Bernstein: Cubs Put On A Happy Face

By Dan Bernstein– Senior Columnist

(CBS) Every next thing we hear from the Cubs is crazier than the last.

The season sputtered and fizzled faster than even pessimists imagined, yet all concerned march merrily along, whistling cheerful tunes, dancing sprightly jigs, and apparently watching a different team.

Owner Tom Ricketts set the tone weeks ago with his curt dismissal of a simple question: “What’s wrong with your team?”

“Nothing,” he said. “Just a lot of injuries.” And he walked away.

Since then, Ricketts has even taken the time to re-endorse the fine work of GM Jim Hendry and manager Mike Quade, expressing “100% confidence” in the former and saying the latter has “done a great job.”

The trickle-down effect has allowed Hendry to live in his own special place where everything’s fine. This silly idea that a moribund, overspent team would try aggressively to use the upcoming trading deadline as a chance to improve its health on the field and the balance sheet? He’ll hear none of it.

“They use the word ‘fire sale,’” he said. “That’s not going to happen.”

Of course not, Jim. You wouldn’t want to upset the delicate balance of this humming baseball machine, or alter the direction in which it’s going. Onward!

Hendry’s loyal lieutenant Gary Hughes was even more puffy-chested, telling MLB Network Radio yesterday that the Cubs could be adding players at the deadline, presumably to beef up for that run at their first three-game winning streak of the season.

If Ricketts has Sirius XM, he probably fled the country upon hearing that, setting up a new life in a small fishing village in Finland, content to spend the remainder of his days alone, salting herring.

Quade does most of the talking, seemingly trying to laugh to keep from crying, referencing Seinfeld episodes and quoting Winston Churchill as a way to avoid addressing the grim reality of his team. Poor guy is nice enough, but hasn’t done much to convince us he’s big-league timber, and probably won’t get much of a chance to do so.

We hope most of this company line is an act — mere public façade to keep turnstiles cranking in the long months to come and retain any hope of success for when they repackage their failed plea for millions of our tax dollars – and it may be. Ricketts is thought to finally be close to convinced that all’s not exactly well, with the drumbeat louder that Hendry is toast.

Baseball America’s Tracy Ringolsby said Padres VP Josh Byrnes was “sniffing around” the Cubs’ GM job, and the Tribune’s Phil Rogers Tuesday referred to Hendry as a “lame duck” (though he’s already shrunk timidly from that position, it appears, now using passive phrases like “a feeling around the majors that Hendry and manager Mike Quade are on baseball’s endangered species list”).

But the current disconnect between truth and public fairyland forces fans to have to hope that all these people are either lying or unaware of a bigger picture that won’t involve them. It’s a tough place to be, especially since it’s not even July.

There have been no tangible indications that anybody in the Cubs organization finds any of this less than acceptable.

The owner is perfectly pleased with his executives, and the executives love all the players.

A time existed not too long ago that fans welcomed high expectations and real hope. They just want to see a convincing road map back to the point where they can allow those feelings to return.

“You can turn things around in a shorter time than you used to,” Hendry said, brimming with confidence.

I’m sure the Cubs have their reasons for pretending everything’s ok, but I need to be more certain they know it’s really not.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Cubs Put On A Happy Face
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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More from Dan Bernstein
  • Larry Horse's Arse

    The band continued to play as the Titanic sank.

  • Jake from da burbs

    I could write a long discourse rehashing the same complaints and issues I’ve had for years with Cub management. I think it can just be summarized by the word: “PATHETIC”

    Thats all that it is.

    If I thought Hendry and company were smart, I’d say they are trying to quelch ideas of firesale in order to maintain some sort of trade value of players that can be moved. If people know you’re desperate to move guys, maybe they won’t offer as much. But then again, this is Hendry and co we’re talking about.

    If I’m Ricketts, I offer Andrew Friedman of the Rays an opportunity of a lifetime, offer him whatever he wants and turn the reins over to him and watch him turn this franchise into a real winner.

