Brutal season for Cubs, White Sox fans, but who suffered the most?
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org September 20, 2011 10:30PM
A White Sox fan argues with Cubs fans about a play on the field in the fourth inning Sunday, July 3, 2011, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Which fans suffered more this season?
Updated: November 10, 2011 3:14PM
Please, make it stop.
Someone, anyone, just kick the plug out of the wall.
Welcome to Chicago baseball 2011, where misery loves company on both sides of town, and the best news is it’s almost over. One more week of life support, and the suffering ends.
Was it worse being a Cubs fan, knowing the season was going on ice before it really started? Or being a White Sox fan and having high hopes strung along all the way until September before being punched in the stomach? Check that, below the belt.
Does it even matter right now?
Both franchises are in bad places. Grab a shovel, throw on some gloves and get plenty of garbage bags because now comes the cleanup.
The front office
The Cubs’ search for a general manager has been a study in frustration. When hunting a white whale, it’s never a good thing to use bait that attracts guppies.
Handcuffing themselves, or at least working backward, chairman Tom Ricketts has made the decision to hand out a contract extension to farm director Oneri Fleita and was reportedly close to locking up scouting director Tim Wilken. These are moves made after a GM is in place, not still being courted.
Maybe Ricketts already has his man and was given the head nod, but the timing is still strange — almost too Cubbie-like.
As far as a list that started with Andrew Friedman and Theo Epstein, at least in the latest report from the Sun-Times, Reds GM Walt Jocketty, 60, is what’s supposed to get you excited now.
Down south, there seems to be a little more stability. If bringing back the man responsible for a $127 million mess is considered stable.
Multiple sources told the Sun-Times last week that Ken Williams had been informed by chairman Jerry Reinsdorf that he would be back as GM next season, but two days later, Williams told Sun-Times columnist Rick Morrissey that nothing was promised to him for 2012.
Assistant GM Rick Hahn has been the hot name for a GM job the last few seasons, and he could leave if the right one opens up. Otherwise, it could be business as usual with the Sox.
Frustration meter: Cubs 9, Sox 7.
The coaching staff
Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen wants a contract extension beyond 2012, while most of his coaching staff has no deals beyond next week.
Last season, Reinsdorf insisted that his GM has the power to fire the manager. Last week, Williams told Morrissey, “At this point, it’s Jerry’s decision.’’
Welcome to the epicenter of dysfunction between front office and a coaching staff.
Guillen’s first wish — as well as the wish of his family — is to stay in Chicago. North Side, South Side, doesn’t even matter at this point. The problem is that the Williams-Guillen relationship is nonexistent, with the two only saying the right things about each other because of the respect they have for Reinsdorf.
There’s also a Miami franchise that would love to make Guillen the face of its organization with a new ballpark set to open next season.
So how does this end? Unless Guillen gets his extension, as well as deals for the core of his coaching staff, it won’t end well.
Things are much simpler with the Cubs. Once a new GM is landed, a new manager and staff will be brought in. Mike Quade is a nice guy, but we all know where nice guys finish. In this case, battling Pittsburgh for fourth place.
Frustration meter: Sox 9,
If Fox ever wants to run a show called “Deals Gone Bad,’’ filming for the entire series can be done in Chicago.
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano is on the hook for $19 million a year through 2014, and pitcher Carlos Zambrano is due $19 million next season, despite being cast on an island by the organization for yet another emotional meltdown. Pitcher Ryan Dempster is due $14 million next season, and there’s a $16 million option for Aramis Ramirez for ’12 with a $2 million buyout.
Besides Soriano and what to do with Zambrano, the corner the Cubs have been painted in the last few years starts to open up. That’s the good news. The bad news? Besides Starlin Castro, there isn’t a lot to be excited about from a talent level.
Then there’s the Sox, where once vibrant money has gone to die.
Three more years of Adam Dunn at $14 million in 2012, then $15 million in ’13 and ’14. Alex Rios is at $12.5 million next season before going up to $13 million the following two years. Jake Peavy jumps to $17 million next season, then has an option for $22 million with a $4 million buyout in ’13. Meanwhile, Carlos Quentin and John Danks are arbitration-eligible for one more season before dashing into free agency.
Talent-wise, the Sox might be better off than the Cubs, but is there really a difference between finishing third in the American League Central as opposed to fourth or fifth in the National League Central?
Frustration meter: Sox 8, Cubs 7.
Final frustration tally: Sox 24, Cubs 20.
Sept. 28 can’t come soon enough.