Cubs fans abuzz over Hendry firing

August 19, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Tom Ricketts decided that the time has come for new leadership - welcome news for some long-suffering fans.

"We just didn't win enough games," said Ricketts. "Team performance over the last two years is not where it needs to be, and in a culture of accountability, we need to look at these kind of results."

It was an exciting day with an extra-innings win for the Cubs at Wrigley Field Friday, excitement which has been missing most of the season on the way to a losing record amid poor attendance. These could all be reasons why Tom Ricketts decided to let Jim Hendry go.

Hendry says he understands the decision.

"You get to the point where it's big business," said Hendry on Friday. "We're here to win games, and the last couple years, we didn't win enough."

Hendry chatted with a Cubs employee Friday before driving away from the ballpark that had been his workplace for 17 years. It was a beautiful day, and with the archrival cardinals in town, fans flocked to the field.

Hendry said that he knew for nearly a month that he was going to be let go, but he stayed through the trade deadline and the draft to help the team sign new players to minor league contracts.

However, with the team slogging through a second consecutive losing season, days like Friday were often the exception rather than the rule. Ultimately, most fans said it was Jim Hendry's fault and he needed to go. None of the fans ABC 7 spoke with said they were surprised by the decision.

"I've been looking for this for a long time," said Cubs fan Jim McCormack.

"We gotta make some changes, this is not good for the Cubs," said Cubs fan Shon Brunious. "It's probably everybody's fault."

A number of fans said they were caught off-guard by the timing, because they say at this point, the Cubs' season is basically already lost.

While Ricketts said the bottom line was that the Cubs simply failed to win enough games under Hendry, experts also say that Hendry has saddled the team with a number of huge contracts to players who have failed to live up to expectations.

Among them, Alfonso Soriano - $136 million, Carlos Zambrano - $91 million, Kosuke Fukudome - $48 million, and Milton Bradley - $30 million. Only Soriano is active with the team right now, and some fans blame the general manager for the chaos.

"I'm in the business world, so I kinda understand the way that people do things," said Cubs fan Jamal Webster. "He was giving away a lot of money."

"He's the general manager, and they haven't performed, so they need to make a change," said fan James Larson.

"The club was tied up with these long-term deals and they couldn't get out of them," said Chicago Tribune sportswriter Sullivan.

"He built some playoff teams here, it was just they couldn't sustain it," "said Sullivan. Part of the reason they couldn't sustain it was because so many guys had long-term contracts that they couldn't deal."

The Cubs did win three division titles under Hendry, more than under any other Cubs manager.

"He had his great moments making the playoffs in '07 and '08, but I think it's about time - time to turn the page, time to start a new chapter in the Cubs' history," said fan Todd Ehlman.

The Ricketts family plans to renew its push for public financing to improve Wrigley Field, an uphill battle according to analysts, and some believe that getting rid of an unpopular general manager could help, although some think the public financing issue is entirely separate from Hendry's firing.

"I think if they did bring Hendry back, obviously, he's not a very popular figure in Chicago, so that might not have helped them, but I think it's totally separate - they're asking for money at a time when people's 401(k)s are going down the drain," said Sullivan.

A number of fans said they believe Hendry might be just the first of several coaches or players to lose their jobs with the Cubs as the season comes to a close.

Ricketts said the search for the new general manager began Friday.

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