Backseat Managing, With Rod Blagojevich
By now, everyone knows that deposed Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has a hard time keeping his mouth shut. Whether it's an oncoming appointment of a replacement for President Barack Obama or a way to finagle cash out of former Cubs and Tribune figurehead Sam Zell, Blagojevich was never afraid to stir the pot and run right up to the absolute edge of tampering -- and beyond -- to let his opinion and advice be heard.
When it comes to the Cubs, it now turns out that Blagojevich went far beyond talking to the team's owner. He sent letters directly to Chicago Manager Lou Pinella, exhorting him to change his lineup halfway through the 2007 season.
According to this expose in the Chicago Tribune, Blagojevich sent a hand-written letter to Pinella in May, while the Cubs were mired in a season-long losing streak. The note focused on an editorial cartoon from the Tribune that compared the two institutional figureheads, with Blagojevich saying it was an honor to be compared to Pinella ... then promptly telling him which strategic moves he should make.
The move is particularly brash considering the fact that, as far as anyone knows, Blagojevich has absolutely no athletic background after high school whatsoever. Cursory research reveals that the career politican played high school basketball and fought in a pair of amateur Golden Gloves bouts, but the similarity in name to the Rawlings annual awards are as close as Blagojevich comes to baseball.
Why, then, did he think that Pinella hadn't considered "Soriano third, Lee fourth and Ramirez fifth?" Did he really anticipate that a baseball lifer who earned even more money than Blagojevich was pulling in via slush funds would be in the dark in variations on how to bat his power hitters?
It's a curious situation, and one which shines a light on just how drunk on power Blagojevich was, and how shockingly controlled Pinella was, as well. In past lifetimes, Pinella almost certainly would have exploded in public over such a public indiscretion. Evidently he's now happy to sit on the note until the public official who produced it is hung out to dry by his own largesse and hubris.
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