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Thoughts on Soriano and the line drive "controversy"

Thoughts on Soriano and the line drive "controversy"

It seems that no player has caught the brunt of the frustration from the media and fans more than Alfonso Soriano.  Of course, we're all fans, but I'm referring to the ones who say, "I bought my tickets, I can boo when I want to".  That's fair enough.  When we buy something, we expect to get what we perceive as good value in return.  It's the perception that I have a problem with because I think it's often misguided.  Much of that misguiding is done by the media. Not all of it.   I'm talking about those who would appeal to emotion rather than rational thought because they know they can get an immediate reaction, either by pandering to frustrated, emotional readers or by drawing the ire of those readers who actually take the time to think things through.

All it takes is a well-placed sound byte, taken out of context, and a conveniently simple interpretation...and voila!  You have an instant firestorm of reaction and the mass influx of listeners and/or readership that goes with it.  I have nothing against that.  These outlets need to make money.  But let's not confuse it with the truth or good analysis.

I think I'm spoiled as a writer because I can write rationally about these things and I can expect a rational reaction from our great contributors -- although it's not necessarily the same reaction that I have.  We often agree, but we also disagree (and I expect some disagreemet with this article), but we do it with civil discourse,  and not some sort of knee-jerk reaction.  For that, I consider myself very lucky.

With all that being said, here are my thoughts on the Alfonso Soriano line drive, the one he didn't "hustle" out into a hit.

This "controversy" had me perplexed.  Has anyone who has played baseball on any level ever run out a hard line drive directly into the fielder's glove?  I cannot remember a single instance, even in little league, where a guy keeps running to 1B if he thinks the line drive was caught.  There's no putting your head down and running blindly to 1B, you see the ball travel as you finish the follow through on your swing, and on a hard line drive, it often reaches the fielder's glove before you're out of the box -- then you stop running if you believe it's been caught.  Everybody does it.  We only start running when we see that the fielder has somehow dropped it and by then it's often too late.

"It's one of those things where 100 percent of every player in the history of baseball would do the same thing," manager Dale Sveum said.

Reed Johnson, who is renowned as a hustler, the anti-Soriano for some, a lunch pail guy who makes somewhere near the minimum with the perception that he hustles out every play, defended it as well...

I wouldn’t say 99 percent, I’d say pretty much everybody in this clubhouse would approach that play the same way Sori did. The ball hits in the guy’s glove and rattles around, and right as you hit that line drive, you’re almost expecting it to get caught.

They're right.

So on the way home from a Father's Day gathering yesterday, I'm listening to WGN on the radio and the hosts of a show called "Sports Central". The hosts were now conceding the fact that this was probably true, that runners don't typically run out line drives hit right at fielders.  But the damage has already been done and they aren't going to admit that they are wrong, of course.  Now, they have a problem with how Dale Sveum handled it.   Apart from the quote above, Sveum defended Alfonso Soriano as one of the hardest working players he has coached.  Reed Johnson did the same thing.

So now the hosts are claiming it was handled wrong because it had nothing to do with Soriano's work ethic.

Please.

That is the implication and they know it. The fans weren't booing as much as they did because Soriano didn't "hustle" out one particular play. If Soriano was a player who was perceived as a gritty hustler like  Reed Johnson, who has said he would have done the same thing Soriano did, would this have created such an uproar? Absolutely not.  This was not about one play, this was about a long-held belief that Soriano took his money and has coasted ever since, a misperception guided by frustration over the team and over a bad contract.  A misperception, in fact, that the media itself helped create and perpetuate.

Similarly, I watched a game earlier this year where I was sitting right against the wall down the LF foul line.  I saw Soriano run to within just several feet of me to track down a double down the line.  He was in obvious pain as he did this.  But, of course, what do we hear from the stands? Some drunk fan who screams, "Hustle after it, you bum!"  It was a double.  He had no chance to hold him to a single based on where the ball was hit, the best he could do was cut the ball off and prevent the runner from getting beyond 2B, which is exactly what he did.  Did this fan make a fair judgment of Soriano here or do you think he already had some sort of pre-conceived notion of Soriano as a "lazy" ballplayer, or in his words, "a bum"?  I think the answer is obvious.

