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Caray goes on attack against Baker, Cubs


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Credit: Daily Herald

 

 

Caray goes on attack against Baker, Cubs

Posted Saturday, October 30, 2004

By Barry Rozner

 

 

Under most circumstances, Chip Caray is about as mild-mannered as they come.

 

But when it comes to defending his former broadcast partner, Steve Stone, Chip sounds more like Harry Caray.

 

Clearly frustrated and finally able to speak his mind freely with Stone having departed the Cubs, Chip Caray took the gloves off Friday and delivered some crushing blows.

 

Without even mentioning his name in most cases, Caray directed much of his anger toward Cubs manager Dusty Baker for allowing the players to attack the broadcasters without consequence.

 

He knows the Cubs tried to bury the Kent Mercker incidents, not to mention the idea of getting the broadcasters tossed off the plane.

 

But Caray says it all happened, and it was ugly, especially Mercker going after Stone on a charter flight.

 

"Anyone who attempts to portray it as myth is being a fool,'' Caray said Friday. "The elevator incident occurred in front of another member of the traveling party, and the charter incident happened in front of a full plane.

 

"It was loud and profane and extremely insulting and disrespectful. People can claim anything they want, but believe me, it happened.

 

"I can tell you that in the organizations in which Mercker pitched before, that behavior never would have been tolerated.

 

"Steve was the voice of the franchise, and it's simply unconscionable that he was treated this way when there's no way Harry Caray or Jack Brickhouse or Ron Santo would have ever been treated that way. Can you explain that to me?''

 

Caray said that after Mercker was done screaming and cursing at Stone, the broadcasters sat in stunned silence. They were shocked not just that it happened, but that people in positions of authority didn't react at all to the conflict.

 

"It's very convenient to blame Steve or me for this getting into the media, but this doesn't even happen if the person in question (Mercker) doesn't pick up the phone and call the booth to complain,'' Caray said. "He could have come up to us the next day on the field and discussed it with us, like it happened with other players during the season.

 

"Why didn't it happen in this case? You're asking the wrong guy.''

 

Caray said he knows for a fact that Cubs brass John McDonough, Jim Hendry and Andy MacPhail all tried to do something about it, but he also singled out Baker as the man who should have put an end to it with one conversation.

 

"You have to be careful who you choose as your king,'' Caray said of Baker. "We always took pride in not second guessing the manager, and I'm not about to start now.

 

"If this had all been shot down in July with a very simple statement like, 'We don't lose because of broadcasters. We don't win because of broadcasters. We don't blame others for our mistakes.' If that happens, it's over.

 

"Instead, the message was clear: It's open season on the broadcasters, and it was not fun going to work.

 

"I was in the last year of my contract, and I told Andy and Jim and John that I was not going to be labeled as the reason they didn't make the playoffs.

 

"Neither of us made one pitch, got picked off, got doubled off, failed to move a runner or failed to throw to the right base. The Cubs weren't good enough, and that's not our fault.''

 

Caray is still shocked that these childish moments were accepted by the authority in the Cubs' clubhouse, but he also realizes it's a symptom of a much greater illness.

 

"I said the last two years that this team is going through growing pains, and that sometimes a team has to learn how not to lose before it can learn how to win,'' Caray said. "The people in that clubhouse had too many agendas and too many complaints.

 

"We had a pitcher (Joe Borowski) mad at the media because the manager said his velocity was down. We had a closer (LaTroy Hawkins) get dragged off the field by the coaches after he went after the umpires. We had a manager go crazy because he blew a double-switch.

 

"We had Kerry Wood flip his lid because of an umpire's call, and we had the whole Michael Barrett-Roy Oswalt debacle.

 

"I was always taught in sports growing up that if you want revenge, beat the other guy. The Cubs didn't do that. They just talked about it and complained about it.

 

"And unfortunately, they sat at home and watched the playoffs.''

 

As unhappy as he is with the way Stone was abused, Caray is overjoyed that Stone has found happiness with his decision to leave.

 

"I'm sad for Cubs fans but happy for Steve that he's at peace and happy with his bride-to-be,'' Caray said. "I can only imagine how painful it was to walk away from 30 years of his life, though I'm very flattered to hear his decision might have been different had I been back.

 

"Our partnership is stopped for now, for maybe a couple years, but our friendship won't end there in that booth.''

 

As for Caray, don't worry about him. He's joining a professional organization in Atlanta and sees a bright future ahead.

 

"I leave with no bitterness or animosity, and I hope the next person in that job is there for 25 years. Cub fans deserve that,'' Caray said. "But this much is certain: For that to happen, it has to be a first-class job, and for it to be a first-class job, you have to treat people first with class.''

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This may have been posted before, but does anyone know if Stone left of his own accord or was he pushed out?

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All the talk in Chicago is that he left on his own, but if you were up here all year you would know that Baker probably had a lot in him not being back in 2005. He is a player's manager, that is for certain. The only problem is he ruins arms and doesn't manager like one should.

 

He is another reason why the Cubs suck, add him to the long list.

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