Core values

Core values

Friday, Aug. 6, 2010
8:56 AM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Now that the Cubs season is pretty much over, I guess its time to talk about the future. At least thats what Im doing at the bar to calm the masses. But as Ive found, that might not be much better. The Cubbie faithful are no longer happy with the lovable losers tag. As someone who has spent most of his life tormented by teams that I love, I can definitely relate. I think the Cubs are in a position that tough questions must be asked. Just because you ask doesnt mean you dont care or arent loyal, in fact, I would argue just the opposite. And that point gets to the root of the issue in the fan perspective.

The impression of the teams is that fans dont understand, that they should calm down and the impression of the fans is, if you lose, at least look like you care, or have a plan. From my perspective, I have a hard time defending the Cubs and have to agree with their fans. This group of players seem to lack energy on a consistent basis and the popular consensus is that its the managers fault. Tough to be fire and brimstone every day when youre a losing ball club, but thats what fans expect out of a Lou Piniella coached team. Im not talking about the psychotic Carlos Zambrano episodes, but a grind it out, show up every game mentality that you can watch any time you turn on a Twins or Phillies game. This does not look like a Piniella coached team at all. That he has already announced the fact that he will not be back, has left many folks at the bar who are talking Cub baseball to openly question his motivation. Is that any way for one of the all-time competitors to go out?

The more important question is: Where is this franchise headed and whos going to lead it? That would be the plan part. The lack of communication by the new ownership group has to be the main concern of the Northside faithful. During their very public purchase, their fan credentials and commitment to turn the page on the futile history of the franchise was front and center: YEAR ONE. As this year goes on, the question is: Year one of what? Seems like more of the same to the people Im talking to. I know you cant change this mess overnight, but where is everyone? Obviously, this process is going to take time, but it would be great if I, or anyone who could make a difference, had some answers to share with the many curious as to where this is going.

My constant response is that, despite the huge contract issues they have for at least the next two years, and they are huge, this Cub group would be well served to check out the case-study in turning around a moribund franchise: The Chicago Blackhawks. What the Hawks have done in such a short period is as stunning as it seems obvious. For years, I listened to disillusioned hockey fans lament their fate as season after season turned to disappointment. Then, due to an obviously unenviable situation in the passing of his father, Rocky Wirtz took over one of the Original Six franchises and restored it to its rightful place of prominence. With the quickness! He did it with an all-out focus on improving the franchise in every way, on and off the ice, even if it meant going against the well established views of his late father. He put his stamp immediately on the team. In a business 101 he did it by having a vision and then acting on it. His best two moves, or perhaps one in the same, (Again, Im just a bartender!) were hiring the best at what they do, to be at the top of the organization. John McDonough, off the ice and Scotty Bowman, on the ice, are as good as it gets. Together, they made some tough decisions and some common sense ones that were all driven towards the same thing: to be a franchise that is as good as it gets in every way: One Goal.

Any new owner of an established business, I think, is well served to take care in making decisions that will have long-term effects on their new acquisition. I also think that they should seek counsel from those that are well versed in that business. Say, someone who has had a lot of certifiable success in that business. (Rules me out!) On the outside, the Cubs off the field prowess appears to be as strong as ever. But, there are not a lot of problems getting tickets when you walk up to the window lately, and I did notice that Forbes magazine recently valued the franchise at about 100 million dollars less than what was recently paid for them. I wont even pretend to portray that I understand what that means, but, ONE HUNDRED MILLION?! In less than a year? I would think that putting a viable, got-to-see, winning team on the field would be priority one. In that regard, someone that I would like to talk to, who is semi-retired, has THREE rings, and a history of winning baseball in his wake, is Pat Gillick. That is one guy who knows how to put a team together. Ask Lou. What would it hurt to have him come in, for a price that he cant turn down, to observe every level of this franchise on the field and give his recommendations on a path forward after this season comes to a conclusion in two months? He is someone that would get everybodys attention here with his presence and would give a huge amount of credibility to that path, very much like Bowman did with the Hawks. He doesnt have to have all of the control, or fire everyone in his sight. He could just be a wise old sage who offers an opinion on how to end 102 years of futility, not that anyone is counting!

