Kosuke Fukudome's 2008 season was an exercise in confusion. The Japanese All-Star made an immediate impact on the Cubs with his Opening Day heroics. His first, oh, seven weeks were lights out -- he was hitting for average, getting on-base, hitting home runs, the whole bit.
Then the wheels fell off. Fukudome started slumping, and slumping some more, and by August it was obvious it was no longer a slump. The man had forgotten, whether temporarily or not, how to hit major league pitching.
That led ESPN's Steve Phillips -- one of the network's sillier baseball bloviators -- to say the following on ESPN-1000 the other day:
"My view is Lou doesn't have a great deal of patience for assimilation into culture, assimilation into the team," Phillips said. "He is just not the most patient guy around, and he tends to verbalize his frustrations in an angry way. I think that may have affected Fukudome a little bit."
Well, that's one theory. Close observers of the Cubs last year would have found little to support the thesis. Fukudome started almost every single game last season. If Lou had given up on him, would he have played him in the playoffs, too? What's more, buying into the notion that Fukudome needs to be coddled is not only insulting to the player, it's armchair psychology. You really think a .60 drop in in batting average is attributible to hurt feelings?
Anyway, you can imagine how much Lou enjoyed Phillips' trenchant little piece of analysis:
"I don't have much respect for Steve Phillips," Piniella said after hearing the comment Monday. "Let him be around a little more and see what transpires before he makes assumptions. I've lost total respect for this guy. If he had something to say, let him say it to me."
As Tom wrote on FanHouse this morning, it's a wonder Piniella had any respect for Phillips in the first place. It's a little hard to drudge up much respect for a guy that agrees to post for fake press conferences on SportsCenter. And that's before he starts talking about baseball.
Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger hunkered down in Lincoln Park. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, MOUTHPIECE Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com.