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Certain stories leave me pondering what it means to be a fan. What I’m supposed to do as a fan. I don’t always have a great answer beyond “root for the team, hope they win,” and then do or think the things that ultimately support the winning. But sometimes I get the feeling that there’s more.

I reckon that, by now, most of you know the story of Adam Greenberg. I remember when the outfield prospect was called up in July 2005, there was a bit of excitement among Cubs fans in the online world. Irrational, perhaps – Greenberg was far from a top prospect at that time – but we were thrilled to see a kid coming up with a skill set that was almost completely foreign to us: he walked almost as much as he struck out. That year at AA, Greenberg had a .386 OBP (with a .117 IsoD – the kid took a lot of walks), and there was a belief that finally the Cubs were taking OBP and “seeing pitches” seriously. Or, if they weren’t, maybe a kid like Greenberg would force the issue.

The Fates have a way of chuckling at your expectations while they swirl their magic brew.

The story was, of course, far crueler to Greenberg than to Cubs fans. He saw exactly one pitch (well, perhaps he saw no pitch at all): a fastball to the head. Concussed, Greenberg dealt with the aftermath of his cautionary tale for years, never making it back to the big leagues.

The comparisons to Moonlight Graham were as inevitable as the hopes that he would make it back to the bigs and shed that label. He never did.

Now 31, Greenberg played last year for the Bridgeport Bluefish, but hasn’t played this year. But that’s not stopping one Cubs fan from trying to get Greenberg back to baseball this year. Back to the Cubs. Back to the bigs. From OneAtBat.com:

We want to get Adam Greenberg his first “official” Major League at bat. Of the 17,500 players who have played in the major leagues, no player has ever had his MLB career end on the first pitch—except Adam Greenberg. Due to Major League rules, when Adam was hit, his at bat was recorded as a plate appearance, not an official at bat. We would like to see Adam make it back to the big leagues for the official at bat he earned.

The project, fully supported and appreciated by Greenberg (you can see his video at the site), is being headed up by Matt Liston, whom you may recognize from his work in ‘Catching Hell,’ and ‘Chasing October.’ Liston is a good dude, and his passion for these kinds of projects is infectious.

As for getting Greenberg that at bat – Liston would like to see it happen this year – I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, the ambitiousness of the project is rivaled only by its positive spirt. I admire those things. I like seeing Cubs fans taking chances on their passion (um, like, obviously), and I also happen to think the goal of getting Greenberg an official at bat is, well, nice. Be honest with yourself: what happened to him sucks, and it would be nice to have a part in adding a happy ending.  What are we doing as fans – heck, what are we doing in this life – if we don’t care about things like that?

On the other hand, I suspect many of us will be overwhelmed by our primary concern for the Cubs. Getting Greenberg his at bat, at a surface level, may seem like an easily-pulled-off publicity stunt, and a laudable one that the Cubs should just do, especially at the end of a season in which they’ll finish with close to 100 losses anyway. But there are practical issues with making it happen. The biggest of which is the requisite 40-man roster spot for Greenberg. The 40-man currently stands at an even 40, which means the Cubs would have to de-roster a player to add Greenberg. Doing so would risk losing that player for good, something I’m sure the Cubs would be loathe to do. And, as much as I love the idea of doing something nice for Greenberg, I certainly don’t want to see the Cubs worse for the wear on the other end of it.

That said, it’s conceivable that – without naming names – there is a player or two on the 40-man whom the Cubs don’t plan to have back next year or to keep through the offseason. I’m looking at the 40-man roster right now, and, yeah, there is a player or two. So, on that level, I suppose it’s do-able.

There are still other concerns. What if the Cubs make all of this happen, and get Greenberg up to the plate as a pinch hitter, say, on the final day of the season, and he walks? What if he strikes out in embarrassing fashion? What if, God forbid, he gets hit again? What does that do to the story?

That said, I think the upside for him, personally, outweighs those risks. The risks to the Cubs, however, are less certain to be easily dismissed. If they could be, why wouldn’t I support something like this? It’s easy to be cynical and decry this as the kind of lame stunt the Cubs shouldn’t be involved in if they consider themselves a serious organization.

