Seeing Double: Chapter Nine

I know I’ve been slacking around here lately. The inspiration well has been on the dry side. But, hey… if a good ol’ fashioned Seeing Double post won’t help to make things up, I don’t know what will.
To the doppelgangers!

***

Homer Bailey/Christian Bale

In the interest of honesty, I have to tell you that I didn’t come up with this one myself… I saw it mentioned on ESPN. But who could resist circulating such an uncanny resemblance?
Of course, Mr. Bailey may LOOK like Mr. Bale, but he has a long way to go to catch up in the awesomeness department. I mean, only one of these guys was cool enough to have played Batman a singing, dancing newsboy.

Chris Denorfia/Brooks Laich

Every time I see Chris Denorfia on television, he reminds me a bit of my favorite hockey player. The resemblance in any of the picture I could find was not so strong. Oh well.

Ryan Braun/Blake Ritson

I was watching some Jane Austen adaptation or other with this Ritson fellow in it, and I couldn’t figure out why I was so repulsed by him. Eventually I realized it was because he reminded me of Ryan Braun.

Jed Hoyer/Chris Kattan

I’ve tried. But I can’t shake it.

Jim Hendry/Kevin Whately

One more from the executive division.

Rich Hill/Russell Tovey

Aaand one more from the Lizzy-watches-too-much-British-television department.

 

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Wildcard Wednesday: In which I address some elephants in the room

I hope my readers (assuming I have any left) will forgive my inconsistent ways here over the past few weeks. The lack of posts is attributable partially to general busy-ness and partially to the fact that I have sunk into a state of very sad indifference as regards the Chicago Cubs (and, consequently, the baseball world at large.) It is difficult to uphold a passion for writing about everyday minutiae in a season like this, and even more significant events haven’t inspired much excitement in myself. Many bloggers continue to canvas all these things, and do it well. I commend and am wildly envious of them. I wish I could keep up and avoid being driven by acrimoniousness at the same time, but I can’t.

I hope, with this brief post, to dispense of the topics I have lately ignored. I would also like to excuse myself from ever feeling obligated to address carious current events in the future. Three-fourths of the time I would rather write on more light, nonsensical subjects. Cutting edge coverage of anything has never been an intrinsic part of this blog, so I assume that no one has come to expect any such thing. I wanted to clear the air, just the same, and I feel better now that I have.

Now, for the nitty-gritty…

Issue One- Jim Hendry: I was enough out of the loop that I don’t think I even found out about Mr. Hendry’s dismissal until the day after it happened. If I hadn’t been preoccupied, I would have given him his own “Saying Goodbye” post. I believe that nine years warrants as much. I regret that I didn’t get around to that.

Once people are gone, I don’t usually find it difficult to let bygones be bygones and remember the good things that he brought to the table. With Jim Hendry, I am perfectly willing to forget about Milton Bradley, et al, and recall the positives that came from the result of his general management tenure. He netted us two franchise-face type guys in Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee for next to nothing. We witnessed three play-off appearances under his guidance, too. If these things aren’t worth remembering with appreciation, I don’t know what are.

The issue of who our next GM will be is exactly the sort of topic that I couldn’t care less about. Well, let me clarify that. I DO care very much who our next GM will be, I do NOT care to enter into speculation and conjecture during the searching process. Enough other people are doing that, and I have nothing to add to the conversation.

Issue Two- Starlin Castro: Apparently, Starlin suffered from some sort of concentration lapse during Sunday’s contest with the Cardinals (I didn’t actually see it, so I am just repeating what I’ve heard.) Unluckily, the game happened to be on ESPN and Bobby Valentine’s censure of our young shortstop’s mental error somehow blew up into national news. Cubs fans didn’t need to hear Bobby Valentine’s observations to make us aware of Starlin’s occasional deficiencies. We know. We are being patient with him, because he is still very young, and because his potential is ginormous, and because he is oodles of fun to watch play. It is my further opinion that baseball fans in general to not need to hear Bobby Valentine’s observations about anything. Our remotes have mute buttons for a reason, and I earnestly implore my fellow-fans to spare themselves a lot of grief and employ them any time they are forced to watch a game on ESPN (or FOX.)

Issue Three- Earthquake!: It might not have had any bearing on Major League Baseball, but I can’t resist mentioning yesterday’s unexpected East Coast earthquake. In retrospect, I was disappointed that it didn’t hit my home hard enough to skew pictures on the wall or make anything topple off of shelves. Perchance you missed it, here is a collection of haunting photographs documenting the devastation.

