In the past 12 days I’ve been in eight different states.  I finally get home, settle in to see what I’ve been missing and sure enough, I’m greeted by more incomprehensible nonsense from Chicago Tribune national baseball dipshit…I mean expert, Phil Rogers.

In today’s missive, Phil espouses the theory that the 2011 Cubs are going to be a happy bunch, because nobody expects them to be any good.  If happiness was tied directly to how shitty you were at your job, Phil would be the happiest guy in the world.

Quade has Cubs playing for fun again

The serious stuff is coming fast.

I wish the “serious stuff” was a train and Phil was tied to the tracks.

But give Mike Quade credit for making the most of March, reminding players baseball is played best when it’s fun, even if it is often a trying occupation. The Cubs aren’t scaring any one in Arizona — they’re treading water, really — but Quade is working to mold them into an actual team, and that’s significant progress over the end of the Lou Piniella era.

Yes, yes, we all remember what a complete failure the Lou Piniella era was.  It only included two division titles, the first back-to-back postseasons for the Cubs in 100 years, and his shitty 2009 team was in first place on August 1.  Who would want to emulate any of that?  Thank god, they have put an end to the folly of pretending they might have a good team.  I’m sure Mike Quade appreciates you portraying him as an enabling babysitter, too.

On most mornings, they form a loose circle in right field and get a debriefing on the previous day and marching orders for the upcoming day. There’s a lot of laughing, and sometimes many guys talking at once.

Sounds productive.  I’m sure the Yankees and Red Sox do the same thing.

Terry Francona: Guys!  Guys! Circle up, it’s time to play grabass!
Dustin Pedroia/David Ortiz/Kevin Youkilis/Johnny Pesky: Indecipherable yelling
Terry Francona: I feel really good about this.

Watching from a distance, you wonder if these are guys preparing to face Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker in the National League Centra. It’s as if the big dilemma for players is finding dates for the prom.

Is the “National League Centra” like a Nissan Sentra?  Because even though that’s a boring car, it gets pretty nice gas mileage.

I don’t think Phil is proving the point he thinks he is.  Unless he’s trying to make us believe that Lou ran spring camps that were disciplined and professional and Quade is just standing around watching his guys fuck around.  If that’s his point, he’s setting it up nicely.  Problem is, I don’t think anybody else in the world thinks Quade isn’t running a good, organized camp.

After eight years of high expectations under Baker and Piniella, the Cubs know that they’re not being taken as seriously in 2011. They don’t seem to be taking themselves as seriously, either, although we should add they weren’t exactly loose after the first inning of the fourth exhibition game when Aramis Ramirez almost clocked Carlos Silva.

Remember, he’s trying to make a case that this is a good thing.  I can’t decide if Phil is the dumbest person ever or just the worst writer.  I think I’ll just go with both.

But the Cubs front office privately viewed even that dugout incident as part of a healthy spring as it suggested Ramirez could be one of Quade’s team leaders.

I think they were privately hoping that E-ramis would kill Carlos, so that one would be dead and the other in prison and they wouldn’t have to pay either one.

Jim Hendry, the general manager who has seen it all in the last 16 years, certainly has noticed a spring in players’ steps that wasn’t there in the middle of last season.

For Christ’s sake, if there wasn’t a “spring in players’ steps” in March before the season’s even started…especially compared to when they were in fifth place in June, there would never be one.  Seriously, Phil gets paid to write this shit.

But he argues it’s overly simplistic to suggest the switch from the high-profile Piniella to a regular guy like Quade has allowed the Cubs to have fun playing the game.

What I’m sure Jim said was, “Holy shit, Phil.  You are a simp.”

“We played with a lot of joy in ’08 during the season,” Hendry said. “People forget how much fun Wrigley Field was that season when we won 55 games at home. The thing that overshadows that is what happened in the playoffs.”

Did anybody really forget that?  Did we all think that the regular season when they won 97 games, clinched at home against the Cardinals, and had several incredible late game rallies was a joyless death march?  Yeah, the playoffs sucked.  They sucked hard.  They only lasted four days and they included Ryan Dempster shitting his pants in game one, every infielder making an error in game two and it ended after midnight in LA as we all threw our TV’s out in the street.  What exactly, does this have to do with anything?

Hendry says he hasn’t noticed a lighter tone to spring training this year.

He hasn’t noticed it, because it doesn’t exist.

But I think he says it because he doesn’t want to sound critical of Piniella, as he treats others with the respect he hopes he will receive.

I think he says it because you’re a boob.

But Hendry is thrilled with Quade since he bypassed Alan Trammell to make him the Cubs’ interim manager last August.

