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posted: 8/2/2012 9:51 PM

Cubs' Barney plays way into Theo's heart

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  • Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney continues to show that he knows how to play the game.

      Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney continues to show that he knows how to play the game.
    Associated Press

 
 

Darwin Barney had never played much second base when Ryne Sandberg pulled him aside in the minor leagues and suggested Barney start getting a view of the field from the right side.

"I was playing shortstop, but (Sandberg) worked with me before games at second base because he thought it might be good for me down the road," Barney said earlier this year. "It's a pretty good guy to have showing you the position."

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After playing only 18 games in the minors at second base -- vs. 401 at shortstop -- Barney has turned himself into a gold glove-caliber fielder at the major-league level, and while he doesn't profile as a Theo Epstein-type player, Barney is hard not to like, and he may be playing his way into Epstein's heart.

Barney doesn't have power, doesn't hit for high average, and his on-base percentage (.310) isn't going to excite Epstein.

But Barney has been terrific defensively, he understands easily the Cubs' new defensive shifting, he helps Starlin Castro, and he's an extremely smart player who works hard and knows how to play the game.

Simply put, he's a baseball player. Not a superstar, but he's a baseball player, and Epstein is open-minded enough to see value there.

Barney is also someone the Cubs could have easily moved at the deadline to teams needing infield help, but with four more years of club control and a small salary there was certainly no need for the Cubs to make a decision on Barney's future right now.

As for what that is, much depends on how Barney develops offensively. The Cubs have drafted or signed several shortstops the last few years and many of them don't project as left-side players, so second base could soon find a logjam in the minor leagues.

In the meantime, Barney fills a role for the Cubs and works to find his game in the big leagues.

He has found himself a position and a career -- even if it's not ultimately in Chicago.

Ryan Dempster

All you really need to know about the Ryan Dempster-to-Atlanta debacle is in this quote from Theo Epstein: "I think it's unfortunate, but he certainly wasn't blindsided because we had been telling him for days that Atlanta was a very likely destination and we were going to have to make a final decision."

For Dempster to pretend he never knew about it is simply dishonest, and any attempt by him and his lackeys to portray it otherwise is duplicitous.

Jordyn Wieber

Someday someone's going to have to explain a scoring system in which the fourth-best score doesn't qualify for the all-around title, but the 28th-best score in preliminaries does advance because the best team already has two of the top three in the finals.

That's what happened to Team USA's Jordyn Wieber in women's gymnastics, and it's no wonder she was in tears after she posted the fourth-best total but didn't reach the women's finals.

Olympic stories

Michael Phelps is certainly the star of the Games, but there are better stories, like the rapid ascension of Gabby Douglas to world's best female gymnast and a double-gold winner.

Or Kayla Harrison, sexually abused by a former coach as a child, who overcame it all to win gold in judo.

There are some terrific tales of survival that wound up in victory, and those who say there's nothing interesting about the Olympics anymore are either heartless or simply not willing to engage.

NHL labor

NHLPA boss Don Fehr insists it's not necessary that there be a deal in place before the CBA expires in mid-September.

"All I've said is Sept. 15 is not a magic date unless someone wants to make it so," Fehr told the Globe and Mail. "There's nothing that happens on Sept. 15 if we don't have an agreement, provided nobody says we're going to go on strike or says we're going to lock the doors.

"The law is that if you don't have a new agreement, and as long as both sides are willing to keep negotiating, you can continue to play under the terms of the old one until you reach an agreement.

"All I know is that in baseball, there were any number of occasions in which we played while the parties were continuing to negotiate."

Doubling down

Omaha World-Herald's Brad Dickson, on the disqualified Olympic badminton teams: "The teams supposedly did not try to win. I don't know much about doubles badminton, but I'm pretty sure it's not normally played with a beer in one hand."

Best tweet

From @sportspickle: "The Dressage crowd just had their servants do the wave. Cool scene."

And finally

NBC's Jay Leno: "Harry Reid and other members of Congress are just furious over this Olympic uniform deal. He says we should burn the uniforms, and it's an embarrassment and a disgrace. Not as embarrassing as Congress constantly borrowing money from the Chinese, but still embarrassing."

brozner@dailyherald.com

•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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