Whenever the Cubs face important changes, I find myself asking “What would Phil do?” Although it’s been difficult to know for sure since he left us in ‘77, with the help of a friendly medium I occasionally do get some answers. The last time I made contact was right after 2002, when he suggested moving Todd Hundley to first base and keeping Bruce Kimm as manager. “My kinda guy, my kinda guy, “ I remember him saying.
Because this may be the most important year in Chicago baseball since Bill Veeck snookered Junior Comiskey out of his birthright in ‘59, I recently decided to seek more wisdom from the original Dr. Phil. So, amidst the sickly-sweet smell of Juicy Fruit-scented patchouli oil, I watched my local savant rub her jyot and listened to her mantra as she repeated those words I suggested might prove most useful in channeling Mr. Wrigley: “Attention, attention please,” she chanted. When that didn’t work, I asked her to keep repeating “Hey Hey, Holy Mackerel,” also to no effect.
Finally, she looked up at me in disgust and said “Oh Jeez, come on!” Instantly, I heard the same strange voice I first heard in 2002. From the beyond, Phil sounded a little like Jerry Lewis on helium as he asked me what I wanted. Trying to keep a straight face, I could imagine how Pete LaCock must have felt on his famous trip to Mr. Wrigley’s office back in ‘75, but when I started to ask a question, he quickly interrupted me. “Who gives a pack of Altoids what you want?” Wrigley said. “You’re a pathetic Cubs fan, and an adult, I assume. Didn’t any grown-up ever tell you a baseball team is a rich man’s toy. Do I need to take out another ad in the Trib to make that clear?”
“No sir,” I responded, “just like you, I don’t think any ballplayer’s worth more than 200 grand either – even Bobby Murcer.” Although I couldn’t see his reaction, I certainly felt more comfortable when I heard him say: “Now you’re making sense – are you sure you’re a Cubs fan?” “Yes sir, Mr. Wrigley,” I said, “for more years than I can remember. I can even recall what Charlie Grimm used to say on the radio, every time Kindall or Zimmer would drop a popup.” After a short pause, Phil and I sounded like old drinking buddies as, together, we chanted Charlie’s signature line: “Oh man! Oh man! Oh man!”
“You really have been around,” Phil said, “so here’s what I think we need for 2010. First of all, Theriot’s gotta go. I like the way he handles shortstop – probably the best since Ernie – but that was before he took us to arbitration. Now, I’d trade him to the Mets, even-up for Pat Misch. And there’s your fifth starter,” Wrigley continued, “Glenbrook boy – solid as they come.“
“Also, you may want to consider sending Piniella up to the radio booth and putting Santo back in the dugout. I understand Lou and Steve Lyons make quite a broadcast team,” he went on. “Oh, and one other thing,” Wrigley said, as my medium glanced at her watch to indicate my 15 minutes was about up, “tell that Ricketts gang to put in some more seats, especially around the bullpens. You just can’t put a price on good player-fan interaction. Especially if we make the playoffs.”