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Columnist
Apparently, Hendry hasn't seen the light
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 10/21/2008 12:04 AM

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Hasn't Jim Hendry suffered enough?

The Cubs' general manager is a hard worker, he knows major-league baseball's entire board, and he deserves to work in a place with a franchise that can win a World Series.

Hendry's only lapse of intelligence appears to be that he actually believes that place is Wrigley Field.

Monday the Cubs and Hendry agreed to a four-year contract that will keep him here through the 2012 season.

By then he'll likely be babbling incoherently and drooling all over himself, a shattered man with shattered dreams.

The Cubs have left similarly astute baseball men twisted, torn and tattered throughout the 100 consecutive years in which they failed to win a world championship.

All thought they were strong enough to overcome the curses, jinxes and hexes that inflict this organization. All thought they were ghostbusters. All were wrong.

Consider a couple items before dismissing my premise of futile promise.

The first is that Hendry came to the Cubs in 1994 after spending three years in the Marlins organization.

Who could blame Hendry for fleeing Florida, a small-market team with barely a fan base, for the Cubs, a big-market team with fans to spare?

Somehow, though, the Marlins won two World Series since Hendry departed, and the Cubs haven't even played in one for 63 years.

Totally logical career moves somehow implode when Wrigley Field is the destination.

Now consider that the Cubs' 2008 payroll ranked among the major leagues' top tier of teams trying to purchase at least a league pennant.

Meanwhile, that other Florida team, the Rays, had baseball's next-to-last payroll at about $45 million and Wednesday night will play Game 1 of the World Series.

Folks, the Cubs haven't been in a World Series since 1945 and the Rays are in this one, and the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 and the Rays could win this one.

Tampa Bay has had a team for all of 11 seasons and still beat the venerable Cubs to the championship round.

Wrigley Field is where bodies go to be buried and where the ashes of failed Hall of Fame careers are scattered. Do I have to mention Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ryne Sandberg?

Maybe Hendry believes he will be the exception after generally managing the Cubs into the postseason three times in six years, including back-to-backs for the first time in a century.

Hasn't Hendry been around here long enough to realize those division titles were merely setups for classic falls instead of Fall Classics?

One time the Cubs lost their last three games after being five outs from the World Series. Another time they lost their first three after having the National League's best regular-season record.

Overall the Cubs lost nine straight postseason games despite Hendry's best-laid plans. Oh, by the way, Wrigley Field also is where best-laid plans are laid to rest.

Anyway, a good guess is that during Hendry's next four years as general manager the Cubs will be sold to the homeless, revenues will be used to open soup kitchens, and the club still will need speed, a leadoff man and playoff-quality hitting.

My goodness, what was Jim Hendry thinking Monday when he agreed to that contract?

mimrem@dailyherald.com