Monthly Archives: September 2010

A Lower Cubs Payroll: I Don’t Even Want to Look

When a loud crash at your door sends you running to find this, trust me, you’re not glad you looked.

You know that feeling you get when you’re resting comfortably at home and a loud and/or unexpected noise shatters the silence? That jolt of adrenaline followed by a downward tug on your pancreas? When you have kids, that sound is often a dull thud; you freeze in the deafening quiet that follows, waiting to hear if a shriek of pain or some kind of tortured sobs will come next . . . you hope for just a controlled “Ouch!” You’re scared to know what made the noise, but it’s your duty to go check on the safety of your offspring.

In other instances, say in the middle of the night, it’s just some kind of knock or far-off crash that is probably the wind, but that’s not a good enough explanation. My wife insists it never is. I have to go check it out and see what the cause is. My default answer is “car door,” but it’s never satisfactory until I have done a quick survey of the house, made sure the kids are still in bed, and fend off any possible intruders who have clumsily made their presence known. Again, it’s my responsibility to check it out, but honestly, I don’t want to know what made the noise. If it really is a burglar, what am I going to do? Grab a knife? The gun I don’t own? A flyswatter or some Lemon Pledge? I’d probably just tell him or her, “Hey, could you wrap it up and get out? My wife is expecting the ‘all clear’ and I want to be able to pass this off as a car door slamming. That can’t happen if you keep banging around.” I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t want to know. All things considered, I’d rather not investigate the noise.

One Sunday morning I had no choice, because it was one of those sounds you just can’t ignore, as much as I wanted to: a loud, sharp bang followed by the unmistakable melody of glass smashing into smithereens. It was the day before the night before Christmas, actually. I ran down to the front door to see what was the matter, and I saw that a storm caused my storm door to shatter. I’ll stop rhyming and get to the point. When I solved the mystery behind the noise, there was nothing I could do. Snow was packed up on the outside of the door, and any adjustment from the inside was sure to dislodge the glass trapped between the outer screen and the lower, unbroken pane inside. So I just left it. Until March, actually. It stayed pretty crappy outside for a long time, and I just didn’t have the time to deal with that mess. We had other doors we could exit through.

As it turned out, and as it very often does, that scary noise didn’t actually require the attention one’s instincts tend to ascribe to it. Such startling sounds might be worth a look occasionally and demand a response every now and then, but a lot of the time it’s just not worth the investigation. Even if it is something significant, there’s probably not much I can do about it.


That’s how I would describe my reaction to last week’s comments from Tom Ricketts as recorded, among other places, in Crain’s ChicagoBusiness.The obvious one, sticking out like a sore, underpaid thumb, was his answer to the question about the reduction of payroll:

It hasn’t been finalized for next year. Off the top of my head, I’d say it will be a little lower than this year. We haven’t made any decision on that yet. But once again, it’s not about the level of payroll. It’s more about what you’re getting for the dollars you spend.

*Glass shatters*

We’re being told the Cubs have every intention of competing next year. Ricketts assures us 2011 will not be part of a rebuilding (read: losing with purpose) year. And to bring about winning, the Cubs will cut spending. I’m sure Republicans everywhere agree with this plan, but I just don’t see it working well. Still, there’s no point in attending to the sound of crashing payroll. There’s no sense in running to investigate the plans of the front office. I’m pretty sure when I do, I won’t like what I see.

But maybe I could just take a look. Maybe I should read this Wall Street Journal article about 2010 being the year when the correlation between spending and winning was all but erased. It’s an interesting article. Even has a quote from Tom Ricketts. I recommend you read it, especially this part:

According to estimated payroll figures updated throughout the season, the correlation between a team’s player payroll and its winning percentage is 0.14, a number that makes the relationship almost statistically irrelevant. That figure is 67% below last year’s mark and is easily the lowest since the strike.

This outcome represents a stark reversal from the state of affairs a decade ago. In 1998, the correlation between payrolls and wins was 0.71, a figure that suggests a strong and significant tie. And in the 1999 season, when the correlation was 0.5, all eight teams that reached baseball’s playoffs were among the 10 top spenders.

