"I hope they give Rick the time they didn't give Jim Lefebvre or Zim, who was the perfect riverboat gambler for the job. Have them change that crazy schedule, with all the different start times screwing up the biorhythms. And tell them not to let Greg Maddux go to Atlanta."
Frank Chance would have applauded Riggleman for calling out Sammy Sosa in '97, and thus following Maxims 2, 3, 7 and 8. Even Sosa later admitted he had it coming. In '98, the chastened Sosa hit 66 homers, Kerry Wood arrived on the scene, Rod Beck saved 51 games and the Cubs made the postseason by winning 90 games and beating the Giants in a one-game playoff for the wild-card spot. (They were swept by the Braves when Maddux bettered Wood.) Riggleman talked during a preseason workout with the Reds' Triple-A Louisville Bats, the team he now manages.
"I'll always have that scene at Wrigley after we beat the Giants in the playoff. It's a special place, Chicago, and the fans are tremendous. They deserve more of those.
"I think they're on the right track now. Find a core group of players, like Andy MacPhail did for us, and be patient. We fell apart in '99, and I probably deserved to go because they needed another voice, but it bothers me that we weren't able to sustain it.
"What I would tell Rick is this. 'Don't think of all the things people complain about, the wind and the game times and the old ballpark, as disadvantages but as advantages. You know the conditions better than the opposition does. Use them.'"
The Cubs had high hopes, and a high payroll, after Baylor's team won 88 games in 2001. When MacPhail fired him in the middle of the disappointing 2002 season, one-game interim manager Rene Lachemann famously said, "It's not like he took dumb pills in the offseason." Now the hitting coach for the Angels, Baylor grabbed a picnic table in Tempe to talk.
"It's tough to win there. I certainly didn't do it, and I still haven't figured out why. You got the wind blowing in when you fill out the lineup card in the morning, and by the time the game starts, it's blowing out. You got the thick grass that negates speed. You got the weight of history. And you got the demands of the fans and the media. Let's put it this way: It's a short-term lease.
"But if the Red Sox could do it, the Cubs can do it. That's why they got Theo. Here's what I'd look for. Athletes. Players who can play in any weather condition, on any field. Pitchers who don't care which way the wind is blowing. Get yourself enough of those, and you might have something."
When Baylor was relieved of his duties, the Cubs called up Kimm, the manager of their Triple-A Iowa affiliate. The Norway, Iowa, resident is now retired, and pleased that someone even remembers he was the Cubs' manager for a time.
"Growing up in Iowa, I knew how much the Cubs meant to the people of the Midwest, and for a moment there, I thought, 'Hey, wouldn't it be nice if I could bring my friends and neighbors a world championship?'
"But reality hits you pretty hard. What was I, 33-45? It was a nice experience and all, and I'm glad I managed in the majors, but really, I don't think Rick Renteria needs to hear from me. If anything, I'd tell him this: 'Make sure you get a bullpen.'"