But … why be like that? Greenberg is an actual human being with an actual (sad) connection to the Chicago Cubs. Assuming the logistical issues don’t put the Cubs in any worse of a situation than they’re already in, why wouldn’t we support this? So, with a firm belief that the Cubs won’t actually give Greenberg an at bat unless they believe they can do it without losing someone they value going forward, I think I will support this cause.

If you also support it, you can sign a petition set up by the One At Bat crew.

  • college_of_coaches

    Signed it.

  • Jonathan Griffis

    I remember watching the game on television. I have to say give him his at bat…so if someone gets hurt and is going on the DL and the Cubs know it..fly him in for his one at bat…There are a lot of what ifs in this world, but to come that close would kill me!

  • hardtop

    this is a no-brainer, we have plenty of known duds on the forty man, just let him hit.

  • Cheryl

    I’ve been working on other things but just happened to come back in time to catch this, What a great idea!!!! If Theo and Tom do anything this season, they should try and make this dream a reality.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Hey there, Cheryl. Hope all is well.

      • Cheryl

        Things are fine, Brett. Thanks. Just finished some writing and am waiting, waiting waiting to see if it flies. I hate waiting!

        • MightyBear

          good luck Cheryl

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    Who do we de-roster?

    Joe Mather won’t be back and won’t be missed.

    • ColoCubFan

      Whoa! We might need him to pitch before the season’ over.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Like the fans in the Astrodome…..when they tried to call the game early for the Bad News Bears….I say…..LET THEM PLAY!! LET THEM PLAY!!! LET THEM PLAY!!!!

    Give the kid his AB. Cubs get some much needed good mojo…..and the story shows that the Cubs actually do care about their players.

  • CrazYhorse

    I think the Cubs can release a couple of players and would not matter . As for Greenberg , I dont think the Cubs should do anything special on a roster level . The story was written to be gentle and kind but I think it would be unwise to open the door for debate why this person get the honor of a one day- week contract .

    Is it because he is white – his last name – his story- his dedication – family ? Why is this guy so special. or maybe it because The Cubs are so bad that any positive story will take the spin off to such a terrible year.

    Let him put on the Cubs uniform and throw the first pitch Or better yet let him hit the first pitch – without a contract .

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think the reason he would get the honor is pretty obvious. It’s actually pretty self-explanatory.

      • CraZyhorse

        To cut or drop a major league baseball player for publicity.A player that until you wrote about hardly anybody knew of . Bret if you gonna ask the cubs to sign anyone lets sign or draft a 3rd baseman .

        If Greenbergh gets his chance to hit this year – Its a good story. its a great public relation story.

        • Drew7

          I’m pretty sure that, unless they are a bandwagon fan or under the age of 15, most all Cub fans have heard of Adam Greenberg.

          • CraZyhorse

            oh im pretty sure I heard of him _I just dont remember him .

        • PRcajun

          I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that MOST people, here at least, probably knew about Adam Greenberg’s story.

          Publicity stunt or not…I signed it. I hope it happens and I’d love to watch it.

  • Fastball

    Do it. We have 30 guys on that 40 man roster that no other team in baseball really gives to shits about. I say let him play the entire game on the last day of the season. Hell let him play every position on the field for an inning. Wrigley would be a sellout for the last game of the season. Make it an annual thing for someone if the Cubs are out of contention by 30 games or more. Maybe it could be a curse breaker! Some kind of thing like this could break the curse. He should get an at bat. I would let him start the game and let him bat lead off and then substitute for him after his plate appearance. Nothing lost but one at bat. We lead off with Mather for Christ Sake.

  • cubmig

    Adam is the “Rudy” of baseball that cries out to us to do the right thing. He did his part. Now it’s time for us to do ours.

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    Our current ownership was so humanitarian at the start of their tenure (see Undercover Boss) that I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t allow this kid his day in the sun. He certainly earned it.

  • daveyrosello

    Lendy Castillo. Coleman. Mather. Probably Volstad. None of them will be back.

  • Ron Swanson

    Not to be mean but I’m not sure why getting a “charity” at bat really would make Adam Greenberg feel better. It sucks but what’s done is done.

    • mudge

      Ditto.