I could go running to see if maybe this was a happy noise. Maybe Santa brought a brand new fun Bag o’ Glass for us to play with. Maybe it’s the sound of plummeting ticket prices, skyrocketing ad revenue, or the jingling parts in a do-it-yourself World Series Trophy just waiting in a box on Wrigley’s doorstep. But excuse me if I don’t run to see if maybe there’s a chance the Cubs could spend their money more wisely and potently.

We know where the money is going. We know that the Cubs had a significant hand in throwing off the correlation between dollars and wins. We know that the cheapest way to upgrade a team is through homegrown talent (or by trading your expensive veterans for someone else’s homegrown talent). We know if we go scrambling to the front door to see if there’s any of that waiting for us, all we’re going to see is, more or less, the same jagged pieces of Cub we’ve been watching all year. There just isn’t much point in looking into this further. We know it’s going to be bad. The only discovery we’re likely to make is that we’ll learn it’s much, much worse.

The Cubs could get lucky. Something good could happen. Things could just go our way next year. Let me know if it does. I’ll be lying comfortably in my bed, trusting that the noise I hear is just confirmation of my gloomiest suspicions.

September 29, 2010 question – Hump (back) Day

It’s Wednesday. Hump day. The day everyone realizes the week is half over and they should probably get to work. Excuse me for interrupting. But before I leave you to the sweet relief that Friday is near and the shocking realization that the end of your to-do list is not, please take a moment to appreciate this bit of random knowledge that won’t help you in the least.

Today’s Question
The Animal Kingdom . . . no, wait, Movies


In what film do two humpback whales named George and Gracie travel into the future and save the world?

Previous Answer
And the People Who Knew It


Steve J ( the J stands for Joad Family) and Karen M (the M stands for Make My Salad A César) knew that César Chávez founded United Farm Workers of America. Their trivial reign may never end, because who knows when the next question will go out. Congrats!

Why I Hope the Padres Win It All

Adrian Gonzalez, you are more than welcome to call Wrigley home.

This is just weird. Adrian Gonzalez is under contract with the San Diego Padres. The Padres have a club option they would be insane not to exercise to keep their Petco-conquering first baseman for 2011 at the ridiculously low price of $5.8 million. He’s in the thick of a pennant race that could see his out-of-nowhere Padres in danger of returning to Nowheresville but well within reach of postseason glory.

They’re one game behind San Francisco in the West. They’re a half game behind Atlanta in the wildcard. But Adrian Gonzalez had his mind on the Cubs when Gordon Wittenmyer followed the Cubs into town.

I doubt Gonzalez brought it up. But the extent to which he waxed eloquent on the appeal of hitting at Wrigley and playing in Chicago (because playing in front of fans has proved to be of great import recently) went well beyond the norm for non-free-agents in pennant races. Here are all of his quotes from the article snipped together in succession:

There’s definitely a lot of positives about Chicago that if they made an offer, I would be interested in it. . . . Chicago’s a great town, and they have great fans, and I like the fact that it’s a small ballpark. I know the wind can play against you, but it can play for you, too. There’s definitely some positives. And my wife loves Chicago, for the shopping. . . . Castro looks good. He looks like he’s got energy, and a good swing. . . . I know he got hurt, but Tyler Colvin is a guy that’s going to be productive every year. He swings the bat well. . . . Marmol — obviously, their closer’s good. . . . I don’t know what the status of Aramis is, but he’s one of the top third basemen when he’s healthy. They definitely have some good pieces. It’s just a matter of making that right move or drafting that right guy.

That’s a mouthful, but a moot one at this point. The Padres would be fools to relinquish one of the greatest bargains in all of baseball at one of its most important offensive positions . . . or would they?


I’m not going to pretend I know the intentions of the Padres front office, but I do know what happened the last time a small-market, low-budget team with a can’t-miss first baseman and a cavernous home park broke open the champagne at the end of October: they dealt him to the Cubs for Hee Seop Choi.

One year of Adrian Gonzalez is a pretty significant bargaining chip for the San Diego Padres. He doesn’t have a no-trade clause. If he doesn’t re-sign, he’ll be a definite type-A free agent. He’s really, really good at baseball. If the Padres fall short in 2010, there’s very little reason to think they can’t compete in 2011. I can see them hanging on to Gonzalez and giving it another run next year.

