the NL than the AL. Not just anyone can manage a National League team. (most AL managers couldn't even tell you what a double switch is) Managers, good ones anyway, know the matchups, know who they can get the most out of in certain situations, and they know how to inspire their players to play at the highest level. There isn't a manager out there who is going to be loved by every single one of his players (ref: Rolen, Edmunds, Isringhausen) but there are few who can get the most from the least like Tony Larussa does year after year. You don't have to like him to appreciate him. Albert Pujols has said that he doesn't want to play for any other manager in the game. So that throws your theory out the window in a way. When the best player in the game gives and endorsement like that, there has to be something to it. On paper, the Cardinals had no business winning the World Series in 2006. Larussa took a bunch of scrappers and made them believe that they could... and they did. That championship can be attributed to Tony Larussa before anyone else in uniform that season.
Milton Bradley may have issues that are deeper than any of us could imagine, and he may indeed be "mentally weak" as you stated. He's not one of my favorite players. I don't particularly care for his temperment and the antics that he has displayed on the field over the course of his career, but in this case, I'm siding with Milton. After all of the implosions that Lou has had over the years, and after watching Zambrano and Demptster destroy bats, helmets, water coolers and boxes of Bazooka on a fairly regular basis, how is it fair to single out Bradley? To call him out in front of all of his teammates, tell him to take his uniform off and go home during the middle of a game? I'm not condoning what Bradley did, but in all honesty, I don't think he did anything wrong! He flew out in an important at bat, and he was frustrated with himself for not helping his team to put some numbers on the board. I've been in those shoes before, as have you... and it sucks! When you fail in a key situation during a game, and everyone is looking at you to be the hero and save the day... and you fail! That sucks!!! (Think about how mad you'd be when you popped out in a Little League game. Runners in scoring position and you failed to get them home. Now imagine doing that, knowing that you were getting paid obscene amounts of money to be the guy to get those guys across home plate... and you failed) I can understand the emotions taking control a little bit in those situations. What I can't imagine, is watching my teammates destroy the dugout and not getting so much as a second glance, and then getting thrown under the bus when I decide it's my turn to take out my frustration!
You obviously don't like Tony, I obviously don't like Lou. You have to be honest with yourself for a moment though. Tony has been more successful with less talent than Lou has been with more. Tony has the ability to lead and inspire, and Lou doesn't.

You can disagree if you like... but you're wrong!!! What does he get for playing, Johnny???

Head In The Ivy said...

I'll allow you to drown in your false illusions. Who does Albert have to compare Tony to? He hasn't played for another MLB manager so that thought means nothing other than Tony caters to his meal ticket. I would do the same thing for my teams best player (see how I resist calling him the best player in baseball).

I have a feeling you wouldn't be as bothered if Zambrano was pitching for your team, though. I absolutely HATED Edmunds, even for the first two months he was with the Cubs but warmed up to him when I realized what a bargain add he was for the team. Although it wouldn't have felt right having him on the World Series Cubs Championship team. Guess I didn't have to cross that road.

We are only two games behind you so I have a feeling your "scrappy" Cardinals aren't going to be able to hold on much longer. But I won't blame it on Tony when it all falls apart...I wonder if he is chronicling this season for a future book?

Hatfira said...

Wow, guys!! Lively discussion. The sad (or good) thing is that I agree with you both! I do believe that LaRussa (and Duncan especially) do more with less year in and year out. I've always admired him for that. To even be in the race these last two years considering his staff is nothing short of amazing.

However, Lou does a good job with what he has as well. When you have that much "talent" in one place, it's tough to keep them all happy and rowing in the same direction. I believe that Lou's outburst at Milton was his frustration boiling over and his way to motivate his team like he did last year. Maybe he got upset at the game, the situation, the fact that the team failed (again) to score when they really should have, and probably a half dozen other things we don't know about. For him to call Milton out in that instance sends a message to the team that not only is the behavior not great, but the performance isn't, either. I understand that the opposite effect could have been obtained, but I believe the players took it as a challenge to their manhood, so to speak.

The bottom line is the I believe that both of them are really good managers with distinctly different styles. The cool thing is the the style for each works to each team's strength, which is why these two teams are sitting on the top of the division with a decent lead over Houston and Milwaukee now. It's like PC vs. Apple... There's plenty for everyone even if only one can be the ultimate winner.