When Tigers pitcher Armando Gallaraga* lost his perfect game to Jim Joyce’s blown call at first base in 2010, he had a sympathiser from baseball’s not too distant past. Milt Pappas’s cell phone blew up, Pappas having lost a perfect game in the ninth on a ball call.
Call it rumours, call it speculation, call it wishful thinking, call it a cursebuster’s wet dream. Call it what you will, but Theo Epstein, the man who co-negotiated the Boston Red Sox’s rise from tragical mystery tours to stupefying world championships, and twice in a four-season span at that, is going to have his crack at co-negotiating the Chicago Cubs from a century plus of calamity and failure to a Promised Land they haven’t seen since the Roosevelt Administration. (Theodore, that is.)
It’s difficult to think of any franchise in recent history that canned its general manager officially but asked him not to leave for almost a month. The Chicago Cubs wanted Jim Hendry to hang around long enough to run the club’s draft and get their draftees signed, but they didn’t want him making any significant moves approaching the non-waiver trade deadilne.
Figure it out if you can: The Cubs couldn’t bear to trust Hendry with the team’s present any longer, but they were willing to trust him once more with the team’s future. Had this been any other franchise—even the formerly snake-bitten Boston Red Sox, prior to the John Henry-Theo Epstein regime—you’d be shaking your heads and reaching for the bourbon bottle.
How often is a professional athlete entitled (and, yes, some people believe they are) to yet another bye, or at worst a wrist slap, for behaviour that would be deemed intolerably terminal regarding any other job?
How often does a field boss grin and bear it, before he is either backed by his superiors in taking a stand against such miscreance or left to twist while offering feeble critiques that nobody will take seriously because the miscreant will yet be welcomed back, for some perverse reason?