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It's Official

There really isn't that much more to say that I haven't already said, but today, Sammy Sosa became a Baltimore Oriole -- and let me tell you, he looks odd in that orange and black cap with the little birdie on it, and further, seeing him at the press conference, he really does look smaller -- and Jeromy Burnitz became a Cub, signing a one-year deal with an option year for 2006.

The Cubs acquire Jerry Hairston Jr. and two minor leaguers who will only see a major league park if they buy a ticket like the rest of us -- though someone at the Associated Press threw Jorge Julio into the deal, something that would have been great if it could have been done without giving up Kyle Farnsworth, but Jim Hendry mentioned nothing about Julio at the press conference.

Hendry's news conference and Sosa's were on nearly head-to-head this early evening, and frankly, watching live sports press conferences is an exercise in futility. The microphones on whatever network you are watching are never turned so you can hear any of the questions, and it took the assembled multitudes at Wrigley Field about twenty minutes before anyone asked Hendry the obvious question:

"You done dealing?"

Of course, Hendry said no, and frankly, what else is he going to say? For now, he probably is, and the screamers will say that the Cubs got nothing player-wise in this deal and signed an over-the-hill replacement, and they are, well, pretty much right.

As I have written before, this trade wasn't made for player personnel reasons. It was made because the Cubs could no longer live with Sosa and he could no longer live with them. The Tribune called it a divorce over the weekend, and oddly, so did Sammy in his Baltimore press conference, and that's exactly what it was: irreconcilable differences.

Sosa was, of course, all sweetness and light, all "team" in his pronouncements, saying it's Miguel Tejada's house at Camden Yards... and he's right, but I wonder how long that'll last. People have said he can DH... but there's a problem already there, because in order for Sammy to patrol right field in Baltimore, Jay Gibbons may move to 1B, which will force Rafael Palmeiro to DH, and then there are the days when they'll want to rest Javy Lopez and DH him, and...

Well, who cares? It's Baltimore's problem now.

This is a sea change in what the Cubs franchise is all about. The beloved players of the late 60's stuck around for years beyond their usefulness on the field, because they were loved, and they failed to win. Only after it got hopeless (and after Fergie Jenkins threw bats onto the field) were they all, one by one, dealt away, and because management then had no plan, and no clue, the team dropped out of sight for several years.

This is different. Fans loved Sammy, but the tastes of postseason play we had in the 80's and 90's, and particularly 2003, got us into the mood to WIN.

Sammy Sosa's not a winner, and the final straw was the walkout on his teammates. His Cub career really ended that day, October 3, 2004.

The screamers will say that the Cubs lost too many homers and RBI by losing Alou and Sosa. My take on that is -- well, they didn't win with that, now did they? The team was way too one-dimensional, and though Jeromy Burnitz is no savior, he will hit some home runs, and Jerry Hairston can play several positions and actually get on base, something most Cub leadoff men failed to do in 2004.

One thing Jim Hendry has done over his Cub career is go out and get exactly what the club needs. What it did not need is to spend over $100 million on Carlos Beltran, or $50+ million on Magglio Ordonez without knowing if he can play or not.

I have said this before and I will repeat it again:

There are things that win baseball games that cannot be measured by numbers on paper or a computer screen.

And Jim Hendry has, by eliminating a negative influence or three in the Cub clubhouse from 2004, given the Chicago Cubs a better chance of finding the winning atmosphere in 2005.

Let's play ball already.