Archive for January, 2012

Raising Cubs Fans

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Prior to New York’s 2009 World Series victory, sportswriter Bill Simmons liked to joke about the tragedy of eight-year-old Yankee fans never having seen a championship.  His point was that Yankee fans are spoiled, and he’s right–they are.

But Yankee fan parents are equally spoiled when it comes to raising their children to also cheer for the pinstriped multi-millionaires.  It’s easy to root for a consistent winner–to learn to love a team that makes frequent trips to the postseason, and is a perennial contender each spring.

It’s much harder to raise Cubs fans.  I know, because despite growing up thousands of miles away from the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, my parents successfully raised me and my brothers to root (root, root) for the Cubbies.

That’s not to say I didn’t have my youthful dalliances with other teams–I did.  While I was still childish enough to choose teams based on their uniform colors, I leaped aboard the A’s bandwagon.  I think I still have a Bash Brothers poster somewhere in the garage.  And later in junior high, I briefly toyed with rooting for the newly expanded Rockies.  I think my idea was that it would be fun to follow a team from its inception, or something along those lines.  Whatever my adolescent notion was, it didn’t stick.

That’s because in my heart, I was always a Cubs fan.  It was an inescapable part of my DNA, inherited from my parents, and cemented through their diligence.  And because of the high number of recent births and pregnancy announcements around here (congratulations, by the way) I wanted to pass along some of the ways my parents raised me and my brothers to love the Cubs.

And yes, parenting advice from someone with no children might be suspect.  But I do have a niece and two nephews, and you can be sure I’m following these principles to help my brothers and their wives raise their kids to love the Cubs, too.

  • First of all, you both have to love (or at least cheer for) the Cubs.  If you and your spouse can’t agree on which team to root for, what hope do you have of passing it on to your kids?  I don’t have the exact stats in front of me to back it up, but kids whose parents root for opposing sports teams are something like 800% more likely to bring guns to school, try meth as a pre-teen, join a gang, and/or wind up working as a drug mule.  It’s science.
  • I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but watch the Cubs games with your kids.  With the prevalence of second TV’s, iPads, and smartphones, watching baseball games has never been more individualized.  And chances are, if you’re watching the game on the main TV, the rest of the family–and especially the kids–are absorbed in their own entertainments.  There were a lot fewer options when I was young.  We had one TV, and while we did have cable, it was mainly so we could watch the Cubs games on WGN.  In fact, because of the prevalence of day baseball, we’d tape the games and re-watch them again when my dad got home from work if the Cubs won or if anything notable happened.  Long before I understood baseball, I knew the Cubs games were important and fun, especially when they won.
  • Watching the games with your kids is more than merely sitting in the same room with them, blankly staring at the same screen–you have to engage their microscopic attention spans.  Talk to them about the game, discuss the action, tell stories about past Cubs teams and players.  If you’re constantly lost in the middle distance of your screen while Starlin Castro works the count against a scuffling pitcher, you’re more likely to turn your kids off to sports than pass on your love for your team.  Kids–even very little kids–can pay attention to and enjoy baseball if you give hem a little help.  And yes, you might have to explain the rules two or three or twenty times–as I’m sure my dad had to with us–but who cares?  It’s not like the game is more important than talking to your kids.
  • Load up on the Cubs gear for your kids.  My nephew could recognize the Cubs’ logos before he could say his own name.  That’s because he’s seen it since the day he was born on his toys and clothes.  It doesn’t have too be over the top or tacky, but the sooner your kids are familiar with the Cubs logo, the sooner they can recognize the team they should be cheering for.  Bonus points if you can train them to boo all the other logos.
  • Going to Cubs games is a big part of passing on your fandom to your kids, but don’t be one of those fans.  You know the ones I’m talking about–the face and/or chest painters, the costume wearers, the obnoxious, loud drunks, the amateur pugilists, or whatever you’d call this guy.  Chances are you can get your kids to follow you only so far down the road of ugly fanaticism.  At some point, they’ll have the sad realization that their mom or dad is an idiot, and is actively ruining the game for the others in attendance.  You know that guy who dresses up as the Ivy Man?  I’ll give him all kinds of credit for creating such an elaborate costume, but do you think his kids love coming to the games with him?  Same goes for Ronnie Woo-Woo–he might be a semi-beloved Wrigley Field personality, but you never see any little Woo-Woo’s following him around the park.  Here’s a general rule–if your in-game behavior is the kind of thing that would not be out of place at a Raiders game, it’s time to dial it down a few notches before you chase your children away from the Cubs altogether.  And it’s not like you really want your kids to pick up your bad-fan habits.  We know how that ends.
  • It might be another no-brainer, but if at all possible, take your kids to Wrigley Field.  Growing up on the west coast, we didn’t have many opportunities to visit the Friendly Confines.  But the few times we did are cemented in my memory forever.  I have vivid memories of a day we spent out in the left field bleachers, facing off against the Phillies.  My brothers and I were decked out in makeshift Cubs uniforms, baking in the sun and having the time of our young lives.  The game went thirteen innings, and lasted long enough for the sky to turn green and start pouring down rain.  Of course the Cubs lost and we were soaked to the skin by the time we made it back our car, but we had a great time, and even the late-inning loss couldn’t ruin the day.  You don’t have days like that just anywhere.

