By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) It was a dumb thing to say, and a dumb way to say it, but Tom Ricketts needs to listen to himself.
“I’ve never bought into the idea that I should have a baseball guy to watch my baseball guys and his baseball guys,” Ricketts half-joked last month, when asked about the status of his failing team’s leadership. “Then what do you get? A baseball guy to watch the baseball guy who’s watching your baseball guys?”
You hire a baseball guy to rebuild everything from the top down. He only watches your baseball guys long enough to hand them cardboard boxes and tell them to pack their stuff.
The latest reports confirm that Ricketts has spoken with Hall-of-Fame executive Pat Gillick, presumably about a role as short-term team president or some kind of influential senior advisor for a long-overdue reassessment and reconstruction of the front office. A spokesman for Ricketts denied yesterday that a conversation occurred, apparently not realizing that it’s exactly the kind of news fans want to hear.
But before you get all excited about learning that Ricketts may now realize owning a bad baseball team requires more than upgrading urinals, get a load of this: some are speculating that Gillick — or someone similarly experienced and respected — could be brought in as merely a complementary voice, joining current president Crane Kenney and GM Jim Hendry.
I’ll give you a second to pick your head up off the desk.
It has to be over for the current regime. Not just double-checked, monitored and supervised, but over.
What would Gillick do – sit in his office as some kind of available oracle, playing Angry Birds all day while waiting for Kenney and Hendry to stroll over so their work could get final approval?
Kenney is an over-promoted clown, a Tribune lawyer who wormed his way into undeserved power and now plays in his big baseball sandbox (when he’s not busy asking priests to sprinkle holy water in the clubhouse before a playoff game). That Ricketts would even refer to him as a “baseball guy” is laughable to everyone around the league, including plenty who work at Wrigley Field.
Hendry is a survivor’s survivor, having overseen TribCo’s extravagant decade of shooting for the moon, and missing. He schmoozed Ricketts into believing these bad contracts were passed out at the behest of ownership, and against his own, better instincts. Hendry bears responsibility for an unproductive farm system, however, and he’s solely responsible for the Mike Quade disaster — a choice many of us gave the benefit of the doubt, only to see it blow up like a loaded cigar.
After nearly two seasons of dithering, something seems ready to happen, and the mealy-mouthed votes of confidence and unconvincing denials of forward-looking activity are only tamping down the first real reasons for optimism that have existed since the team was sold.
Ricketts may finally be seeing what the rest of us have been seeing, and may be doing something about it.
That’s good news, and here’s hoping what’s done is more than half-hearted, more than cosmetic.
Kenney talked his way into a position he never should have had.
Hendry talked Ricketts into giving him extra time he didn’t deserve.
And Quade just keeps talking.
It’s time for Ricketts to decode his own comical quote, try to understand what it actually meant, and act on it like someone trying to win.
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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