But if they win it all, their plans could change significantly. Once their appetite for championships is satiated, they might be much more likely to reshuffle and shop for longterm value. Would you like a Tyler Colvin? An Andrew Cashner? A Josh Vitters? A Starli . . . no, not him. I don’t know who the Padres would be interested in, but I do think the teams Gonzalez is most interested in playing for longterm would be willing to give up the most to get him. I’d also be willing to bet that a World Series title would put the Padres in the mood to deal.

Go Padres.

Rays in the Forest: Popular vs. Good

Take it from a Cubs fan, David: even 40,000 fans can’t drown out embarrassment.

If Evan Longoria hits a 3-run homer in a forest, but no one is around to see it, did it really happen? Somewhere else in Florida there’s a guy named Steve who would answer in the absolute affirmative, but Longoria himself and his teammate David Price aren’t so sure.

Longoria told reporters that the sparse crowd of 12,446 at Tropicana Field, on a night when the Rays had a chance to clinch a spot in the postseason, was embarrassing and disheartening. As shown above, Price shared the sentiment on Twitter, where it has been publicized to exponentially more people than the number who witnessed the best team in baseball getting shutout by the Orioles.

The embarrassment of the Rays seems like some strange Prince and the Pauper allusion when compared to that of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have the fans, the fame, and the Fortune 500 owner*, but the Rays have something the Cubs wouldn’t mind trading places to experience: 93 wins and a magic number of 1** . . . and a little less pressure from the media and fans.

So which is more desirable: being popular or being good?
Cubs fans have made strong loud cases on both sides of that debate, even if they didn’t realize they were doing so. I’ve heard some argue that any Cubs fan who doesn’t value winning above any other priority such as the preservation of Wrigley Field is not a true fan at all. In essence, if a decision that leads to winning turns away fans, so be it. But others take pride in the ever-spinning turnstiles at Wrigley no matter the result. They’d rather cram the bleachers to watch the Cubs spiral down the drain of the trough that is the NL Central than suffer the indignity of drawing sub-20,000 crowds the way first-place pennant-chasing Reds and Rays have.

It’s an easy question, though, right? If you had the choice of the Cubs being popular and good, you’d pick good every time, and you really wouldn’t have to think about it very long. But think about it some more.

Given this fan base, it’s an impossible hypothetical to imagine the Cubs attracting such a minuscule audience for a postseason-clinching home game. Say what you want about the economy and the Trop, unemployed Cubs fans would flock to Tampa by the thousands if it meant they could see their beloved Cubbies clinch the postseason, even if all the stadium seats were replaced with inverted railroad spikes and the seventh inning stretch was conducted by Hurricane Wilma.

But let’s just imagine a Bizarro world in which the Cubs are awesome and their fans couldn’t care less. Would you trade the current situation for that one? The Cubs win the World Series, and when you show up to work the next day with a hangover, no one in your office has any idea what you’re so happy about. The victory parade on a Friday afternoon on the Dan Ryan to create the illusion of public interest. Remember in 1998 when the Chicago Fire won the MLS Cup and the US Open Cup? Yeah, me neither. Imagine the Cubs’ next championship garnering that kind of fanfare and carrying that kind of legacy.

I’m not saying the Rays have it that bad, but winning isn’t all that great when no one cares. Look at those comments. David Price and Evan freaking Longoria, two of the best players on the best team in all the land, were embarrassed to play a baseball game in front of his home crowd because it barely constituted a crowd. The line at a Wrigley ladies’ room reaches 12,000 on a bad day, so don’t tell me there’s a reasonable excuse for a team that good on a night of that importance having attendance that bad.

This isn’t an indictment of Rays fans. I don’t really care if they go to the game or not. My point is that the players do care. Maybe it has little effect on the outcome of the game or the overall direction of the season, but attendance and fan support obviously mean a great deal to gifted, good-looking athletes with several million other reasons to be happy. So it’s a mistake to disregard the significance of attendance.

I also don’t want to just assume last night’s attendance was representative of the drawing power of the Rays in general, so here’s a look at MLB teams sorted by attendance per game with payrolls thrown in there to illustrate the impact of attendance a bit further.

So the Rays draw an average of almost 23,000 fans. That sucks. Blame marketing, pricing, or whatever you want, that sucks. They’re the best team in baseball. For business it’s probably not a big deal at all, because the Rays probably break even on payroll just from revenue sharing. But for the players, and for the image of MLB in general, it is, as Longoria put it, disheartening.
All I have to say is, welcome to life. We live in a world where Taylor Swift wins Grammys, Shania Twain is the top-selling female recording artist of all time, and no one knows who Patty Griffin (unless they hear her mentioned when an American Idol contestant or a Dixie Chick covers her songs). 

