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For the most part, I’ve found Dale Sveum to have done a fine job thus far as manager. He was injected into an impossible situation, and he’s done the best he can. Although I know some don’t agree, and with a few exceptions, I haven’t had much quarrel with his lineup choices or his pitcher management.

His reviews from fans so far have been mixed. Managers are typically the fall guy for a crummy roster, so it’s understandable that the guy in charge of a 25-48 team isn’t going to have hoards of fans screaming his name with glee. But, at the same time, you don’t hear a *ton* of “fire Dale Sveum” type of rabble (“www.firedalesveum.com” has been registered, but not built). You just don’t really hear a whole lot of impassioned opinions on his performance one way or the other.

His reviews in the media have similarly been kind of silent. You feel for the guy as he has to try and answer the same (reasonable) questions game after game, and you feel for the media for having to ask those same questions game after game. It’s a dance that, to date, hasn’t yielded a whole lot of interesting bits, and, indeed, we still don’t really have a great sense for what the media, collectively, feel about Sveum. Maybe I find their opinion/impression more interesting then most, given my job, but I figure that they’re as close to him as anyone else outside the organization, so I’m quite interested.

And, in a recent mailbag, Paul Sullivan offered the first clear opinion.

When asked about his impression of Dale Sveum so far this year, Sullivan turned curt pretty quickly:

It’s difficult to judge Sveum based on this particular team, but yes, he is pretty rigid in his lefty-right matchups, and no, Starlin Castro shouldn’t be bunting because he’s their best hitter and not a very good bunter. I think he’s getting more comfortable as the season goes on, but he needs to be a little more forthcoming with the media when it comes to dispensing information, like saying the Cubs would probably carry three catchers, or that Marmol wouldn’t close again until he regained his command, or hiding Kerry Wood’s shoulder issues in spring training. Stuff like that shouldn’t happen, and wouldn’t under Lou Piniella, whose honesty was always appreciated.

That feels like the kind of shot that’s been percolating under the surface for a while, and one I’m surprised Sullivan expressed so openly. Obviously Sullivan (like me) is an interested party on this issue: the more information Sveum openly and accurately dispenses, the more information he can pass on to his readers. His reaction is understandable.

Sullivan is right in pointing out that, in those particular instances, Dale’s words proved to be misleading with what actually happened. But has Sveum been intentionally hiding the ball?

Even if he is, he could have a very good explanation each time. Maybe the three catcher thing really was on the table, but was scuttled because of some other roster situation that developed. Maybe Sveum really didn’t want Marmol to be the closer again so soon, but was overruled by the front office. Maybe Sveum is hiding things, generally, for the good of the organization. Who knows?

Ultimately, it’s an interesting issue, and something to keep an eye on as the year proceeds, and tensions, inevitably, grow as the losses pile up. And it’s a reminder of the delicate balance that pro sports franchises walk while trying to win: you want to win because that’s what your fans want. But your fans also want to like your team, and feel connected to it. So your fans want access and information. But what happens when that access and information might make it incrementally less likely that you’ll win?

  • Ron Swanson

    If he’s rubbing Sully the wrong way, that just makes me like him more.

  • Mike

    I’m not a huge Paul Sullivan fan. I’m not saying that I expect beat writers to be homers – the ones that are generally bug me (see also: Zaidman, Zach). But it also irritates me when guys like Sullivan constantly make snide comments about the teams they’re covering. He’s a pretty bad Twitter follow for that reason.

    I get it when guys like Rosenbloom do it. Rosenbloom is a columnist. But Sullivan is supposed to be a reporter.

    • Dick McCheesedoodle

      I agree. Paul Sullivan is historically pissy with any player/coach who he thinks isn’t nice enough to him.

      Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood are good examples of guys who felt the passive aggressive wrath of Paul Sullivan as a result of letting Paul know he’s a turd. Wood tossed his glove into the stands this year, but you’d think he Sandusky’d half the ballpark afterwards with as much attention as Sullivan gave it simply because it was Sullivan that Wood snapped at afterwards. The example in this original story is perfect. You think Paul Sullivan has mentioned his beef to Sveum? You think Sullivan says “why didn’t you tell us about the three catcher deal?” Highly unlikely. Being direct is not how Paul Sullivan operates. Instead he’ll reply to a mailbag question from Joe in Rockford or whatever with his indirect whining and hope it gets back to Sveum.

