Although Wrigley Field is known as the "Friendly Confines," there are apparently limits to just how forgiving and understanding the ownership of the Chicago Cubs can be when it comes to on-field futility.
With the hapless Cubbies mired in fifth place in the NL Central with a 54-70 record, general manager Jim Hendry was fired by the team. The final straw may have been dropping two out of three games to the Houston Astros, the worst team in the entire league.
Hendry got his start in the Cubs organization in 1994 as the director of player development and rose through the ranks until he was named GM in 2002.
"My family and I appreciate Jim's dedication during our time with the Cubs and thank him for his overall 17 years of service to the Cubs organization," team chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement. "It is time for a fresh approach in our baseball leadership and our search begins immediately for our next general manager."
Early in Hendry's tenure, it looked like he would pilot the Cubs to their first world championship in generations. In 2003, the Cubs were within five outs of the World Series when everything unraveled against the Marlins in the NLCS. The scapegoat for that loss is fan Steve Bartman, who interfered with Moises Alou as he attempted to catch a foul pop up, but Hendry kept pushing onward and put his ballclub in position to end the "Curse of the Billy Goat" the following year. In 2004, Sports Illustrated tipped Hendry's Cubs to win the World Series but their dreams were again unfulfilled.
Coming off those harsh mid-decade disappointments, Hendry may have made the moves that sowed the seeds for his eventual dismissal. In 2006, Hendry signed Alfonso Soriano to an eight-year $136 million pact that haunts the club still. Expensive long-term deals were also doled out to Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano.
And, it may not be a coincidence that Hendry is being sacked so soon after Big Z made headlines for abandoning the team after another in-game meltdown.
The Cubs have announced that assistant general manager Randy Bush has been named interim GM.