  • Chet Coppock

    Still trashing the Cubs via hack job articles, huh Bernsite?

    • Larry Horse's water trough

      Uh, Chet. Did it ever occur to you that the Cubs deserved to be trashed? Don’t be a moron. Hendry has done everything in his power to cripple this team, Ricketts is too stupid to see it, and all you want to worry about is Bernstein is “trashing” the Cubs.


      • Chet Coppock

        Larry, pick a handle and stick with it. All these different online ego’s are confusing me. Thanks.

      • Spoon

        Ricketts is far from ‘too stupid’ to see it. If you believe that, then I have a great bridge to sell you, cheap. Bernstein’s beating of horse’s corpse, however, has gotten pretty stale at this point. We get it. You think the Cubs are dumb, even if they were 97-10, he’d find a reason to call them or the fans idiots.

        Apparently ‘Senior Columnist’ doesn’t make him search any harder for topics that havent been beaten into a pulp.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        2 different people with 2 different posts.

  • Denver Deadite


    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Hey! Hey! Deadite……great to see you posting again…sight for sore eyes!

      • Denver Deadite

        I’ve kinda-sorta been around. Without the Bernstein blog entries, I certainly wasn’t visiting the site nearly as often, but occasionally I’d find something worth putting in my 2-cents.

        I had missed though that Bernstein was blogging again until this entry.

        I’d be very curious to see the numbers for traffic on The Score’s pages when Bernstein is blogging versus when he is not. It’s obvious that without them, the commenting on sports articles/columns all but disappears.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Yeah, considering the tone of his show, it’s easy to see Bernstein’s listeners as the ones far more likely to be web commentariat. People that have Deadspin and TheBigLead on their favorites bar, hit BaseballReference whenever a random player is mentioned on the show, and parse through the HoopsHype salary guide looking for potential Boozer flimflam victims. I call it “second-level” fandom, where performance isn’t the only thing paid attention to- but why as well.

        …Of course, I may just be a big nerd.

  • mike in davenport

    We’re now seeing that the Cubs playoff team of 07-08 was a lie. The goal wasn’t winning; the goal was inflating the value of the team, and winning was considered a collateral outcome.

    So Hendry is talking about “turning this thing around.” Wonderful, except that he can’t move overpaid, unproductive players due to the contracts he gave them. The Tribune Company KNEW they wouldn’t be the owners, so OF COURSE all of the contracts were back-loaded. The Cubs are completely handcuffed in what they are able to do.

    Not only are the highest paid players bad, but they are also keeping rookies from valuable major league evaluation time. This SHOULD be a rebuilding period, but the Cubs can’t start rebuilding because they can’t get rid of old, expensive bad.

    The most maddening aspect is that the man who executed this well thought out plan by the Trib was none other than Jim Hendry. I would have sent him packing on the first day for that.

    • Denver Deadite

      A lot of people called for Hendry’s head when Ricketts bought the team. Yet, Bernstein wasn’t among them. His stance was “What good would that do? The mistakes have already been made”

      I say now as I said then: it would prevent Hendry from being able to make even MORE mistakes down the road.

      I suppose the only saving grace is that Hendry no longer has a bunch of money to spend like a drunken sailor. Because if he did, history would likely repeat itself.

    • Terry Boulder

      You could bench the bad, expensive players, but that’s not going to go over well either.

    • Spoon

      “We’re now seeing that the Cubs playoff team of 07-08 was a lie. The goal wasn’t winning; the goal was inflating the value of the team, and winning was considered a collateral outcome.”

      The value of the team would have skyrocketed if they had won… not everything require a tinfoil hat…

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    This is likely the first season I won’t have gone to a Cubs game of some kind (preseason, regular season, postseason) in over a decade. I actually have a standing offer to catch the series in San Diego in September on a road trip, and if I go, I’d be more than content to watch the game at some random bar in the Gaslamp District, or even listen to Jerry Coleman do the game while at the beach. I’ve bled blue for over a quarter century and I can’t say that games are appointment TV anymore.

