I know Bill Simmons is one of those guys you hate or love, but I think regardless of your feelings toward him, you will find this piece very interesting.
It brings up a lot of interesting questions that no one seemed to be asking around the time that Manny was being traded. Why am I posting this on a Cubs board? Well besides it's just being a well-written baseball piece, this section caught my eye:
"When Ortiz and Manny were clicking at the same time, like for the first few playoff games last October, the Red Sox simply couldn't be defeated. We had the modern-day Ruth and Gehrig and everyone else knew it.19 Call me crazy, call me nuts, call me a fool ... but I wasn't enthusiastic about giving that up without a reason that surpassed, "Uh-oh, Manny is acting up again." I also believe -- fervently -- that Boston fans needed Manny in our lives. Remember the way Sox fans behaved before October 2004? Tight as a drum, always expecting the worst? Manny never noticed the nail-chewing, knuckle-cracking and hair-pulling. The negative radio shows and columns never bugged him. He just kept showing up with that same dopey smile and cranking line drives. You could say he loosened up the entire city -- never receiving enough credit for this, by the way -- and when other self-proclaimed "Idiots" like Millar and Damon became his partners in crime, we ended up winning the 2004 World Series. Coincidence? I say no. If I had to pick a movie character to describe Manny's effect on the team and its fans, it would be Dunphy from "Outside Providence," the juvenile delinquent who showed up at the uptight '70s prep school, lightened things up, and within a few weeks, everyone knew how to roll a joint."
Do the Cubs need a leader who just doesn't give a shit and plays the game? Now I know that Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, DeRosa, etc. all talk about how the drought doesn't come into their minds, but you can tell just by watching them in the playoffs that this is going through their minds. As soon as a game starts to slip, things get more tense, guys seem to start pushing more and everything goes downhill from there.
Perhaps I can say this now because it's the off-season but I have lost some of my own tightness with this 2008 team. There's no definite team that will win the World Series, the Cubs will get there eventually, there's nothing I can do in the meantime. Do we need one of the Cubs players to just come out and lead the team in this attitude? Who could it be?
One last thing about the playoffs is I felt that no one player did take the lead of this team. Not Zambrano, not Lee, not Ramirez, not Wood, and certainly not Soriano. Maybe that's how you win games as a team during the regular season, but do you need one guy to lead a team through the post-season to victory?