Thursday, March 23, 2017

EXTRA: The Green-era Cubbies, or Gene, Gene the Dancin’ Machine

A pair of “celebrity” deaths this week managed to catch my attention.

Dallas Green, the hard-core baseball man whom the Tribune Co. hired when they first purchased the Chicago Cubs in the 1980s to be general manager, died at age 82.
WHILE CHUCK BARRIS, the creator of so many schlocky television game shows, including the Gong Show, was 87 – leaving us the eternal question of whether there was any truth to the tale he once tried peddling about himself that he was a professional assassin for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Green’s death made me remember those days of the ‘80s when decades of Cubbie losing ways were supposed to end. Green’s stint as head of the Cubs did produce a division title in 1984 and arrival of future Hall of Fame infielder Ryne Sandberg, but little else. Unless you really get worked up over lights at Wrigley Field.

Other than to laugh at the television spots the Cubs ran back then saying the team was “coming out of hibernation.” Which likely are the most memorable aspect of the Cubs from that era.

It may be true the losing ways are done, what with that 2016 World Series championship – although taking 35 more years kind of diminishes the impact that the Green people would have wanted to have.

TO THE POINT where I couldn’t help but notice that most of the headlines on stories about Green’s death identified him as the Phillies, Yankees and Mets field manager – as though his Chicago stint were an afterthought!

Admittedly, he was the guy who was in charge when Philadelphia and the Phillies got their first World Series victory ever in 1980, but I certainly don’t know of any Yankees fans who long for the days of Dallas Green – which were truly dreadful in the Bronx.
Light towers are Green's Cubs legacy

A below-.500 winning percentage in 1988, and dismissal before season’s end for publicly insulting team owner George Steinbrenner.

Dreadful in a truly depressing way, and not anything remotely funny like the television programs that Barris gave us to watch on those off hours when the Cubs weren’t stinking up the airwaves with their mediocre-to-pathetic play.

BARRIS GAVE US shows like “The Dating Game” and “The Newlywed Game” but perhaps it was his pure dive into schlock with “The Gong Show” that gives us our most intense memories.

Did we really have to know that?!?l
Creating a show where no-talent people get to show off how unexceptional they are – with the worst of them suffering the humiliation of being “gonged” off the air by a crew of celebrity judges who were as mediocre as the talent.

Or do you believe that Jaye P. Morgan was an immortal talent in her own right?

I wonder at times how much of the contemporary mentality of people thinking there’s anything legitimate about “reality” television was inspired by the Gong Show thought process that anybody could be worthy of being televised – no matter now pointless they are.

I ALSO STILL remember the “Unknown Comic” with his tacky jokes and bag over his head – wishing someone could have taken the gong to him! Just as we could have taken the “gong” to Cubs baseball at times.
I’ll end this little reminisce with the remembrance to Gene Patton, who himself died just over two years ago at age 82 and will forevermore be remembered to Gong Show aficionados as “Gene, Gene the Dancin’ Machine.”


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