Monday, October 27, 2014

Who’s having the last laugh?

We’re possibly only a day away from the end of the World Series, and yet the focus of the baseball world (at least those who are narrow-centric enough to believe the Chicago Cubs are all that matters) already has shifted from who will become the professional baseball champions for 2014.

For the speculation already has gone to who will wind up managing the Cubs for the next few seasons – the ones that the die-hards are convinced will produce the long-awaited championship that everybody EXCEPT the Cubs seems capable of winning.

ALL OF THIS talk started up when Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon used an escape clause to get out of his contract. Maddon has led the previously-feeble Rays to winning records in recent years AND an American League championship in 2007.

Which has the baseball world thinking he can probably pick whichever ball club he wants to work for as a next job. Cubs-oriented people are convinced he’s going to want to come to Chicago.

Even though the Cubs went out of their way to fire their former manager and hire someone new just a year ago. Anybody remember Rick Renteria – who supposedly was a wisened baseball man with the ability to relate to young talent in a way that he’d develop the Cubs prospects into a championship team?!?

He might as well be just another interim manager; just waiting for the players to develop so the Cubs can bring in someone experienced for the possible Cubs championship in 2016 or 2017.

WHICH IS A line of thought that makes me all the more skeptical that the Cubs will ever amount to anything in the next few seasons.

Impulse shopping when it comes to personnel is a large part of what can bring down a professional sports franchise. Heck, the New York Yankees have some convinced they’re not going to win a thing in the near future because they’re still stuck with past-their-prime ball players who are making big-name money so that they can’t easily be unloaded.

I’m not convinced Maddon is actually coming to Chicago. Even if he does wind up working in the Lake View neighborhood, I’m not convinced he is enough to ensure that a Cubs team would actually win something of significance.

I’m Cubskeptical because I have seen throughout the decades that I have followed baseball that prospects don’t always pan out the way their minor league statistics and scouting reports hint they ought to.

CUBS FANS OUGHT to feel lucky if one of their so-called blue chip prospects turns into a long-term regular ballplayer for the ball club. The fact that Cubs management is putting so much emphasis on prospects makes me think nothing will happen.

Particularly since the major league level activity we have seen thus far hasn’t been that outstanding. Let’s be honest. The best rookie ballplayer for a Chicago team in this decade likely is to be Jose Abreu – the Cuban defector whose 2014 season with the Chicago White Sox was good enough to win him Rookie of the Year honors.

I’m not saying the White Sox are anywhere near to winning a championship. But I’d have to think they’re closer than the Cubs – even though both of them had mediocre 73-win seasons this year.

I’d hate to be in Renteria’s position these days, where his fate depends on factors and whims that are so far beyond his control.

BUT IT MAKES me wonder if the last laugh is now going to the man who once was the Cubs manager until the team decided that Renteria was the real long-term choice.

That would be Dale Sveum – who led Cubs teams to truly dreadful losing seasons in 2012 and 2013 before being fired.

He’s now the hitting coach with the Kansas City Royals, whose staff also includes one-time White Sox player Rusty Kuntz (middle-age White Sox fans are now giggling) as first base coach – who if circumstances go right could both be with a World Series-winning team by week’s end.

The so-called loser who was too inept to work for the Cubs could have a World Series ring (if the Royals prevail on Tuesday and Wednesday) long before anybody wearing the baby blue of Cubdom does.


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