Issue Four: I was at the Nationals-Diamondbacks game on Monday. This isn’t really significant, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

Issue Five: I have been sitting on this link for over a month now. Since it is Wednesday, I’m gonna go ahead and throw it at you now. A very amusing take on the Cubs season thus far from Prose & Ivy.

Issue Six- Carlos Zambrano: This issue pains me above all others, and I don’t really have much to say about it (shocking, eh?) As a loather of drama, one would think I would be all for dumping Big Z however possible, as soon as possible. But I’m not. If Cubs brass decide that enough is enough and cut him loose (as Tom Ricketts hinted might be the case), there is nothing I can do about it. And I could hardly blame them. Z’s behavior has been unpardonable at times. I would still be sad to see him go. Especially in such a way. He has been a Cub for eleven years. Eleven. That’s a long time, people. And even if it is time to go our separate ways, I can’t be one of those people who will wipe the guy out of their memories like it’s a chalkboard.

So. If anything happens with Carlos, you can expect a big fat sentimental “Saying Goodbye” post in his honor. He deserves at least that.

“…they have the management skills of celery.”

I wanted to address the managerial/general managerial issues that have arisen in the past week. Yes, I realize that it’s already old news, and that good bloggers had this stuff covered two days ago. I have to think about things before I write about them, you see. Here are my (thoroughly and carefully considered) thoughts.

On Jim Hendry: So our GM gets to keep his job (for now.) I am fine with this. I might be the only one, but I do not believe that Mr. Hendry is a terrible GM (or a kitten-eater.) He’s made his mistakes, of course (coughMiltonBradleycough) but has balanced them out with plenty of good deals and decisions (Rami, Lilly, Dempster, etc.,) It is likely that, had Mr. Hendry been relieved of his duties, a host of other team employees would have been gone as well. I’m perfectly happy that the Cubs will retain the likes of Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita.

For the record, if Mr. Hendry had been let go I wouldn’t have felt all that strongly about it. I’m not a rabid supporter of the man, but I have no bones to pick with him, either. He has done nothing to offend me. He has done nothing to win my unflinching favor.

If the Cubs chronic loseriness continues much into next year, you can be sure that Mr. Hendry will soon find himself without a job. And all of you doubters and pessimists will be able to rejoice and say “I told you so.” So be it. I’m just not going to work myself into a tizzy over something of this kind. We, as fans, have no control over it. You can fight it (and most likely be miserable,) or you can just roll with the punches. I’m a roller.

On Sweet Lou (really more on Ryne Sandberg): Now for the million dollar question: Who will replace Lou Piniella now that his retirement has been confirmed? I guess there aren’t all that many intriguing options, so it’s really more like an eight thousand dollar question. The names I’ve heard circulating include Bob Brenly, Alan Trammell, Joe Girardi and Joe Torre. All signs, though, seem to point to Ryne Sandberg. I’m not going to lie. This scares me. It scares me a lot. My doubts have little to do with Ryno himself. It isn’t that I think he’d be a bad manager, or that he “isn’t ready” (what do I know about that?)

I obviously like Ryno and I fear what effect a bad season or so would have on his popularity. This is not a man I want to hear people dumping on. As a Cubs legend, he ought never to be anything but adored by the masses. There’s the potential for a high-reward return in this scenario (what would be sweeter than winning a championship with a legend at the helm?) but the risk, in my opinion, is also alarmingly high.

Again, though… I don’t have a strong opinion on who should be the next manager and am content to wait and see what happens. If it did, in fact, turn out to be Ryne Sandberg, I’d not complain. I would worry.

Just a bit on the Rickets: I’ve been hearing a ton of smack talked about the new owners. I realize that people are frustrated, and frustrated people sometimes say stupid things. But it bugs me. You really think the Rickets family want the Cubs to fail? To be bad? To go another 102 years without a world series title? Be serious.

These people are trying to build a successful franchise. They are new to the whole owning-a-major-league-club thing, and they’re taking it slow, being cautious and careful. What’s wrong with that? I much prefer this approach, in fact. I’d be far more concerned if they were immediately jumping in, making splashy moves and throwing boatloads of money at every problem. I’m not saying you have to love the Rickets family, but at least give them a chance before jumping to conclusions.

