Oh, look, Starlin Castro went and did something stupid. Surprise, surprise.
And, oh, look, Dale Sveum and the Cubbies brass talk the talk, but eschew the walk while doing something quite similar to twiddling their collective thumbs — thumbs that tend to be stuck in proverbially unpleasant places.
Hmm. Haven’t we been here before with Castro? Yes.
Hmm. Haven’t we heard the same old “we gotta change the Cubs culture” mantra before? Yes.
Hmm. Haven’t we been bombarded with mythical imagery supposedly brought in on the wings of a SABR nerd? Yes.
And yet here we are, witnessing the same old Chicago Cubs.
I believe Albert Einstein was the one who said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” Einstein was a pretty smart fella. Maybe it’s time the Cubs took notice of that notable quip of truth.
Instead of threatening to bench a spoiled star with as much talent as he has cluelessness, why not just bench him? Why not teach him a lesson? Why not teach the entire team — a team that is continuously caught with its inflated head in the clouds — and show them that there are no more third, fourth, fifth chances?
I’m a Cardinals fan. To the death. Part of being a Redbird fanatic is jousting with our arch rivals; but our rivals to the north are so bad that it just isn’t fun anymore. I long for the days when our regular season match-ups actually mean something.
Unfortunately, as long as the Cubs continue to simply “try” to get better mentally, with little effort, rather than actually DOING anything about it, I’m afraid we’ll just have to rehash that same old “Brogglio for Brock” snafu.
Hate me ‘cuz I’m deliberate, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Here’s an idea that will never become reality, but just for fun, let’s think about it.
Albert Pujols, while somewhat showing glimpses of his old self, is on pace to hit 15 homers and drive in 70-some RBIs — a whole lot less than the Halos thought they’d get from a a man making $24 million a year… FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS.
And how about the $20 million a year the Red Sox are paying Carl Crawford… FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS. Good thing Theo got out of town!
Of course, Theo already knows, you don’t have to go outside of Chicago to find a big, fat pile of head-scratching contracts. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano (yep, sCrUBBIES are still payin’ the bulk of that awful) are the most high profile, but until this year, the Dunn, Peavy and Rios contracts made Kenny Williams one of the south side’s most hated.
If only front offices could act like the rest of the planet when it comes to doling out large sums on a contract basis, perhaps they could save themselves years of embarrassment and avoid the ear-piercing “we’re in rebuilding mode” verbiage.
The truth is, when money is on the line, pro athletes perform better. Consider the beyond stellar starts of Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy, Zack Greinke and many, many more. The one thing these fellas all have in common is… THEY’RE IN CONTRACT YEARS!
If your paycheck is on the line, you try harder. This is FACT. But if you have the means to fall back on (Albert, Carl, et al.) and you have no pressure to git ‘er done ‘cuz you already got BAZILLIONS in the bank, what incentive is their to be the superstar you’ve always been? I don’t care how bad@ss you are, the trend in performance speaks loudly: once a player reaches his monetary apex, he regresses.
There’s nothing wrong with paying a dude $25 million a year if he puts up $25 million a year numbers. So why not reward those who do and save money (and face) by doing it on a year-to-year basis?
In the real world, if you underperform, you’re gone. Period.
In the baseball world, the $100 million contract rarely works for both sides, yet teams keep handing them out; and then they wonder why there is backlash from the fans, media and baseball-politico bloggers who think very highly of themselves.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
So the Cubs traded their best lefty (Sean Marshall) for Travis Wood and then Travis Wood doesn’t even make the team. Is Theo doing it right?
Remember when Barack Obama first came into office and the U.S. and world economies were doing their best impressions of 1929? Well, that’s kind of where Epstein sits right now. It would be easier to just burn the place down and start over (which is always an option when you’re talking about Chicago) but there’s no way anyone would support that. So, he’s going to have to make the most of what he has and slowly try to rebuild.
That doesn’t necessarily mean simply accepting the situation, though. Normally, when you pay big money for a guy or give up a big name in a trade, the expectation is that new guy is going to play and you’ll just have to suffer if he doesn’t quite catch his groove right away. Think Carl Crawford on the Red Sox. Think Dontrelle Willis on the Tigers. Think Barack Obama with TARP. But leaders don’t always accept that situation. Sometimes they have to make the tough decisions and break with expectations. That’s what Obama did with GM and even made the government some money in the process. It appears like maybe that’s what Epstein is trying to do with the Cubs, too.
Sean Marshall is a good reliever. According to Epstein, he’s maybe the “most valuable left-handed reliever in all of baseball.” But what good is having the most valuable left-handed reliever in baseball if your starting pitching is terrible, your defense is atrocious and you can’t score runs? Epstein realizes the Cubs aren’t going to be a winning ball club this year. He realizes they probably won’t be a winning ball club next year either. But he’s setting himself up for success three or four seasons down the line.
Remind you of anyone else? Bailing out the auto industry wasn’t popular but three years later, after watching the recession crest and slowly subside, we now see hiring going back up and the economy beginning to grow again. That’s the difference between guys like Epstein and Obama and wannabes like Hendry. Attempts to implement quick fixes for immediate results more often lead to systemic failure. Epstein, like the president, has to slowly flush that through, suffering short-term difficulties for long-term success.