      And the ‘comedy’ is brutal. Here’s a gem he just rolled out on Twitter

      “Source: Craney Kenney contacting the Greek priest to bless Rizzo’s locker. Stay tuned.”

      I gave up on reading his mailbag columns some years ago. Those are basically “read Paul write pissy replies to people who ask dumb questions and learn literally nothing about the Cubs.”

      It would be better for everyone if Sullivan were the beat writer for the Daily Herald and then Bruce Miles took over for the Tribune. Or he could just take a Tribune buyout or something – that would be nice.

      • Jack Weiland

        Or you could just buy the Daily Herald …

        • Dick McCheesedoodle

          Maybe when the Herald sends their beat writer on road trips. Until then, Bruce Miles is just as plugged in as I am when the games aren’t at Wrigley.

  • Martin

    These are the types of situations that really make me hate many beat writers and media members. Athletes/managers/GMs (who are under no requirement to be truthful or give good quotes) who don’t make the lives of the writers easier get ripped, regardless of their effectiveness in their jobs. Meanwhile, athletes/managers/GMs who are buddy-buddy with media members get a pass for their performance in many situations simply because they make the writers’ jobs a bit easier to do.

    I find many sports writers to be cynical, vindictive scrubs who don’t really have an interest in working hard at their chosen profession, so they punish those who actually make them, you know, work. There are exceptions (Bruce Miles comes to mind immediately), but most of these guys are utterly loathsome.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Keep in mind, teams exist because of the fans. The media exists to cover those teams for the fans. I’m not sure Sullivan is being all that unreasonable here – don’t we, the fans, want more information?

      • Martin

        I would argue that teams exist because people come out to see them, regardless of their relative intensity or “fandom.” People come to see baseball because of the experience, and having more information may or may not facilitate that.

        To be honest, knowing whether or not the Cubs want 3 catchers does not impact 99% of the people who come to watch the games. Most of the information gathered by writers such as Sullivan is irrelevant to the majority of the people who go to watch Cubs games, buy Cubs merchandise, etc. He needs to understand this and not demonize Sveum for making his job slightly more difficult. As is the case with many sportswriters of all kinds, he needs to understand his relative insignificance in the world of sports and the world at large. If every beat writer was kicked out of the clubhouse tomorrow and was only able to report on what occurred on the field, the number of fans wouldn’t change much.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Almost all of that is fair with respect to the Cubs, but I’m not sure – genuinely, I’m not sure – how true that is for all other MLB teams.

          • Spoda17

            The fact we are all here reading Brett’s blog, and other bolgs, mean we do want the information. So actually Martin, the fact you read this blog is an indication you want information. There are currently 75 responses to this story and it has only been out for an hour or so. I am not a Sullivan fan, but we all want any bit of information we can get…

            • Martin

              That’s not true at all.

              I don’t necessarily want more information. I want to talk about the Cubs, and regardless of the amount of information available, I would talk about them. Anthony Rizzo is playing his first game today; I’m happy to talk about that. Travis Wood has pitched well lately; I’m happy to talk about that. The team is playing poorly overall this year; I’m happy to talk about that, too.

              Most fans don’t need more information about tangentially related issues. They simply want to talk about the game. Saying that we couldn’t do so without every ounce of information Paul Sullivan can lazily gather is fairly insulting to the intelligence (and conversation skills) of most fans.

            • Martin

              Furthermore, I’d be happy to have more information from these guys, but I’m not going to get bitter because I feel entitled to it; nor, in fact, will I even complain about not knowing whether the Cubs want three catchers, or whether Carlos Marmol won’t be the closer until he works out his control, or even if Kerry Wood may or may not be injured. I’ll find these things out when they happen and talk about them at that point.

              There are plenty of things to discuss about the product on the field. If Sullivan worked harder, he’d find even more things to discuss. Instead he’s upset with Sveum for making him actually do his job.

      • Quintz

        Ultimately, there are many ways to skin a cat. Do you think the Boston media LIKES the way Belichek handles the them? He wins, so he can get away with it. The Cubs are skinning a giant cat that will take years to finish. I would love info, but understand if that isn’t in a particular managers makeup and I won’t begrudge him for it. They hired a known quantity in Sveum and knew very well how he would handle the media. I’ll criticize his moves on the field or roster moves (if it was even his decision), but have a hard time complaining about how much access I get to what he is GOING to do each day.

