Everywhere you turned last night and this morning, there is another media blowhard, thoughtlessly pontificating on the Cubs’ future GM and tap-dancing on Jim Hendry’s professional grave. The former is premature. The latter isn’t particularly classy.
I’ve wanted Jim Hendry out as GM as much as, and for as long as, just about anyone else. But yesterday was a crummy, sad day for a lot of people. It’s one thing to drop some comments about how excited you are about a change finally coming at the GM spot (I appreciated all of your comments here – a nice balance of excitement and respect – and I made my thoughts known on that front in yesterday’s EBS); it’s another to let that swell of excitement overwhelm your better professional instincts.
There will be a time for an exegesis on the end of the Hendry era (mine will probably come early next week), but that time is not mere hours after a shocking announcement. Doing that leaves you with a product that is two-thirds hasty garbage, and one-third spiteful attention-seeking. If that means I miss out on some eyeballs (which would probably roll back in their sockets if I churned out the dreck I’m reading from most everyone else today), so be it.
For today, I’ll let everyone involved do the talking.
Tom Ricketts: “At the moment I decided that we had to make a change, I thought the right thing to do, given how much I respect Jim, is to let him know. He never missed a beat, and it’s a credit to his character that he was able to operate under that kind of awkward situation and do as well as we have done. Nothing that’s happened today should diminish Jim’s great legacy as general manager of the Chicago Cubs. Three division titles during his tenure, a winning record from what I see on the press release, and we would like to thank him for his great service. We’ll all miss seeing him every day at the office, for sure.”
Mike Quade: “This is not a day for me. [My future is] the furthest thing from my mind. You work for a guy, he’s a friend. This is a tough day for all of us. But I have no time to concern myself at all with me on a day like this …. Everybody lost a good friend today …. My friend won’t be my boss, but he will always be my friend.”
Ryan Dempster: “He’s responsible for every single person in here. He’s a really good person and good man and he was let go because we didn’t do our job on the field. He’s been a big part of my life and gave me the opportunity to play for the Chicago Cubs and that’s something I’ll always be grateful for. It’s tough for us in the locker room, I’m sure it’s tough for the coaches. I’m glad we won today because I know he’d be happy for us. It was a tough day and a tough thing to hear that sadness. He doesn’t have anything to be sad about because he did a great job in every aspect. Everyone was thankful to go out and play for him …. He did a lot of great things here. And he always had the best interest of the Cubs first. If you showed up on time and you played hard, he had nothing but good things to say about you. We’ll be friends a long time after baseball is over with.”
Kerry Wood: “It’s a sad day for me. It caught us off guard. But he said his peace and it was good to hear from him. Our relationship isn’t going to be over …. He’s not a typical GM.”
Alfonso Soriano: “He tried to do what’s best for the team. He’s very honest with the players. He does what’s best for the players and what’s best for the team, too …. It’s very sad for Jim and for the players because we love him.”
Aramis Ramirez: “We didn’t play the way we should play and a lot of veteran guys are making a lot of money and not performing like they should and someone had to pay the price. The players are responsible. Jim doesn’t play. He signs guys and brings in guys and puts this guy in this position and gets the manager and the coaches. The bottom line is to get the job done between the lines and we didn’t.”
Marlon Byrd: “Of course we got him fired. That’s a definite. Think about the teams he put together. He put together some great squads. Look what he did this year. He went out and he got Matt Garza and Carlos Pena and then he brought [Kerry Wood] back with no budget. Not many GMs could do that. We had all the players here this year, but we couldn’t get it done for him. We all feel bad about that.”
Randy Wells: “This was a tough day. Besides my short stint in Toronto, Jim was the only general manager I’ve ever played for. I like him more as a person than anything. To see him choked up – I’m not going to lie, the team and myself personally got a little choked up, too. To spend that much time with somebody, it’s tough to see them go.”
And Jim Hendry, himself: “In his heart, [Ricketts] wanted it go to better. He didn’t take over this franchise looking to think [I] would be a short-termer. It’s big business. We’re here to win games, and the last couple years, we didn’t win enough of them …. I will leave here with nothing but gratefulness to have been to be part of an organization for 17 years. Not many get to do that. Not many get to be the GM for nine [years] without a World Championship. I got more than my fair chance to do that. I’m disappointed in myself that we didn’t do it in the first five to seven years when I thought we could.”
Jim Hendry was not a successful GM with the Cubs, but he was a classy, good man until the end. That part, I’m sure, will be remembered fondly and missed.