Why does that sentence start with “But?”

Like many others, I backed Ryne Sandberg in the manager’s search that ended with Hendry giving Quade the job on the strength of a 24-13 turnaround after players quit on Piniella.

The only thing dumber than thinking Sandberg should have been the manager is thinking Quade going 24-13 in meaningless games at the end of a bad season means anything.  Quade didn’t get the job because he went 11 games over .500, he got it because over 30 years as a minor league manager and big league coach he’s proven he knows his shit.  What Quade did in part of August and all of September was prove he could handle being the leader.  Once that was established he was clearly a better hire than Sandberg, who has an eighth of Quade’s coaching experience.  Unless Ryne was going to use his Gold Gloves and Hall of Fame plaque to trip baserunners on the other teams, how good a player he was is irrelevant to how good he’d be as a manager.

It’s a shame Hendry allowed the franchise icon to leave for a job managing Triple-A team, and there’s no doubt the Cubs would be generating more buzz if they had Sandberg in charge (or even if Sandberg was on Quade’s coaching staff, which is a role he would have accepted).

I don’t understand why anybody cares what triple-A team Sandberg is managing.  The Cubs didn’t put him on a sex offender list, they picked somebody else to manage their team.  That fact that in an offseason with 11 managerial openings, that Sandberg only interviewed for the one with the Cubs shows that he’s just not a hot commodity as a managerial candidate yet.  Get over it.

Support for Sandberg shouldn’t be taken as a knock on Quade.

Phil, nobody really cares who you support.

I just want to see Hall of Famers remain in the game and thought Sandberg had earned the benefit of the doubt working his way up the ladder as a minor-league manager.

In 2007 and 2008 he managed at Class A Peoria, and then the Cubs promoted him (worked him up the ladder) to AA Tennessee, after one year they promoted him to Iowa.  They told him he could come back to Iowa this year.  What part of working your way up don’t you understand?

But Quade is the kind of guy anyone would want to see succeed. He has paid his dues for 30 years and only recently began to get big rewards.

Seriously, why did this sentence start with “But?”  Can Phil ever write a complimentary sentence about Quade without starting it with but?

Quade knows his team has huge question marks but he likes a lot of what he has seen this spring, especially the approach of Ramirez and other veterans in the lineup.

Nobody’s been happier than E-ramis.  He normally just sits in the clubhouse listening to his iPod and falls asleep.  But this spring?  Totally different.  This spring, he’s sitting in the clubhouse, listening to his iPod and sleeping with a smile on his face!  Progress!  The Quade Effect!

“A number of guys are already looking locked in, and that’s encouraging,” he said. “… We have played better baseball since the first three or four days, which were ugly.”

See the secret?  Play bad, keep it up until people stop paying attention, then play medicore.  Everybody’s happy!  Never fails.

The Cubs are going to have ugly days, as their pitching staff is too thin to give them a decent chance to compete, even in an NL Central watered down by injuries to Adam Wainwright and Zack “Mr. Basketball” Greinke. It’s no shock that they are giving up more than six runs per game, the most in the majors. It’s a middle-heavy staff.

Their pitching staff has three pretty good starters, and an impressive back end of the bullpen.  It’s no thinner than the Brewers or Cardinals, and it’s better than their offense is.  Hell, it’s most of what they have going for them…which is scary.

And Phil cost me a bet.  I was sure he was going to refer to Grienke as “shortrib.”

But like Cyndi Lauper says, if you want to rock and roll, you have to let your freak flag fly. And sometimes — like peace — you have to give Quade a chance.

Oh, so many things wrong with that:

  • He couldn’t find anybody less relevant than Cyndi Lauper?  Edie Brickell?  What about Chaka Khan?  I would think that Carole King would be more Phil’s speed.
  • Has Cyndi ever said “If you want to rock and roll, let your freak flag fly?”  Has anybody ever said that?
  • Did he try to work in a John Lennon reference at the end?
  • Why doesn’t Major League Baseball drug test the sports writers?
  • When Phil dies, somebody has to send his brain to Chris Nowinski, there’s no way it hasn’t caved in on one side.

Honestly, what was this column actually about?  It started off that the Cubs were bad and had no pressure on them so they’re all happy.  Then, the E-ramis-Silva shove “fight” was a good thing.  Then he complained again that Ryne Sandberg isn’t the manager.  Then he made a left turn to use a terribly unclever Zack Greinke nickname joke.  Then he broke out the Cyndi Lauper misquote.

Guys, think how lucky we are to be living in a world where Phil Rogers is educating much of Chicago’s baseball fanbase.