    • Mike

      Correct. There’s an inherent presumption that it’s Svuem’s job to tell Sullivan everything. I think he has a professional responsibility to be courteous, but he’s under no obligation whatsoever to be forthcoming about potential organizational moves.

      I already mentioned him, but Rosenbloom does this all the time. He’ll write something along the lines of “DERP DERP I THOUGHT THEO SAID THEY WEREN’T LOOKING TO TRADE HIM DERP”. Come on, dude. Nobody expects him to tell you who they’re actually looking to trade.

      • King Jeff

        I agree. The Chicago media in general has this expectation that they be given any and all information about whatever they ask or they turn against you. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read negative articles about Jay Cutler where one of the first things mentioned is his unwillingness to play to the media. I don’t think all sportswriters are like this, but to come out and expect a manager to give you exact details on organizational moves so you can go out and publish them for everyone to see, is pretty ridiculous, and to turn around bitch because plans changed is asinine.

    • Jack Weiland

      Loathsome seems like a really strong word for people you’ve never met.

  • Carew

    I understand where Sullivan is coming from but really who cares. This kinda thing is what even the FO has been doing. Keepin it quiet, going about their business

  • Rylee

    Who cares about what Sveum says and doesn’t say, last time I checked he didn’t have to say everything under the sun. Look at the FO and how they go about things; Sveum is the same type of person and I don’t see him changing his ways. The reporters need to get over the lack of information. As a fan, I like the idea of saying less and not more.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “Who cares about what Sveum says and doesn’t say”

      I do. I care about everything related to the Cubs that I can get, and not just because of this site. I’m a fan – I want to know when so-and-so is coming back from an injury. I want to know why the lineup is constructed as it is. I want to know why so-and-so is playing left field instead of right field. Etc., etc., etc.

      Why wouldn’t we care about that stuff?

      • Mike

        There’s a difference between caring and acting affronted about what he does or doesn’t say. To take it to an extreme, I would LOVE it Jed would give us daily updates on the trade proposals they’re getting from other teams. But just because I care about the information doesn’t mean that I’m going to get upset if he doesn’t share that stuff.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Fair.

      • mark b

        Hey brett i agree 100 percent. ive been follown the cubs for the better part of 30 years. i care and I feel we deserve all info we can get to a certain extent

        • Martin

          Fans deserve nothing more than a product on the field. Anything above that is a privilege. It’s great to have the kind of access we have today, but we certainly aren’t entitled to it.

          • Ben

            Do you have any insight on when a product on the field might be arriving?

            • Martin

              Touche.

      • Rylee

        I think what I wrote got taken out of context. As a Cubs fan I definitely want to know all of the updates, lineups, etc. I just get the understanding that he isn’t saying much because Theo and Co. tell him not to. My bad for the confusion.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I just wanted to make sure my piece was clear. We’re all good.

      • Quintz

        Think you got it half right. We care about what he says and presume that if he’s not saying something there is a reason for it. I personally (and I don’t report for a living) have no problem with it.

        How eager would any manager be to spill his guts about a team a billion games under .500?

  • http://www.81bases.com Chris @ 81Bases

    Over the past 3-4 weeks it certainly seems as if the Chicago media (print, TV and radio) are beginning to lose a bit of their Sveum luster. While you can’t argue a lack of talent (it simply isn’t there), it appears to be a point of perspective more than anything else.

    I don’t know if smug is the word or if it is something else, but there’s definitely a negative vibe transcending the North Side this year, and it seems to be deeper than just the players on the field.

  • Matty

    I think Sullivan is a quality reporter, but his tone has really been off-putting this year. I realize the team stinks and covering them on a daily basis without a rooting interest probably isn’t fun, but his game stories are turning very “smart-alecky,” for lack of a better word. I think it is time Sullivan is rotated to another beat and another writer is brought in to cover the Cubs.

    • Ron Swanson

      Totally agree, Matty except that I don’t think it’s new at all. He’s been this way for years. When something bad happens to the Cubs, you can totally hear his delight in both his tweets and his writing. I don’t mean he has to be a pollyanna type “homer” but the negativity is over the top. I can’t stand him.

      • hansman1982

        he lost me forever with his anti-social media night and the 8 people that showed up to it.

        Stupid troll is as stupid troll does.

        • Mike

          Correct. That was petulant. And worse, not even remotely funny. The whole thing was a big WTF moment.

  • BD

    Doesn’t the FO prefer to play things close to the vest? In turn, wouldn’t you expect their hand-selected manager to do the same?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Oh, yes. And I’m certain that’s a big part of this.

    • MightyBear

      Absolutely correct and the point I was going to make. This is a new front office and they play their cards close to the vest. I’m sure they don’t want a manager who doesn’t.

    • Cubs Dude

      I think that’s exactly it BD. It’s got to be irritating as hell for Sullivan and those guys not to get much insight from the FO or Sveum. But who knows what Thed has told Sveum what to say, so it’s tough to judge Sveum. I will say it drives me nuts when Sveum contradicts himself like he did with disciplining Castro awhile back, and placing Marmol back at closer so soon. But is it him or Thed? His righty/lefty thing is a bit extreme too, and I wish he would elaborate on it more. We’ll never know who is really pulling the strings though.

    • MichiganGoat

      I know that during Cubs Con I exchanged a handful of tweets with one of the major beat writers, and he/she did say that this FO was the most closed and difficult to communicate or get news out of. He/she was noticeably frustrated by this tight-lipped FO after years of dealing with the friendship that the media had with Hendry. So I’m sure there is a decent amount of frustration over how difficult it is to build relationships with the FO.

      • Cubs Dude

        I believe that Goat. I bet a lot of the local media are pissed about how the new guys run their show. From a fan perspective it kind of sucks too. I feel like I believe pretty much nothing that comes out of Thed’s mouth, because it seems they always have motives. But I am still excited to have them here if they can get us a ring.

  • Gabriel

    I live in Boston and this all sounds normal to me. As a Cubs fan its actually refreshing that the team/org is being run this way.I think Theo has come in and not only attempted to change the culture of the clubhouse & players, but of the management & front office as well.

    The overwhelming tendency with the Red Sox (and really all teams in New England) in communications with the media is to be as general as possible and keep anything that could “tip your hand” about ANYTHING in house. This cryptic dance with the media is the Boston sports way, and it has worked incredibly well over time – Chicago will have to get used to it.

  • JB88

    Sullivan has been a bit uppity this season, but I’m okay with him being bitter. He has a job to do, but so does Sveum and I’m perfectly okay with Sveum misleading or being less forthcoming with the media. Lots of coaches in lots of sports have adopted this tact and if it gives the Cubs a competitive edge, I’m all for it.

  • John Moore

    Could care less about Sullivans “take on anything”!!

  • hansman1982

    To pillage and plunder a quote from Theo:

    When making a decision about how badly I want information, I will ALWAYS defer to the Cubs gaining any strategic advantage possible. I don’t give two hoots if they say a pitcher is healthy only to yank him 5 minutes before the start and send him to TJ surgery. If it helps us win then keep me 100% in the dark.

  • CubsFanBob

    Paul really needs to drop the snide comments. It’s clear he enjoys it when the Cub’s fail. It’s the White Sox in him.

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Look, it comes down to the FO who doesn’t want a fart to leak to the media. They picked a guy and have trained him on what they want said. Everything is a chess game to them. Once they become more comfortable, he will become more comfortable. He is a naturally quiet guy to begin with. The reason the media loved Tito in Boston, was because he won from the beginning. Big difference. All of the Boston homers were diehards, and they gave him a mile of rope because they were winning. Sullivan is just doing his job to try and get more information. That is all his comments are trying to do. He is just saying the guy and FO need to lighten up and help us out. I don’t think either side is that wrong in this situation.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. Leak a fart. Only on BN can that exist in a thoughtful comment.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “The reason the media loved Tito in Boston, was because he won from the beginning.”

      Also, because Tito was not named Grady Little…..

  • Wilbur

    Seems to me this is just part of the natural tension that exists between writers and the subjects they cover.

    I’m sure that Sveum could be more forthcoming, but he does what he does for what he perceives to be the benefit of him, the players, and team.

    On the other side of the issue, writers are just professional fans. They want it all.

    As for Lou he not only was more forthcoming with the full story, he was often the story, but that’s really not the issue. Sullivan has a gripe that Sveum may delay his access to info, but it’s not one he can’t work around by just observing, talking to and questioning others.

    Fall’s into the “that’s life category”.

  • MichCubFan

    His job is not to make the media happy. The sports media remind me of sharks…if they are hungry or if you piss them off they will swarm in and devour you. If you swim in the right places at the right times you will stay out of their way.

