Jim Hendry: Looking Back on the Former Chicago Cubs General Manager
It's been three weeks since I've attempted to sit through a whole Chicago Cubs game.
Sure, I skimmed through game recaps and trade possibilities, but I could barely finish those, either.
Tom Ricketts must have had the same sick feeling in his stomach because he couldn't even wait until the end of the season to fire Jim Hendry, the now-former Cubs general manager.
It's an odd feeling, change. At least in Chicago.
Right when you get excited, you remember it's been over 100 years since the Cub's last World Series victory, and surely lots of changes were made over that span.
We've run out of excuses, Cub fans. The curse of the billy goat, the black cat, the “Bartman ball”—now Hendry is playing the role of scapegoat (and, perhaps, rightfully so).
Hindsight's bias brings down harsh judgement in sports. No one is safe: athletes, coaches, general managers, even owners.
Milton Bradley? Wrong move. Alfonso Soriano? Right move, if it had only been a two-year contract. Greg Maddux? Right move. Mark DeRosa? Right move. Letting Mark DeRosa go? Terrible move.
The list can go on.
Hendry's tenure with the Cubs is somewhat reminiscent of Kyle Farnsworth's: You never knew what to expect. He had his jump-for-joy days, and he had his excruciatingly painful days.
Nonetheless, it was the right time for change. New ownership, new direction.
But I want to take a moment to thank Jim Hendry for the most exciting years to be a Cubs fan in my lifetime. I will never forget the magic of the 2003 season. The meltdown...it hurt. Any Cub fan will tell you that.
But there was never a better time to be at a Wrigley Field night game; never a more exciting time for Cubs fans to stand as one during the top of the ninth, cheering for the last three outs of a Cubbie win, not to mention the traveling entourage that was Cubs Nation.
The overwhelming crowd of Chicagoans in Atlanta against the Braves in first round of the 2003 playoffs, chopping their Cub hats like the Atlanta Axe, chanting and singing as though it were a home game, is the single greatest sports memory I have.
The swiftness of how that '03 team was put together at the end of the year was beautiful to watch.
The additions of Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, and (my personal favorite Cub of all time) Randal Simon turned the Cubs into serious contenders.
Oh, nostalgia. The goosebumps you give are warm and painful.
My generation of 20-year-old Cubs fans doesn't have much to be nostalgic about other than the 2003 postseason.
The 2008 season is another moment about which Cubs fans will always wonder “what if,” but getting swept as a No. 1 seed has turned that season into a Voldemort.
We do not mention it.
Jim Hendry made questionable moves, but he was responsible for the best years I've had as a Cubs fan, so for that I thank you, Mr. Hendry.
But now it's time for change. For better or worse.
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