Saturday, July 27, 2013

Soriano no longer the great hope to lead Cubbie-dom to championship level

Alfonso Soriano is no longer the “big star” who’s going to lead the Chicago Cubs to championship glory. Not that anybody should ever have thought such a dream was possible.

The Soriano era in Chicago ended with his trade to the New York Yankees, in exchange for a minor-league Tampa Yankees pitcher who might someday amount to something.

IT’S ALL PART of the concept of looking to the future – engaging in yet another Cubs' rebuilding that is reminiscent of the old 5-year economic growth plans of the Soviet Union of old. They never seemed to amount to anything real.

I know there are Cubs fans who are glad to see Alfonso (I refuse to refer to him as “the Fonz”) gone. They are disgusted that the big-money contract he got from former Cubs ownership prior to the 2007 season did not translate into a Superstar!!! who led the team to on-the-field glory.

I’m also aware that he’s an aging ballplayer. He probably has a season or two left in his career.

Yet I’m not going to be surprised if Soriano winds up being a productive ballplayer with the Yankees the rest of this season – which will be the Yanks’ attempt to recover from the fact that many of their big-name ballplayers have suffered season-long injuries.

WHO KNOWS? IT might not be the most ridiculous thing to think that Soriano can be the guy who helps the Yankees go from a team with a winning record in a tough division to a ball club that can actually qualify for the playoffs.

Wouldn’t that be so in character for the Chicago Cubs? Their star gets good again once he plays for somebody else.

Soriano never lived up to the "lineage"
Of course, we also have to consider that Soriano is now forevermore an ex-Cub. Does he bring the stink-eye, so to speak, to any team he now plays for?

Personally, I was not surprised that Soriano did not live up to Cubs fans’ expectations. I thought it was asking a bit much to have him be “the Man!” for the Cubs.

YES, IT’S TRUE he was a Yankee back in those “glory” days of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Soriano was a part of the Yankees teams that won World Series in 1999 and 2000, and won American League championships in 2001 and 2003.

In fact, he was a regular player for those latter two ball clubs. But he was only a role player for those teams. He was a part of the championship team – not THE champion who led the team.

Had the Cubs been able to acquire a Derek Jeter or an Alex Rodriguez, perhaps the fans’ expectations would have been more realistic.

The fact that Soriano could have a positive effect on the Yankees this season will be in the fact that he is being asked to be a part-time outfielder and designated hitter – and nothing more!

THE FACT THAT the Yankees got the Cubs to cough up a significant amount of cash that will pay off the bulk of the Soriano salary under his current contract shows just how disappointing the Chicago results fell from the initial expectations.

So Soriano, who was to join his new/old ball club Friday in New York for a weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays, will get a chance to redeem himself. It will be intriguing to see the reaction he gets on Aug. 5-7 – which is when the Yankees make their one trip to Chicago this season for a three-game series against the White Sox.

Will Sox fans hold his Cub-dom against him? Or will they find his failure with the Cubs to be an amusing anecdote? It will be an interesting saga to see Soriano back in Yankee pinstripes.

At the very least, he’ll be reunited with wife “Candice.” His spouse is actually named Isis. But the sight of Jeter in drag in a Saturday Night Live sketch is one of those moments that becomes impossible to forget even now, more than a decade later!


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