  • cubsin

    Brett, I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but I’d be less concerned if he was still playing in an Independent League. The Astros will probably start a rookie pitcher against us in that last game, and I’d hate to see Adam hit in the head again.

  • JR

    Cubs should start Greenberg everyday and bat him 4th. At this point who cares? This team is a train wreck..

  • Picklenose

    I really like the idea of having him lead off in a game. And I am betting that the other major league clubs might give the Cubs some sort of a one day exemption to the 40 man rule to make this happen. It could be a great game of the week TV moment for Greenburg, the Cubs, and baseball in general.

    • CraZyhorse

      LOl actually i was thinking that hits the ceremonial first pitch – then the Cubs extend a spring training invite.

  • Quintz

    I consider myself a compassionate guy and I feel bad for Greenburg, but for all the reasons you stated, I’m not entirely comfortable with this.

    It’s impossible for me to stringently oppose something like this because it’s all being done in good spirit. It reminds me of when one womens basketball player was allowed to hobble down the court unimpeded to break a scoring record. No harm done, and everyone is happy, but I felt a little icky watching it.

    If it happened I’d clap and feel good for him, but would also have this weird underlying feeling that in a way we are mocking the game by trying to undo the past and laughing in the face of the meritocratic nature of baseball. I guess I’m not really sure how I feel about it?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      All fair.

  • CraZyhorse

    Has a ceremonial first batter ever been done? I think that would be great .

  • Cubs217

    A little off topic, but why did Dusty Baker bring him in to pinch hit in that scenario with a lefty on the mound?

  • baldtaxguy

    If he wants this and the Cubs are willing to oblige, I’ll clap and feel good for him.

    If the Cubs refuse for whatever reason, it won’t change my feelings for the organization or for Greenberg.

    But upsetting the past is bad Karma, no matter if simply ceremonial – he is the one player that had his MLB career end on the first pitch. I’d leave it that way.

  • Melrosepad

    Personally, I’d say throw him an invite to spring training and let him try and prove he wouldn’t be a liability at the plate (even for just one pitch). If he is OK, we can see about calling him up at some point for a game or two.

  • ReiCow

    I am in favour of letting him hit this year. It is a feel good story, and heck, the Cubs could use it to sell some tickets! We do still have games against the Astros & Rockies.. two teams no one wants to see anyway.. why not increase the gate?

    Moo!

  • MightyBear

    I signed that petition last week. good to see it on BN Brett.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Just as a side note….and totally for fun….trust me I love this story….

    but is there any chance the Astros could sign Chan-Ho Park so he could groove a fastball right down the pipe to Greenberg (ala Cal Ripken in the All Star Game)?

    Now having your only AB be a dinger in Wrigley….that’s the stuff of legend.

  • cubchymyst

    I was surprised to see Jed Hoyer was actually in the campaign video acknowledge that their is a campaign for Greenberg. I would rather see a ceremonial first at-bat as some have suggested above. I know there are guys on the 40 man who probably won’t be back next season, and the cubs are not going anywhere this season anyways. However, there are still guys on the team fighting to avoid the 100 loss season and giving away an at bat seems contradictory to their efforts.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    I’ll have more on it later, but the Cubs have already said no, via Jed Hoyer.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-cubs-take-a-pass-on-greenbergs-comeback-20120904,0,4216882.story

    • Cheryl

      I can understand Hoyer’s reasoning, but he needs to take another look at baseball. Its a business, but its also probably the one sport where there are dreams and Greenberg is a person that has a dream. perhaps its time for Greenberg to explore other options besides playing – maybe coaching?

      • Flashfire

        See this from Hoyer’s point of view, though. (Actually, Theo’s point of view, because you can hardly see Theo’s lips moving when Hoyer talks on this one.)

        The Cubs have a history of being a joke organization that does stupid things for publicity. Like, say, Sammy’s corked bat to “put on a show” in batting practice. Or the guest conductors for the seventh inning stretch. (Please make this go away, guys.) The most egregious — unfairly, since it’s only tangentially associated with the Cubs — is Harry Carey’s restaurant blowing up the Bartman ball and making spaghetti sauce with it.

