Saturday, February 28, 2009
I was in Mesa for an entire week. I was your eyes and ears for all things related to Cubs' spring training. I took 200+ pictures of Cub players, announcers, writers and fans. I thought I had done a pretty good job. I was wrong.
Somehow, I missed this.
Middle reliever Chad Gaudin was always so clean shaven when he was with the Athletics, but as you can see he's been working all off season on something special for the Cubs.
The geniuses at Deadspin have dubbed him the Amish Rifle and that shall be his name from now on.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Today's installment: The Odd Couple (aka the strangest BP pairing ever)
Monday, February 23, 2009
Fontenot got a special treat in Mesa, a Hall of Fame second baseman as his BP pitcher. No, not Joe Morgan. Thank god. With his restraining order against me, the video wouldn't have come out very well.
Friday, February 20, 2009
College baseball is so much fun to watch live. All kinds of chatter from the players, old school taunts from fans like "Hey ump, you're missing a great game" and $1.50 hot dogs. It was a great way to end our week-long spring training celebration here in sunny Arizona. A new Cubs season is just around the corner. I can't wait.
More videos from spring training coming soon!
Go Cubs (Tigers).
UPDATE: If any of our three readers are actual MU Tiger baseball fans and looking for more than just pretty pictures of the team, head over to SimmonsField.com.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
1) If the pictures and videos we have shared still don't have you convinced that you NEED to come down to Mesa for spring training, maybe this will.
Today's High Temp in Chicago: 20 degrees
Today's High Temp in Mesa: 72 degrees
The defense rests.
2) When you see Soriano's bat up close it's spell-binding. It looks like it weighs 50 pounds.
3) Derek Lee is tall. Fontenot, not so much. If you want in-depth analysis, you've come to the wrong place.
4) 5 minutes. That's how long it takes to feel like a tool standing around waiting for a foul ball.
5) Ready To Rumble may be the most underrated wrestling movie of all time.
6) The special last night at the local sports bar was some sort of frozen margarita. Next to the price was a little note that said "Limit 3." The trial and error process they went through to come up with that number must have been a sight to see.
7) Cubs' spring training and Chompie's in Scottsdale are where the cool octogenarians like to hang.
PS. We're moving up in the world and got ourselves a Facebook group. All the videos and pics (and some that won't be on the blog) can be found there. Check it out.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Last night was the annual FOTG “head to Casino Arizona and leave pissed off and without money” night. Much like most of my gambling nights, we spent about 30 minutes too long there-just enough for me to erase any winnings with which I might have been able to leave the casino. Of course, as JP mentioned “any night in which you leave a casino having lost less than you had budgeted for the night, you should consider that a win.” In that case…we’re still not winners. Anyway, on to the random thoughts from night two of Spring Training 2009:
Non-Vegas Casinos may be the saddest places on earth. Anytime someone shows up by themselves and sits next to you at a blackjack table wearing what they had worn to work that day, then proceeds to take out what is clearly their pay for the day/week and set it on the table to bet, you know life just isn't quite working out like that person had hoped. There were far too many people there who were “just one good run at the tables away from paying the rent.”
Being at Casino Arizona made me appreciate Chicago’s smoking ban more than I could imagine. I half expected to walk out of there looking like a used catchers mitt.
Nothing is more annoying than sitting down at a table just in time for the bloodbath. 3 dealer blackjacks in a row (against your 3 20’s) is gambling equivalent of having the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and seeing Neifi Perez, Paul Bako and Jose Macias coming up.
A few rules for playing blackjack-all of which, when violated, made my night oh so much fun. (If you aren’t into blackjack or gambling, you might want to skip the next few lines. Then again, if you’re not into gambling, you probably stopped about 3 sentences into this post):
If you’re playing blackjack and you’re wife is sitting at the table, don’t make an ass of yourself. More importantly: if you proceed to blow through $200 in 20 minutes, don’t ask her to go to the ATM for you.
If you sit down at a table and the guy sitting next to you is complaining to a pit boss that the dealer didn’t let him split tens, leave the table. Immediately.
So help me God, if you are sitting on 13 and the dealer shows ten, HIT.
Especially if, on the next hand, you are sitting on 15, the dealer shows 6, and you take a hit.
NOTE: The drunk bastard sitting at our table almost got his jugular ripped out for those two moves-which, by the way, occurred on consecutive hands.
On that same note, when a dealer at a table says to you, “wow-you just fucked the whole table,” its probably a good idea to walk away. Of course, he didn’t.
Not that I’m bitter about last night or anything.
More videos and "analysis" coming soon. Stay tuned!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Perhaps one of the greatest meals anyone has ever eaten is a dog and a beer at the ball park. That meal's place in the pantheon of good eats does not have to worry about any competition from the "soft" pretzels at Fitch Field.
While Arizona isn't as warm as advertised, it's also not raining as reported in this very blog earlier today.
Speaking of this blog, I'm a bit disappointed that no one recognized Jdot as "that cool Cubs blogger guy." I am confident, however, that I'm not as disappointed as Jdot, himself, was.
When the Cubs were having their first catch of the spring to warm up yesterday, only one player dropped a ball. It was Bobby Scales. He dropped two. Oops.
Yesterday morning I thought spring training baseball appeared to be a completely untapped opportunity for groupies. By night I had realized that they must all be busy with their jobs at Tilted Kilt.
The best and worst things I saw at spring training are below.
The best: A father passing on his love for baseball--and presumably the Cubs--is made cooler for me by the fact that this dad wanted to memorialize it with a picture, while his daughter just wanted to watch the players having a catch.
The worst: Sometime in the last decade or decade-and-a-half, a guy getting an autograph switched from a father, grandfather, or uncle getting a signed ball for his son/grandson/nephew to a guy getting ready to set up a new eBay auction. Martin already pointed this out, but when we were growing up it always seemed like the best job in the world was working at a card shop. You'd be surrounded by autographs, memorabilia, and baseball day-in and day-out. Turns out, though, when you get older and look a little closer at the dude above, he basically just looks like this guy (nice job Matt Groening, you hit the nail on the head):
JDot didn’t realize that Aaron Miles was white. He remembered after I reminded him that we had this identical conversation last year when the Cubs played the Cardinals. It’s like being at Spring Training with the guy from “Memento.”
Nothing says “wholesome family entertainment” like watching two eight year olds play catch. Except when one misses a ball and shouts to the other “why the fuck did you throw it so hard?” Ahh, Americana.
Jim Hendry walks through this place like a chubby Hugh Hefner at a Playboy party. Only the girls he charms are all older than 135. He’s got a way with the bluehairs.
My favorite exchange from Day One:
Fan: “Hi Mr. Hendry. You’ve been doing a great job. How are you?”
Hendry: “Good. Nice to meet you.”
Fan (not skipping a beat): “So why the hell did you trade DeRosa?”
Hendry: “I liked your first question better.”
JP’s going to write more about this later, but I’m convinced that there is no bigger scum in this world than the mid-40s guys who show up here with bagfuls of memorabilia for players to sign for their card shop/Ebay Store. When we were ten years old and collected baseball cards, why did no one tell us these guys were losers?
I’m sure that all the countries of Asia are thrilled to have representatives in Major League Baseball, especially when I heard at least 4 different management people discuss “how good them Orientals are.”
My second favorite exchange from Day One:
JP: “Who’s that?”
Me: “It’s the strength coach.”
JP: “For a strength coach, he doesn’t look very strong. I could take him.”
Lunch=Hooters. Dinner=Tilted Kilt. We certainly fulfilled our “Restaurants/Bars masquerading as Strip Clubs, Complete with Creepy and Sad Old Guys” quotient for the week.
I’m 95% sure that there is a channel here that just plays “Fresh Prince” episodes on a continuous loop all day. It’s a wonderful, wonderful channel.
The “When Taken Out of Context, This Sounds Much Worse Than it Was” quote of the day:
“When you do 19 guys in a room with only two beds, it’s only like $5 each.”
After spending the evening at THE GREATEST SPORTS BAR EVER, the Tilted Kilt (more on this later), we got some much needed sleep to prepare for Day Two.
Unfortunately, I stumbled out of bed this morning and discovered that it had rained overnight and more was on the way. So no spring training for us today. As we wait for the weather to improve, I thought I'd start uploading some videos from Day One.
First, as described here, the greatest sound in the world...
Don't have an HD camcorder, so the video isn't as crisp as I want it to be. Sorry.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
1) Which offseason acquisition will have the biggest impact on the team?
2) What is your biggest concern going into the season?
3) How confident are you in Marmol's ability to close?