We live in a world where a post filled with pictures of Erin Andrews will draw more clicks from sports fans than a post about . . . sports. Teases, scandals, baseless accusations, blog wars, cliches, speculation, and controversy—far more than content—generate the real traffic. In our culture, Leno gets a promotion while Conan packs his bags to cable. The intersection of good and popular is a slim sliver on the Venn diagram of American consumption. Whether you’re a snob or you’re slumming it, you know this is true. Some of the finest people you know are single and some of the most irritating are married and procreating. You know this.

It’s true in life, and it’s true in baseball. It will always be true. But I hope David Price and Evan Longoria also understand: if your happiness depends on what people think, you’re on the wrong planet. Focus on doing your best, appreciate the people who value that most, and don’t ever be embarrassed by empty seats. It’s an insult to truly embarrassing baseball.

*TD Ameritrade is ranked 746, but I’m an alliteration junkie, so cut me some slack.
**For the wildcard. For the division, they’re magic number is 6 heading into play today.

September 28, 2010 question – Mr. Snark Goes to Washington

A guy with a sense of humor, or any sense for that matter, has no place in Washington.
Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Stephen Colbert makes a pretty decent living making fun of politicians, but apparently they don’t like it when he shows up at their workplace to do it. When the crown prince of Comedy Central appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, its chairman, Rep. John Conyers D-Mich, asked the comic to submit his written statement and leave so that people who actually knew what they were talking about could take the floor. “I don’t have a problem with a little levity, but you have no expertise in the matters we’re most concerned about,” Conyers chided. “Your style of comedy draws attention only to yourself and away from the very serious topic of . . . um . . . whatever it is we’re supposed to be talking about.”

Today’s Question
Labor Unions
Who founded the United Farm Workers of America?

Yesterday’s Answer
And the People Who Knew It
Cap’n Crunch’s first name is Horatio. It says so on the Limited Edition Collector Card on the back of my throwback cereal box. Eat that, America. Seriously, it stays crunchy in milk and is delicious.

September 27, 2010 question – Welcome Back

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not me.

I know what you’re thinking: Adam stopped sending trivia because he doesn’t like me. It’s personal. He doesn’t care. He’s got more important things to worry about. He’s also a slacker, an ingrate, a sociopath, a bad dancer, a heretic, an Elton John impersonator, one of the people who got confused by the butterfly ballot, the one who let the dogs out, stinky, selfish, and also not much good. 


Well I’m writing today to tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that several of those things are debatable. But the real reason trivia has come to be more of a semiannual affair instead of a daily one is that you people know everything. In the infotainment age, it became almost impossible for me to come up with any questions you didn’t know. So, like Willy Wonka withdrawing into his subterranean Oompa-Loompan sweatshop to perfect his ideas,  I have secluded myself in the bowels of the trivia monster to . . . wait, that’s gross. I have sequestered myself in the nether regions of knowledge to create the . . . okay, also gross. I’m in my basement trying to do better, okay? Here’s the question.

Today’s Question
Breakfast Cereal
What is Cap’n Crunch’s first name?
Previous Answer
And the People Who Knew It

The only Sesame Street muppet with five fingers is Cookie Monster. Nobody knew it. Wait, Adam, doesn’t that make everything you said above just a horrendous lie? Also, I knew it! Okay, let’s not analyze the situation to death. Let’s just let trivia be trivia, you dig? And sure, you knew it, but I don’t want to make the others feel bad. It will spoil the trivia renaissance.

What Was Ailing Aramis?

That Charlie Horse is a beast to get to.

In the latest (and as I recall only) episode of Aramis Ramirez‘ True Confessions, the secret of the abominable first half that plagued the Cubs’ 3rd baseman and emasculated the Chicago offense came to light . . . kind of. Aramis Ramirez was hurt, but he’s not going into details.

I’m not going to say specifically what it was, but I wasn’t healthy. . . . Not only the thumb, just injuries in general. I wasn’t healthy, put it that way. It’s tough enough to play when you’re healthy.

