When the press release for Jim Hendry's new book How to Finish Near Last Place with the Highest Payroll in the League was first circulated through the Miller Park press box this past weekend it was widely thought to be a hoax by someone attempting to be funny and probably not an all together good attempt at that. So imagine our surprise when in our inbox we received a copy of the new book for review. It's not nearly long (or good) enough to write a lengthy review on and at times we had trouble reading the Comic Sans font the book was written in, but it is... interesting and is probably the closest we'll ever get to an "inside view" of the general manager position by an acting (for now) GM.
The book opens with a foreword by Lou Piniella that starts off nice enough thanking Jim Hendry for the opportunity to write for the foreword and also to manage Cubs, but after about two sentences it quickly devolves into an airing of grievances against everyone in baseball who has ever slighted him. By the last paragraph every sentence is typed in all-caps with multiple profanities interlaced within. The foreword ends, tellingly perhaps, with Piniella writing:
AND F*CK YOU TOO STEVE STONE LETS SEE YOU MANAGE A F*CKING TEAM.
HOPE YOU ENJOY THE F*CKING BOOK, BUT I'M NOT GONNA F*CKING READ IT.
Surprisingly when Hendry takes over the book doesn't change very much in tone from Piniella's foreword. Each chapter addresses a common complaint among fans about his work with an impassioned defense of the move followed by a "summary" of the point he was trying to make. While it may sound unnecessary, it is very helpful as Hendry has trouble making his points and often loses sight of the original topic by going into tangents about those "a-holes in the bleachers" and various local radio DJs.
I won't spoil all of the summaries, but I will cover a few of the ones that were leaked in the press release.
On why he signed Milton Bradley:
Because he had a .999 OPS the year before. How was I supposed to know that he was f*cking crazy?
On why he released Casey McGehee:
Did you see the way he celebrated our 2008 division title? He acted like he was frickin' Derrick Lee when he didn't even do anything for us that year. Besides, how was I supposed to know he'd end up being better than Aramis? I'm not Nostra-f*cking-damus.
On hiring Dave Littlefield:
Three words: Ramirez/Lofton trade. I owed him.
And these were some of the nicer responses. I won't even print the answer to the chapter titled "Why I signed players to long-term contracts with limited trade options!" Just know that it includes an f-word, the phrase "your mother" and a c-word. You figure it out.
The book follows the same criticism-defense-summary formula for a whopping 58 chapters until the final chapter which is titled "At least I didn't trade for any rapists, sodomizers or rapists/sodomizers and then throw members of my staff under the bus" which is clearly meant as a low blow to media darling general manager Jack Zduriencik's recent controversy. I found the chapter tasteless and completely uncalled for, (but true.)
Despite the sheer amount of chapters it's not very long or all that well-written with numerous spelling and grammatical errors. How do you get members of your own team's names wrong?
Still, it remains an interesting read for anyone interested in what it's like to be the general manager of a major league baseball team. Even if that team is the Chicago Cubs.