    I won’t entirely blame Ricketts for the team’s misery, but I will blame him for his lack of foresight.
    When he bought into the team, it wasn’t exactly a deep dark secret that they had recently committed over $300MM in contracts. I’ll also blame him for the fact that he’s either lying through his teeth or outright oblivious to his team’s struggles.

    I have this mental image of Ricketts “at work”. It’s almost like he’s sitting at his desk with a gobsmacked look on his face, palm on his forehead, thinking “Golly, this is hard!”

    …Meanwhile, pipe-dreaming Cub Fans watch Mark Cuban and call girls down shots of Avion Tequila from afar.

  • W Guy Finley

    Nail, meet hammer, well done Dan. Many times I feel like a part of me died after that second playoff sweep. I come from a long lineage of Cub fans, but I have had it with this team until they show me they deserve my attention. This circus has me thinking Ed Lynch wasn’t so bad.

    It’s simple, what GM has ever gotten the chance to rebuild his team THRICE without winning anything more than a division? NOBODY that I’m aware of. Jim Hendry, Mike Quade – good guys, doesn’t change the fact it’s time to go.

  • Bronzo

    I find this all very amusing…not that things are much better on the southside, but they are …a little. Hendry is to blame for most of the mess that is the Cubs…And Quade is as Bersie states is a likeable guy.He has not shown himself to be a great game day manager making a lot of very questionable in game decisions. Would they be any better with Sandberg at the helm? Probably not …

    • Chris in Scottsdale


      Thanks for bringing it up! This situation right here is EXACTLY why I didn’t want to see Sandberg brought in as manager. I want to remember him as the great Cub player, not potentially as a great Cub player AND failed Cub manager. Maybe he would have succeeded, maybe not, but I don’t feel that the risk of tarnishing one of the icons of a generation or two of Cub fans is worth it. The management position under Ricketts and Hendry is not an honor, it’s a death sentence.

      He can manage somewhere else, that’s fine. Just not the Cubs.

      • Bronzo

        You are probaly not alone in you thinking . The Cubs would still be mess and he would have bore the brunt of the criticism, which obviously would have been unfair.

  • Chet Coppock

    Before Sox fans start pouting off, they have their own problems. Who woulda thunk that Carlos Pena would have been twice as productive as Adam Dunn at this point, and at a fraction of the cost. The ‘Cell’ is a sinking ship too.

    • tomuban

      And this has what to do with this article?

    • Bronzo

      Again Chet things aren’t that much better on the southside…but at least they are in shouting distance of 1st place and .500.

      Dunn sucks we can all agree on that.

      • Spoon

        Yes, nothing like being right smack in the middle of baseball hell.

        How did this become a Cubs/Sox debate? Why does anything involving one side of town, have to end up being a debate on which team sucks more?

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Yeah, but that’s like the Titanic busting the Edmund Fitzgerald’s chops. You can nitpick at aspects of the Sox, and they are unimpressive, but through their struggles they’re still within striking distance. The Cubs? Yeah, well…

      If anything, the recent tone of media bytes shows exactly where the mindsets are in regards to committment to winning- Ozzie is spouting off, ticked off, and goading management into pistols at ten paces… and they’re four games out. The Cubs are tied for the second worst record in the majors and Ricketts is breathing in helium balloons and dancing and singing like the lollipop guild.

      • Bronzo

        And for all of Ozzie’s theatrics at least he calls his players out and holds them responsible….for the most part. He sits down Rios and Beckham and he tells Dunn if you wnat to stop the booing …get a hit. He’s loyal to a fault as far as Pierre goes though.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Like Dusty would say, “I can’t urn my back on Pierrey”.

    • Bronzo

      Or he would say “He’s my man…man”

  • Bob Loblaw

    “turn”, that is

  • Cameltoe Rancher

    Sell the team Scuvy Ricketts!

