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Defining Moment Awaits Dale Sveum

By bullpenbrian at 09.07.2012 4 comments.

Recovering from this bloody beating against Washington is Dale Sveum’s biggest challenge to date with the Cubs. Not his win/loss record, not the 12-game losing streak, nor anything else this season compares to the immediate difficulty ahead.

Sveum’s club wasn’t just crushed on the scoreboard, they were crushed emotionally, which presents a threatening danger for the manager and his troops.

The carry-over effect could turn daunting for a team practically sprinting towards a franchise-worst record.

“Probably one of the biggest butt-whippings I’ve gotten in my career, as a coach or player.” “I don’t remember getting manhandled that bad in any kind of series I’ve ever been a part of.” –Dale Sveum

Being bludgeoned so decisively further weakens the shaky confidence of his younger players, diminishes his team’s moral and puts the club at risk of falling into a season-ending tailspin—essentially reaching depths more damaging than 103-losses.

In a season already long lost, that’s not something Sveum or the organization can afford to let happen.

CUBS SHOWING LACK OF DESIRE

I don’t know for certain if the Cubs mailed-it-in at the nation’s capitol, but it sure came across that way on television.

Chicago appeared mostly unresponsive, disinterested and content while getting their collective heads kicked-in by the Nats. For all intents and purposes, Chicago rolled-over in awe of the team with the major’s best record (85-52). It’s not about why the Cubs got swept, it’s how they got swept that’s troubling. 

The outcome doesn’t necessarily come as a shock given how young, inexperienced and out of contention the Cubs are this year. But it’s also not the kind of unacceptable effort Sveum can allow to fester.

Letting bad energy and raw emotions, the likes of which we saw from bench coach Jamie Quirk Thursday night, run a muck is kryptonite for a clubhouse. And once a skipper losses his clubhouse, there’s no getting it back (Bobby Valentine), not even Sveum, who’s being judged aside from mere wins and losses, can overcome such disruption.

Now, I’m not suggesting Sveum’s lost anything yet, but the risk is most definitely there after a humiliating series like this one.

IS SVEUM THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB?

Have I lost faith in Dale Sveum? Not at all. He’s pulled through numerous trials and tribulations this season …everything from clubhouse leader Kerry Wood’s early-season retirement, to lengthy losing streaks, to Bryan LaHair’s demise from All Star to bench-warmer, to watching the few good players he did have depart via trade at the end of July.

In fact, Sveum’s leadership has hardly come under question at all this season. He’s overcome every setback, taken every punch, and all the while continues to steady a sinking ship we believe is on course for brighter days ahead–for the Cubs and its manager.

That’s why I’d hate to see Sveum lose our faith and that of his players so close to season’s end. And I’d hate to think of the repercussions this offseason if he does lose the support on both sides.

Sveum’s done too good a job to lose it all now, but that’s what could be on the line as the Cubs continues its road trip through Pittsburgh and Houston…and over the final month of the regular season for that matter.

It’s going to take a lot more than one god-awful series to warrant Sveum’s dismissal. But failing to extinguish the dumpster-fire in DC only allows the chance for it to grow into a burning inferno.

So while there’s not much for Cubs fans to care about the rest of the way, Sveum’s response, and more importantly, his players’ response, from such an embarrassing series is well worth paying attention to.

If Sveum has anything left to prove in 2012, it’s that he can put out this fire–and pronto.

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4 Comments

  1. Charles Spurgeon says:

    I often have wondered why Davey Johnson sat on ice for years when we’ve needed a manager that knows how to win. Also I listened to the Nats radio team while the “brawl” was going on last night–they kept mentioning how “embarrassing” the Cubs are–like they [the nats] haven’t been every year till now? Give me a break losers

    • bullpenbrian says:

      Hey Charles,

      It takes terrible to know terrible, right? And guess what, the Cubs won’t be down-and-out forever.

      And while we’re throwing stones, let me point this out. The Nationals, with the best record in baseball, drew a whopping 17,000 to last nights game…and failed to reach even 25,000 for any game this series. Now who’s embarrassing?

      Moving on…I love Davey Johnson. And as I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Strasburg, Johnson is a saving grace without their star pitcher. The guy’s been a tremendous manager for a long, long time. And like you…I have no idea why he sat on ice for so long…including being over-looked (I assume) by Hendry and Cubs ownership.

      Baseball has long been a good’ol boys club, which is likely why Davey couldn’t get back in the game…and yet, at the same time, probably what allowed him to get back in the game! SMH.

  2. Merril Stouder says:

    Being a Cubs fan isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about love of the game. Our manager will teach the organization to play the game the way it’s meant to be played. No one will remain in uniform or will be around who doesn’t value the concept of “the game”. That being said…take for instance the south side of town. The Cubs have drawn almost a million more fans and having such a bad record to boot. Baseball starts at the top, goes to the publicity and men “on the air”. When Harry came to the North Side…the stands started filling up. Wrigley is a destination. Hawk and Stone are merely just a terminal station, on occasion the train stops there but most of the time it just rolls right on by! Cubs fans love the game, have the patience. The boys on the score this morning were almost begging for people to come to the South Side games….

    • bullpenbrian says:

      It’s a god-awful shame the White Sox don’t have better support. I mean that, too. First place club, exceeding expectations…and no one shows up? That’s brutal.

      Merril, I love those Cubs colored lenses you’re wearing…but with all due respect, being a Cubs fan *is not all about* the love of the game. Put our boys in blue on the south side of Chicago and see how they draw at the gate with a team nearing a franchise worst record…no Wrigley Field to fall back on…no tourist coming from far and wide…no Wrigleyville to hang out in…etc, etc.

      In fact, Cubs baseball, and thankfully so in my opinion, has become so focused on supporting a winning, even the Cubs are struggling to draw respectable crowds this season. And don’t believe those phony attendance numbers the Cubs put out…they’re not accurate of butts in the seat…not even close.

      Look, there’s so much joy surrounding the Cubs…it’s a special team…in a special ballpark…and you’re right, for years that’s all that mattered. But there’s something missing on the North Side…something that’s been missing for awhile now…something the Sox have, and just about every other team for that matter.

      So before we start pointing fingers, putting the Sox down for being a winning team with no fan support…let’s just be thankful for what we have on the North Side…what’s being built…what might come our way sooner than later…not just a love of the game…but the *best* love of the game…that ever elusive World Series!

      Thanks for checking in, Merril. Cubs love :)

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