Got to be honest. I had my doubts Tom Ricketts had it in him to fire Jim Hendry.
But it’s the bold move I talked about yesterday, sending the message all Cubs fans want to hear–losing is no longer acceptable.
Ricketts has done well spreading the good cheer, which is commendable for any owner, but losing can never be overlooked.
Firing Hendry let’s us know the ownership is listening, they’re committed, they’re keeping their word about bringing winning baseball, in particular a World Championship, back to Chicago.
Handing out coffee, meeting with fans and offering encouraging words for his players is all a nice gesture, but it doesn’t win games.
If the Ricketts family wants to be loved, the way Yankees fans loved George, winning comes first above all else.
In this case that means starting over with a new GM, and likely, a new manager.
Hendry and Mike Quade are two of baseball’s good guys. I’m certain both will land on their feet with another big league organization.
The direction of the Cubs under Hendry is of much debate. But I suspect Jim will not be viewed in the same light years from now that he is today.
It wasn’t always this bad on the North Side, and Hendry deserves some credit. But with Cubs fans frustrated to no end, in part by some of Hendry’s questionable moves, he’s being run out of town on a rail.
Quade might still be a good big league manager. Chicago, however, hasn’t been a good fit for him. The mish-mash of overpaid veterans and budding youngsters has been an unsolvable puzzle for Quade all year.
Building a winning team takes time, a good plan and patience. Quade didn’t have the privilege of any of those things–only the support of his boss Hendry, who of course, is no longer his boss.
This moment, however, is not one of celebration. In fact, it’s a reminder just how far the Cubs are from any celebration at all.
There’s still a lot of work to be done, starting with the hiring of a new GM, and soon to be, his new manager. The offseason will be the Cubs most important one in years, setting the foundation for what we hope to be a championship caliber team–sooner rather than later.
If winning starts at the top down, it’s a relief knowing the Cubs finally have an ownership that gives a damn. For that we can all agree on.
It’s obvious the Cubs are no longer playing hard behind Mike Quade, which despite all the losing, was the one thing the skipper could hang his hat on this season.
However, the Cubs’ lack of focus and general disinterest during this five-game losing streak has become frightening.
It’s more than just poor fundamentals, lack of talent or speculative trade rumors. It’s unprofessional. It’s the definition of embarrassing–far more than any earlier point in the season.
During this horrid streak we’ve witnessed poor base running—guys thrown out at third and home plate. Countless fielding errors. Poor starting pitching. Poor relief pitching. Wasted at-bats, and a complete loss in motivation and drive to win games.
At the surface it all seems status quo for a team 23-games below .500–the Cubs are a bad team playing bad baseball. But dig a little deeper and we see a team crumbling apart at its core…a team with no heart or desire to continue playing hard for the man in charge.
Of course it’s not surprising the season has slipped to such depths. What else would one expect from a team destined for 100-losses?
But if this losing skid has shown us anything, it’s that Quade’s tenure as manager is speeding towards its end–or at least should be.
That’s not to say it’s all Quade’s fault. We know better. But someone must come under the gun for the plethora of excuses to go around. And that someone is usually the manager.
Relieving Quade of his duties is the Ricketts family’s first step to stop making excuses, begin a changing of the guard, and start building a winning culture, all of which the Ricketts have promised to do.
The time to deliver has grown long overdue.
1.) Was Ricketts’ purchase a poor investment?
2.) Marmol says Cubs have the best bullpen.
3.) Ron Santo Day: March 10th.
1.) Think about it. The Ricketts family dropped roughly $900M to purchase the Cubs. That’s a lot of dough for a club full of back-loaded contracts and an under-achieving record the past two years.
Since the stakes for winning were raised in 2007, Cubs fans have come to expect a winning team. Long gone are the days of fans filling the ballpark just to be at Wrigley Field. Don’t believe me? Just check out those new season ticket packages. Since when were the Cubs heavily advertising ticket sales?
This is the letter I received from the Cubs Community Connection as a resident of Wrigleyville. It’s Tom Ricketts’ explanation for the Toyota sign going up in left field…
You’ve probably been hearing about the Toyota sign we’ve proposed for the back of the left field bleachers at Wrigley Field. As fans and neighbors, we want you to know why this is important to the team and how it can help preserve the Friendly Confines.
If a 102-year championship drought won’t break your Cubs loyalty, what will?
James Wolfe and Mary Ann Presman explore such a scenario in their newest book titled Curse? There Ain’t No Stinking Cub Curse and Other Stories about Sports and Gamesmanship.
Like a top-of-the-rotation dynamo, Wolfe & Presman pitch eleven clever, humorous and imaginative short stories ranging from the Cubs’ Curse to habitual swearing on the golf course!
Not only will you laugh out loud, but you’ll also reflect on some of the toughest questions we often forget to ask ourselves as fans and sportsmen.
The misconception with the Cubs is that new owner Tom Ricketts has money growing on trees.
He doesn’t, of course, and is instead saddled with a huge amount of debt that limits the payroll for the 2010 season.
Beyond 2010 it’s likely Ricketts increases the club’s payroll given a frugal budget this season along with the renovations coming to Wrigley Field in the near future.
Tom Ricketts is adding billboards atop the bleachers in left field, and guess what folks, this is just the beginning.
Get ready for digital video boards, more ads on the outfield walls and plenty of ad signage erected throughout the concourse.
But as fans we must grow accustom to the changing financial landscape of the Cubs under Tom Ricketts.
And if the guy’s serious about building a championship franchise, well, that comes at the cost of selling the ballpark like the Yellow Pages.
Indeed, Tom Ricketts’ talk is cheap.
The man’s promised Cubs fans the world, as in world championship, king of the hill, top-dog.
And why not make such promises? Isn’t this, after all, what new owners are supposed to do, give lavish speeches of glories yet to come?
I mean seriously, what new owner has every stood in front of the home town audience and proclaimed we’re not here to win, but to merely compete…winning is not the only thing of importance here, so is the budget…championships you say? Aha championships, shampionships, people.
It’s nothing against Ricketts, I think the guy’s going to be a solid owner, but I couldn’t care less about his declaration to the media about a new day for Cubs baseball.
Spare me the talk, Tom. I’ve heard it all before. If it’s all about winning, which make no mistake it is, then put a winner on the field.
And when the Cubs finally win its first championship in one hundred and however many years it is, I’ll hang on your every word.
Until then, however, how about a new RBI man and a nice set-up reliever?
The best owners in pro sports are the ones who sit back and sign the checks.
They stay out of the petty day-to-day matters better suited for the front office, they let coaches coach, and above all else, they defer player personal decision to well, the personnel staff.
It’s a simple concept, really. Let the people beneath you do their jobs. If that someone can’t get the job done you find someone else, someone better, and you put them to work for you.
Yet this often successful method of pro sports management, one which appears simple from afar, is just too hard for most owners to follow.
In baseball, winning starts at the top and trickles down.
So it’s somewhat embarrassing the Cubs haven’t had a top-dog at the helm for more than two years.
Thankfully, however, that’s history with the officially announcement of Tom Ricketts as the club’s new owner.
His first order of business should be ridding the team of Milton Bradley followed by an open-pocket book during this winter’s free-agent period.
Once that’s completed there’s the refurbishing of Wrigley Field and the ever continuous pursuit of the team’s first championship in 101-years.
It’s a tall order for sure, but heavy is the head that wears the crown.