4) Who is your No. 5 starter?
5) What is your prediction for the Cubs this year?
1) This one is a no brainer. Aaron Miles. I kid. Bradley is the obvious choice here. If he can stay healthy and avoid attempting to murder a fan or ump, he could be the difference for this team. He can flat out stroke the ball and Wrigley is a perfect place for him to have a career year. That's a big if, though. He should at least be fun to watch.
2) The loss of DeRo. In terms of lineup options, the Cubs had a lot of flexibility last season. Not so much this year. When Bradley, Soriano and/or Aramis need the day off, the Cubs will be leaning heavily on a combination of Miles, Gathright, and a bench player to be names. Defensively, we should be fine, but I don't have a ton of confidence in that group at the plate. Strike that. I don't have any confidence in that group. None.
3) Not confident. He has been getting lit up this winter as the Dominican Republic's closer. That can't be a good sign. The fact that he is playing this winter is a worse sign. Lots of mileage on that arm going into spring training. What is he gonna have left come August? Or heaven forbid, October?
4) Sean Marshall. I would love to pick Samardzija here, but he's probably too distraught over Notre Dame's performance on the basketball court over the last month.
5) Cubs run away with the NL Central by mid-August and finish with the best record in baseball. Bradley and Aramis carry the club past the Dodgers to the NLDS where they lose to Jake Peavy and the Diamondbacks in seven games.
It took me exactly 38 minutes after wheels down to be ingesting my first In-n-Out Burger.
The guys standing on the corner holding up signs for the Snoop Dogg show enjoyed their job way too much. Two idiots flipping signs around and some other dork videotaping them. It took a lot to not swerve off the road and clip at least one of them.
I don't care how effeminate it is, the fruity mixed drink known as the "Scottsdale Dreamsicle" is damn good.
In watching the NBA's "Shooting Stars" competition, we quickly realized that there were at least two things wrong with that title.
David Stern pushes the WNBA like homeless guys push windshield squeegy cleanings.
There needs to be a drinking game that revolves around the number of times NBA players siting courtside ridiculously overreact to underwhelming dunks.
Number of times JDot and I were probably mistaken for a gay couple last night: 3.
Number of times it was directly related to something we said to a stranger: 2.
Zipps' 32 oz beers are the devil.
18 pack at Safeway: $15.99. 30 pack at Safeway: $16.99. It took us two trips to Safeway to figure this out.
I'm pretty sure Arizona knew we were coming: first movie on HBO this morning was Die Hard.
Movie bad guys need to find more highly qualified henchmen. Isn't there an interview process or something?
Into the small law offices of unlucky-in-love Charlotte St. John stumbles a handsome stranger, bloodied and battered, suffering amnesia. The good Samaritan, she cares for him, nurses him to health ... and falls hard for this mysterious angel. He reciprocates -- and good love finally finds Charlotte. But not for long, for their brief love affair hits the rocks when his identity is uncovered. Together they learn to their heartbreaking disappointment that he's already married ... twice. That's right, he's an amnesiac who forgot his was a bigamist.
Hotel TV kicks ass.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Off to drink some beer and make fun of the WNBA.
Quick thought. While having a beverage at the airport Chili's, I was trying to think of who I was excited to see this week. Other than Milton Bradley (and Bobby Scales), I've got nothing. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
Quicker thought. I'm glad there will be a fence between me and So Taguchi. Dude better watch his back. Just saying.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Don't worry ladies, I didn't forget about you.
Five Outs To Go is heading down to Arizona tomorrow to enjoy yet another Cubs Spring Training. We will be reporting live from Mesa on all things Cubs for a week.
Photos, videos and more! Stay tuned...
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Hey look, it's a post with a theme!
So the FOTG team (or at least two of us) is a mere 48 hours away from our week-long excursion to Arizona. Spring Training is finally here! That being said, I realized that there is still a lot we don't know about this team and it's potential for heart-breakedness (copyright pending). So as I continue to count down the hours until "wheels down" in AZ, I thought I'd count down the top 48 questions I will attempt to answer during our time amongst Lou's crew.
1) What are the chances that Milton Bradley's ice glare will make me pee myself?
2) With sex symbol DeRo no longer with the club, who will be my wife's new creepy crush?
3) Which non-roster invitee will cause me to whisper "I was unaware he was still amongst the living?"
4) What is the over/under on the first Roberto Alomar AIDS-related joke?
5) How will I cope with a Spring Training sans Matt Murton and his ginger locks?
6) Since the NBA All-Star game is in town, will I regret not packing my Kevlar vest?
7) Will anyone outside the Japanese media be excited to see Fuku?
8) How many In-N-Out burgers is too many?
9) Will Marmol's arm fall off on Tuesday or Wednesday?
10) On the scale of 1-10, how awkward will the College of Idiots-FOTG meetup be?
11) Is there a place on the planet other that Arizona that I can both love and loathe at the same time?
12) Is it socially acceptable to drink at 9AM Western time?
13) Mountain time?
14) What the hell time zone is Arizona in again?
15) Can I hug Ron Santo without being tackled by security?
16) How much jail time would I get for punching Mark Giengreco in the junk?
17) At what point does hanging out on the ASU campus go from curiosity to pedophilia?
18) Will I be more excited to see an NBA player or an NBA groupie?
19) So Taguchi?
20) With a name like Rocky Roquet, how can you not make the team?
21) Is Bobby Scales the greatest Spring Training player ever?
22) Is it socially acceptable to drop-kick an eight-year-old while chasing down a foul ball?
23) Who wins in a knife fight, Len or Bob?
24) Why in the name of all that is holy do they have to start at 9 flippin' AM?
25) With Wuertz, Hill, Pie and Ronny gone, who will fill the void of suck?
26) What is the point of the WBC again and why is it a good idea to have Marmol pitching in it?
27) Lou Pinella, boxers or briefs?
28) If the guy sitting next to me at the blackjack table splits 10's, am I within my legal rights to end his life?
29) When staring at a stranger's wife's breasts in the hot tub, how long is too long?
30) Do baseball players work out in the off season or just eat?
31) Just as a precaution, shouldn't they just wrap Bradley, Harden and Soriano in bubble tape for the entire Spring Training?
32) How long after I put on my Murton jersey t-shirt will my friends start ripping me a new one?
33) Considering the level of "talent" present, what is the graduation rate for heterosexual males at ASU? 10%?
34) What kind a moron decides to do a list of 48 questions?
35) Whatever happened to 2005 Derrek Lee?
36) How many more years are left in Soriano's contract again?
37) Aaron Miles, seriously?
38) Am I supposed to be creeped out or honored having a Cubs player in full uniform at the urinal next to me?
39) Does Lou own an actual jersey or just a bunch of warm-ups?
40) Is there anything more inspiring than seeing Santo walking around a baseball field?
41) So, have they traded for Peavy yet?
42) Is there anyone under the age of 65 living in Mesa?
43) When Soriano gets hurt and both Bradley and Aramis need the day off, wouldn't it just be easier to forfeit that game?
44) Why does it seem like the Cubs are always stockpiling middle relievers who have trouble getting batters out?
45) What exactly is fungo?
46) Who in the hell is paying for Ronnie Woo-Woo's airfare year after year?
47) Over/Under on the number of times the phrase "He's gonna find a red tag in his locker" will be used?
48) Why don't we do this every year?
Monday, February 9, 2009
Fast forward almost a year later, and we're still going (somewhat) strong. We have a handful of faithful readers (surprisingly few who are related to us by blood or marriage). It has been a lot of fun even with the continued soul-crushing sadness that comes from being a Cubs fan.
So with another brutal winter in full force, we again made plans to return to sunny Mesa, AZ and begin anew our crippling obsession with the crushers of hopes, the destroyers of dreams...the one and only Chicago Cubs.
Then something happened.
As those of you who know me personally are already aware, some events in my work life in recent weeks have caused me to reevaluate things. Basically the economy took a bat to my balls, professionally speaking. With an uncertain future on the horizon, I was forced to take a hard look at my options and one thing stood out. There was no way I could go to Spring Training this year. No way in hell.
So I moped around last weekend wondering how bad a career as a shopping cart wrangler would be and bemoaning the fact that I would no longer be poolside in Arizona in a week blogging about how much scarier Milton Bradley is in person. While in this wonderful state of mind, I did something odd and, as it turned out, quite wise. I decided to look through my photos from last year's trip.
Then something else happened.
I remembered why this trip is so important.
There are very few sporting events that I have attended over the years that I recall with complete clarity. Game Five of the NLCS in 2003 (of course), Missouri's double OT win over Kansas back in college, and the moment I walked into the park for Spring Training last year.
I remember everything about that morning like it just happened 15 minutes ago. I remember how quiet it was. I remember that the only sound was a constant "whap-whap" coming from the 45 games of catch happening simultaneously on four different fields. No chatter between the players. No yelling from the fans. No pandering for autographs. Nothing but that distinctive "whap-whap" sound as ball struck glove up and down the line. It was just surreal.
I remember walking up to the fence, lacing my fingers in the chain-link above my head, and just watching grown men fire a ball back and forth repeatedly.
I remember leaning my head against the fence, closing my eyes, and smiling. I remember exhaling and thinking to myself, "This is what heaven is like. This sound."
At that moment, everything else just fell away. All the worries about my job, my finances, and my life just drifted away, and all I heard was "whap-whap" echoing across the fields. It was one of the top three happiest moments of my life.
The rest of that trip is a blur of chasing foul balls, drinking by the pool, eating at In-N-Out, losing at blackjack, and discussing the Cubs' chances from every conceivable angle. Nothing really stands out. Nothing except for that one moment by the fence.
That's when I realized that not only should I go, I NEEDED to go. No matter what the future might bring, I owed it to myself to return to that fence and that perfect sound.
God, I can't wait.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
So Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003. Everybody...stop what you're doing. A BASEBALL PLAYER TESTED POSITIVE FOR STEROIDS SIX YEARS AGO. Did you hear? My life has once again been inexorably changed because a professional athlete used a performance enhancing drug. Society is doomed (again)! Think of the children! Will someone PLEASE think of the children?
Okay, now that I'm done laying on the thick sarcasm/gratuitous Simpsons references, I think its necessary to be clear here: I don't care that Alex Rodriguez used steroids. I don't care that Sammy Sosa probably used steroids. I don't care that Mark McGwire used steroids. I don't care that players decided that the fact that their great-great grandchildren would never have to worry about money was worth the damage they would eventually do to their bodies. I don't care that they decided to break a rule that contained literally no consequences. I don't care about any of it and, more importantly, I'm not even sure that revealing the “truth” about steroids in baseball has made a positive impact on the sport at all.
I ask that question in all seriousness, by the way. The public now knows that Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi, Brian Roberts and a host of other players were cheating bastards. What difference does it make, really? Does it affect our daily lives? Does it affect the game itself-its still a nine inning, most-runs-wins thing, right? Does it make the game better in 2009? I, for one, don't really think it has made much of a difference at all.
My sense of all this is that media members are so ashamed of the fact that they missed this story for ten straight years that they have made it their business to go as far over-the-top as possible to prove their worth as “real journalists.” As anyone who observes sports media should know, about 90% of sportswriters/sports journalists don't really like sports anymore anyway. Most spend as many column inches as possible not-so-effectively hiding their general dislike of athletes and hatred for their jobs. Furthermore, most want to believe themselves to be the next Woodward or Bernstein, destined to blow open a story that will change the world. So we get pile-on story after pile-on story as the names of the guilty trickle out of whatever MLB or government office has decided to leak information for the day. And every time its the same set of columns:
1.Day One: ____________ did steroids!
Day Two: Oh my God, I'm so offended, what an awful human being.
Day Three: The game used to be so pure. These modern players have destroyed the great game.
Day Four: This is evidence that society in general is quickly going to hell.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
There are a few things extraordinarily wrong with the “steroids are ruining baseball and world” news cycle. First of all, why has baseball become the grand symbol for drug use run amok, both in sports and society? Why hasn't the sports media attempted to uncover anything about other sports, or even bother to inquire? There isn't a single star in baseball who hasn't been at least suspected of being on the juice, yet LeBron James can possess shoulders the size of volleyballs and no one even mentions the possibility that this might not be perfectly natural. The point, of course, is not that James has done anything to artificially enhance himself, but simply that sportswriters seem to be happy to accept physical freaks of nature in other sports without an ounce of scrutiny.
Second, one might argue that it is simply the fact that Rodriguez is one of the top three players in the game and therefore it must be such a huge story. The answer to that is personified in a single player: Shawne Merriman. A player who was considered by some to be the most valuable player in football was caught and suspended, yet that story had a shelf life of about 20 minutes. 6 other players were suspended this year (although some suspensions were postponed), yet there were virtually no stories about the “pervasive and destructive use of steroids” in the NFL.
Baseball journalists, more than any other, are so caught up in nostalgia that we have been subjected to story after story that does absolutely nothing to enhance my enjoyment of the sport. As a baseball fan, I would be willing to stipulate to the fact that, for the last 20-25 years, 75-85% of all players were taking some form of performance enhancing drug if the baseball media would be willing to place a moratorium on writing or talking about steroids.
It boils down to this: I'm still going to enjoy the game. This entire “scandal” hasn't made one ounce of difference in the amount I pay attention to the sport. Nor has it really affected attendance, merchandise sales, or virtually anything that goes along with the game. These sportswriters need to understand something: no matter how much you tell us that we should be utterly offended and horrified that most of the players were using steroids, its just not going to happen. We've collectively agreed to suspend disbelief and enjoy our entertainment for what it is: entertainment. In a time such as this, real life sucks enough. If we choose to purposefully ignore when real life tries to intrude on our escape from reality, you're just going to have to deal with it. Go be Woodward and Bernstein somewhere else. I'm sure Blagojevich did some other stupid thing that no one's found out about yet.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
I love Google image searches.
So apparently, that A-Fraud nickname was a tad more accurate than previously thought.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
After experiencing intense jealousy (and cold) after passing on last year’s spring training trip, I will be joining the FOTG guys in Arizona later this month. That means that I will be contributing in some way to the blogging experience. Since I’m new to the blog—and in the spirit of Facebook’s 5th Anniversary today—I thought I’d offer up 25 random things about me so the three readers of this blog know a bit about where I’m coming from.
By now you know the drill, once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, blah, blah, blah. At the end, choose 10 people to be tagged.
1. I will never be a true Cubs fan due to some deeply held family beliefs that the Cubs screwed over my grandfather’s cousin back in the 1950’s.
2. That being said, I love watching baseball played the right way, and in 2003 when I lived in California, I watch every Cubs game broadcast on WGN, Fox, or ESPN and had tickets lined up had a World Series come to Wrigley.
3. I am fairly certain that I'm the only Rockies fan not living in Colorado. I came out of the closet as a Rockies fan during a string of losing games in 2007. Within a month of me starting to wear my Rockies hat around, they went on a tear and made it to the World Series.
4. I became a Rockies fan because I always have multiple Rockies on my fantasy baseball team. This is because one of my fantasy strategies is that Rockies will hit home runs and I’ll win the HR and RBI categories. Sadly, in nine seasons this strategy has only brought home one fantasy league title for my Chebanse Charred Cheetahs.
5. Speaking of fantasy baseball, in the keeper league I am in with Jdot and Martin, we can keep 25 players from year to year. This year I kept a guy who retired a week after I designated him as a keeper. He was the only closer I kept. Sweet action.
6. I don’t think there’s a funnier, mismatched name in sports today than Joba Chamberlain. All-time, though, former NY Giants kicker Bjorn Nittmo takes the title.
7. I write music reviews for the company that used to own the Cubs. Based on how little they pay freelancers, I’m shocked that they’re going under.
8. I am a fan of Jeff Samardzija. I think baseball was the right choice for him, and I think he’ll develop into a stellar pitcher. What I don’t think was the right choice for him was redoing the Bo Jackson shoulder-pads-and-baseball-bat picture.
9. Despite my love for Notre Dame, the Cubs’ signing of Aaron Heilman is extremely perplexing.
10. W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe is a better book than his The Iowa Baseball Confederacy.
11. Given the option to root for a large- or small-market club, all things being equal, I’m going to pick the small-market ball team. Well, except the Reds and Cardinals.
12. I’ve always wondered how good I could have been in baseball had I not given it up at age 15. At the least, I would be better in softball.
13. I went to high school with a lefty who threw 90+ mph and pitched a no-hitter in his minor league debut. The fact that he never made the majors makes me appreciate how difficult it is to get to the bigs.
14. For me baseball is still—and always will be—America’s game. The only example I need in order to illustrate this is that during the weekend after September 11, 2001 all sporting events were cancelled. Even still, patrons at Hi-Tops in Wrigleyville were glued to old games being replayed on ESPN Classic and those people cheered like they were watching live footage. They needed baseball to help heal the country and ease their fears.
15. At the same time, I find it utterly hysterical anytime I see a special about the 2001 World Series that fails to mention that the Yankees lost the series. My wife and I just saw one on MLB network a few weeks ago that ended with the Yankees dramatic win in Game 5.
