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Blame Not The Puppet, But The Puppeteer
by Phil Bencomo
It's been hard to think clearly about Jim Edmonds, what with the sound of the collective gnashing of teeth roiling through the city. The constant rumbling of it, as if IDOT had decided to simultaneously repave all of the pothole-ridden roads in town, threatens to stifle reasonable thought, and drown out any worthwhile ruminations.
Edmonds, strange as it sounds, is a Cub. That cannot and will not be changed -- for the moment, at least. And since he is a Cub, and a Cub whose play will directly influence the outcome of games to come, I have little choice but to support him.
Generally, you see, I prefer to see the Cubs do well, no matter how despised any of the team's players may be. I've long railed against Ronny Cedeno, for example, but does that mean I hope he falls flat on his face every time he walks onto the field? Certainly not; rather, I've been thrilled with his rejuvenated career. In such situations, I'd much rather be wrong about a player, no matter the odds against success, because for all the gratification of a correct prognostication, Cub victories are far, far sweeter.
Jim Hendry, defying all sorts of logic, signed Edmonds, undeniably a creaking, hollow shell of his former self. He may turn in an outstanding game or two, but his Cub career is, by any reasonable indicator (none of which need be repeated here), doomed to swift failure. But why blame Edmonds for Hendry's folly? Edmonds is no fool; he'll take a job where he can get one. I see little sense in savaging a man when fans have all the incentive in the world to see him succeed. It's unreasonable, I know, but I hope, despite my dire expectations, that Edmonds rediscovers the spring in his step and pop in his bat, because it would benefit a greater good -- the Cubs, of course.
But I'd also like to buy an arboretum, fortify the perimeter with electric fencing and robotic guards -- men are too easily corrupted -- and then watch in wonderment as money starts sprouting from the trees. Sure, it sounds wonderful, but it's beyond impossible, much like an Edmonds more valuable than even Felix Pie and his meager output.
The issue is not with Edmonds, who is the broken-down player he is. The issue is with Hendry. He is acting the fan, playing my part, in hoping unreasonably for production that is all but guaranteed not to come. That is what fans do, but it is not the role of the general manager. A GM does not make deals founded in remote possibilities; a GM evaluates and forges rational expectations. Either Hendry has eschewed expectation for hope, or he truly believes Edmonds a valuable player. In both cases, the Cubs have a problem.
This experiment, I think, will not last long, and Pie, clearly Edmonds' superior, will return, while we fans frantically wash our hands of the foulness brought upon by a fouler decision.