    The people in the media act as if the manager or players owe them something, which is dumb. Their job is to develop and win games. That is where the fans get enjoyment, not sound bites…it is a sport not a soap opera.

  • oswego chris

    unfortunately how someone relates to/is treated by/ percieved by the media is extremely important to fan perception in all sports today…(didn’t the cubs have the press conferences as part of the interview process?)…for example, as a football coach, I would bet that Lovie Smith is the equal to or even greater than Mike Ditka…but try saying that on Chicago Sports Radio…

    the only part of the media that I absolutely HATE, is the interviewing while the game is going on…I am just a silly high school coach and I would be like “really, I am kind of in the middle of something here”…NBA Finals and the coach has to answer some stupid question during the game? just seems ridiculous to me…

    • JB88

      I disagree with this. Winning is truly the only thing that matters. Bill Belicheck is an unmitigated SOB to the media, but he is adored in NE because the Pats win. That’s the only thing that matters and I could care less if Paul Sullivan’s panties get a little bunched because of Sveum’s treatment of him.

      • Njriv

        Anybody see Gregg Popovich’s interviews? One of the best coaches in NBA history and he hardly says 5 words during interviews.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        That’s the most extreme example, though – anyone who wins as much as Belichick will be loved no matter what … but, like, nobody wins that much. Most guys have to fall somewhere closer to the middle.

    • OlderStyle

      I would completely agree on the in-game interview baloney. I suppose it’s another symptom of the instant-info age that most people believe is good/necessary.
      As a fan, I would want as much info as possible as it does enhance my enjoyment of the game. I also understand the org’s need for info control. The individual determines how much is enough.
      From the point of view of the media (inherently subject to the whims of the info age) I can understand their gripes sometimes- they have a job to do, too. It’s a mutual back-scratching situation and modern managers can use it to their advantage or be obtuse (watched Shawshank Redemption last night) and get maligned. It’s a balancing act, it’s an inherent part of the modern MLB mgr.’s job and Sveum is a rookie. (I really appreciated Theo’s making it part of the interview process) If he could be a little more entertaining/interesting they’d probably give him more slack.

  • rcleven

    I find Dale as frustrated as the fans. He speaks his feelings after games off the cuff before thinking what words have been used. I am sure he has been talked to by the FO to temper what he has said.
    I kind of find Dale stuck between a rock and a hard place.
    He has been set up to fail this year and it must be very frustrating to him.

  • Spriggs

    I pretty much gave up caring what players and managers say or are quoted as saying – a long time ago. I especially think the post game press conferences are for the most part inane and very predictable. Rarely does anything informative (or even truthful) really come out of them. Lots and lots of cliches.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    I wonder how much of what Sullivan (and, presumably, others?) in the old media are expressing is coming from their loss of a competitive advantage against the new media crowd.  Not only is Sveum playing closer to the vest than usual, nearly the entire front office is.  That means the local reporters in Chicago really don’t have that big of an advantage over those of us who are not local.

    If everyone has the same information, people will read / listen to the one they enjoy the most.  If Sullivan does not have much inside info on the Cubs, then he is not only combating Miles and Levine for eyes and ears, he’s combating websites like this one.  If the message is the same, people will pick their favorite messenger.

    I’m only speculating here, but I can see that adding to the frustration for local media types.

  • Featherstone

    I know I would prefer more information than what is offered up at times, but if the FO wants to keep things quiet because its how they believe it will work out best for the club then go for it. I think most everyone cares most about the product on the field.

  • Leroy K.

    I think our defense has improved 100% with Sveum in control. Our positioning has been great. Even though we are losing a lot of 1 run games, we didn’t nearly have as many 1 run games last year. I will figure out the stats but I know it’s more this year than last year. I think our defense has absolutely improved.

    • Wilbur

      Interesting point you bring up about the one run games. I felt the Cubs have been in a lot more of these this year than last also. I’d love to see the numbers.

      • Leroy K.

        i’m working on it. Will have those figures soon.

        • Leroy K.

          Well it’s not as different as I thought it was going to be. 2012 Cubs through July 1: 24

          2011 Cubs through July 1: 20. So there was more this year, now checking on the win-losses. BRB!

          • Leroy K.

            So in 2012 the Cubs won 7 out of the 24 1 run games

            In 2011 the Cubs won 9 out of 20 1 run games. Not to different.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              That’s very different all right.  That’s a .450 winning percentage in 2011 versus a .292 in 2012.