Soriano has his flaws.  He's too aggressive at the plate. His defense, for too many years, has hurt the team.  Injuries have reduced him to a one dimensional player (or two if you take into account his strong, accurate arm in the OF).  Frankly, he has not lived up to his contract from a statistical standpoint, nor has the team met expectations since he has arrived.

But he is not a "bum" who doesn't work hard or a guy his teammates don't admire and respect.

And it's about time that some fans and some of the media stop portraying him that way.

Filed under: Cubs

Tags: Alfonso Soriano

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  • I think if those fans at the game were true Cub fans, they wouldn't have boo'ed him because the situation now became a negative headline for Alfonso Soriano nationally which I believe can only hurt his chances of being traded...which the ultimate end goal for Cubs at this point in time for Alfonso.

  • In reply to apalifer:

    That's true too, but I think the play itself didn't deserve that sort of reaction from the media and fans. It was overblown, in my opinion.

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    Dear John,

    Thanks for the great articles, very much enjoying reading them! First time comment on here as well! I am in total agreement with you on this.......Soriano is PERCEIVED as a "lazy" ballplayer, and sadly, with many things, these days perception is reality......As a result, whether he hustles or not, unless the public perception of him changes, it may be difficult to stop those boos......would love to hear more of your thoughts.....thanks!

  • In reply to Kevin Campbell:

    Thanks Kevin! Glad you can join us and love the comment about perception becoming reality because it's something we all experience at one time or another. It's the world we live in. Soriano, unfortunately, has a perception that he just can't escape, even with his improved defense and more articles coming out recently about what a hard worker/great teammate he is.

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    I saw a quote from Dave McKay who said that before he came to the Cubs he also perceived Soriano as kind of iffy, hustle-wise. I think he is an unfortunate combination of a player who works very hard and one whose injuries and habits (watching homers) make him appear, to those who don't spend every day him in the clubhouse, like a "lazy bum."

    Sure, the reaction to this play was overblown, but who here wouldn't think that he was a lazy player except for the fact that we've read so many articles assuring us that he is not? Just from watching his on-field performance, he comes across pretty badly. It's only because I've heard so many teammate testimonials, and have read a lot about just how bad his knees are, that I understand why he comes off that way.

  • In reply to Eric Morris:

    You're an informed fan and I wish more fans were like that.

    Visual perception is often misleading and I think once fans have the perception that a player doesn't hustle, they continue to look for visual evidence that supports that belief at the cost of ignoring everything else. I think it becomes selective once the idea is ingrained.

    You can't just rely on what you see, you have to take in the whole picture, and that involves people being more informed and the media doing a better job of informing rather than appealing to whatever gets the strongest reaction.

  • Was it wrong to boo and did the media overreact? Yes and Yes. If I were at the game would I have booed? Maybe. I was at the Bartman game and got caught up in the emotion of it and chanted a**hole with the rest of the idiots. It is so easy to get caught up in the emotion of the rest of the fans while at a game. I think all fans overreact to the good and the bad when at a game. My soft clap in front of the TV turns into a thunderous scream at the ballpark. It's not so much if your friends jump off a bridge, it's just easy to get carried away. Then you leave the park, go home and think, "maybe I was a bit hard on Sori..."

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Great view from the fan's side...maybe I should have focused this piece more on the media who kept stoking the flames for their own benefit. They know better, both about Soriano as a person and what really happened on that play.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed. There is nothing worse than bad, self serving journalism. That's why we come to you and Tom for all things Cubs!

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Thanks BTC!

  • When you are at Wrigley, you don't get the benefit of watching something on replay. Also, when you are at Wrigley, you probably miss half of the game action because of various distractions.

    I'm pretty sure that nearly everyone that was booing didn't even realize it was a line drive. They probably assumed it was a grounder, or didn't think about it at all. All they saw was a misplayed ball, and then looked over to home plate to see Soriano still in the batters box, and then reflex took over to boo the "lazy overpaid Soriano". I didn't join them, but I didn't blame them either. In a split second, it is too difficult for fans to recognize what happened or clearly think about the situation. Soriano built his reputation by standing around in the batters box for too long watching fly balls drop. He's played much harder this year, but his rep is what it is now.

