Imagine my surprise Friday morning when I fired up the old computer machine and came across this glowing Sun-Times headline:
Joe Maddon: A real ray of hope for Cubs
I’ve gotta see this.
So I gave it a click, wondering when the ST had hired a new sports columnist, and why no one gave that person the memo that over at this here paper, we troll early, and we troll often.
Oh. Morrissey. Rick Morrissey wrote it. Alright, I sighed. Let’s see how this could possibly end well.
So I began reading, eyes squinting in skepticism. And the piece started off innocuously enough. Maybe a couple sideswipe words and phrases like “finally” and “superhuman patience,” but I’ll be damned if ole Rick wasn’t actually praising the hire:
Provided all the I’s get dotted and the T’s get crossed, what we have here is a top-notch manager, Joe Maddon, a man who has tasted success and can pass on its secrets to his troops. It’s a step, a big one, because it points to something ahead.
So it is possible. Sun-Times scribes really are contractually and intellectually allowed to throw bouquets the Cubs’ way when deserved. So I kept reading. And things got really nonsensical, really fast:
For now, it feels nice to be able to sink teeth into something solid. That’s no shot at Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora or any of the young’uns the Cubs and their hordes of fans insist will be stars. It’s an acknowledgment that we don’t know what those players will turn out to be, no matter what anyone says.
Who? Who is making the case, anywhere in public, on TV, on the radio, or on the Internet, that all of the Cubs’ top prospects will pan out?
Nobody, that’s who.
In fact, that’s exactly why Epstein and Hoyer have hoarded positional prospects. They understand some kids will fail. They expect it, they preach it, and they seek talent redundancy because of it. And perhaps better than anyone else, Cubs fans know it: nothing is ever guaranteed in baseball, especially the success of prospects. Risk isn’t scary. It’s just part of the deal.
I suppose we should take what we can get from Morrissey and the Sun-Times. It’s an upset in itself that he didn’t characterize the impending Maddon hire as somehow “desperate” and “classless.” In fact, he genuinely seems to endorse the move:
[T]here isn’t a better man for this job. Maddon took the Rays to the World Series in 2008, a year after the team had the worst record in baseball. That’s obviously what Epstein has in mind.
But Rick, my man. Stop with the false narrative that blind, hysterical faith in the Cubs’ prospects permeates all of Cubdom. That’s a straw man that needs to be fed to the goats.