16. I will never turn the channel if a radio station is playing John Foggerty’s “Centerfield.”
17. I am looking forward to going to Arizona almost as much for the In-n-Out Burger as I am for the camaraderie, baseball, and weather.
18. Despite my excitement about #17, I think Five Guys makes a much better burger.
19. Terrance Mann’s speech at the end of “Field of Dreams” transformed a great movie into other-worldly. I am glad that TBS never shows a marathon of Field of Dreams like they do with A Christmas Story. I would not be able to do anything else that day.
20. My uncle shares his name with one of the Cubs broadcasters.
21. Let this be a lesson to anyone who throws his/her bat after taking a swing: I was once hit in the mouth by a baseball bat and needed stitches.
22. In Babe Ruth baseball (13- through 15-year-olds), I played a mean Center Field and 1B, but that didn’t stop me from throwing a no-hitter. My team lost that game 6-1 because of how many walks I issued, batters I hit, and wild pitches I threw, but those are just details and no one can ever take away the no-no I threw.
23. I have a 16-month-old, and if we ask him to pick out a bib before a meal, he’ll dig through the drawer until he finds the Cubs one.
24. Ed Winceniak was mainly used as a defensive replacement at 2B, 3B, or SS for the Cubs when he played for the team in the 1950's. He batted .240 in 50 at-bats with 5 runs scored and 8 RBIs in 1957. For his two-year, 67-at-bat career with the Cubs, he hit one home run. It was a walk-off homer at Wrigley in his last at-bat in the big leagues. The bat he hit that home run with sits in my living room and is one of my most prized possessions—a gift given to me by my grandfather a few years before he died.
25. When my son gets older and breaks Ed Winceniak’s bat playing ball in the backyard, I will forgive him, because hey, he would just be playing America’s game.
Tagged in this entry: Jdot, Martin, the Casino Arizona dealer who doubles my money between 9:00 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., the Casino Arizona dealer who sends me to an ATM at 12:45 a.m., In-and-Out Burger, Len Kasper, Karen, Brent, the guy who jumped all over Jdot in the comments section after he poked the slightest fun at Jeff Samardzija, My former employer who laid me off four years ago and then set me up with Cubs tickets to any day-games I wanted that season
Monday, February 2, 2009
In December of 2007, the Cubs were reported to have four "untouchables" in the organization: Felix Pie, Rich Hill, Jose Ceda and (for some reason) Sam Fuld. In the Brian Roberts trade discussion, the first three were brought up as potential tradeable assets that the Cubs might part with, but sources in the Cubs organization shot those rumors down, essentially declaring these players untouchable.
To this day, no one knows the reason why Fuld was deemed untouchable. He does have an unnecessarily large wikipedia entry (my favorite part: "He got his start when he and his grandmother played with wiffle balls." I don't really know what that means), so maybe he's more important than I thought.
The other three: Pie, Hill and Ceda were considered too rich for Brian Roberts. Okay. Brian Roberts, two time All Star second baseman was NOT enough to get these three jewels of the Cubs system. Totally understandable.
Fast forward one year and the Cubs have traded all three, for (essentially) the following players:
I don't know if its more of an indictment of the Cubs' talent evaluators or their talent developers, but Hole-Lee-CRAP what a drop off. You'd think that these guys' values couldn't possibly drop that far in a single year. Then again, given the Cubs' history of minor league talent development, this shouldn't be all that surprising. I'm sure there are quite a few people still anxiously awaiting the Cubs' infield of the future: Hee Seop Choi, Bobby Hill, Luis Montanez and David Kelton.
All in all, I don't think there's anyone out there who doesn't consider the Cubs to be the prohibitive favorite in the NL Central this year and one of the top 3 teams in the National League. However, given this team's track record for player development, things might start to get ugly after this year when Hendry can no longer buy himself out of a crappy minor league systems. And when those contracts (and no-trade clauses) he's been handing out the last few years start to become real albatrosses (how is it going to feel to be paying Alfonso Soriano $18 mil per year in 2011, 2012, 2013, AND 2014? Or paying Fukudome $13.5 mil in 2011?), we may have to deal with at least a couple years of rough going.
So it would be nice to at least win one playoff game this year...because the minor leagues don't look to be supplying a whole lot for the future.