    What IS unacceptable is for sports radio and/or writers to pile on, when they had the benefit of time & replay to reasonably conclude that on THIS particular play, Soriano did what EVERYONE would have done.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Good points. It happens quickly and attention wavers, especially when a little alcohol is involved. You are also reacting to what the crowd is doing, so there are some social mechanisms at work too.

    Great last paragraph too.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Nice points Cubswin... I totally agree that: a) it wasn't a play that was worth booing, but b) it was natural in the heat of the moment to react that way. I think a key point that you make is that at least a little of the blame falls on Soriano for having helped create the perception that he's lazy. He's been notoriously shy about the brick wall, has had a fair number of doubles turned into singles because he's not running hard, and has stood to admire shots that he thought were HRs but weren't.

    I do feel bad for the guy for catching so much flak (esp. from the media as John and others rightly point out), but I think it needs to be acknowledged that he has helped create the negative perception of him though. Too bad because he seems to be a good guy.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Agreed. As with all things, even misperceptions there can be a nugget of truth in there somewhere. I guess what I object to is turning that nugget into Mt. Everest.

    No doubt Soriano has his flaws but they've been unfairly magnified at times.

  • "This "controversy" had me perplexed. Has anyone who has played baseball on any level ever run out a hard line drive directly into the fielder's glove?"

    Absolutely. When I played not running meant the bench. You run until the umpire calls you out.

    Cannot assume even the easiest pop up will get caught. Cannot assume a one hopper back to the pitcher is an out. I've seen popups dropped and pitchers throw the ball over the 1st baseman's head. You never know in baseball so you run.

    Is this the "just send the guy to 1st on an intentional walk" argument? No freakin' way because I've seen pitchers throw the ball over the catcher's head and pitches that get too close get hit. Rarely happens but it DOES happen.

    I saw Cabrera get a Little League homer a few days ago. He didn't run hard but he did run. Because he ran on a sure out (actually, there's no such thing) the Tigers got a gift run. Another perfect example of anything can happen.

    I would've yanked him out of the game. Pete Rose ran on walks. He has gotta be rolling over in his grave over such "run or not run" talk.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    I don't believe I've never seen it happen on a line drive hit right at someone, never seen it where a guy put his head down and just ran full speed all the way to first base. And I've followed baseball since I was a kid.

    The pause/hesitation is a natural instinct. The play looks like it's over and you stop. Watch players on line drives, you'll see it everytime. I'll bet even Pete Rose did it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You might not run full speed but you run.
    You run until the umpire calls you out.

    I never got yanked out of a game because there was no doubt that if you did what Soriano did you were done for the day. I know this because I saw it happen to a number of guys.

    It works. I don't recall a guy getting yanked twice.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    John, I love your site. By far my favorite cubs site. This is my first post on here.

    I completely agree that Soriano is unfairly characterized as a lazy player. Sveum and Reed Johnson's comments were appropriate in backing up Soriano as a hard worker.

    However I distinctly remember a play back in high school that was very similar to this one. One of our best players hit a liner right to an infielder. He immediately stopped and went back to the dugout. Our coach came over and took him out of the game for not running the ball out, all the way to first, and put me in. It may have been a bit harsh, but it definitely caught the attention of the entire team. His point was that you always hustle. You assume the fielder could make an error.

    I'm sure if you asked Theo, he would tell you that running every ball out, regardless of the situation is part of the Cubs way. A player's baseball instinct should be to run to first without stopping, not to stop when you think you might be out. It may only help you a small percentage of the time, but you don't hear a lot of bad things happening due to hustle.

    Sorry my first post was in slight disagreement with you. I have agreed many times! Keep up the good work!

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    In reply to eaton53:

    Is Pete Rose dead? Or does he just hang out in graveyards?

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I guess if he was actually dead he'd be in the HOF!

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Nicely played. That still burns me up about Ronny.

