By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) If you’re not older than me, you’re presumably familiar with the “This is fine” meme.
If that’s your first experience with the pleasant dog surrounded by chaotic fire, I got you. Via Know Your Meme, it’s “a two-pane image of an anthropomorphic dog trying to assure himself that everything is fine, despite sitting in a room that’s engulfed in flames. Taken from an issue of the webcomic series Gunshow illustrated by K.C. Green and published in early January 2013, the cartoon is typically used as a reaction image to convey a sense of self-denial or acceptance in the face of a hopeless situation.”
This could easily apply to two Chicago teams in the midst of transitions of sorts. Regarding the White Sox, I doubt any of us are in self-denial. Maybe we don’t know what the hell they are, but we have a pretty good idea of what they aren’t.
The White Sox are a team beginning a new managerial era with Robin Ventura’s exit and Rick Renteria’s promotion from bench coach to skipper. They have a great one-two punch on the starting staff (assuming neither Chris Sale or Jose Quintana is traded this offseason) and some pop in a lineup with several holes. And they had to move on from Ventura, whose unremarkable time here had grown beyond tiresome and seemed like such an easy extraction to make until the White Sox went all White Sox last week about it and made it awkward.
Then there are the Bears, shuffling their way into the second quarter of a seemingly lost season at 1-3. Their most notable storyline now is the possibility that franchise quarterback and current injury reportee Jay Cutler may have thrown his last pass for the franchise. It began last week with coach John Fox refusing to commit to Cutler should the quarterback return from the thumb injury that has him sidelined.
“I don’t think there are any givens. And that’s no indictment on anybody,” Fox said. “This is a day-to-day, week-to-week, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, and so we’re just trying to get the best 11 guys out there regardless of the position to where we can play a full 60 minutes and get a victory.”
The newest brand of anti-Cutler momentum picked up Sunday as Jimmy Johnson on the Fox NFL studio show put in his two cents.
Jimmy Johnson on Fox halftime show cited leadership and said "I think there is a good chance Jay Cutler has seen his last snap as a Bear."
Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) October 02, 2016
Jimmy Johnson on Fox halftime show cited leadership and said "I think there is a good chance Jay Cutler has seen his last snap as a Bear."—
Brian Hoyer — an actual decent backup quarterback for what seems like the first time in Cutler’s tenure here (don’t mention Caleb Hanie or Josh McCown, or I will fight you) — looks … well … fine. He’s capable, nothing flashy. He doesn’t have Cutler’s big arm but also doesn’t seem prone to turnovers like Cutler is. He beat the very Lionsy Lions. Might Cutler have, too? Sure. Does Hoyer deserve to keep playing no matter Cutler’s health? OK, whatever. He’s not the future, and neither is Cutler.
So the Bears and White Sox situations right now — two houses kind of in flames – -are fine. Hey, new manager who did a competent job with the Cubs in 2014 before losing his job because he just wasn’t as sexy as Joe Maddon. Players like him. He’s bilingual. He received a tepid endorsement from Ventura.
“I don’t hire people around here,” Ventura said Sunday, which could be taken as a shot at upper management who fired his otherwise-capable bench coach Mark Parent in October 2015 and brought in Renteria in a move that always had the feel of preparing for Ventura’s exit.
Ventura also didn’t hire White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper or current hitting coach Todd Steverson, who replaced Jeff Manto, whom general manager Rick Hahn fired in October 2013.
So it’s the Ricky Renteria era on the South Side. I don’t think the manager is the what makes or breaks the White Sox in 2017, but whatever. And maybe executive Kenny Williams is still around for some reason.
According to MLB sources White Sox Executive VP of BB opts Ken Williams ,is not stepping down from the post.(Some reports had him leaving)
Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) October 02, 2016
According to MLB sources White Sox Executive VP of BB opts Ken Williams ,is not stepping down from the post.(Some reports had him leaving)—
Cool. This is fine.
The Bears are injured and thoroughly uninteresting. The face of the franchise has been hated by most of the team’s fans for years and unfairly kicked around nationally for, like, ever. Cutler fatigue — much like Ventura fatigue — is at full apathetic DEFCON 1. I don’t even want to argue in favor of Cutler getting his job back if he’s healthy, because what the hell does it matter anymore in 2016?
I’m tired of talking about Cutler and pointing out why hating him is irrational. I’m tired of Cutler talking about Cutler. I’m tired of a questionable interception for every 50-yard chuck to an Alshon Jeffery #GUAGI.
Cutler’s time wasn’t lasting past this season anyway, and this isn’t a playoff team with him or Hoyer behind center. So let’s just ride this out with the safe game manager who looks capable of dealing with the new offensive coordinator’s sketchy system so far as general manager Ryan Pace rebuilds while refusing to say he’s rebuilding — while he tries to put out the fire while not calling it a fire.
I’m smiling and sipping my coffee this morning. The White Sox and Bears flaming, gag-inducing rooms don’t have me fretting. I swear. All this smoke just has me a little sleepy.
This is fine.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.