              Or to say it differently, in 2011 the Cubs were one game under .500 in one run games.  In 2012, they are five games under.  That’s a big swing to come from just one run games.

              • Leroy K.

                now remember keep in mind this is just through july.

                • Wilbur

                  Leroy K.
                  Thanks for the effort. Illuminating …

                  • Leroy K.

                    now in regards to 2011 the Cubs would play in 28 1 run games in the last 3 months. They would win 15 of the 28 games. (Including a 10-9 excursion @ Washington. giving Sean Marshall his 5 win on the year).

              • DocPeterWimsey

                It looks different, but it’s a sample size issue.  In these two samples, the Cubs win 36% of 1 run games.  The probability of going 7-17 and 9-11 is 0.017 given expectations of 36% is 0.017.  If we give both years their own rates (29% and 45%), we increase the probability to 0.031.  If these were two clinical trials of two different drugs, then we’d note that there is a 27% chance of getting results this different simply by luck.  (I.e., do not invest in the wonder drug!)

                Perhaps the better way to look at it is the deviation from 0.500.  Despite the glorification of winning close games, teams rarely deviate far from a 0.500 record.  We expect a grand total of one team in 31 to deviate from 0.500 so far as 7-17 simply from bad luck.  As there are 30 teams, well, we basically expect one Cubs anyway.

                And, yes: it sucks to be us…..

            • Martin

              However, if the Cubs had the same 1-run winning percentage they had last year, they’d have won 11 out of 24 games this year. That would put them at 29-44 this year. Though 73 games last year, they were 30-43.

              For as awful as everyone claims they’ve been this year, the reality is that, at least from a record standpoint, they’re about the same team as last year.

  • beerhelps

    I just don’t like his haircut. Or his writing. Or his face. Other than that, Sullivan’s OK I guess.

  • Bart

    I have to side with Sveum here. He seems like a no nonsense, straightforward type of guy who’s maybe not the most articulate of speakers. With that, can you imagine having to answer the same questions over and over again from the media? Even if his personality was a bit more forthcoming or jovial, there really isn’t a lot to say in most of these situations, given the futility of the inquiries’ nature. As for the more pressing questions involving issues that haven’t fully developed, I believe you’re on to something, Brett, when you offer that he might be “hiding the ball.”

    Brett – how many times have you had a hunch that interesting information might surface while having to wait for concrete information before posting it on BN? I could argue there’s a parallel here. So often, the media wants definite info or something interesting to share, when, in actuality, it comes to fruition after the Q&A sessions are over. I don’t think it’s in Sveum’s best interest to speculate; and that’s very often what he’s asked to do.

    Thanks again for all you do on here, Brett. While we’re all Cub fans and lead busy lives, it’s nice to come to one place for all the best info and some wonkiness. My bachelor party is in Chicago this Saturday. Decent chance that Tony Rizzo will hit one out against Houston. If I catch it in the bleachers, I’ll FedEx it to ya in Ohio. Take care.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Bart, and I hope the bachelor party is a blast (great place to have it).

      On the substance, I certainly have the luxury here of speculating more than the beat writers can.

  • Martin

    More so than anything, what irks me about many writers is that they will use the “he wasn’t nice to me” logic to be overly critical of the product on the field, and the “he was nice to me” logic to whitewash criticism of the on-the-field product. The problem is not just that many writers are petty and vindictive, it’s that they use their pettiness and vindictiveness to criticize something that has nothing to do with what they’re upset about. Be a spiteful, bitter jerk, but don’t conflate the experience in the locker room with the product on the field.

    Michael Jordan is an ass, but he’s the greatest basketball player of my lifetime. Barry Bonds is an ass, but is probably the greatest baseball player of my lifetime. I don’t have to like the guys who win–I just need them to win.

  • BT

    Yes, Sullivan should be pushing for as much info as possible. The problem is, inevitably, he lets personal feelings get in the way. You need look no further than his handling of Zambrano and Crane Kenny to see that. Zambrano was a jerk to him, so Zambrano was Satan from then on. Kenny, who had almost no effect on Cubs fans, was a jerk, so he was constantly demonize by Sully and others in the press (perhaps righfully so, but again if he is doing his job, I don’t care if he is a jerk. 4 years of preist in the dugout jokes are played out). If Zambrano can pitch, and Kenny can make the team money, then their treatment of Sullly is pretty secondary to me.

