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Sunday 23rd Apr 2017

Baseball is so like religion and politics.

Is there a god? Damned Obama! How the hell could Theo Epstein send Kris Bryant down?

It is not like any of the above declaratives/interogatives did not elicit some kind of visceral response out of you, right?

How about mentioning Josh Hamilton, or Ervin Santana, one of whom avoided suspension despite a history of drug abuse, while one was knocked out of half the season for getting caught with PEDs in his bloodstream?

We all have our opinions, and that is part of what makes the human experience so wonderful, and at the same time exasperating.

And, I am no different from most of you with those opinions. I think Jim Kaat and Tommy John should be in the Hall of Fame, no question, and so should Rock Raines and maybe even Dwight Evans and Bill Buckner (just that sentence probably wrankled some of you, right?).

And, while we all have our reactions to Hamilton, and his lack of suspension (how could that be?) and that of Santana (uh oh, I have him on three rosters), it is Bryant, and the comments on an e-mail thread that really piqued me to write about this today.

Within the e-mails, initiated by my old Bill James league mate Bryan Busse, it was asked "how the Cubs management could possibly send down the home run leader this spring to save a year's worth of salary?"

Virtually none of the 10 or so folks who responded to the question liked the move, and the reactions were  "I hope the Cubs lose a playoff spot by one game because of this dumbass move," invoking both a superior attitude and schadenfreude in one nifty sentence.

theoOne e-mailer, a Cardinals fan, was thrilled with the move, thinking it would make it easier for his team to make the postseason, and that was typical, for not one person spoke up on behalf of Cubs GM Theo Epstein, who has made the woeful Wrigley-ites the envy of every franchise with his brilliant drafting.

No slack then, for the guy who finally brought a pair of World Series titles to the Red Sox after a century of curse, and whose Cubs are suddenly a 6-to-1 bet to win the Series come October.

Which makes me wonder, what does someone have to do to get a little respect?

In fairness, I do often wonder about the moves made by GMs in baseball and football, truly wondering what these guys are thinking half the time. Barry Zito for seven years, for example, was just about as bad a deal as has been made over the last decade (and I am still a big Zito fan).

Well, dumb or not, Brian Sabean, who closed that deal, won three World Series titles during the bulk of Zito's tenure, so just how terrible of a job did Sabean do?

As for Epstein, is it not enough that he has first, lifted the Curse of the Bambino, but among Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Bryant, Theo (who is also a pretty good guitar player) has assembled a collection of prospects that is enough to raise envy in any kind of baseball team, fantasy or real (how many of his guys do you have on your reserves, roster, and within your minors?).

I am pretty sure that Epstein understands the implications of getting himself an extra year's service from his future star at the expense of a couple of weeks and ten games, but the reality is if the team can simply go 5-5 until Bryant arrives, that should be fine.

And, should it be that the Cubs do indeed finish one game back, and that "failure" is attributed to a "lack of Bryant," well, the team will only get better, and the Cards and the universe better get ready for some rough times from 2016-2020.

Bet Theo does get the last laugh.

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