O'Donnell: Jed Hoyer is perfect for the paranoid down times of the Ricketts' Wrigleyville 3.0
WERE RAY DAVIES AND THE KINKS aiming future vibrations at the Cubs of Jed Hoyer when they sang about "Paranoia, the destroyer?"
"Paranoia" seems to be the password at Wrigley Field these days (replacing "sturgeon").
The password certainly isn't "rebuild." Or, as that label is better known in the hush-hush executive corridors around Addison and Clark, the reality that dare not speak its name.
Hoyer's Cubs are devolving into parody -- implosive absurdia in plain sight.
Paying fans are looked upon as the tragically out of touch. Game stories are glossed over more quickly than bad horoscopes. The team's Marquee Sports Network carries all the entertainment value of a free Xfinity holiday weekend of David Schwimmer movies.
LIKE ANDREW JOHNSON trying to follow Abe Lincoln, the whistle-less ringmaster is the unfortunate Mr. Hoyer.
He has a nice salary. He has a nice title. He has staff attempting to cover his backside.
With Marquee, he has a regional sports network that is little more than a monthly annoyance on home cable TV bills.
The recent censoring of three sports media types on a startup slab of tripe called "The Toadies" -- whoops, make that "The Reporters" -- simply brought more light to the meandering misdeeds of the grossly overwhelmed Hoyer.
HE ONCE COULD HIDE in the comfortable shadow of being Theo Epstein's "No. 2."
Now he can't. The bleak center ring of the Cubs belongs to him.
Epstein bolted when the boltin' was good.
Hoyer stayed, remaining to speak publicly in infrequent staccato about vague notions of five-year plans.
Five years, in the hourglasses of contemporary American sports, are a millennium.
Hoyer is the replaceable cleanup man tailing the circus parade. His squirming myopia is limited to elephant remnants and fizzled balloons, all bled of championship Cubbie blue.
In other words, he is the perfect porter for the times in the Wrigleyville 3.0 of the Ricketts era.
With paranoia more and more nipping at the vines.
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STAYING ON THE BASEPATHS, the recent passing of Ray Liotta prompted Dave Eanet to remind that the New Jersey-bred actor was once wed to Michelle Grace, the ex-wife of late-century Cubs stalwart Mark Grace.
A year or so after the divorce, Mark Grace and roommate Dan Falato were ushered into Booth 2 at Mike Ditka's restaurant down on East Ontario. Falato was the radio whiz who produced the Steve Dahl-Garry Meier show during its golden years on the old WLS-FM.
They got Booth 2 because Booth 1 was occupied by Ditka, Tim Weigel and a bearded chum.
All cross introductions were quickly made and then Da Coach chortled.
He looked at Grace, pointed at Falato and deadpanned:
"That's the best you can do?"
STREET-BEATIN': Bulls classicists -- ahem -- remain adamant that if pricey Zach LaVine returns to the team next season, it's a lose-lose for all. He's got a high basketball skillset but all the no-ring championship fiber of such February wonders as Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and Chris Paul. ...
Ken Valdiserri and Bryan Harlan were front and center at a recent soiree feting the release of Rich King's new "Ike and Me" (Eckhartz Press, $20). The book chronicles the adventures of King and mythic WGN-Channel 9 cameraman Ike Isaac. (In previous lives, Valdiserri and Harlan were absolutely masterful in handling the global media crush surrounding the Super Bowl XX Bears.) ...
Adam Rogowin has gracefully departed after a distinguished 14-year run atop Blackhawks media relations. He joined the team weeks after leaving the Chicago Wolves and their 2008 Calder Cup champions. ...
For milkman's matinee watchers, Thursday night's no-delay White Sox-Red Sox droner ended just after 11 p.m. That left viewers time to switch to the Big Ten Network, where coach Dan Hartleb and Illinois were losing their B-10 tournament opener to Michigan, 7-5. That Omaha owl fest began at 10:54 p.m. and ended at 2:16 a.m. ...
And TNT/NBA seasonal closer Stan Van Gundy, on next Wednesday's primetime golf "The Match" involving Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers vs. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen: "When are they going to have the pro golfers play quarterback?"
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.