  • John I totally agree in your assesment of Soriano's "work ethic." I have a friend that works very closely with the players on the Cubs and he's been telling me for years that everyone in the club house loves Soriano and hated Aramis Ramirez. Fonzi is perceived by his peers as a hard worker and has been since he arrived in Chicago, while Ramirez was thought of as a total slacker. I bring this up because for some reason these 2 have been portrayed in the media as the same kind of player and it's always perplexed me. I know that Fonzi had a couple of instances where he thought he had a home run and kind of watched it instead of running it out after realzing it was only going to be a double. But those instances are few and far between. The main reason for the "Soriano haters" is because he was signed to be a MVP every year and hasn't even come close. I believe that's a result more of injuries then a poor work ethic.

  • In reply to irishivy75:

    Thanks irishivy for that perspective and that comparison. And I totally agree about the injury situation, and I also think the contract and unrealistic expectations have caused a lot of frustration. I guess the thought is, okay,well maybe you can't play as well, but at least show us that you're working hard for it.

    As a commenter pointed out above, that's not often easy to see with Soriano because of many factors, the biggest one being he plays in a lot of pain everyday.

  • Back in 1976, I was at a Cubs game where the wind was howling straight out. Rick Monday,a lefty, hit a seemingly foul ball over the roof down the left field line. But the wind caught it, and the ball dropped a few feet fair. Monday was still standing at the plate, and the crowd booed. He got a single instead of a double. And he was a popular player. That was also the game where Mike Schmidt hit 4 homers. So I believe you're right that something about being at the game you want you're monies worth. I didnt think anything of it watching Sorianos line drive on TV.

  • In reply to Fitz:

    Good point and great story...you guys are really on today. The comments today have really added a good, fresh perspective.

    It's a different feel when you're at the ballpark -- and I have to say I regret not taking that into account in my article.

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    Agreed, he should not have been booed for that particular play. Unfortunately (for Soriano), the Cubs didn't win the World Series in the first few years of this contract. His work ethic behind the scenes and the fact that he is a "good teammate" means nothing to most fans at this point. The Cubs completely stink this year and the fans (the smart ones at least) know that it is going to be a few years (maybe 4-5) until we see a contender. At that point Soriano won't be here, so why boo a guy that won't even be here once this team is turned around? They know the well documented details of his contract and they see him as a scape goat (no pun intended) so they boo the highest payed guy on the worst team in MLB. I'm inclined to think a lot of fans for other teams would find a similar guy on their team to boo as well. Another reason would be that the Cubs have failed to win since he was signed. I hope for him personally that people stop booing him, but everyone has their own way to express their disappointment in his contract. Although, it's not his fault the Cubs gave him so many millions/years on the deal. I choose to think of the future of this team without him and hope that comes sooner rather than later. He currently is the only source of power for this team, but again with a team that is not playing good baseball and is going no where fast. His time as a Cub (even though he was on 2 division winners and has batted wherever the team has asked him to bat) will be looked back on as a failure to most for the lack of a Championship and I can't totally blame them for coming to that conclusion.

  • In reply to Brian Szewczyk:

    Great stuff Brian...wow...just one great comment after another. We always have great contributors and comments here and today is definitely not an exception!

  • Lol. Reading this article was like deja vu. It sounded almost exactly like I did yesterday explaining my take on the "Soriano controversy". Thanks yet AGAIN John, for logic and common sense on this site. So refreshing and enjoyable to come here.

  • In reply to Bill:

    Thanks Bill!

  • I was sitting out in the LF bleachers on Saturday night and can say with pretty high certainty that most of the people booing had no idea what they were booing about. I heard a couple people talking about how Soriano didn't run to first base on a sharp grounder and one guy that tried to tell his friends that Soriano just stood there during a fly ball to LF after they returned from the restrooms. In that environment it didn't take long for the ridiculousness to break out.

    I've always liked Sori as a person and have learned to accept his many flaws. Over his time with the Cubs he's been part of the problem more than part of the solution, but there are many others to share the blame with...he's just the last man standing. It's not his fault that Hendry (or whoever) pulled the trigger on this albatross of a contract.

  • In reply to cowboy2024:

    Thanks cowboy!

