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And There Was Much Rejoicing, Part Deux

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I used that title on my post on May 29, when the Cubs snapped a six-game losing streak and beat the Reds.

So it's appropriate to use again today, when they won their first home game since -- the day after that.

That's really, really bad. But I may be on to something here.

Years ago, before I started working my current early morning hours, I used to work the afternoon/evening shift, and go to games and leave at 3:00 to make it to work. Today, I was asked to cover for someone on that shift again -- so, with the bases loaded and the Cubs nursing a 1-0 lead, I had to leave for work again.

Thus, I missed the Brewers tying it up and going ahead on Bill Hall's HR, and then missed the dramatic bottom-of-the-8th comeback, capped by a Henry Blanco triple (! - his first in two years), a pinch-hit RBI double by John Mabry, and Derrek Lee's first HR since his return.

Those are only some of the weird occurrences today. The Cubs' 1-0 lead was courtesy of 10% of all of Juan Pierre's career HR.

Yes, he hit his first of the year, and tenth of his career, courtesy of a stiff wind blowing out to RF. Maybe hitting this way -- and he did look somewhat better today -- will get him out of here and bring a prospect or two in return, before July 31. Credit Carlos Marmol for keeping the ball down and throwing strikes (eight strikeouts), and shutting the Brewers down; the run he allowed came in during Scott Eyre's brief appearance in relief of him.

But the most important thing that happened to me today was a long, long talk I had with Dave -- since he and Jeff were the only ones out there with me today, we had time to do this -- about the Cub organization, how it approaches the game, and how it MUST change if this team is to win.

Dave says that individual ownership of a ballclub can be more conducive to winning because only one person is responsible. This is the sort of thing that a lot of you have been saying, and I've always felt that Andy MacPhail should be that guy, to take ultimate responsibility. He surely had that responsibility and carried it well when he was leading Twins teams to World Championships. Dave says he may have lost the fire. I said, "Shouldn't any Cub executive HAVE that fire? Because the guy who's in charge WHEN they finally win, is going to be deified forever."

He agreed, but thought that MacPhail might be at a point in his life where he's gotten comfortable, and doesn't have that passion any more.

See, here's the problem. The Tribune Company isn't going to sell this team, no matter how much any of us want it to. Thus, we are stuck with the guys we have. I lay the blame for this year squarely on Jim Hendry and his failure to put a team on the field that could withstand injuries, or to not plan on key contributions for pitchers like Mark Prior or Kerry Wood.

I believe Hendry IS going to give Dusty Baker the second half of the season. Dave agrees -- since Hendry and Baker have both said Baker hasn't had "his team" up to now, and apart from Kerry Wood, now he does; Dave figures that after the All-Star break, it'll almost be like "starting over", and if the Cubs can play .500 or a little better in the second half, Baker will be retained. Otherwise, he won't.

Like it or not, desire it or not, that's the reality. And IF Baker can't do this, absolutely, he deserves to be let go. And I told Dave who my first choices would be IF Baker is let go -- Joey Cora (who Dave agrees, the White Sox would absolutely let go for a manager's job), or Fredi Gonzalez, the Atlanta 3B coach, who has worked under the great Bobby Cox for years and actually was interviewed in 2002 at the same time that Hendry was pursuing Baker. Dave agrees that either would be a good choice.

So there you have it. I DO like Dusty Baker. I agree, he's done a poor job this year. But I also feel he does deserve the rest of this lost season to try to redeem himself. After that, if it continues as it has for the first three months -- absolutely, change gears, change directions, because IF there is no change by then, it will become clear there are things about this organizational direction that MUST be changed in order to win.

There, I said it. Happy now? I say, do it or be gone -- but there's still a chance for redemption. Props, incidentally, to Dusty for going back to Ryan Dempster today and allowing HIM to redeem himself.

Shirt seen today: A gray road Cub jersey with the word "BELIEVE" in letters where the name should be, and the numbers "08" below it. Geez. The guy has not only given up on THIS year, but NEXT year as well.

One last thing. The fire sale is about to begin -- and my sources say Scott Williamson is going to be the first one out the door. So, expect him to get quite a bit of work this weekend.