Sunday, December 10, 2006

There Is No I In Team!

Much has been debated about the Cubs acquisitions this off season. Some moves have been applauded while others have faced strong criticism. I'm not sure it is possible that everyone can be happy with what has been done and profess to not have an opinion on what they would've done instead. Their is however one truth that cannot be disputed, and that is the Cubs have finally started to act like a big market team and are spending some of those millions raked in due to sellouts and advertising revenue increases.

While it is true that the most talented teams, usually are odds on favorites to win. However, the importance of the club being constructed with a plan to mesh all of it's talent, cannot be overlooked if their goal is the post season.

The recently departed manager, who I can't even bring myself to say his name, had such a loose operation that the accountability of his players performance was rarely evident. His mismanagement of lineup configuration and late inning pitching maneuvers cost the club dearly. It's true he didn't have many bullets in his gun these past two years, and much of that blame lays squarely on the doorstep of the Trib brass for operating the ball club with blinders on. Well the blinders are off now and the piggy bank has been smashed to pieces in hopes of not looking totally inept.

Does the Trib's new course of action signal a seed change? We can only hope so, but enough major pieces have been acquired that hopefully a little fine tuning can give the club a leg up.

What cannot be overlooked is the importance of their manager. Without saying Pinella is the next coming, it is important that fundamental team play has to be implemented with repercussions meted out to the lollygaggers. Pinella's generalship must also be held into account regarding his management of the pitching staff and late inning substitutions.

Over the course of a regular season, you probably have a third of your games where you blow the other team out and another third of your games where you get blown out. That puts the club at 500 for two thirds of the season. The effective implementation of fundamentally sound play and smart on field strategic moves of the other third of your games, is what can make or break your season. If the team can win three out of four of those close games, they'll get to the magic number of 90 wins, which should just about guarantee a seat at the post season dinner table.

Having a club house that has everyone playing for the good of the team, is essential for the manager to have the opportunity to strategically influence those close games final outcome.

The manager must set the tone from day one of spring training, that any lollygagging around will meet with more than the pine hitting the seat of their pants. Pinella must insist on his players using their head not just their God given talent. Pitchers will have to pitch smart not just throw, fielders will need to think of the game situation before they make a throw and hitters will need to understand the value of working a count and running the bases. Does talent play a role in the outcome of a players performance? Of course, but poor decisions and not understanding the fundamentals of sound play does as well, and is quite often what determines the outcome of the close contests.

Hopefully the Pinella regime, will be able to prevent any and all lollygaggation of our beloved men in blue and bring some pride back to this storied franchise we all bleed blue for.

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