I’m not denying Ramirez was hurt, but I’m deeply troubled by his simultaneous transparency and secrecy. If he had never said anything about it, I wouldn’t care, but since Aramis brought it up, I need specifics. And since he’s not going to say what was holding him back, I have no choice but to come up with my own diagnosis. Here are ten possibilities for what may have been holding Aramis back.

10. Ramirez is a nanosophobe, and his fear of dwarves crippled him until Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot were traded. Ramirez’ OPS before the Theriot trade: .700. Since: .830. Actually, that one’s so believable, I’m tempted to just stop right here. But I must press on.

9. He sneezed while stepping out of a hot tub after a long night of browsing the Internet. None of that actually hurt him, but after thinking about how his former teammates had been shelved by such mishaps, his sense of mortality overwhelmed him. Then he got better.

8. Jock itch.


7. He was pregnant. He hid it well as all pregnant men do, and then he delivered during his DL stint in June. After the understandable recovery period, he’s been hitting the snot out of the ball, all for his beautiful baby quadruplets.

6. He really hated how Lost ended. Every time he saw a baseball he thought of that one Samurai-looking Other who didn’t add a single shred of explanation to what was going on in that temple.

5. Enlarged testicle. As much as you may think guys like to brag about that, it’s not a source of pride when one of your grapes swells into a lemon, especially when you black out from pain every time you make lemonade.

4. Headaches. Not Percy Harvin migraines or anything, just like . . . caffeine headaches, you know? He switched to decaf (see #7) and really should have eased into it, because the sudden switch had his temples pounding. Well, not pounding exactly, just sort of a mild but incessant throbbing. It was worse when he stood up, so when he got in the batter’s box, he just wanted to sit down as fast as he could. Three strikes and it was sweet relief with a nice cold towel to the forehead back in the dugout.

3. He traded places with Jodie Foster one Friday after both of them had been complaining to one another about how much easier the other one had it. A magic spell allowed them to switch bodies (and lives). As it turns out, Jodie Foster can’t hit for crap. On the plus side, the level of understanding between Foster and Ramirez was heartwarming and hilarious.

2. He became addicted to prune juice and couldn’t take a full swing without . . . you know. After his two-hit, three-pair-of-pants performance on opening day, he had to choose between the juice and offense. And while he couldn’t hit with any regularity, he . . . well, you know.

1. Complications from the removal of a third nipple. It took months of counseling to convince him that his nubbinectomy didn’t rob him of his hitting mojo. Same thing happened to Koyie Hill. Some guys never recover.

Being a Cubs Fan Is Depressing

Ron Santo is a pretty joyful guy, but not even he can deny the depressing nature of Cub fandom.

I’m doing everything I can to make this post depressing. Photo of a glum Ron Santo: check. Ironic photo-manipulation isolating a single splash of Cubby Blue: zing. Sad song from Garden State: posted. Discussion of being a Cubs fan: would have gone without saying had it not been for my blatant disregard for the rule of threes.

If I’m discussing the Cubs, all the other stuff is just Spielbergesque manipulative emotional overkill. The depression is happening. If you’re a Cubs fan, that is. Non-Cubs fans often derive great pleasure from discussing the Cubs and their fans. For White Sox fans it’s cathartic. For people who just don’t like baseball in general it vindicates their choice of pastime. For genuinely, clinically depressed people it might even be humorous that a self-chosen preference for the Chicago National League ball club could take the place of a chemical imbalance in immersing someone in melancholy. But for Cubs fans it’s just a sad reality.


Cheering for the Cubs isn’t agony. It isn’t painful. It isn’t even a real problem. But being a Cubs fan is depressing. To support this theory law, let’s conduct a little experiment. Think about the Cubs. Now try to think about something happy. You’re still thinking about the Cubs, aren’t you? Of course you are, because your happy thought was being five outs away, Kerry striking out 20, Sammy hitting homers 61 and 62, or any number of great moments from 2008, which only led to thoughts of Bartman, Tommy John surgery, leaving early with a duffel bag of PEDs, or getting swept by the Dodgers.


The good news is that the depression isn’t overpowering or all-consuming, at least it doesn’t have to be. You can remain a Cubs fan and still alleviate your depression by turning your attention to other things. When your thoughts turn back to the Cubs, cue the Cubbie blues, but you can cross that mopey little Charlie Brown bridge when you come to it. All you need is a sitcom or a brownie, not a support group.


