Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's Tough To Find Anything Good About a Rotten Baseball Team -- Cubs' Brass Gives Tribune Writers An 'Expletive-Laced Tongue-Lashing'

Michael Barrett's right-cross-to-the-chops-of-A.J.-Pierzynski isn't the only interesting baseball story in Chicago these days.

Another has to do with the verbal punching that a couple of Chicago Tribune writers took from executives Andy MacPhail and Jim Hendry of the Cubs.

Naturally, the incident was reported by someone from a rival newspaper.

Michael Sneed of the Sun-Times wrote that MacPhail and Hendry "berated Chicago Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath and Cubs beat writer Paul Sullivan over what they felt was the paper's unfairly critical coverage of the team. The expletive-laced tongue-lashing supposedly took place at Wrigley Field."

This has already turned into a lousy season for the Cubs, of course. The only thing holding them out of last place in the Central Division of the National League standings is a woeful Pittsburgh team -- which might be even worse than my grandson's Little League squad.

In Dusty Baker, the Cubs have a lousy manager who hopes to get a contract extension--but should be fired.

Baker has an awful team playing in a ballpark that has seen plenty of awful teams for nearly a century.

Part of the problem with the MacPhail-and-Hendry-blast-McGrath-and-Sullivan saga is that The Tribune Co. owns the Cubs.

I don't think a newspaper should own a baseball team, a basketball team, a football team or any other kind of team.

But because the Tribune owns the Cubs, the baseball team's brass wrongly thinks the sportswriters should write favorable things about the team.

Things are especially tough on the sports editor and the reporter who covers the team regularly. He or she constantly hears stuff like, "You're a 'houseman' or 'housewoman' because you work for the paper that owns the team."

Actually, there are some people who think the writer covering a team should author only favorable things about it, even when the paper doesn't own the ballclub.

Try to tell the truth and you're lambasted daily by fans, managers, coaches batboys--and occasionally even by other sportswriters, who are fans in disguise.

More than once I was told, "I thought you were with us" after I had authored something negative about a particular team in my earlier writing life.

I feel especially sorry for Sullivan, who is going to have to cover the horrible Cubs the rest of this miserable season.

If you ask me, he'll probably be ready to ask for a shift to the farm department in October.

* * *

On another matter, I got a laugh out of the Cubs-White Sox telecast the other day on WGN-TV.

During a break in the action, outspoken Sox broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson said something like, "Before we get too far along, I want to mention something that's been on my mind.

"I want to say that Jay Mariotti of the Sun-Times is a hineybird.

"And if you don't know what a hineybird is, I'll tell you. It's a bird that flies around in a circle endlessly until it finally flies up its own [asshole]. Then it's never seen or heard from again.

"I say that because Mariotti knows absolutely nothing about the game of baseball....."

Harrelson [wearing the Sox cap] and Mariotti [not wearing the Sox cap] have been carrying on a feud for years, and this was the latest verbal punch thrown.

When Harrelson finished attacking Mariotti, fellow announcer Darrin Jackson said, "I didn't read [what Mariotti wrote]."

Mariotti evidently isn't the only guy who thinks Harrelson, a former major league outfielder/first baseman, has some shortcomings.

There's a website on the Internet called "Heave the Hawk" that's trying to get Harrelson fired by the Sox.

The site says Harrelson uses "non-standard English and egomanical blather [which have] made the mute button a must for Sox TV."

Jackson also gets ripped on the site.

There's a segment that says, "DeeJay, you suck, too."