Look, maybe none of this matters.  It’s entirely possible that I think (and worry) far too much about passing on my love for the Cubs to my nephews and niece, and eventually to my own kids.  That it really wouldn’t be the end of the world if they wind up cheering for the Dodgers or the Cardinals.  Nope, never mind, it would be.

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Morning News: An ugly morning for the news

Friday, January 27th, 2012


Ugly Rankings – The Yardbarker has a ranking of the All-Time Ugliest Athletes. While entertaining, such a list that lacks Zane Smith is really no list at all.

Ugly Tony – Tony LaRussa isn’t quite done with baseball. So let me get this straight, it’s imperative that the All-Star Game be of some value so that we all forget the tie in Selig’s house. But, it’s not so important that we require a manager who is 1) currently managing, or 2) has any interest in the outcome. For LaRussa it’s the ultimate fantasy, his team will be much deeper than the typical 25-man roster, he has many more reasons to be constantly violating his lineup card with red pen, AND he’s not employed so drinking wine coolers during the game involves zero repercussions (except reminding everyone of his exceptionally weak constitution). Only baseball could force their All-Star Game to matter while involving key participants who have zero incentive to win.

Ugly Halftime – you have one week to plan what you’ll watch during halftime of the Super Bowl; unless you’re into 53 year-old skanks who haven’t been relevant in more than a decade (so A-Roid won’t need his remote – that’s right up his alley). The cynical part of me thinks brokered Madonna’s deal to help the world forget the Black Eyed Peas’ performance last year.

Ugly SweathogJuan Luis Pedro Philippo DeHuevos Epstein died. Let’s hope Gabe Kaplan at least got a note.

Ugly Bunnies – who knew one eared bunnies would look so weird.

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GirlieView (01/26/2012)

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

We’ve got a few administrative details to tend to before we get going. First, someone asked about guidelines for how I pick the Lizzies. They are here, if you’re interested. Also just so you know the timing, I work a bit in advance. This post (published Thursday) considers most comments posted through Tuesday. Wednesday and onward will be in the group reviewed next time. Sometimes my cutoff is Monday, sometimes Wednesday. But rest assured, nothing gets skipped. :-)

Next, I promised last time I’d keep track of everyone’s NFL divisional playoff picks. Ten people played, and no one got all four games correct. I, on the other hand, managed to get all four games INcorrect, the only person with such a distinction. Yay me! Buddy, Joe, and Rich Beckman each went 3/4. Doug S, gymjok, BLPCB, Kris, flyslinger2 and Jeremiah Johnson each picked 2 of the 4 games correctly. Thanks for playing!

