A Failure to Lead

A lot of the Cub Faithful are scratching their heads right about now….ok….clawing their eyes out may be more of an accurate description. Why are we so frustrated and upset at the utter incompetence we have been forced to watch the past two weeks? Simple: we see the truth about Dusty Baker and Jim Hendry, and we are powerless to do anything about it.

A manager should normally be a leader in the eyes of the players, and with the absence of Wood and Lee, arguably two of the leaders in the Cubs clubhouse, a leadership vacuum of epic proportions has efficiently and thoroughly drained the Cubs roster of any semblance of life, energy, motivation, and pride. Quite simply, Dusty Baker has been utterly ineffective at his job: managing. He has “managed” however, to turn a promising season into yet another 2nd half of the season dash to the wildcard. The Cubs were set up to fail in the off-season by Jim Hendry, and Dusty Baker has practically defied the odds in making a bad situation worse. It is almost literally impossible to have done a worse job over the past 14 games….think about that….this is a highly-paid MLB manager, and we are barely performing at Florida Marlin-levels.

As bad as things are, however, I am not here to call for the end of the season, or to just complain endlessly about how painful the Cubs are to watch….I am here to offer a solution to the problem. I propose that we have a mutiny…. By “we” I mean the Cubs players. This would be a constructive mutiny, though….a mutiny designed to breathe life back into this season, and back into these Cub players. How would this be accomplished? Well, I am glad you asked!

MLB Mutiny 101

The first thing that would have to happen is that our players would have to stop listening to the coaches….all the coaches. The hitters need to tune out Gene Clines, and remember how they became successful hitters in the first place. I want our guys to take pitches if that is what they are comfortable doing. Each hitter needs to clear his mind of the useless garbage this coaching staff has put into their brain, and just react instinctively at the plate, and let their natural talents shine through.

All of our pitchers need to pour gasoline on their towels and light a match, or next time they feel the need for a “number two” in the bathroom, take those towels along for a good wipe and flush….either way, they must tune out Larry Rothschild as soon as humanly possible. This is especially crucial for Sean Marshall, Rich Hill, and Jae Kuk Ryu, even if it is too late for Jerome Williams and Angel Guzman. Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and Wade Miller also have to ignore every piece of advice or instruction given to them by Rothschild, and then they must rediscover their manhood, and their pride, and start contributing to this team. They should all turn to Maddux for advice, if they should ever need it.

Finally, every single player on the team has to ignore Dusty Baker, and use the one thing which Dusty seems to completely lack: commonsense. Armed with this new way of thinking, they will start to play fundamentally smart baseball, and will start scoring runs and holding leads.

You may think to yourselves “well….Jason….you just can’t have a mutiny….it is unrealistic!” Is it really? Wrap your brain around this for a second, and think about the consequences for a coaching staff that is utterly tuned out by the players…. The result would be that Hendry would have the green light to fire Dusty and his staff, with no second-guessing, because it will be obvious to ownership and to the fans that the team has given up on the coaches. Hendry can also target any players that have not only given up on the coaches, but have given up on the team and on the fans. This leads into the 2nd part of my solution to salvaging this season:

Self-Reliance and a Matter of Pride

Simply tuning out the coaching staff won’t solve all the Cubs problems. While any coaching change would conceivably be an improvement, it may be some time before Hendry finally pulls the plug, while the mutiny is taking place. Over that period of time, the Cubs players have to find a way to win. In this leadership void, how can a team start to succeed? Simple: the players need to take matters into their own hands, not to be selfish, but to take responsibility for their role on the team, and to ensure that they are providing their absolute best effort to helping the Cubs win each and every game. This means they have to rediscover their confidence, maintain their focus (cutting down on errors), and show a healthy dose of personal pride in how they perform as a professional athlete. In a nutshell, these players have to all become self-reliant….

You Know Better….

Some of you may feel this way of thinking is a bit extreme. After all, you may feel that the return of Wood will be a boost. I have no doubt that it will indeed be a boost….but Wood only pitches every 5 days, and Maddux can pitch a gem and still come out winless, as he did the other day. Look….it appears that Prior, according to Neil’s account of Bruce Levine the other day, won’t be ready until late June. Pencil in Derrick Lee for July, and you still have 2 to 2-1/2 painful months if something drastic is not done. Anyone of you could have coached the Cubs the past 14 games and come away with the same, if not better, record….right? So losing Dusty Baker is not a bad thing, and it is quite likely a great thing. I would love for Hendry to hire Lou Piniella, as that is the kind of fire we need right now. Piniella would hold the players accountable for their actions, unlike Dusty.

I truly believe that a mutiny, done in concert with an emergence of self-reliance among the players, will result in the Cubs playing better baseball. What we are currently doing is definitely not working, and it is time for a change.

I want to hear what you think….does a mutiny make sense….do you have a better plan….can the Cubs still salvage their season? If you are still not convinced that drastic action is needed, let me leave you with this excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson, taken from his essay entitled “Self-Reliance”:

“In every work of genius, we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.”

In other words….you know better!

Keep the faith CCO readers, look for the bright spots, pray for a mutiny, burn all the towels, and go Cubs go!

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon