Happy Birthday, We Miss You Ronnie
It’s game time! The Cubs start playing “real” games today with a split squad day. Lots of players will get their first look of the season at opposing hitters and pitchers. More importantly, we’re one day closer to opening day and the chance to DEFEND THE TITLE.
Deciding on what to write during a spring training that is projected to have few, if any, heated roster battles is tough. I can’t keep track of the Maddon slogan du jour nor do I have a lot of interest in emojis. The Ferrari was pretty cool, but mostly what is happening is lots of drills of the pitcher covering first and the outfielder hitting the proper cut-off man.
Slightly off topic (actually really off topic). Many sports are now encouraging the teaching to involve game like situations almost exclusively. For instance, in the old days of volleyball, a coach would stand on a box and spike the ball at the passers over and over. Well, in very few matches do you see an opponent standing on a box, nor do they get to toss the ball in the air and swing at it without any other player interaction. The majority of coaches in volleyball now prefer game play for practice where the players see things that will actually happen during their competitive matches. Baseball is one of the few sports that hasn’t moved completely in this direction and I’m assuming that the reason is because the number of people that can pitch effectively (game like) is a very finite number and the number of pitches that each of these players have is also finite so the preference is to save them for games that count. Is there anyway that baseball can move to a more “game like” way of practicing? Or maybe this just adds to the argument that spring training could be shortened a couple weeks to eliminate the drills and the spring games are the only thing done before the season starts.
Sorry for the digression.
The major news coming from Cubs camp is that Kyle Schwarber will bat leadoff for the Cubs this year. This is exciting news but news that we have already discussed here at VFTB, as recently as yesterday. Personally, I’m a fan of trying it. The leadoff hitter is only guaranteed to bat first once a game (thanks Mr. Obvious) and with that in mind, you want your best hitters to have the most at-bats as possible during a game. How many times have you heard that if you’re going to get to a great pitcher you need to do it early. Well, if any pitcher starts the game without their best stuff against Schwarber, Bryant, and Rizzo, good luck to them.
So as I continued to ponder on whether to talk about the back end of the bullpen for the ninth time or expressing my opinion on the potential rule changes being bounced around by Commissioner Manfred (count me as against the discussed rule changes – market your players and lose the TV restrictions MLB), I remembered that on this day, 77 years ago, Ron Santo was born.
That made me think of winning the World Series and one of my first thoughts after that last out was made was how much Ernie and Ron were enjoying themselves in heaven. Yes, I realize that if we don’t want to touch political subjects (including global warming even though it’s been in the mid 70s in the midwest in February), I’m certainly not the one that is going to start a discussion on religion and the after life. But I have the freedom to envision Banks and Santo celebrating just as hard as any of us did on November 2nd.
Sadly I didn’t get to enjoy watching Santo’s career with the Cubs but I came to love him for his passion for all things Cubs. Many would prefer their announcers to be impartial, but with Santo; the passion, pain, and love shone through and I enjoyed every minute of listening to him.
I am sad that Santo passed away before being able to witness a Cubs World Series title and even more sad that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously. Of any person that has received the honor of the Hall, I believe Santo would have been the most appreciative.
I imagine that every spring training for Santo was similar to that of current 3B, Kris Bryant. Bryant seems to have the unbridled joy of realizing that he gets to play a game for a living. I’m sure the Bryzzo antics are loathed by non-Cub fans but that’s ok, that just means that we are now the top dog and people have to find something to hate since they can’t beat us. Or as the young kids might say, “haters gonna hate” – I’m not sure they really say this.
I’m sure that everyone has seen the video of Greg Maddux pranking Bryant during a batting practice video shoot.
Maybe if you’re feeling generous, today would be a great day for a donation to JDRF.
Happy birthday Ronnie.