If you are a long tenured fan of the Chicago Cubs, you likely know the story of Adam Greenberg. If not, only July 9, 2005 Greenberg was called up to the major leagues and made his debut. In his very first at bat in the major leagues, and on the very first pitch he saw, Greenberg was drilled in the head, ending his game, his season, and his career. He is the only player in Major League Baseball history who had their career ended on the very first pitch of their career.
Over the past several weeks, Greenberg has started a petition which has gained quite a bit of National attention which is focused on getting him one at bat. Something to get him into the record books for something slightly more positive than having the distinction of being the only player to have his career ended on the very first pitch.
Sadly for Greenberg, his one at bat dream came to an end today, at least for getting that at bat with the team he was supposed to come up with. The Cubs today denied Greenberg’s request for that one at bat.
Allow me to be honest here. In denying Greenberg’s very simple request for only one at bat, the Cubs made a very bad Public Relations decision. Giving him a meaningless at bat, in a meaningless game, in a meaningless season would have earned them a lot of Public Relations gold which would have gone a long way to earning respect from players around baseball with various players. The move would have shown the players that the Cubs organization is not heartless, and that they do care about their players, and former players. The move would have shown that they are human and not just a business. Sadly, this move has upset quite a few Cub fans who have signed the petition to get him that one meaningless at bat, in a meaningless game, in a meaningless season.
While the decision to deny Greenberg’s request for that one at bat gives them a bad public relations hit, I applaud them for making the proper business decision. Unfortunately, the best public relations decision is not always the best business decision.
Remember, baseball is still a business and the Cubs must operate the team as such if they want to be successful. If they had made the proper public relations decision to give Greenberg his one at bat dream, that gift of an at bat would have cost another player their spot on the 40 man roster, which is currently full. That means someone who is currently on the 40 man roster would need to be designated for assignment.
If you are wondering what the big deal is in designating a player for assignment, ask yourself this. Are you still holding a grudge about the Cubs not protecting Casey McGehee? He was dropped from the 40 man roster after not performing well enough to give the Cubs any thought that he could ever be a Major League player, for a player who the Cubs thought would have a better chance at making an impact at the major league level. Adding Greenberg to the 40 man roster would cut a player who might have potential for a player who is already 30 years old and who only wants one lone at bat, and nothing more.
The player who is designated for assignment, for the one lone at bat for Greenberg, could wind up being a super star, a league average player, or a complete bust. Like every other player, the player who would be designated is a scratch and win lottery ticket. That player who has an unknown value is still far more valuable that Greenberg is. Unfortunately for Greeenberg, his career is over and he will never amount to anything. At one point, he had a very high ceiling and could have been something special, but that was over seven years ago. He is not looking to restart his career, he just wants that one at bat. Even if he was looking to restart his career, automatically giving him a spot on the 40 man roster is bad business.
You can always invite him to Spring Training to see if he can earn that spot on the 40 man roster, but chances are that at his age and in his condition, he will not make the cut.
As sad of a story as this is, the Cubs made the right decision is denying his request. I wish him all the luck in the world, and hope that there is some team out there who has room on their 40 man roster for him, because I am afraid that no team will designated anyone for assignment just to give Greenberg his one Major League at bat.