So, long story short, yeah, Theo is doing it right. But that’s not going to stop people from yelling and screaming during the first few painful years. Marshall is gone and Wood got sent to the minors. But they have more money to go after other important pieces, they have a solid prospect in the minors who could work his way back and they didn’t try to force someone into a role they simply couldn’t handle at this point. When you think about it, Theo seems positively presidential.
_ _ _
For all of the sCrUBS fans chugging the Theo Epstein Kool-Aid, talking about how the “Cubs Culture” is “changing” and how “new leadership” is taking them in a “new, respectable direction”, just remember: Jeff Samardzija isn’t drinking it.
Hate me ‘cuz I hate the Cubs, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
– – –
HOLLA BACK, Y’ALL!!!
It’s time for THE FILIBUSTER to settle back in the Sunday slot at RSBS! The Interns are excited. Mr. Krause is excited. And I AM EXCITED TOO! No matter what the query, send it to RSBSBlog@gmail.com and we’ll let you know what we think.
Sunday in the Park with George
I want children so I can play dodge ball with them or at the very least have them pose while I paint a mural of them getting eaten by large cats for my own amusement. But that’s not why I called…
In my favorite Mandy Patinkin musical he sings “I need to finish the hat” in the role of George Seurat. Or as Groucho famously said “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Or as Josh Hamilton is probably saying “there are no bars in hospitals and that’s why people hate hospitals.”
I don’t know about the Cubs’ chances for 2012, but I do know I want a Sunday in the park with a friend. I want to think nice things as baseball approaches but sometimes you just don’t know what hell is coming. Sometimes I feel like Lisbeth of the Dragon Tattoo movies: I just get shot in the DAMN head when I think of the 162 Cubs games that are coming.
I don’t know if I’m finishing the hat or if Theo is.
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Rool: [to the tavern cat ) You are so beautiful! Your eyes! Your whiskers! I have to kiss you!
My behavioral standards have long kept me from attending the Cub’s Convention. Sorry. Sometimes you gotta rob a cop, pee on Ronny Woo Woo and knock out Sam Zell! BUT, I still have my SPIES so I know…
Kerry Wood and his pocket missile are back!
I’d like to see how the sausage is made, Mr. Epstein.
I suspect Wood will probably be gone at the trading deadline to a real contender, but dumb Cubdom is happy for the moment. Yes, Theo let me down a little by letting the children have their hero back. But oh well.
OK KIDS LET’S HAVE A PIZZA PAHHHTYYY!!!!
What is this? Contenders might be looking for someone just like him if he can still bring the goods in the 6th, 7th, 8th innings.
I understand that Woody wants to be the next Mr. Cub but why not end your career with a winner? He’ll get what he wants when he comes back at the end. It’s his choice, I guess.
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“ No one in Russia believes in god.”
You know why? Because it’s cold! It’s cold there like it’s cold in Chicago right now!!
I know it’s not manly to act depressed while living in a wonderful place like this but, it’s cold. AND I’M NOT A REAL MAN.
Despite my depression, I know one thing that will bring me happiness. MONEYBALL PART TWO: EPSTEIN BRINGS THE PAIN! The Cubs win it all and Matt Damon stars as Theo Epstein. I’ve already completed the first scene:
I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab or the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? Because my name is Theo Effin Epstein. THAT’S WHY.
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Continuing with the end-of-year holiday tradition here at RSBS, it’s time to separate myself from my imaginary girlfriend (NSFW) and ask the interns to lock my office door so I can get down to the meaty reflection of what was the RSBS year 2011. Additionally, I must begin the sad, fiery purge of Albert Pujols memorabilia. For those of you who went to public schools, you know that maintaining a fire within a small, confined room may cause ill-fated side effects, so before I start to look like Bert the chimney sweep, let me get to it…
First of all, no year would be a good year without you, the dear RSBS reader. THANK YOU, for your readership. THANK YOU for your emails, your tweets, your comments, Facebook shares and FingerTagging! And THANK YOU for continuing to make writing about the baseball-politico world a treat for us every single day.
Like my riveting and oft rousing colleague, Mr. Krause, I too have been very impressed with our special correspondents. For me, nothing says sweet Miggy-I-Love-You quite like Mark Piebenga’s His Game Is Like Waves. It presented Miguel Cabrera in a new light — that of teacher, and, considering how much Mark has taught me about what life should be about, I continue to find its lesson fitting (and helpful!).
And though I often refer to Mr. Johanna Mahmud as “the man who introduced me to the glories of the Deftones” and “the guy who schooled me on the NBA and proved why I should be madly in love with Derek Rose”, I still have room to refer to him as “the guy who writes Setting the Mahmud“! Dude puts the “tit” in titillating with every piece. The last article he wrote was inspiring, if only because he found a way to get a naked Yu Darvish, an ugly sweater wearing
Johnny Matt Damon and a crying Paula Deen all in one place; but, like Al, I have to admit that there’s real brilliance in his Theo-fied Arthurisms. Still, I’m a sucker for equating dead people to the performances of Adam Dunn and Miguel Tejada. Good work, good sir.