    I forgot about the occasional madness of crowds :)

  • I was thinking if the cubs drafted Jeremy Martinez next year. If the prospects develope like almora, soler, beaz, lake and martinez. We could have a really good batting order.
    1.Almora OF
    2.Castro SS or 2B
    3. Beaz SS or 3B
    4. Soler OF
    5. Rizzo 1B or DH
    6. Martinez C
    7. Vitters/ Vogelbach/ Candelario/ DeVoss at DH
    8. Lake 2B or 3B
    9. B Jackson OF
    If the cubs would get some prospects from trades and draft pitchers in the second round we could find a gem and get an ace in free agency we can have and above average pitching to go with amazing bats.

  • In reply to Domnk S:

    I have some research on next year's draft, and I'll probably get to that at some point, but one thing I believe in is that the Cubs should take the best player available rather than fill a percieved gap at a certain position. I think the Cubs can do a lot worse than a Castillo/Clevenger combo.

    Martinez is a great player and he should be able to stay at catcher, which would be a huge asset, but I only want the Cubs taking him if he's the best player on the board when they pick.

  • Hi John

    Great work, as usual. We have seen how the media reports have affected Soriano's reputation with some fans in a negative way. There's not much that can be done to repair that image now. My concern is that the media nit picks on Castro. How might this affect this young, talented ballplayer? As you know, some fans are calling for Castro to be traded for an occasional "brain cramp." This kid is way too talented to be hammered by the media for every little misstep. We can thank Bobby Valentine for this.

  • In reply to AZBOB:

    Agreed, Bob. I think the next media scapegoat will be Starlin Castro. Not sure why they feel the need to tear down the most talented players and then laud the hustle of less talented players. We all like to see it, but the Cubs won't win on hustle alone, they need talent.

    It seems every Castro error or bad AB is talked about ad nauseum.

    We see it happen over and over again. And sometimes it starts with a single image, such as that Valentine stuff on Castro. The image of him turning his back on a play is still stuck in many fans minds rather than the hustle he shows on the field on just about every other play. I'm not lauding Castro for hustling. That's what he's supposed to do, but all it takes is one image or one sound byte to unfairly tarnish the reputation of a player. The media needs to be more responsible...instead they'll do whatever gets them the most attention. Few mainstream media writers had the courage to step up and say it was B.S.on Soriano and I don't think it will be much different with Castro, unfortunately. I can assure you we'll always give a rational perspective here.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I worry about the media negativity too. I was thinking about it Saturday when Castro netted a ball so far in the hole he was standing about 5 feet in the grass when he popped up and threw out the runner at 1st with a few feet to spare. He's something special and I hope fans don't turn on him when he starts making the big bucks. We will all have to remind everyone that the guy turned in All-Star baseball performances and got paid less than Jeff Baker for his first few seasons.....

  • In reply to AZBOB:

    And thanks for the kind words, by the way!

  • I have an issue with your poll. I find it annoying when people write polls and include information in the selections that can skew the results. You add the caveats, "regardless of where its hit" and "everyone else would do the same thing" and all of a sudden your influencing the way people will think. It makes the side you agree with seem more rational even though you should be polling people's opinions. Its like saying do you prefer "vanilla because its bland and boring" or "chocolate because its more flavorful".

    I vote that he should have run it out all the way, just like everyone *should* run it out (regardless of if they do). Do i think it was a big deal that he didn't run it out? No, because its a natural thing to do and in this case 99% of the time hes gonna be out regardless even if the ball was dropped.

    I wish he did run it out because now there is more negativity around him which might make a GM weary about trading for him because if it doesnt work out for the team, the fanbase will be all over the GM for not looking at the warning signs.

    I completely agree with you about Soriano as a player. He has always been known as a hard worker to everyone he played with. The problems he has are limited range due to aging and injuries and a bad eye at the plate. A good eye is nearly impossible to teach or practice, otherwise no baseball player would ever swing at a ball. running 5 more laps around the park wont make him any faster. What you see is all 100% of what Soriano can give at this point in his career.

    Isn't it funny that we're talking about Soriano and a dropped ball, yet Soriano is not the player that dropped the ball?!?