Onto the Lizzies! We’ve got 65 of them this time around plus one big Lizard. Your productivity scares me a little bit, especially since it’s supposed to be the quiet, boring part of the year. By the time the season starts we’ll be cracking a hundred!


  • Barry (no, not that one) Heads to Cooperstown
  • Replacing Garza with Maholm is like replacing a Corvette with a Camry. Sure, they are both cars, both have 4 wheels, both begin with the letter “C”. However, a Camry is NOT a Corvette.
  • Wood in the bullpen at a reasonable price is money well spent.
  • I was hoping nobody else was elected yesterday as I wanted it to be solely a Santo fest in July.
  • Everyone knows we’re not competing this year, right??
  • My guess is Wood gets signed and they’re waiting for the convention so it can be announced there.
  • If those are our rotation options, I kind of want to cry.
  • Is Carlos Silva cheap this year?
  • I’m already seeing a number of upsides: 1) I don’t have to cringe everytime someone calls Zambrano our “Ace”.
  • Good luck with Koyie Hill, Cardinal fans!
  • The Cards are smart enough not use him as much as the Cubs did.
  • Cardinals luck – Watch Hill become a star
  • when the best you can say is “I was better than Juan Pierre and Jacque Jones” it’s probably best not to say anything.
  • Moral- teach your kids how to play middle infield in case they grow up to have no power.
  • Kerry Wood is smart , well centered and a class act.
  • My data to support my theory is based on the number of naps my lazy chocolate lab has snuck into this beautiful spring day here on the east coast.
  • I have a yellow lab that could go nap-for-nap with yours. One particularly slow day in my home office last year, I counted 17 naps for my big boy.
  • It is nice to see the Cubs keeping Wood. There is a rightness about that.
  • Love the fact that Bruce Miles gets a Lizzie despite having never commented or probably even read the site. I started the site and can’t even outscore him.
  • The Capns 2.0 LPC (Lizzie Per Comment) stat is pretty impressive. The Capn pulled in 2 Lizzies on one comment. Keep up that pace and the Capn can be epic. On the other hand Buddy made 7 Lizzies with 10,849 comments giving him a .00064522 LPC. So I ask you, who would you draft for your fantasy Lizzie team?
  • I’d draft Chris from IL.
  • Buddy drafting Chris from Il and Norm is like buying 1 stock with your nest egg. Your fantasy Lizzie team should have some diversity of thought for success.
  • 1 AWESOME stock!
  • I’m happy to announce that Mr. Kris and I are expecting Baby Numero Uno in late July!
  • Dude, you’ve got some big brass ones for admitting that you still listen to Boyz II Men.
  • That’s why the ladies love me.
  • in a realated story, Dr. Pepper and 12 different coffee companies want to sponsor Marlins baseball now…
  • I just picked up a slightly used Michael Barrett. Maybe we can put the two together and see what happens?
  • It was silly but I always liked ALF.
  • some of the other “upgrades” that will be included for 2012…$21 beers, the basket will be turned into a urinal so fans don’t have to leave their seats, and the first 10,000 fans on opening day will be given helmets to protect them from falling cement.
  • Best of luck to Mr. Cub John Grabow…big thanks for the memories and dominance on the mound.
  • What about Mark Prior? He seems to capture the modern Cubs better than anyone. So much promise, an impossibly short period of dominance, followed by utter disappointment and failure.
  • Just noticed you mentioned Manny Trillo, Jedi. I think that was the name of one of Buddy’s bands in college
  • Yes. The Manny Trillo Experience. We rocked.
  • By far the best game of the weekend was the down-to-the-wire shootout between the Saints and the 49ers.
  • Interestingly they had only 2 regular starting pitchers that ’83 year. One threw 473 innings and the other 383. Today’s lads must don women’s underwear.
  • Apparently he knows a trick or two about keeping the old ticker going for 150 years.
  • Lizzie will be happy to know that Geo will be back, signing for 4.3 million dollars.
  • People will actually have to be baseball fans to truly appreciate this season.  They will actually have to see what is going on beneath the top layer to enjoy 2012.
  • The owners (and the neighborhood) will just have to enjoy the Red Roof Inn for a while as they wait for their dream home of the future.
  • If there’s one thing I hate, it’s meaningless sucking.
  • I love it that I can read about the Cubs, Roseanne Barr and eating paint all in one place.
  • I’ve got to say, “It’s B.S.” doesn’t make for a very compelling acceptance speech.
  • Albuquerque Isotopes has always been a favorite as well as the Blue Claws with their marketing tee shirts, ‘Got Crabs’.
  • The shocking thing about the Rob Lowe thing is that anyone even found out about his tweet. That must mean people actually follow Rob Lowe on Twitter…
  • Bud Selig, fresh off his most recent “I’m going to retire” contract extension saga, will be in charge of sorting out the requisite compensation.
  • I say give them Soriano for free
  • And while he is there, he strips the Red Sox team and gives them our junk
  • Seymour…Seymour…
  • By the time the Super Bowl rolls around there’s a distinct “just play the game already” attitude due to the overwhelming two weeks of analysis. But this week, we get two great games that could easily go either way.
  • Cubs were still in the denial phase and it wouldnt have been a real crowd pleaser to put a nobody in there.
  • Just play a recording of Harry (before the stroke) and call it good.
  • I’m fine with the anthem as long as it’s done relatively straight up. “Artists” who attempt to personalize it too much can be annoying.
  • I wonder if the editor regrets his knee-jerk resignation now?
  • The Giants and Patriots have the same colors, as such, the NFL only needs one set of confetti for the game.
  • If there are aging cardiologists and optometrists that are better for their age in the country, I’d like to see them play.
  • Cap’n Obvious, trying to overcome nearly 175 years of blatant discrimination against lefties by playing a nearly error-free game at shortstop, which, incidentally, was integral to Raker’s mound performance.
  • Seymour explaining to me that he refers to Doc Raker here on VFTB as just “Raker” because, “he’s not a real doctor.”
  • Stay classy Nick.
  • Obvious also spent the entire weekend, in an effort to fit in with other under-achieving superstars of his generation, referencing himself in the 3rd person.
  • The Captain does have game however, and was not nearly as inept as the more or less constant dugout banter would have one believe.
  • I still think Doc and crew should get a guest post each year to run through their weekend triumphs.
  • At some point, there will be some youtube video of some of the events, I’m told. It will likely not be PG rated.
  • He replies, “Doc”, because Obvious understands MD’s aren’t the only doctors in the world
  • I don’t think I go the distance on a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich.


