The Tao of Q-Ball
You've probably read or heard about yesterday's dugout fracas between Carlos Slim and Aramis Ramirez after the first inning. The Cubs continued their defensive indifference that has plagued their early Cactus League games with 3 errors in the first inning - 5 total on the game (Yahtzee!) - and that led to a 6-run first inning. You try not to infer too much meaning in spring training results, but despite what Carlos said at the Cubs Convention about not having to compete for a spot in the rotation, the reality is that it's between him, Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner for two of the spots. And while his hefty contract may earn him the benefit of the doubt over Wells or Cashner, both of whom still have minor league options, you hope he will have to demonstrate some modicum of success in March. Thus he was somewhat justified in his anger if he felt his teammates let him down in the first. But like his namesake has hopefully learned by now, you can't act on it in the dugout in front of witnesses.
But I write today not to discuss the minor scuffle, but the reaction by the Cubs new field general. Q-Ball dismissed the incident as "boys will be boys". Fair enough and it being early March, the incident is probably going to be ignored or forgotten by the majority of Cubs fans, so wise to not make a big deal of it. Now my first thought was would this have happened under Ryne Sandberg? I do this only because I'm an unabashed Sandberg groupie and whether Q-Ball ends up being the right decision or not for the Cubs, damn straight I'd rather being rooting for old #23.
Of course there's no way of knowing, I don't think Sandberg has any magical powers to prevent Slim from shooting off his mouth and Aramis from reacting. But would have they hesitated for a second out of respect to an ex-major leaguer and Hall of Famer? Doubtful, but that doesn't stop me from wondering.
I also wonder how Sandberg would have handled the media afterwards. It's sort of the unappreciated skill of a manager. Dusty didn't know how to do it, the city hated him. Lou did and despite similar results to Dusty, certainly was more well-liked over his tenure. Joe Torre was a master at it and don't think that's not a big part of his New York city legend. Q-Ball by all accounts, seems to be doing it well, but I can't say I wasn't disappointed by the reaction yesterday. What I wanted to hear was, "Boys will be boys and I'll deal with it tomorrow. But instead of jawing at his teammates for making mistakes, Silva should worry about picking them up and not getting lit up like Charlie Sheen on a coke bender. He should also try switching to diet soda. I've been getting on Castro a bit for what I feel are mental lapses on the field, but don't think it doesn't apply to the veterans as well. I may be more public about it with the rookies because fans and media lap that shit up like a dog at a running water hose, but Ramirez needs to remember he doesn't have a contract for next year and took a 2-month siesta to start last season. Koyie should remember that $850K is a dime in a water fountain to a major league club."
Okay, I probably took that too far and sarcasm aside, that kind of honesty sure would be refreshing. I sure would have preferred something more along the lines of, "Silva should have worried more about the home runs he was giving up and this sloppy play from the veterans to kids is either going to improve or guys will find the bench, maybe not as immediately as fans want, but it will improve or I'll find guys that can do it"
But the recent talks with Castro and the brushing aside of veterans mess-ups was the same stunt that Q-Ball pulled last year. He got all over Castro in the media and did everything behind closed doors with the vets or not at all. In return, he got their support when it came time to find the full-time guy. It worked for him and the team and it's certainly nothing new out of the manager's handbooks. Hell, it's pretty much standard operating procedure. But if a breath of fresh air from Q-Ball is what you wanted, you should keep expecting a jet stream of the hot variety.