  • In reply to Andrew:

    I thought they were both positive...the first part was meant in the spirit of, "it doesn't matter where you hit it...you run it out. Period." But maybe that didn't come off right and perhaps it left too much open to interpretation. Maybe a simple yes or no next time :)

  • Soriano has been quilty in past years of lack of hustle, but not this year. Part of the problem recently(last year or so)has been his fragile knees. My son use to joke, that if he managed Soriano or Aramis Ramirez, he would fine them if he caught them hustling because every time that they did it would cause injury.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That's actually a good point to bring up. There were some who said the Cubs didn't want Soriano running out routine plays full bore because he had come off that injury and his bat was so valuable to the team at that time.

  • And that rational perspective is why all of your loyal followers read you on a regular basis. In another year or two this will be a very young team, and the negative media coverage may adversely affect one or more of the young Cubs. I'm just hoping that when Rizzo does make it up that he has a strong start, or else the media will be all over him, Theo, Jed, and anyone else in the Cubs organization.

  • In reply to AZBOB:

    Exactly. I hope he got his bad start out of the way last year in SD.

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    Wow, a DH is now going to be in effect in the National League. Who knew? lol

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Cubs could certainly use one!

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    John, I agree with you as far as not running out the line drive. You hit a ball right on the screws and about the time you finish following through, the ball is in a fielder's glove. He drops it, you can "false hustle" if you want, but bottom line, is you're still 90-feet away from home plate. Of course, fans that don't play simply see the ball dropped, look at Sori and he's in a trot 5-feet out of the box. One person starts booing, others join in.
    I will disagree with you on Soriano's reputation for not hustling. He earned that with fans earlier in his times with the Cubs watching the ball instead of running hard out of the box. Cubs fans were frustrated watching a high payroll team not play hard, while watching rookies and you players be disciplined. It was seemingly the culture.
    At the same time, because of the media we do know that Soriano works hard when the fans don't see because of the quotes from teammates to that effect.

  • Fair enough, Darren. The Soriano work ethic doesn't pass the eye test on the field, but watching HRs isn't exclusive to Soriano, Cubs players , or overpaid players. That said, I'm not a fan of that either as I think you do it more for yourself than the team.

  • I knew that when Joe "no sensational aspect I can't beat like a dead horse" Buck started beating the Soriano isn't hustling drum that this was going to be kind of a mini-nightmare. What kills me is a lot of people aren't making this a referendum on Soriano but more of a comment on Svuem and how Svuem is trying to "maintain his trade value"- which is utter nonsense. the truth is Svuem has been consistent in his praise for Soriano. In April when he wasn't hitting, Svuem said he's working hard and he'll eventually hit. When he ht a game winning run in May, Svuem said " Soriano is doing everything asked of him and has been great." He's praised him ALL YEAR. So when he defended what is clearly a bang bang plan, it is consistent with EVERYTHING he said about Soriano this year. Hell two measley days ago, TWO MEASLEY DAYS AGO, Soriano ran his ass off to catch a ball in center field that Campana lost in the lights. But did Soriano get any credit for "busting his ass" or "Showing the fire and the passion" that we love to throw around? No. Everyone just lays in the weeds and waits for the first hint of so called "laziness". and then cries that this is the real Soriano.

    Soriano is the lone representative of the vitriol from the failed 2007-2008 Cubs, the most expensive, most talented Cubs team to not win. The trio of Ramirez, Zambrano, and Soriano has been dwindled to just Sori. And he just takes it and takes it. Well he had a point. If it was a grounder, the fans would have been in the right, but it was a liner in the glove. BAM BAM...

    But this is the Talk Radio- BooYah network era we live in. And for every sane Arguello-Loxas oasis there's an equally repulsive Score show or another blog that would rather shoe horn everything into their pre determined narrative than look at what happens and the comment on it. Ahh, c'est la vie.

    Personally, the only thing for me that's controversial about Soriano is whether he should be on the all-star team.

  • In reply to felzz:

    As always, a well-thought out, yet passionate response from Felzzy!

  • In reply to felzz:

    Well said Felzz.

