Baseball (And Media) Stories

Today, we learn that Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker are not going to get contract extensions:

Hendry left the second base job an open question, he closed the door on questions regarding a contract extension for manager Dusty Baker.

"It's not a topic I want to get into now or in spring training," Hendry said. "I haven't given it a thought."

Hendry likely won't discuss an extension for Baker until he gets one himself. Both are in the final years of their contracts, although Hendry is considered a good bet to return, while Baker's future is murkier.

Hendry maintained he and Baker are in the same boat.

Or, maybe they are:

Cubs president Andy MacPhail said Tuesday he will consider during spring training whether to give general manager Jim Hendry a contract extension before deciding at a later date when to make the expected commitment.

If Hendry gets at least a two-year extension, as anticipated, it then would fall to both Hendry and his bosses whether to offer manager Dusty Baker a two-year extension. Indications are that is likely to happen, as well, with both Hendry and Baker entering the last year of their contracts.

Or, no,they're not:

While Hendry is manager Dusty Baker's immediate boss, the GM is not in a position to make any decision on the skipper's status until he knows more about his own future. Baker is in the final year of a four-year deal, and it appears it will be awhile before his future with the organization is known.

"It's not a topic I intend to get into now or in spring training," Hendry said. "I haven't given it a thought. I'm focusing on getting better players and winning more games."

Nanny nanny boo boo! Yes, they are!

It's possible the Cubs will give Jim Hendry a contract extension in the coming weeks. The contracts of Hendry and field manager Dusty Baker expire at the end of the 2006 season.

Hey, it's all a matter of interpretation. Those who like to do this sort of thing will probably make a lot of hay today about this topic, but the reality is this: I believe Hendry will be given an extension sometime before Opening Day, and then, with his own job secure, will extend Baker as well. That way, the season can go on without everyone badgering both of them about their contract status every day.

Whew! That out of the way, I wanted to tell you one of my favorite Bruce Sutter stories.

On July 12, 1979, the Cubs were at Cincinnati. I wasn't at this game, but remember vividly watching it on TV.

Or rather, waiting forever to watch it on TV, because there was a two hour and sixteen minute rain delay before the start of the game; it didn't begin till almost 10 pm Eastern time. And the Reds blew out to a 7-0 lead off Kenny Holtzman, who was in his last season, had very little left (we used to joke about his "Ecology Pitch" -- the 55-MPH fastball), and in fact, made only four more major league starts after that date.

The Cubs managed to close to within 7-5, as the game went on well past midnight -- those of you who are now in your early 20's, the age I was then, know it was easy to stay up late in those days -- and then the Reds brought in their closer, Doug Bair, who had had a spectacular 1978 season but was struggling in '79.

He got out of the 8th, but in the 9th hit two batters and gave up a couple of hits; the Cubs took the lead in the game 8-7 and then up came Sutter, who had come into the game in the 8th inning.

Sutter was one of the worst-hitting pitchers ever; he had 9 hits in 106 lifetime at-bats, all singles, and at the time of this game was 4-for-46.

He bounced a sharp single up the middle, scoring two more runs -- the first RBI of his career, giving the Cubs a five-run ninth and a 10-7 lead.

But he still had to get the final outs in the 9th, or the score would have reverted to the 8th-inning 7-5 Reds lead. This is only relevant because almost immediately after Sutter's hit, it started pouring rain again. After a 71-minute delay, at almost 2 am Eastern time, the game resumed. Sutter walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the 9th, but got the three final outs and the win anyway, after giving up a run.

That 1979 team wasn't that good -- it finished 80-82 -- but that July 12 win gave them a 46-37 record and moved them within three games of the then-first place Expos, and in those heady days, with a great closer and a decent starting pitching staff, we thought the Cubs might somehow sneak in.

26 years later, we're still waiting.

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