  • Jeremiah, this was a no brainer for me. Best thing I’ve read since Sherm’s Singalong. It really is fantastic and if anyone missed it, it’s well worth the read: The Carlos Zambrano Owner’s Manual

2012 Overall Standings (1 point for each Lizzie, 3 points for the Lizard)

  • Buddy – 12
  • cap’n Obvious – 11
  • Doc Raker – 10
  • jswanson – 10
  • Jeremiah Johnson – 9
  • Seymour Butts – 8
  • Chuck – 5
  • Jedi Johnson – 5
  • Kris – 5
  • BLPCB – 4
  • Doug S. – 3
  • Dustin Godsey – 3
  • Chet – 3
  • chris in illinois – 2
  • JoeAiello – 2
  • Norm – 2
  • Thirteen others have 1 apiece.

Shout Outs

Congrats to the following folks who got their first 2012 Lizzie this week!

  • Chet
  • flyslinger2
  • gymjok
  • JoeAiello
  • Katie
  • Lee
  • Mark P.
  • Norm
  • Rich Beckman

Lizzie’s Kitchen

This will be the last GirlieView before the Super Bowl, so here are a few more crowd pleasers of the salty and sweet variety.


Chit Chat

So, here goes! Make your Super Bowl pick. Pick the winning team and also just for the heck of it (and so I can determine a winner) give us a total score (add together for both teams). As usual I’ll keep track and report back!