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    I don't know how bad Soriano's knees are. I also know that nobody put a gun to his head and forced him to sign that contract. I travel a lot, and fans of other teams think more highly of Soriano than Cubs fans do. Look, fans should take business out of their perspective. When we were kids, we never cared how much players made. That is a ball clubs decision, and I know it affects ticket prices and ballpark concession/entertainment costs. But those costs are never going down and for the most part, ticket prices in other cities rise in commensurate correlation with league averages. For the most part. Take Soriano's salary out of the equation and he is very deserved of being one of 8 offensive starters on this team. He's not blocking Brett Jackson. Brett Jackson is nowhere near ready with that K/AB rate. Fans should lay off Soriano and spew all the venom at Sam Zell. He signed Soriano and he never had to fully honor that contract.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Agreed, Michael. Salary really has become a huge issue these days on how fans choose to perceive players. But really, every team is doing it and all ticket prices are high. The only thing that matters is getting talent on the field and sometimes that costs money...not that it was a good contract, it was awful, but I suspect all would have forgiven if the Cubs played better in the postseason in 2007 and 2008.

    I remember people not being very happy during the McPhail era when the Cubs never pursued top FAs. They always went bargain hunting. They sold us Sosa and Grace and a whole lot of marketing BS. It seems either way you'll have unhappy fans, so the FO has to do what it thinks is best for the team.

    By the way, I wouldn't have needed a gun pointed to my head to sign that kind of contract either :)

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    Great article, John! My take on this topic is that the flack Soriano or Castro are getting in the media and from fans is due to the Cubs history. If this was an organization that rewarded fans from time to time with a winner on the field we wouldn't read most of this stuff. Every nationally broadcast game begins with a history lesson on the team's futility over 100 years. This kind of sets the tone for repeated analysis and speculation on why they can't/don't win. Broadcasters, print media, and fans alike then put everything and everyone under the microscope to lend credence to their personal opinions.
    I have always been impressed not with Soriano's play, but with how he never fires back at fans and media and how he always holds his head high and carries himself like a pro in the face of extreme adversity, especially during his time in Chicago. To me, he is the best mentor for Castro.
    I worry about Castro because for all his talent and growing pains, he may become soured on Chicago if the negative scrutiny continues until the team begins to win. Orel Hershiser pointed out that this is a kid you build around, not trade for more "prospects". Only a handful of players in MLB history have done what Castro has and yet all the media focuses on is the random negatives in his game. I can only hope that Soriano has taught Castro to never read about the Cubs!

  • In reply to Kevin Twomey:

    Couldn't agree more on Castro. We nitpick everything he does wrong. He doesn't walk enough, he doesnt take enough pitching, he makes too many errors.

    But you know what? Overall, he's an outstanding fielder, both by Theo's own words and by advanced defensive metrics. His pitches per plate appearance is about 3.51, I believe, which is slightly lower than Rizzo's mark of 3.59. Yet we all laud Rizzo for his patient, grind it out approach. Castro makes more contact than Rizzo does, so he's more likely to hit one of those pitches.

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    Great article John, and so true on so many different levels.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thanks Michael.

  • Since Soriano came to the Cubs, he has averaged about 26 homers, an .811 OPS, has collected 720 hits (45% of those for extra bases). His defense is where he suffers, due to bad injuries. I will be surprised if someone doesn't pick him up. I agree that his contract has everything to do with the argument here. If he were playing for the major league minimum, people would love him.

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    John, I agree with your thoughts here when it comes to the media causes a good deal of the negatives when it comes to Soriano. He is not the first player they have done it with and I don't think it will be the last. Usually the player is of a dark complexion, and usually it's Dave Kaplan who starts his madness to get him out of town. It is why I seldom watch any pregame shows on CSN or read much of their material. Nor do I follow many of them on twitter. He did is with Big Z already this year, and he's already started it with Starlin Castro. Kaplan makes his living instigating drama like this, and whether or not it's true really makes no difference. He really needs to be taken down a peg himself.

  • The first thing that popped into my head after reading this article was something John wrote this winter, which I think was entitled "Do you hate Soriano or his contract". Unfortunately, most fans equate the person with the contract, and they really hate the contract.

    I don't get to watch many Cubs games, but I had a chance on Thursday. First (or second) inning, a double into the LF corner, and it was clear to me from even the brief glimpse I saw of Sori that he was really laboring. My knees aren't the best anymore, so I know the effort it must take for Sori to do what he does.

