by Kent Sterling
Can you imagine a world where a manager like Joe Girardi given a choice between managing the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs? He can’t either.
The delusions of mediocrity that invade the consciousness of Cubs fans every once in awhile, and visions of Girardi in Cubbie blue have provided the illusion of hope once again.
And why won’t the Cubs be able to lure Girardi from the Bronx? There are obvious reasons, and then some even more obvious reasons:
- The Yankees are committed to winning championships. The Cubs are committed to duping fans into believing they are only three years from contention.
- The Yankees, while no longer dominating, are willing to do what it takes to compete year in and year out. The Cubs are trading players capable of playing now for international pool money that allows them to sign 16 year-olds ready to help the Cubs win (maybe) two managers from now.
- The Yankees have talent that is getting old and brittle. The Cubs have talent in the lower minor leagues.
- The Yankees are the team of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jeter, Berra, Dickey, Martin, Ford, Rivera, Munson, Stengel, McCarthy, the Colonel, and the Boss. The Cubs are the team of Hack, Hack, Banks, Santo, Sandberg, Durham, Grace, and Bartman.
- If you had to wager all the money you have on whether the Yankees with their 27 World Championships (last in 2009) or the Cubs with their two titles (last in 1908) were going to win a title next, where would you put your money?
- In the last 19 seasons, the Yankees have qualified for the postseason in 17, and in seven have played in the World Series. The Cubs have earned a postseason berth four times in that span, and six times since 1945 without a single appearance in the World Series. In fact, they have only qualified for the postseason 16 times since 1886.
- The Yankees all-time record in World Series play is 134-85. The Cubs all-time postseason record is 28-53 since 1901.
- The Cubs strategy during the Epstein regime has been to trade talent out from under its manager. The Cubs were not terrible despite being virtually bereft of talent in 2013 until the end of July when Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer held their second annual garage sale. They were 49-58 after beating Arizona 7-6 on July 31st. From that point forward, the Cubs finished 20-41.
Why would Girardi believe that the Cubs would change course from their habit of annually purging the roster of decent talent?
Choosing to trust the Cubs is like believing that Warren Buffett wants to pay insurance settlements. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts stood in Wrigley Field and told the media that if Chicago approved his plans for the Wrigley Field renovation that the Cubs would win a championship. While a prediction does not quite measure to the level of a bald faced lie, I would challenge Ricketts to put some money where his mouth is. I’ll give him seven years to win that guaranteed championship. If he does, I write a check for $10K to his favorite charity. If they don’t, Ricketts guarantees me two box seats to every game until either he or I dies – with free concessions.
Weeks later, Ricketts sunk to a new low by threatening to move the Cubs from Wrigley if the renovations weren’t approved. This does rise to the level of a lie. There is no way that Ricketts would abandon Wrigley Field – the only reason fans continue to show up to watch the Cubs.
Wait a minute, you’re thinking, is Kent trying to tell us that fans aren’t buying tickets to watch Donnie Murphy, Nate Schierholtz, and Darwin Barney play baseball? Hard to believe, but yes. Ninety-nine percent of the Cubs fans in Chicago couldn’t pick Murphy out of a lineup. If not for Jeff Samardzija’s hair, all of the Cubs could dance in the middle of the intersection at Clark, Barry, and Halsted and not draw a crowd.
Wrigley Field is such a wonderful and nostalgic place that the Cubs don’t need to win to draw fans, so why spend the money and effort to acquire and develop them?
That’s why Girardi is going to stay put in New York. The Cubs want him for the marketing help his picture on a billboard will provide, but Girardi wants to win. Not sharing the same goals with management is the best reason not to accept a job, regardless of what it is.