"A Team Full Of Outlaws"

June 01, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Wolter

Eat your heart out, ChuckDickens... or so the Cubs were dubbed last week by Paul Sullivan of the Tribune.

And I for one, embrace this image. If I can't root for a winning team, at least I can root for an entertaining (and not a little scary one). And let's face it, a team where Ted Lilly, a man who allegedly got into a fistfight with his manager, doesn't even make most fans Top 3 Cubs Hotheads list, is bound to be entertaining.

But outlaws? Well...I suppose if you really want make this judgment, then I suppose the only right way to do it is to compare the Cubs to the True Barometer of All Things Outlaw: 1970s Country.

Well, that's easier said than done, mister. Unless you're one of those responsible-type bloggers who does their research and writes in a timely manner. Which I clearly am not.

But I suppose I should actually earn my keep here, so here goes:

Waylon Jennings
Waylon is one of the true giants of the Outlaw movement, with a solid musical resume and a bad-boy image that belied his down-to-earth nature. So who better than Milton Bradley to personify this? A man with a solid pedigree of above average ballplaying mixed with some rather public moments of...hold it...I'm being informed that I should probably not talk too much about Milton. I might make him angry....

Willie Nelson
Willie is an outlaw in spirit, but his laid back, easygoing (read: stoned) demeanor doesn't fit this current spate of umpire run-ins very well. However, his past run-ins with the IRS and his support for a controversial position on marijauna legalization remind me of a relatively laid back and softspoken Cub with a controversial position on chickens pecking each other to death: Aramis Ramirez. Expect Aramis to appear in Stephen Colbert's manger scene next year, prize rooster in hand.

Johnny Cash
A hipster favorite, even though his true outlaw days were far before this time, Cash is a difficult one to pin down as a Cub. Based on the fact that in the 1970s, Cash was entering a decline that lasted some time, I'm going to cheat and say that it's Derrek Lee. Lee used to be a very good (and for a year, elite) player, and once almost landed a punch on Chris Young (that's like going to Starkville County Jail for picking flowers, I guess). Let's just hope Rick Rubin can engineer a comeback for Lee soon.

Johnny Paycheck
Now here's a real wildman. Paycheck had an awesome run of raw edgy honky-tonk classics in the late 60s, but flew under the mainstream radar until he re-invented himself as an outlaw. And late in his career, Paycheck ended up serving a couple of years in prison for shooting a man in a scuffle. Ted Lilly spent several years as a solid but relatively unnoticed pitcher before reinventing himself as a psychopath for the Cubs blogosphere. And Lilly will no doubt serve a few years in prison if anyone finds the bodies...

Kris Kristofferson
Kristofferson has always been the thinking man's country musician. It's not a well-known fact, but Kristofferson is a Rhodes scholar with a Masters' in English from Oxford. No. Really. He is. But he still manages to exude a sort of gruff, good-ol-boy air that gives him an authentic bad-boy feel. Now, if Greg Maddux was still a Cub, I'd assign him Kristofferson in a second. But since he isn't, the closest thing we have to intellectuals on the team are...well, the Canadians...I guess. I'm putting Ryan Dempster in this role, because Harden is clearly a robot.

David Allan Coe
Now here's where it gets fun. David Allan Coe is immensely talented, immensely self-destructive, and you never know just how much of his crazy is a put-on and how much is just...because there's no doubt he's insane - it's just to what degree? After being released from prison, Coe put out a couple of strange, poetic, blues based art albums about the prison-industrial complex and being a young man in America, then wrote some of the tenderest country love ballads ever. Later he put out two of the most racist and offensive country albums ever made. He's dressed in a mask and rhinestones, in Nudie suits and huge belt buckles, and (most recently) like the scariest white-trash biker grandpa in history. If there is anyone else than Carlos Zambrano who fits this mold, I'd like to hear it.

Merle Haggard
Lou Piniella. I will brook no argument.

George Jones
Like Merle and Cash, he's not technically "Outlaw" country at all, but his carousing days certainly put him on this list. But not as a Cub. His legendary drunken exploits behind the wheel put him squarely in St. Louis, most likely as resident "jeenyus," Tony LaRussa.

Okay, I'm stretching this concept to the breaking. See you in 3 months, when I write my next TMS feature. Special thanks to my fellow bartender Dave Thomas for the photoshop.