Thursday, August 02, 2007

Cubs' Rise Might Be Due To Fear Of Their Manager

Maybe the Chicago Cubs are being stoked by fear. Maybe they have no intention of seeing steam shooting out of ears or eyes turning green or a pudgy body bursting out of its baseball double knits.

Yes, maybe the fear of manager Lou Piniella is what explains the Cubs' current ascent into a first place tie with the Milwaukee "We were never that good to begin with" Brewers.

About two months ago, things couldn't have looked much more bleak for the Cubbies. Their catcher and one of their pitchers but a new meaning into the term "battery" -- in their own dugout. The team was miles below .500. Piniella -- gasp! -- hadn't been thrown out of a game, though he was heard taking his team to task publicly. Then Piniella finally was tossed, but he reacted so violently that the league slapped him with a suspension. The Brewers had started 24-10 and looked like Tigers 2006 Lite.

But look who is atop the NL Central, neck and neck with the Brewers, who are just 34-40 since their hot start?

Former Tigers manager Alan Trammell is Piniella's bench coach. So, good for Tram, too.

Clearly, it can't JUST be the fear of the explosive Piniella that is doing it for the Cubs -- or else the Tampa Bay Devil Rays would be a postseason threat. But Tampa Bay never had Alfonso Soriano, or anyone close to him. Nor did they have the consistent pitching and timely hitting and solid defense -- all of which is being used, once again, as the formula for success by a big league team. The Cubs.

It was Piniella, don't forget, who orchestrated the stunning 4-0 sweep/upset of the Oakland A's by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990 World Series. He's gotten a lot out of little talent before, the Tampa experience notwithstanding.

To be truthful, the NL Central isn't the prettiest of divisions. The Cubs aren't rising to the cream of the league. But they are a first place team for a franchise that could use some bragging.

Lou Piniella's Cubs are tied for first. Spread the word.


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