I don’t like mixing politics and baseball, as a general rule, but in this instance, I can’t help myself.
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One of the things that got me through the last Bush presidency was the cartoons of Tom Tomorrow. His take on the world is exactly what my lefty/progressive brain needed to make the dull ache caused by Rummy, Condi and all the others subside to a manageable level. But my favorite one of all had to do with a certain type of sandwich.
The point of this cartoon, as I saw it, is that a message from the top is generally swallowed whole by the masses. Independent thought is not — and never will be — encouraged, as the last panel of the strip suggests. And that’s playing itself out with the decision by the Cubs front office to send Kris Bryant back to the minors to start the season.
From last fall up until Monday, the message from the Cubs front office has been “keeping Bryant in the minors is the best thing for the team and the organization.” They can’t come out and directly say it’s due to his service time issues, but anyone with even a passing interest in baseball can see this is the case. Who doesn’t want a guy like Bryant on their team, right now, today? And yet the Cubs are holding him back, anyway.
It makes Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, mad, and it should. If it makes Bryant mad, he hasn’t said so publicly. He has indicated that he’s done all he needed to do in spring training, and has been told how well he is progressing. So, you’ll forgive him if he’s a bit miffed he won’t be playing under that hideous videoboard at Wrigley Field come opening night on Sunday. He knows — we all do — that he’s earned his way onto the Cubs 25-man roster.
But in the name of stretching Bryant’s team-controlled period out until 2021, Cubs fans seem to be A-OK with this decision. Perhaps they’ve never been passed over for a promotion they deserved to have at work. Perhaps they want to stick it to the player’s union for leaving a loophole that front offices can exploit, as in this case. Perhaps the millions of dollars the decision will cost Bryant won’t end up in their pockets, but their loss is going to cause somebody some grief.
Perhaps they aren’t aware that injuries can derail a player’s career in the blink of an eye, leaving 2021 an afterthought. Mark Prior comes to mind on that front. Or if you want to play the “but Prior was a pitcher and Bryant’s not” game, consider Joe Charboneau. I really hope that Kris Bryant is no Joe Charboneau, but my crystal ball doesn’t work as well as I’d like it to, either.
My fondest hope is that this year’s Cubs are so dominating that they win the division, despite a couple of weeks of fielding less than the best players they have. I’m already on record for a division title, after all, and in the end, this won’t matter too much. So enjoy your two weeks’ worth of “special” sandwiches, Cubs fans.