Some people might think that Chicago Cubs fans feel deprived. Despite a robust payroll and high expectations, the team is wallowing in mediocrity, mired in second place behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Then, of course, there’s the whole 100-years-and-counting thing. Fans of another team might be morose or angry.
But why be so upset when mediocrity can be so damn entertaining? The Cubs have two of baseball’s most, um, colorful characters in Lou Piniella and Milton Bradley. The two loudmouths have taken turns running off their mouths all season, much to the delight of impartial observers. Now they’re taking their unintentional comedy act to the next level as Piniella has announced he’ll be serving as Bradley’s close personal life (and hitting…OK, maybe just hitting) coach.
It’s been a season of unfulfilled expectations for both Piniella, who has seemed at turns angry at and accepting of his team’s performance, and Bradley, who is hitting an anemic .239/6/21. The Cubs have finally poked their head above the .500 mark after a sweep of the woeful Natinals, but neither Piniella or Bradley have shown many signs of life. That’s all going to change now or something, according to the CHICAGO TRIBUNE:
Milton Bradley has a new hitting instructor, and his name is Lou Piniella. The Cubs manager said he plans to work with Bradley in the batting cage on Monday in Philadelphia in an effort to help the struggling outfielder out of his funk.
“We’re going to work on a couple things to get him into better position to swing the bat,” Piniella said. “I think it’ll help.”
Piniella wouldn’t get into specifics about his game plan, saying only that he wanted to “simplify” Bradley’s approach at the plate. Hitting coach Von Joshua had been working with Bradley, who studied tapes of his hitting at Texas and compared them to his approach in Chicago. But Piniella thought Bradley needed a new voice. Bradley said last week he’s starting to “feel it” and predicted a big second half. But he’s hitting .167 on the road trip and .192 over his last nine games.
There are so many shocking things contained herein it’s hard to know where to start. First of all, it’s hard to believe that Lou Piniella is actually going to stay awake and sober long enough to provide coaching to anyone. Have you seen him in the dugout lately? He has a permanent “food coma” look on his face. But most of all, we’re just flabbergasted that this isn’t being made into a reality show. Someone get ESPN Original Entertainment on the line, stat.