Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"The Cubs will be divine in '09!"

Guess who said that?

Mr. Cub? Mr. Eternal Optimist?

Correct. He's had a rhyme for each year since the '70's. I think it will be harder from 2012-19. I hope the Cubs will have a World Series championship by then.

I can't stand Ernie Banks. This is why.

He is turning 78 this month. He has been Mr. Cub, the Cubs' goodwill ambassador, for longer than he was ever a Cubs player. Most Cubs fans are like me: born after 1965 or so, with no memory of his playing days. We only know Banks in his current persona. I'm not even sure there's game film from his era. Okay, there's a little. But not much.

Banks never criticizes. I couldn't stand the late Harry Caray either. I do give him credit, though. Every time the Cubs would hold a press conference to introduce a new manager, Caray would ask, "What are you going to do about starting pitching?" Banks never says anything bad about management. I agree with one of my friends who said it certainly was difficult to be an African-American star athlete in Chicago during his playing era, the 50's and 60's. But now that two of Chicago's beloved icons in other sports are/were black--the late Walter Payton and Michael Jordan--the situation is different. Instead of just smiling and showing up at the annual Cubs convention, Banks could lobby the city to ease up on the Cubs and allow more night games. Something? Anything?

He's an elder statesman. He's retired. He can do what he wants. All true. But Banks takes a decent salary from the Cubs. It's time he earned it.

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