Dustin Johnson, Kevin Chappell tied for lead at Tour Championship

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Dustin Johnson, Kevin Chappell tied for lead at Tour Championship

ATLANTA (AP) — Dustin Johnson had a reasonable lie in the rough and only a few pine tree branches blocking his path to the 17th green. Neither seemed like a problem until he played the wrong shot, clipped the tree and wound up with a double bogey Saturday in the Tour Championship.

It was an example of how one hole can change everything at East Lake.

And it's why the final round of the PGA Tour season suddenly has more scenarios than Johnson cares to consider.

Johnson recovered with a birdie from the bunker on the par-5 18th for a 1-under 69, giving him a share of the lead with Kevin Chappell (68) going into the last round that will determine who wins the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.

For the first time since 2009, there's a chance it might not be the same player.

"There's a lot of scenarios that could happen," Johnson said. "But yeah, I'm still going to go out and try to shoot as low a score as possible."

Johnson only has to win or finish second alone to claim the $10 million bonus as the FedEx Cup champion.

Rory McIlroy, who has gone 28 holes without a bogey at East Lake, had three birdies over his last six holes for a 66 and was two shots behind. If he were to win the Tour Championship and Johnson finished in a two-way tie for second or worse, McIlroy would claim the FedEx Cup.

"It would just be great to try to win the Tour Championship, and if the chips fall my way, then so be it," McIlroy said.

The winner of the Tour Championship has won the FedEx Cup every year since 2009, when Phil Mickelson won the tournament and Tiger Woods won the FedEx Cup.

Johnson led by as many as four shots when he ran off three straight birdies on the front nine, and he really didn't do much wrong to give up the size of that lead. He had a three-putt from 70 feet on No. 13, and missed the fairway by a few feet on the next hole, enough that his ball was buried so deep that even Johnson and his power couldn't advance more than about 135 yards.

It was the 17th hole that reshaped the tournament.

Johnson tried to played a fade from a flyer lie in the rough, and the ball came out high and hit a branch, leaving him in more rough about 60 yards short of the green. He put that in the bunker, blasted out to 6 feet and missed the putt to make double bogey.

Chappell rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt for a three-shot swing on the hole and suddenly had the lead, only for Johnson to catch him with the final birdie.

They were at 8-under 202.

Chappell, a runner-up three times this season who has never won on the PGA Tour, has made only one bogey in 54 holes this week, a show of consistency, discipline and a few good breaks when he does miss the fairway.

His next chance at a breakthrough victory is to face golf's best player at the moment (Johnson), with McIlroy and Ryan Moore (66) two shots behind.

"I've always kind of been the underdog, so it's a role I'm comfortable in," Chappell said.

Moore went out in 31 until he was slowed by a pair of bogeys, though very much in the mix just two shots out of the lead. The mystery is whether anything he does on Sunday - even if that means a victory - is enough for Davis Love III to use his last captain's pick on Moore for the Ryder Cup.

"I came here this week to win a golf tournament, and I'm 100 percent focused on that," Moore said, adding that the Ryder Cup is "completely out of my control."

And that's how the last day is shaping up for everyone - post a score and see where it leads.

Johnson, for a moment, looked as though he might take all the drama out of the season-ender when he made a 15-foot par putt early in his round and then ran off three straight birdies on the front nine to go four shots clear.

The putter cooled off, however, and Chappell stayed in range.

Chappell chipped in on No. 12 to match birdies and stay three shots behind, and then he quickly closed the gap when Johnson made back-to-back bogeys, only to respond with a 4-iron over the water to a peninsula green on the par-3 15th to 15 feet for birdie.

The 17th hole changed everything.

"I thought about just trying to hit it in the front bunker, which I probably should have done - probably would have made 4 if I'd have done that," Johnson said. "But it is what it is. I came back and birdied the last hole, tied for the lead going into tomorrow. I like my position."

And he doesn't need a degree in math to figure out the easiest scenario - just win.

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