Ratto: Beane could be agent of change for Cubs

August 25, 2011, 2:57 pm
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Aug. 25, 2011


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According to our good friend and accuracy purveyor Comrade Susan Slusser, As general manager Billy Beane is suddenly a live name as the next general manager of the Chicago Cubs.We will now pause while you all do your death-wish jokes.There. Anyway, Slusser tells us that speculation grows that Beane, who could get caught in the switches if the As ownership wearies of waiting for the hole for a stadium to appear in San Jose, could be ready for a change.
The worst possible change in all of baseball, if truth be told.The Cubs have an infrastructure of fetishized failure, and by that we mean that whenever theres a hint of triumph in the air, someone in town is sure to bring up The Goat Of Doom. Or Bartman The Merciless. Or The Black Cat Of 69. Or some other folkloric reminder that the Cubs have gone 103 years without a World Series.And in truth, Billy Beanes powers do not extend that far.It would be fascinating to see Beane working with twice the budget hes had in Oakland, and an ownership whose long-term planning exceeds waiting for the revenue-sharing check to arrive.Expectations have died in Oakland, and the team needs a new faade. Not necessarily a new face; Beane could come out tomorrow and say, Were sick and tired of being irrelevant, and were going to be that change, but the hologrammatic John Fisher and minority partner Lew Wolff would know who would take the blame when people start connecting the dots.So no, the As have become a dead end of their own choosing by colonizing a land without any tents or provisions. They have chosen inertia over action, and in this area, with this level of competition, that is a death wish.That would be the prime motivation for Beane to consider the Cubs. His family situation has changed; his daughter is schooling in Ohio, and his twins are not yet system-educable. He has freedom of movement he hasnt had before.But the Cubs are a load, and have strewn the bones of hardier men behind them on their remorseless climb to and settlement at the lower half of the mean. It is a job more daunting than any of the others that will come open soon say, like the Dodgers because the culture is not acquiescent of failure, as some are, but oddly proud about it, like an ugly statue in the town square that people have come to love because its just so damned old.Plus, Beane would be viewed as an agent of change, and change is strangely distrusted in CubWorld. The ivy has been there since Phil Wrigley and Bill Veeck put it there 80-some-odd years ago. The scoreboard hasnt changed in forever. The park is a monument to itself. If Billy Beane wants to go to Chicago and rouse the rabble, he will find the rabble doesnt rouse for much except maybe when it comes time to turn on the rouser.Beane could call Dusty Baker for more information on that if he wishes.But nothing is impossible or unthinkable, and as we see every day, the improbable is normal and the impossible is always an hour away. Beane could be the new face of the Chicago Cubs for the right amount of money and autonomy. He could be ready for a move; staying in Oakland with this ownership strategy hasnt exactly elevated his profile.He must know, though, that running the Cubs is a stunt mans job. He has to be ready to be blown up, set ablaze, tossed from a roof and shot several times coming out of a speakeasy (they like period pieces in that town). And be ready to keep doing it until they simply tire of you and demand a new stunt man.Its a great lousy job. Or a terrible great one. Either way, Billy Beane might be ready for a change. Even this one.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com