  • Cameltoe Rancher


  • Barry


  • Sean Connery's Cackle

    Would these discussions be any different if the Cubs won it all in either of those 2 years? The Hawks were similar in that they went for it all last year, the only difference is they actually won. As soon as they did, poof, the team had to be broken up because of contracts. Makes you wonder what the reaction would have been had they lost….

    Anyhow, the way I see it, they saw a window of opportunity to go after a championship and mortgaged it all, and lost. You can be upset about the bad money tied up now…..but only if you weren’t happy about it at the time they were making their run. Soriano may be a liability now, but without his September tears back then, they don’t even make the playoffs….

    • Cameltoe Rancher

      As Stony had pointed out months before the 07′ bed pooping, Soriano’s average against front line starters sucked @ss. Stony repeatedly pointed out that Soriano’s average vs. No.1 and No.2 starters was significantly lower than the other bums that he beat up on to gain his lofty stats heading into the playoffs.

      When the playoffs hit, he folded like a house of cards.

      I’m sick and tired of hearing WSCR personalities speak of Soriano as if he was THE reason for the Cubs’ pee-pee tease of Divison “Championships” in 07′ & 08′. It ultimately was a failure overshadowed only by their collapses in 2003 and 1984.

      And the @ssb@g also gets too much credit is the fat tub Jim Hendry. A poop-throwing chimp could have taken a giant payroll and bid against himself for bums like Soriano.

      Stop praising the Cubs for pooping the playoff bed!

  • Up N. Adam

    More dead horse whipping I suppose.

    I guess my only complaint from this article is he’s inferring things as optimism when it’s simply a guy telling the truth. Saying “We’re not going to have a fire sale” as “everything is fine.” And that’s not true. To me this Cubs season, while awful, hasn’t been as bad as been portrayed. I thought if all went well and things broke right, they could be .500, which would be a damn good season for a 72 win team with a decaying lineup that spent little in the off season to improve it. Nothing has gone well, and there have been bad breaks a plenty. The fact that they’re one game over .500 when Garza, Demp, or Z pitch is a little more of what I thought this team could be… but that’s me.

    But Berstien, and Boers by extension, love to hammer on anything when it’s down. ( If for no other reason than it’s funny.). And I enjoy it. Wether I agree with it or not.

    I will say this…If the Sox don’t pull head out of rectum and win the Central like they should, they could be in the same position as the 2009 Cubs. And it will be interesting to see if “Senior Columnist” has as much vigor and vitriol if that occurrs.


    Been moderated twice today.

    Not going to say it again.

  • Jason's Jelly-Filled Donut

    Talk more Hawkey!!!

  • Jon, Montgomery

    WHAT?! Bernstein is finally posting blogs again? I thought he was done for good and this new contest to become the next blogger was going to be the guy to replace Danny… we’ll see I guess. Maybe they’ll have dueling blogs.

    I miss all of you guys. Sorry I ditched you for the mothership website, but there is a lot more action over there than on here. I guess I could be here more often, my apologies everybody.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Good to see you Jon, hope all’s well.

      • Jon, Montgomery

        Same to you Larry, and to all of the others.


    Been moderated four times on this blog for, absolutely, nothing.

    This is ridiculous!

    Good to see both teams win back-to-back. Cubs bullpen will be tired.

    How is that?

    • Chet Coppock

      Clean up your mouth, and you won’t be censored. That simple.


    The site won’t let me say


  • Cameltoe Rancher

    What about Lynn D i c k e y?
    or Larry F u r b u s h?

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      By Cracky!

  • Jon, Montgomery

    Moderation sucks. And I see Timmymac has been having some fun lately.

  • Juan Pierre Rocks

    Hey Dan and Terry, how does that Juan Pierre crow taste?

  • Bernstein: Cubs Put On Happy Face - CHI CITY SPORTS l #1 Chicago Sports Fan Message Board

    […] Cubs Put On Happy Face Bernstein: Cubs Put On A Happy Face […]

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