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Baseball and Pro Wrestling: More Similar Than You Think

What image do you get when you think of both baseball and professional wrestling?

You never think of the two as being “peas in a pod.”

And the only similarities you might think of are the vast amounts of steroids used by their stars.

However, the two sports share a similarity that goes beyond comparing Barry Bonds’ physique to that of Triple-H. Both sports are American institutions.

American institutions that are slowly losing interest.

The reason ironically is because of their attempts to “cater” to the casual fan.

Baseball has Yankees-Red Sox, while pro wrestling has John Cena-Randy Orton.

Both are long rivalries that were exciting at first but now we’re just sick of, and both will intensify again after Thanksgiving, with the Yankees and Red Sox fighting over the latest prize free agents, while at least the WWE will go into a different direction with Cena and Orton, and Orton will be a face while Cena will be the heel.

These rivalries are what Major League Baseball and the WWE think that people want to see.

There might be some truth to that—the Yankees and Red Sox do pull in higher ratings than most other teams—while the WWE’s ratings are higher when John Cena is around.

But this has done nothing but turn off the die-hards.

In wrestling, the die-hards want to see newer wrestlers get a push. They’re waiting for the day when John Morrison, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, and other newer, fresher faces get their turn.

In baseball, true fans want to see teams be featured on ESPN and Fox other than the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Phillies. 

Thankfully in baseball, as long as the good teams win, they get the attention of the press—well, sort of.

The San Francisco Giants had an excellent team with a great pitching staff this year. Because of that they won their first World Series since 1954, which was four years before they moved to San Francisco.

But all I heard about this series from ESPN were questions about where Cliff Lee was going to wind up and if the Yankees, who ironically were eliminated by Lee and his Rangers, would make a push toward him.

ESPN might as well hire Michael Cole based off of how they talk about the non-marquee franchises, especially compared to their constant over-hyping of the Red Sox. They were doing everything but dismissing the Giants like they were just a mediocre NBA team who won the eighth seed in the East.

So what will the solution be for baseball? Oh, more wild cards, great.

The current system in baseball is fine. Three division champions, one wild card per league. Four playoff teams in each league, one goal.

Now their plan is to have two wild cards face each other in a play-in series, which is a mistake. 

Say a team finishes with the second best record in the National League, yet is second in their division. Why would they have to play against a team that finished second in a weaker division and is more than five games back of the first wild card team?

Isn’t 162 games enough?

Wrestling fans probably feel the same way about Vince’s “Brand Extension,” which looks more and more like it will be slowly phased out.

The Brand Extension, for those of you who aren’t into wrestling and clicked on the article because I mentioned baseball, was the splitting up of the WWE roster into Raw and Smackdown, their two shows. The reason being to cut down on travel and employ more wrestlers.

But this ended up just diluting the titles. Right now there’s a WWE Champion, and a World Heavyweight Champion. 

Who’s the real champ?

Yes, I know, maybe wrestling and baseball are completely different, but not in the treatment of the hardcore fans in an attempt to appeal to casual fans.

To bring in casual fans, both need drama. With baseball its already there, but it isn’t being packaged correctly, unless of course its Yankees-Red Sox. Adding more playoff teams won’t solve this problem, it will only make it worse.

Wrestling its all about packaging to create the drama, and they seem to be back on the right track.

Maybe Baseball needs to take some pointers from pro wrestling, and no I don’t mean they should start fixing games, but knowing how Bud Selig, Fox and ESPN think, I wouldn’t put it past them.

After all the last time they did, attendance did go up.

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The Chicago Cubs’ Five Steps For Winning the World Seres By 2014

Yesterday afternoon, Lou Piniella managed his final game with the Chicago Cubs. 

And in typical Cubs fashion, they lost, bad, 16-5.

Its hard to believe that, save for a few players, this is the same Cubs team that posted the best record in the National League in 2008. Now the Cubs are in 5th place, with only the bargain basement Pirates keeping them from last in the NL Central (but only by 9.5 games mind you).

In the past month, we’ve seen half of our infield and a starting pitcher traded away, as well as  Piniella’s recent retirement.

The Cubs aren’t in a position to win for at least two years, but at least there’s hope, right? 

Well, there’s some, but there are things that must be done for them to win the World Series before Wrigley’s Centennial in 2014.

Begin Slideshow

Jim Hendry Must Go: Chicago Cubs Need a New General Manager

As I’m doing my ritual refreshing of my twitter page, I see my cousin re-tweet something that made me stop in my tracks.

@2big2failsports RT @ CSNChicagoCubs trade Mike #Fontenot to Giants for class-A outfielder Evan Crawford

Now it makes sense that the Giants would make a deal for a middle infielder. Shortstop Edgar Renteria is on the DL for the third time this year with a biceps strain. It would also make sense to go after Fontenot, who is more of a utility/part-time player, not a starter.

But the move also meant that Hendry has let go of the second part of the “Cajun Connection” which was the Cubs middle infield for the last four years.

While you could understand the Fontenot deal, being that he had reached his ceiling as that of a utility infielder and solid bench piece, the Theriot deal was unnecessary. Theriot being the type you never really want to trade as one of your fan-favorites and a solid firey captain. The deal was only made necessary because of the ineptitude of one Jim Hendry.

Hendry became the GM of the Cubs on July 5th, 2002, the middle of a disappointing season. He made a big splash in the off-season by hiring Dusty Baker away from San Francisco, then somehow managed to trade Todd Hundley to the Dodgers for Eric Karros and Mark Grudzilanek.

