A FARCE PLAY
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org September 27, 2012 9:21PM
Chicago Cubs rookie Adam Greenberg is help off the field by Cubs trainers after being hit in the helmet by the first pitch he faced in the major leagues, from Florida Marlins relief pitcher Valerio Do Los Santos during the ninth inning July 9, 2005, in Miami. (AP Photo/Steve Mitchell)
Updated: October 29, 2012 7:04AM
Leave it to Team Dysfunction to cap off a week of chaos in a meltdown season with a publicity stunt not even the Cubs would touch.
The Miami Marlins announced Thursday their decision to become the official laughingstock of major-league baseball by caving in to filmmaker/Cubs fan Matt Liston’s incessant marketing campaign to get onetime Cub Adam Greenberg another day in the big leagues.
You remember Greenberg, the marginal Cubs prospect whose only big-league plate appearance, in 2005, lasted just long enough for Marlins reliever Valerio de los Santos’ first pitch to hit him in the back of the head?
The well-liked kid struggled with post-concussion syndrome and failed to return to the majors with the Cubs and three other organizations.
But a made-for-TV, make-believe call-up to the big leagues at 31 on a one-day contract with the assurance of his elusive at-bat Tuesday isn’t a feel-good, storybook ending as much as it is a farce.
‘‘This was never a gimmick,’’ Greenberg said Thursday.
It was a much bigger, slicker, more crassly engineered snookering of any team or fan foolish enough to fall for it. It’s baseball’s biggest publicity stunt since Bill Veeck signed midget Eddie Gaedel in the ’50s — or at least since the Cubs trotted out Kerry Wood and his new deal during the opening ceremony of the Cubs Convention in January.
‘‘This is going way beyond just one at-bat and beyond sports,’’ said Greenberg, who said the agreement with the Marlins brought him to tears. ‘‘I got to the major leagues on my own merit, and I earned that spot seven years ago. So the fact this is not my first at-bat, that’s important. It’s just not, ‘Poor kid, let’s give him a shot.’ ’’
Whatever it is, the Cubs should feel fortunate their noodle-mongering marketing department didn’t bring this circus to Wrigley Field.
‘‘It’s obviously not a fit for us,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘But I wish him the best.’’