        Theo and Jed are trying to change this and make the Cubs a more professional organization. Their first year, well, the wheels fall off. And then someone asks them to put a guy on the roster to end that season just for the feel-good-story. If ever there was something that sends the wrong message, that’s it.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Careful, though – the difference between those gimmicks and this one is the focus on Greenberg. The move would have been (from my humanitarian perspective, that is) about doing something special and good for Greenberg, not for the Cubs. All that other crap was always about the Cubs.

          Your point, however, is well-taken, and I’m sure that’s precisely why the Cubs decided as they did.

          • Flashfire

            I’m actually with you on the humanitarian side. All things equal, I’d like the guy to get his at bat. It really is a sad story. I remember the excitement when he was called up, too.

        • OlderStyle

          I would have to agree with this. It’s more “Cubbie-wubbie” stuff.

          There is a fine line between a feel-good story and just pre-fab schmaltz. This feels more like pre-fab schmaltz.

          I tire of the Cubs being perceived as a joke, whether it’s Harry’s glasses or some dumb goat story.

          Professional teams win. I’d like the Cubs to be run professionally.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I don’t begrudge you your point, but to suggest that “professional” teams (by which I assume you mean “winning” teams) don’t do gimmicky stuff ALL the time is just flatly wrong. You should see some of the promotions at the Trop…

            (I think they’re awesome, but that’s a separate story … http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/dj-kitty-debut-rays-reveal-cat-mascot-145548241.html )

            • OlderStyle

              True that, @Rays, but they are not considered one of the historied franchises of MLB.

              Also, even with winning teams they don’t draw so I suppose they’re throwing stuff on a wall to see what sticks in terms of bringing in fans.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                But they certainly know how to win. All I’m saying: gimmicks and winning are not mutually exclusive.

                Semi-relatedly: the Cubs need a cat-related mascot. Preferably wearing pajamas.

                • Ogyu

                  The Cubs needs a midget to bat lead-off…

                  • Ogyu

                    need [sigh]

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Hell, I could do that …

                  • Flashfire

                    They have one — Campana just can’t get on base.

                • OlderStyle

                  I just come from the traditional side of things. When I think gimmicky and baseball, I instantly think of minor leagues. The quality of play may be suspect but we have a great hot dog/balloon give away for mom and the kids.
                  In truth, it’s only a matter of time when something passes from trendy gimmick to tradition. I can’t imagine a game at Miller Park without Sausage Races.
                  Ha, but what if the cat that inspired The “Jammy Cat is no longer around?

  • cerambam

    Best part of the video is seing the man, the legend, matt murton

  • cubs1967

    considering the crap jed and theo threw out on the field and the throwing of the season; how can greeburg be any worse than ian stewart disaster of a trade; really; i see no downside to letting him pinch hit 1 or 2 times; so he can say he got a chance to swing a bat and not get drilled. ricketts has owned the team 3 yrs and has done nothing for the fan base; higher tickets, worse team every year; no field renovations while he cries for public money; blah-blah-blah…………..do the right thing; you know like losing on purpose is the right thing we fans are told………..

    • Flashfire

      Good morning, sunshine.

    • TWC

      blah-blah-blah…………

      Pretty much sums up most of your comments, kid.

  • ssckelley

    This would be a neat publicity stunt but honestly I could care less either way if it was to ever happen. Greenberg got to do something that most of us can only dream of doing, getting paid to play the game of baseball and he got to do it for 10 years. Plus he got to put on the Chicago Cubs uniform and unlike Moonlight Graham still made it into the batters box. If everyone remembers the movie when Moonlight Graham did make his plate appearance he hit a sacrifice fly that scored a run so technically he never did get an official at bat, even as a ghost.

  • http://BleacherNation Dean

    I know it wouldn’t be quite the same, but why let him suit up and come in and hit a full batting practice with the team at each game on one of the last home series. Maybe give him that chance so he can show he has something left. Seems he wants a chance to prove something, not really looking for a special priveledge.

  • Pat

    Meh. It was kind of a head scratcher when they brought him up in 05. Not sure I see the point of bringing him back for another at bat. He already holds a pretty unique place in MLB annuls. If it was a case where he was tearing it up in the minors and had any possibility of being useful going forward I would understand it more. Obviously it’s kind of a sad story, but it’s not like he was destined for more than a few September at bats anyway.

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