Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Girardi a Cubbie dream; I’d sooner believe Ozzie will be at Wrigley Field

It isn’t a surprise that the Chicago Cubs fired their field manager on Monday. It had been speculated upon that Dale Sveum would not be back with the Cubs in 2014.

Joe Girardi, where he began
And in a sense, a manager whose teams lose 101 and 96 games during the two seasons he was in charge is vulnerable to losing his job. Although these were the Cubs teams that management higher up openly admitted weren’t going to be in contention for anything other than last place in their division of the National League.

SUPPOSEDLY, THE CUBS are putting all their efforts into bolstering a minor league system so that sometime around 2015, it will start producing quality ballplayers for the major league roster.

And perhaps by 2016 or 2017, it could mean winning ball clubs that could actually bring an end to the assorted championship droughts (no National League title since 1945, no World Series championship since 1908) by teams wearing Cubbie-blue.

It’s no secret that I’m skeptical of that time line. I’m not convinced that the influx of talent will be forthcoming. I’m also aware of the fact that draft picks don’t always pay off (which is why I think those White Sox fans who were rooting for a historically awful season in 2013 so as to get a higher round draft pick were being stupid!).

But what really amazes me is the fact that Sveum is being blamed for the awful play of ball clubs that his bosses always admitted were going to be terrible. Particularly since it is stirring up the speculation that Joe Girardi is destined to be the new field manager of the Chicago Cubs.

Girardi as much Yankee lore ...
THAT’S JUST RIDICULOUS. It’s not going to happen. If THAT’S the reason for letting Sveum go, Cubs fans are going to be in for quite a disappointment when Girardi remains in New York – where he has been field manager for the New York Yankees for the past six years.

I realize that Cubs fans see a Peoria native who played Big Ten college baseball for Northwestern, then went on to play 15 seasons in the major leagues – including two stints totaling seven years with the Cubs.
... as Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter

They want to believe he’s the ultimate Cub who’s just dying for the chance to come back to Wrigley Field. I don’t believe it. Not just because Girardi himself told reporter-types Sunday that his Chicago connections aren't as strong as they used to be AND his family has grown to like life in the New York area.

Mainly because I’ve always thought of him primarily as a Yankee (he played four seasons, including a stint as the starting catcher for the 1996 World Series-winning team and also as a significant player paired up with Yankees star Jorge Posada on World Series-winning teams of 1998 and 1999).
Skowron a Boilermaker/Yankee

DURING HIS MANAGERIAL stint as a Yankee (dating back to 2008), he led a World Series-winning team (2009) and also other teams that were contenders – and likely would be in the American League playoff picture this year if not for all the injuries they experienced.

No matter what one thinks of the Yankees, that’s a winning situation he’s in. And most professional baseball people don’t get hung up on any one city – they want to win!

The Red from Argo
I don’t see him giving up his current status until the time comes when the Yankees are ready to let him go. Which likely would make him a manager past his peak – which is what one could argue was a description that fit Gene Michael and Lou Piniella (two Cubs managers who came to Chicago with strong Yankees pedigrees).

They wound up winning nothing during their time in Chicago. I don’t see Girardi wanting to suffer the same fate.

IN A SENSE, I see Joe Girardi as being a modern-day equivalent of ballplayers like Bill Skowron and Ted Kluszewski. The latter was from suburban Summit, while Skowron was from the Northwest Side. Both also attended Big Ten colleges (Purdue for Skowron, Indiana for Kluszewski) before getting into professional baseball.

And both included a stint in Chicago (with the White Sox) amongst their major league careers.
Could Ozzie learn to love Wrigley?

But Skowron was very much a Yankees star, while anyone remembering Kluszewski’s uniform sleeves cut off to accommodate his bulging shoulder muscles remembers the Cincinnati Reds uniform he was wearing at the time.

I see Girardi staying in New York, while someone else winds up being the head guy at Wrigley Field. Ozzie Guillen, anyone??!?


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