His biggest coup would come in July of 03, in what is still one of the most lopsided trades in Chicago Cubs history (lopsided in our favor that is) when he traded Bobby Hill and Jose Hernandez to Pittsburgh in exchange for Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez, then after the injury to Hee Sop Choi, added Randall Simon through the waver wire.

These deals set up a 2003 season where the Cubs were just five outs away.

That winter he made another shrewd trade involving Hee Sop Choi going to the Marlins in exchange for Derrek Lee, then trading for Michael Barrett, and signing Greg Maddox.

Yet the Cubs still would not make the post-season again until 2007, when they were swept by Arizona in the NLDS. However, prior to that 07 season, Hendry signed Ted Lilly and Alfonso Soriano, and it was argued that he had overpaid for both players.

In 07 and 08 you couldn’t say he did, as the Cubs for the first time in their history won two consecutive division titles and made it to consecutive post-seasons for the first time since 1906-1908.

They also went 0-6 in the post-season.

And that’s where the bottom fell out for Hendry.

During the 08-09 off-season, Hendry traded Mark DeRosa, one of his best players in 07 and 08, to Cleveland for a bag of baseballs, then looked helplessly as the Indians traded DeRosa to their division rival Cardinals.

In a related story here in 2010, the Cardinals are 64-49, one game ahead of Cincinnati in the National League Central. The Cubs are 48-65, just 7.5 games out of the NL Central Cellar that has belonged to the Pirates since what feels like the dawn of time. 

Hard to believe that only two years ago, this was the team with the best record in the National League, and the change didn’t come from losing Soriano, Ramirez, Lee, or Zambrano, but from losing DeRosa, Edmonds, Reed Johnson, and gaining Milton Bradley.

The Bradley signing was when I knew the wheels had fallen off with Hendry.

Bradley was brought in to help the Cubs weakness, left-handed hitting. Never mind the fact that Adam Dunn was also available (and went to Washington for the same price that the Cubs ended up paying Bradley) and Dunn could’ve helped out by playing some Right Field and occasionally spelling Derrek Lee at first, and has always murdered the Cubs (Dunn’s Wrigley Field Stats: .282 batting average, an OBP of .410, .651 slugging percentage, an OPS of 1.061, 25 HR, 46 RBI in 66 career games).

Dunn had even stated during the off-season that he wanted to play for the Cubs, according to a report from Phil Rogers:

Dunn, who has hit 40-plus homers in five consecutive seasons, is trying to convince the Cubs to sign him for the right-field vacancy, instead of the equally defensively challenged Bradley. 

If defense was the reason for going after Bradley instead of Dunn, then this just shows Hendry’s ineptitude, as its stated that Bradley was equally defensively challenged!

What happened? Dunn submitted his typical season, hitting .267 but with a .398 OBP, 38 HR’s and 105 RBI, while playing in what’s known as a pitcher’s park.

Bradley was a distraction throughout the year and was even sent home with 15 games left in the season, playing in 124 games hitting .257 with an OBP of .378, hitting only 12 HR’s and 40 RBI. He was traded to Seattle in the off-season, where the drama has continued.

After last year you would think that Hendry would begin the rebuilding process. New owner, and Lou’s final year. But instead he thought that the team coming back healthy and the subtraction of Bradley (and addition of Marlon Byrd, who has been the Cubs MVP this season) would be enough. It wasn’t. 

Of course, The Rickett’s family said that Hendry would be back for 2011 after Piniella announced his retirement in July.

Hendry shouldn’t come back. He should’ve been fired after the disastrous Bradley over Dunn decision and the non-trade to not acquire Jake Peavy (who had also wanted to play for the Cubs like Dunn).

The Cubs hope in 2011 to reload, but what good is reloading if your trigger is broken? This season looks as if its a weak Free Agent class outside of Jeter and Pujols, who are sure to be retained by their current clubs.

Carl Crawford is the jewel, but there will be an intense bidding war for his services. Even if the Cubs do sign Crawford, that will not be enough to have this team contend next year.

Ramirez isn’t getting any younger, nor is Soriano (who IS getting more expensive). Zambrano needs a change of scenery, and the Cubs need to build a farm system. Fans are getting tired of a team that is neither exciting to watch nor a contender, which the Cubs won’t be.

Cubs fans are sophisticated enough to know that we’d rather wait another five years to build a true contender through shrewed deals and a revamped farm system. Rather, then to keep going into every season with an overpriced psuedo-contender that we know won’t get it done in October if they’re even fortunate enough to get there.

If only our GM was as sophisticated and smart, and if only he’d take notes from his former employer, the Marlins.

While the Marlins have had their struggles this season, the vision of the team is spelled out.

Lock up youngsters like Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, and Chris Coghlan, along with prospects such as Mike Stanton and Gaby Sanchez. With that core, position yourself to be a true contender when the new stadium opens up in 2012.

The Cubs could use the same blueprint. They have the start of a good foundation with Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Geovanny Soto and the recently acquired Blake DeWitt. That’s Shortstop, Second Base, Catcher, and corner outfield in place, with an average age of 24.

The problems is getting rid of the high-priced players without letting go of that core. It can be done, but its also something that Hendry hasn’t done since the Hundley trade, and most likely will not do. 

Instead, myself and other Cubs fans would rather have a GM who will realize the limitations of this team and make the necessary moves. While alos having an eye towards the future, as opposed to the regret of the past that the Hendry era has brought us.

Tribune sold the team, and Piniella will retire at the end of the season. Time for Hendry to also be on his way out the door, so that the Chicago Cubs could have a new beginning.


Follow Thomas Galicia on twitter, @thomasgalicia. You can also find him on facebook.

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