I'm not certain what Tribune Co. protocol is on one of the unwashed telling a chairman of one of its divisions to zip it. I'm sure whoever tried would get a good talking-to, even if Sam Zell has added color to the company manual.
But somebody has to do it.
So with all due respect (you just know something not nice is coming when somebody says "all due respect"), the next time we should hear from Cubs chairman Crane Kenney is when the Trib sells the ballclub. So there goes the old scoop on that one, right out the window, I guess.
Now, I like ol' Crane. Despite being a Trib suit, he seems a regular guy, and he's not afraid to throw around some of Sam's words every now and then. Heck, it's baseball.
But methinks Crane is suffering from two things of late: overexposure and foot-in-mouth disease. At this past weekend's Cubs convention, Crane was front and center in a pair of back-to-back sessions. Somehow, he was on the panel at the "Meet Cubs Baseball Management" session. That one usually is reserved for the field manager, GM and assistant GM. A little later in the day, Crane took a drink of water, cleared his throat and hosted his own session about "Who's the Boss" or some such thing.
Let's just say he ran into unnecessary trouble of his own making at both places.
In the first session, a fan asked Kenney about having a Greek Orthodox priest bless the Cubs dugout before Game 1 of last fall’s NLDS, out of which the Cubs were swept.
“That’s one of the dumber things we’ve done, right?” Crane said. “In my six years of decisions, that’s probably maybe 2 or 3 in the dumb things we’ve done.” (I could quibble with Kenney saying “we” in referring to this mess, but at one point, he did say the decision stopped at his desk. Fair enough.)
There’s more: “An e-mail comes, and this is a huge Cubs fan that wants to get tickets to the game, has his cell phone ringing with the Cubs tone on it, and I said, ‘Let him go.’”
In other words, to hear Crane tell it, the poor priest started this whole silly thing. Turns out today that my old pal Paul Sullivan of the Trib quotes Rev. James L. Greanias as saying he never called the Cubs and asked for tickets.
A few minutes after that one, Kenney talked of having to move to “Bartman-ville,” as if that poor guy needs his name thrown out there by somebody with the Cubs.
In his later session, Crane took an unnecessary cheap shot at former manager Dusty Baker while trying to praise current field boss Lou Piniella.
“The one thing that we’ve done that I’m most proud of, we have the right manager,” Crane began. “I can promise you that. If you think about the team that won in ’07, does that team win with our former manager? Not a chance.”
First off, Dusty’s been gone almost two-and-a-half years. Let him be. Second, that’s some great bulletin-board material for the Reds, not to mention the Cubs have some players left from the Dusty era, and they like and respect Dusty. The quote moved on the AP wire, and the Cincy-area papers have picked up on it already:
Hey, look, I know it’s fun and all running a ball team, and who knows how much longer it’s going to last for Crane and the current group. And Crane is doing a nice job overall. But Trib suits haven’t been this visible or voluble until now. I hate to admit it, but I think that was the better way.