It’s a good thing, too, because there really is no such thing as a Cubs fan support group, because none of us really have any intentions of abandoning our depressing pursuit. Take a look at the Kübler-Ross model of the stages of grief:

Denial
This is the year! followed shortly by Wait till next year.

Anger
You suck, Zambrano! Fire Hendry! Tag him, Castro!

Bargaining
If we sign Cliff Lee or Adam Dunn or Joe Girardi or trade Soriano for Mr. Met, we can contend in 2011.

Depression
This, of course, encompasses either directly or indirectly everything every Cub fan in the last century has ever said.

Acceptance
Cubbie acceptance is a flat-out myth. It doesn’t exist. The people who say they accept the ramifications of being a Cubs fan without ceasing to be Cubs fans are just adding on another thick coat of denial. Maybe the same is true of those who claim to have quit the Cubs for good are in the same boat floating down the metaphorical Egyptian river. I don’t know. I just know acceptance is a lie for Cubs fans. Allow me to illustrate with a Venn diagram:

What do the World Series and acceptance have in common? Cubs fans don’t know what either one feels like.

I’m starting to realize this post has no logical conclusion. We are Cubs fans. That is depressing. That is all. Hooray! When does Lost come back on?

Also a Way of Life: [L]ethal Projectiles

How exactly does one attack safety vigorously, Bud?

Quaalude Quade

Is Quade the stress-relief drug the Cubs have been looking for?

The Cubs just concluded their best road trip of 9 games or more in team history. They won in blowout fashion with a lineup in which Sam Fuld was the seasoned veteran, a lineup that consisted exclusively of rookies and minor-league call-ups. The team has gone 17-7 since Quade took over for Lou Piniella, scoring 5.1 runs per game and yielding just 4 per contest over that stretch.

His tenure hasn’t been without adversity. I (among many others) questioned the way he handled the Castro benching. And not that it had anything to do with Quade, but just yesterday the Cubs lost Geovany Soto to surgery and Tyler Colvin to a life-threatening bat shard to the chest (something that would never happen to anyone if MLB cared to fix the problem). But the Quade win train keeps on rolling.

A lot of people attribute the Cubs’ good fortune to the absence of Lou or Quade’s superiority to Lou, which I find preposterous. Lou’s time at the helm ended against a string of five teams with winning records. Quade has had it much easier. The Quade-led Cubs (heretofore known as the Qubs) have faced just two +.500 teams. Qub opponents have a combined season winning percentage of .472, and the six series they have won have been against opponents with a collective .455 win rate. The only good team the Qubs have dominated has been the St. Louis Cardinals, who have had just one day off since August 23 (and won’t have another before season’s end)—they are 10-17 in that stretch. Quade hasn’t exactly been a giant-killer.

But under Lou, the Cubs weren’t anything-killers. Overall, the Cubs have a 41-43 record against sub-500 teams in 2010. So while I don’t think it’s at all fair to compare Quade’s two-dozen games managed to Lou’s 3,548, I am curious to know if Quade has had a relaxing effect on the Qubs. A lot of people are saying they’re thriving in September’s low-pressure environment, but there hasn’t been any realistic pressure on this team since July. And, with the exception of the Cards, none of the teams the Qubs have won series against are feeling much pressure either. So I don’t think we can dismiss the entire positive swing exclusively to low-pressure situations and low-talent opponents.

Maybe the Qubs are feeling less pressure, less stress, and less performance-hampering anxiety because of Mike Quade.

I have often argued that a manager isn’t likely to add or detract much to a team’s ability to play, but I will add that the Cubs’ Achilles heel has often been their penchant for buckling in critical situations. I won’t blame any manager for that. I have, mostly in jest, blamed the fans for that. But Milton Bradley said it. Lou Piniella said it. Ozzie Guillen said it. Derrek Lee said it. All of them agree that there is a negative pressure on the Cubs that requires them to compete against 29 other teams and 100+ years of history. If there is one quality that could put one candidate ahead of the rest in my eyes, it would be the ability to shield the team from that pressure or to use it productively.

I don’t know if Mike Quade really has that skill, but it seems like he very well might. And the simple fact of the matter is that if Quade is the manager in 2011, there will almost certainly be less pressure simply because of the fact that his name carries no expectations with it. I’d be willing to take that low-risk gamble.

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