    There are many good comments here, and I agree with many of them. Sori the person or player is not the problem. If only Cubs management had not tacked on the two extra years to Hendry's original offer, then he would already be in the AL. Unfortunately, they did, and this is what has come to pass.

  • Dempster to the DL with "lat tightness". Could not be worse timing. Ruined my day.

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    In reply to cowboy2024:

    That sucks.

  • When the Castro thing happened I said I would've yanked him out of the game as well.

    So... I'm consistant in my opinion of what should happen when guys don't run. There should be accountability and consequences when you don't play the game the right way.

    IMO, that way is run everything out.

    Not running is actually kind of a pet peeve of mine. Pitchers standing there and getting beat to 1st is another. So is not throwing to 2nd and missing the cutoff man.

    I guess I have quite a few peeves.

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    The last time the Cubs were in a playoff race, you never heard boos and sportwriters wrote about how the Cubs were winning.

    Now the Cubs are 22-44 everyone is frustrated. The fans, the sportswriters, even the players. There's nothing to look at short term except another loss, another blown save, another non-hustle play!

    There are very few positives surrounding this team, hence too many are focusing on the negatives. Rightly or wrongly, it's human nature, especially for guys who depend on folks reading their stuff every day to make a living. When there's so few positives to talk about, folks tend to dwell on the negatives.

    Thats why I come here to see what John and Tom and all the great folks who add to this blog with their insights and mostly far-sighted comments.

    When the Cubs are 44-22, in a year or so, most of the bad press, and booing will disappear. Just my opinion

  • I agree with everyone hear, a media driven story if there ever one was one. All sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  • Just terrible news on Dempster. At this point, anyone else think he stays and draws a qualifying offer from the Cubs during the offseason?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Seems like a minor injury. Some thought to Cubs protecting his trade value.

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    Interesting Cubs lineup tonight:

    DeJesus CF

    Castro SS

    LaHair RF

    Soriano DH

    Clevenger 1B

    Barney 2B

    Valbuena 3B

    Soto C

    Campana LF

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Just put a post on that along with Dempster to the DL.

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    Sounds like Rizzo might be up in a few days

  • In reply to Henry Wilfong:

    Sounds like they're getting ready.

  • Totally agree that this has been overblown John. I think the most just about anyone would've done is take a handful of steps out of the box once he saw the ball dropped. One thing this reminds me of is the way people like Kaplan would constantly get on Ramirez for not hustling while a lesser "hustle player" like Theriot could get away with running the bases like a chicken with its head cut off.

    Another thing this reminds me of is the whole "Jay Cutler lacks toughness" fiasco after that NFC title game loss. In many ways, this is a monkey-see, monkey-do media (some fans are guilty of this as well), and the way that so many people piled on Cutler after that game was just ridiculous. He got sacked a zillion times and always got up and never complained, but because of his body language, etc., people looked for reasons to dislike him, and after that game, the haters were more than happy to pounce.

    Of course, the contract has a lot to do with this as well. Case in point, the huge deal that former Hawks defenseman Brian Campbell signed a few years ago. He was criticized a lot because for the money he got paid, people expected him to be Paul Coffey, and he never could live up to those expectations. Campbell was a good player though, and the Hawks really missed him last season. We saw how much the Bears missed Cutler after his thumb injury last year.

    The reactionary nature of some media today is sad, but thankfully there are places like this where most people have informed, rational opinions.

  • In reply to Ricardo:

    Good points Ricardo and I like the comparisons with other players in other sports.

  • Players with holes in there game will eventually be criticised for it. This is especially true if it is something that is within their control. Young players get a break, but veterans can forget it. The day will come when Castro wil not get a pass from the many of his fans that overlook mind set errors today.

  • Soriano has always had the brain fart of *watching the damn ball* too much and not hustling enough. He's turned triples into doubles and doubles into singles his whole career. Did he turn an error into an out this time? Probably not because he likely would have been thrown out anyway. But if he put his head down and ran as soon as he saw the 3b start juggling the ball... who knows? What wrankles people, especially now with so many peeps struggling to even pay the bills, is that a HUNDRED MILLIONAIRE can't be arsed to hustle on the basepaths and instead runs non-chalantly like he doesn't give a shit.

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