    So if Sully is mad at Sveum for lying to him about the number of catcher on the roster, I’m not going to get too fired up. And unless telling Sully the truth about Wood’s shoulder was somehow going to fix it, I don’t really care about the spring training stuff either. The team has a reason for doing what it does.

    • Ron Swanson

      Well said, BT. Totally agree.

  • WV23

    From someone who has worked in journalism and media relations, I can say that how reporters go about getting and sharing that information helps inform how, when and what form information is shared by their sources.

    Sullivan’s objections have always seemed to be that certain players/managers were mean to him or curt or less than forthcoming – and the implication being, at least according to his defenders, that he would be nicer to such players if only they were gregarious types who made Paul Sullivan’s life easier.

    But wouldn’t those sources be nicer to Sullivan if he weren’t such a smug nag all of the time?

    Doesn’t the street go both ways?

    He was relentless in calling Z crazy. He openly called Milton Bradley an idiot. He RT’d Oney calling Soriano a “punk ass.” That’s all just off the top of my head, and none of it is kosher coming from a beat reporter (columnists are a different story).

    But, as I wrote when I used to have a blog, that isn’t my main complaint about Sullivan. Instead, it is that he just doesn’t add that much for Cubs fans.

    Rarely, if ever, do you learn something from a Paul Sullivan story. Nor are you struck by the artfulness of his writing. Can you point to one clever turn of phrase? How often does he break meaningful news on the Cubs? Major roster moves, arbitration hearing results, injury news … they all seem to have come from somewhere else first – and that’s a problem for the lead reporter at the biggest paper covering a major team. (I very well may be wrong about this one, but that’s just the sense I get.)

    All of this would be forgivable if he were proficient in any one area – or if he displayed basic decency while failing to be proficient. You can mask shortcomings in reporting ability when you write well. You can hide struggles with writing when you’re breaking news left and right.

    And, failing those two areas, you can buy a decent amount of goodwill by being a good guy who treats sources fairly.

    Alas, he generally falls short in all of the above.

    • MoneyBoy

      WV … Very, very well said.  You’re absolutely on it.  Sullivan rarely offers any sort of insight.   It’s a disgrace that a paper like the Tribune has both Rogers and Sullivan covering anything other than ambulances.

      We are unusually blessed here to have both Brett and Luke offer cogent, well-written, well-documented and referenced pieces on both the Major and Minor League teams.

      As another commenter recently stated, this is the first and last place I come to for information on the Cubs.

  • http://www.obstructedview.net berselius

    Whatever Sveum’s doing to piss off Sullivan, I hope he keeps it up. I’d much rather see him have the knives out for someone as inconsequential as a manager than orchestrating another campaign to get an actual baseball player run out of town.

  • Stu

    The beef that I have with Sveum is the rigidity with the lineups. A little too much with the sabermetrics. Stats are great up to a point, but there is still a human element to it.

    You stick with a philosophy like the all right-handed lineup if you see improvement, hitting into bad luck, etc. Then the odds are probably in your favor that it will even out over the season.

    You have to be willing to make adjustments along the way. That is what seasoned managers do. Maybe he will improve over the years. He does have a great instinct for defensive alignments and working to improve an individual’s defensive play, like Soriano and Castro.

    The Cubs do have less talent this year by design, so he can’t be blamed for the most of the losses. He probably gets a wink from Theo from time to time to acknowledge the grand plan. Ricketts probably loving his bank account by the day.

    • Toby

      You mean the sabermetrics that fans will throw around thinking gives their posts more relevance, but forget that the player has to go out and play the game. For example, I’ve read where fans will post that Randy Wells has a 3 WAR, but still goes out and pitches a turd sandwhich.

      • Mike

        Randy Wells is about a 3-6 WAR player for his CAREER, depending on what site you check. And that’s almost all due to his great 2009 season.

        Do you think saying that a guy has contributed 3 wins over a 3-4 year career means somehow that he’s never going to have a bad game? Because your post doesn’t make a ton of sense.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          To be fair, Fangraphs has Wells at 3.0 WAR in 2009, and 3.2 WAR in 2010. Do with that what you will.

  • Quintz

    In this day and age of access to everything, it will never be enough. Sveum could call every Cub fan individually each day to talk strategy and host a catered affair for the sports writers at night, but I guarantee you some fans would be pissed he didn’t leave a voice mail and the writers would say the chicken was too dry.

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