Meanwhile, no year-end applause would be complete without a nod to my longtime friend and confidant, Mr. Allen Krause. Known for his cynical twists on the political establishment and undying love of all things Detroit Tigers, it has been a pleasure to write on his wing. Sometimes he’s so “on” that he finds literary genius in imagery. Indeed, that endearing Krausian wit is often highlighted by rational thought. Sometimes it points out the un-fact-checked obvious, other times it gets serious, with a real call for responsibility. And, just in case you think Mr. Krause’s Libertarian-bashing makes him a soulless, automated Obamatron, this reflective piece will convince you otherwise.
But when it comes to knockin’ ’em outta the interwebs park, I have to kowtow to the RSBS Presents series. The brainchild of Mr. Krause, RSBS Presents has enlightened us on the finer points of fandom and how to stay classy while reminding us that, ultimately, positivity has upside during times of turmoil. But the best of them all was learning how to score a Republican. And here I thought it involved finding Jesus and quoting Alex P. Keaton.
Happy Christmas, Merry Hanukkah and long live King Kwanzaa!
Every December we like to take a look back at what happened during the year in RSBS. And with Christmas upon us and the annual RSBS holiday break about to take place, it’s that time of year again. Granted, there’s no way we could do this without all the hard work put in by the interns so I want to take this opportunity to personally thank them and ask them to keep up all the good work next year.
Now, before I get to the part you’re all waiting for, I want to take a moment to recognize a couple other people without whom this blog would be a much sadder place. The regulars probably know him best from his appearances on the podcast but for me, his occasional pieces really put into words what I wish I could express. In particular, this year I appreciated Mark Piebanga’s midseason post about Don Kelly. For me, it crystallized who the Tigers were at that point in the season.
Similarly, the brilliant ranting and raving of Johanna Mahmud always bring a mid-week smile to my face. Whether he’s once again lamenting the shortcomings of the Cubs via musical theatre allusions or cautiously hoping for change with the arrival of Theo Epstein, Jo hits the nail on the head as often as not in a way only he can. However, the edition of Setting the Mahmud that really did it for me was his takedown of the Red Sox in the key of Arthur. Nothing says b*tchslap quite like setting your role model loose on the AL underperformer of the year.
For the main event, though, I thought long and hard about the season my co-author had. I watched with amusement his two-part Libertarian “coming out” as he confessed his love for the still-feisty Ron Paul. I also applauded along with everyone else as Jeff completed his first marathon, and this from a guy who, two years ago, was out of breath after running a block.
But the real marathon was the baseball season and if you don’t believe me, just go back through the record. It started in April with Franklin’s blown saves and four months later, Jeff had all but given up on the Cards (and totally given up on the Rays). Just a few short weeks later, though, his dreams came true while attending his first World Series game and a few days later, that dream reached its apex as the Cardinals won the World Series. But as happy as he may have been in that moment, and all joking aside, I don’t think any of us could possibly understand how hard the Albert Pujols news hit him. Baseball, just like that marathon, has its extreme highs and lows. In 2011 we watched Jeff live them both.
Don’t forget our awesome Oakley Blender sunglasses give-away, made possible by our friends at Crown Royal! If you would like to win these sweet shades, all you gotta do is send us a picture showing why you are RSBS’ biggest fan. Email it to us at RSBSblog@gmail.com. The winner will be announced this Saturday, December 24th.
“Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines.”
There are three things I can never remember: the first is people’s names. The second is… is…
Anyway, I know I love me some hot stove! I’m making my yearly pantsless expedition to the wonderful world of MLB offseason rumors and conjecture! I’m even careening into mailboxes on my bike because of the madness!! I have puppies and chimps in my kitchen and we put on plays about how free agent negotiations “go down”. It’s like a Japanese game show. You never know who’s going to get eaten!
So far Miami is the big mover/shaker, but who will be next?
For years they’ve employed unreal drafting strategies, worked on the cheap, biding their time while the super powers outspend each other. But now… THE SUM OF ALL FEARS.
Russia, China and America (Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs) have initiated the snap count for a Red Alert nuclear attack but ended up killing themselves fighting each other whilst brilliant strategery is quietly coming together in south Florida. They have a new stadium, new digs, new manager, new closer and now Jojo Reyes. Will Reyes and Pujols share casserole recipes? REMEMBER: don’t share with Hanley! He’s already good on the whole putting on muscle mass thing.
But as much as the Marlins (and possibly the Cubs?) are pushing for Albert, I think he’s staying home in the Lou. By the way, I’d rather go toe to toe with a mountain lion mother protecting her cubs then go through another Aldopho Soriano situation if the Cubs sign Pujols for nine years and he looks like he’s 48 after just two of them. And brother Jeffy will be singing this for days when that happens…
If my beloved Cubs can swing a reasonable deal for Prince Fielder though, I’m beyond down. I’ll do anything — shine shoes, wait tables, blow… glass.
But in the case that neither Senor Jeffy or I get our wishes, you will probably read someday of an infamous double Groundhog Day beheading.
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