Leadership can come in many different forms and from several different places. It can come from the manager, teammates or coaches. But when the only ones articulating their disapproval are the fans, you know you have a problem.
And so it goes for the Cubs, who seemingly have nobody with the guts to walk up to Alfonso Soriano and tell him that he simply must hustle on every play. He owes it to his organization, to the fans—heck, he owes it to himself.
If you didn't see the play in question, Soriano ripped a liner down the third-base line in Saturday's game that, for a second, appeared to be caught by Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. But Soriano didn't even step out of the box, standing there like a statue and being thrown out at first base easily.
The crowd was vocal in its disapproval of Soriano following the play, and rightfully so. However, both teammates and the opposition were quick to come to his defense.
Now, I can understand the opposition doing that, it's just the way sports are in these times. Teams pray together and they make excuses for each other. But Soriano's own teammates should either remain quiet and address him away from the media's ears, or step up and say this is unacceptable.
Look, Soriano is making $18 million a year and hasn't even come close to living up to that enormous albatross of a contract since signing with the Cubs. But that's not even the point—the definition of any professional is to always give your best effort.
Even more damning is that this is not the first time this has happened with Soriano. He has lacked hustle in the outfield and on the bases several times during his Cubs career.
But that's alright, according to Cubs manager Dale Sveum. ESPN writer and resident Cubs apologist Bruce Levine quoted Sveum as saying "You hit a ball that hard and you see (that) they should catch (it), and you're mad because you just crushed the ball," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "There is not a player that ever played that wouldn't have done the very same thing."
Hey Dale, I have a difficult time believing that Pete Rose, for example, wouldn't have hustled to first base or that any number of players wouldn't have at least attempted to get out of the batter's box.
Yet to the Cubs field "leader" no player in the history of Major League Baseball would have tried to run to first on that play.
I don't know about you, but I'm calling B.S. on that, Mr. Sveum. You are supposed to be the team's leader and that's all you have to say about this? That's a real problem, especially when a team is rebuilding and trying to set the right example for its players.
And just because Soriano has been playing well this season does not make what he did acceptable. Hey Theo Epstein, is this The Cubs Way? I don't think you will find this in that huge binder of his.
Perhaps you feel that I am making far too much of one situation. But this is the kind of thing that losing teams do and say. In a season involving this much pain, it's like rubbing salt in the wound of Cubs' fans who have been enduring this garbage for far too long.
The lack of leadership on this team is alarming, but even more disturbing is what kind of message this sends to future Cubs' stars like Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson and Javier Baez, when they read that Soriano didn't hustle but that's considered just fine.
I am just so damn tired of Cubs' players, managers and writers making excuses for unacceptable behavior. It happened for years with Carlos Zambrano and it continues to happen, even with the new regime.
It's time for Jed Hoyer or Epstein to make a stand and come out and tell everyone that what happened isn't acceptable and won't ever be acceptable for the Cubs' organization going forward.
Ah, but that would require leadership. Sadly, there is none to be found.
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