Hot Soup Report: “Beautiful soup so rich and green- Waiting in a hot tureen!”

I’m calling my take on hot stove stuff the “Hot Soup Report.” For this feature, I will be taking some offerings from MLB’s hot stove and preparing them into a delicious soup for the (hopeful) enjoyment of all.

I have also created the “Soup Scale” to rate the interestingness/validity of each report. A One is canned tomato (boring.) A Two is Broccoli Cheddar (predictable yet enticing.) A Three is Crab Bisque (mmm.) A Four would be Dunkard Soup (off the charts.)

In baseball’s off-season, fans such as myself (read: not inclined toward the NFL or NBA) are obliged to take an interet in hot stove reports. There are a lot of silly rumors involved, and 98.7% of them come to nothing. Evidence of this can be easily obtained by browsing the Chicago Cubs roster, where you will not find the names of either Brian Roberts or Jake Peavy. The hot stove is still on preheat at this point, but it already looks like we have a likely heir to the Roberts/Peavy throne for the 2010 season in Curtis Granderson.

As a huge fan of Mr. Granderson (he and Tampa Bay’s Carlos Peña are my favorite non-Cub, non-Rebel players in the majors,) I was excited by these initial reports. The Cubs need someone who can hit, someone who can run and someone to play center field. Curtis fits all the qualifications, on top of which he is a Chicago native and a fantastic team guy with a reasonable contract. The fuddyduddies of the internet have been quick to point out his flaws. He strikes out too much, can’t hit southpaws, etc., Duly noted facts, fuddyduddies. It seems clear that if, in fact, Curtis Granderson is an option, he is the best possible option for the Cubs. I don’t doubt that Jim Hendry and Dave Dombrowski will be discussing the matter as the winter progresses.

There are two or three sticky matters that are keeping me grounded in light of these rumors (by grounded, I mean keeping me from literally shouting with joy and dancing jigs at the very possibility of Curtis Granderson in a Cubs’ uniform.)

The first and stickiest of the sticky matters is Milton Bradley. Mr. Hendry has himself in a tight spot with this one and I don’t envy him a winkling. I’ll forgo much further comment on Milton to avoid deviation from the topic at hand. It would seem that Mr. Hendry’s hands will be tied until he is able to complete the Milton Bradley relocation project (no small challenge.)

Second, we have the reality that the Cubbies could be facing some rigid competition. Both the Angels and Yankees are believed to be interested in Mr. Granderson. Both those parties can probably offer some fairly nice packages to the Tigers, besides which it just always seems like the Yankees get whatever they want. They’re basically like the spoiled rich kid in the neighborhood. You know, the one with a pony. I have no especial hatred for the Bronx Bombers, but Curtis Granderson in a Yankee uniform would not make me a happy camper.

Third is the question of whether the Cubs have the players it would take to get a deal done. Or rather, are the Cubs willing to part with the players it would take to get a deal done. Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune recommended simply telling Detroit to name their price. While I wholeheartedly believe that Curtis Granderson is worth a good bit, Mr. Rogers’ suggestion is pretty rash. In my opinion, trading 19-yr.-old super prospect/supposed sweetheart Starlin Castro at this point would be very rash indeed. Castro and Carlos Marmol were the names dropped by Mr. Rogers. He didn’t propose who the closer should then be…

Just in case I haven’t been clear up to this point as to how I feel about Mr. Granderson, I LOVE HIM. He is worth a good bit, but not worth selling the farm for.

The fellow over at the blog Desipio panned Phil Rogers article, proposing instead that the Cubbies ship fan-favorite Ryan Theriot to Detroit. I don’t know who he thinks would play shortstop until Castro is ready, but I do know that this guy found the most creatively vile things to say about every person he mentions. So don’t go read that, because it really isn’t nice.

My working knowledge of these sorts of dealings is not great, so I don’t have some perfect offer imagined up. If I had to make a suggestion, it would be a fair one. A couple of good prospects along with a bench-type player and a reliever or two. Give or take (probably give.) Should the Tigers accept, wonderful! I’ll be turning cartwheels in the backyard. If not, so be it. Move on.

I’ve run away with myself a bit, so lets wrap it up. Where does this hot-stove product rate on the Soup Scale? I give it a Broccoli Cheddar. It’s a tasty tidbit, but I definitely get the feeling we’re looking at Brian Roberts/Jake Peavy part trois.