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Morning News: Is a Top 100 list news? (and other bits of baseball minutiae)

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Yep, Someone Was Watching: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, in a cave, or anywhere outside the MLB Network studios, you probably already know that baseball’s flagship cable network aired a one hour special at 10 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday night to unveil’s Top 100 prospects list for 2012. For those of you that missed this highly anticipated event, here’s a quick rundown of the future Cubs appeared on the list:

#67 – Javier Baez – SS

#37 – Anthony Rizzo – 1B

#33 – Brett Jackson – OF

To borrow a phrase from Tony Kornheiser: that’s it…that’s the list.

Miggy Making a Move: In a move that is surprising to no one, Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera confirmed Tuesday that he’ll be moving approximately 127.27 feet across the diamond in 2012 and reclaim his former spot at 3B. Of course, the position change was made necessary due to the addition of Prince Fielder, who as you know, signed a Fielderian sized contract on Monday to hold down first base in Motown for the next nine* seasons. 

*Please note, it is yet to be confirmed as to whether the length of this contract is based on human years  or “Mo Vaughn” years.

Breaking News! Gio Gonzalez Joined the Nats: If you read that and thought “Wait a minute, didn’t that happen a month ago?” you’re not going crazy…it did happen a month ago, when he was traded from Oakland to Washington. However, the Nats decided today would be a good day to hold a press conference welcoming their “big off-season addition”. Here’s a little timeline illustrating the decision process behind today’s presser:

Dec. 23 – Gonzalez is traded to the Nats after Washington is unsuccessful in luring Mark Buehrle to our nation’s Capitol.

Jan. 15 – Gonzalez signs the largest contract for a pitcher eligible for arbitration for the first time

Jan. 24 – The Nationals do not sign Prince Fielder

Jan. 25 – The Nationals, after being rumored to be involved in every big free agent dalliance this off-season, realize  “Oh $#%^, our fans were expecting something big this year to make up for last year’s Jayson Werth money pit…time to turn up the hype machine on this Gio kid!”

Something Makes Me Think We’ve Seen the End of Daryle Ward: The 36 year old former Cub (’07-’08) hasn’t played in the bigs since his days in Chicago, but he’s still been kicking around in the minor leagues for the last few seasons in hopes of making a comeback. This isn’t going to help – Ward will be sitting for the first 50 games of 2012 after violating MiLB’s ban on amphetamine use.

Oh, and one more thing: Doc Raker…the Italian Dusty Baker?

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Where Do We Go From Here?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Chet is on vacation this week so you’re stuck with me. As I sit and think about the fact that pitchers and catchers report in less than a month, it got me wondering what is left for this team before the season starts. The roster as I see it right now looks like this:

On paper, we’re probably not going to compete for the division with that roster, despite the fact that the NL Central lost Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. That leads to my two fold question. What should be done before opening day and what will be done with this roster?

It’s hard to predict what will be done, so instead I’d offer just a few things as suggestions for the front office moving forward.

Trade Alfonso Soriano – This was looking somewhat promising, with the Tigers being rumored to be in the market for a slugger, until they broke the bank for Prince Fielder. Now you have just a handful of teams with any chance of acquiring him if we assume that a move to an NL team is out as a given. That limits the market to just 16 teams, at least half of which can’t afford the financial risk despite the Cubs picking up a good chunk of salary in return. At this point, I call Baltimore, the place where aging and unproductive Cubs go to die and offer whatever it takes in terms of salary eating in hopes that we can get something of small value. Perhaps a deal similar to the one that netted Mike Fontenot a few years back.

Sign Derrek Lee – This one is assuming that he’s willing to play in a limited role and take on the role of leader and mentor to guys like Anthony Rizzo on a one year deal on our terms. With Soriano gone, Bryan LaHair can switch to LF to make his mark, which is where I’d like to see him play for the simple fact that it increases the value in a trade. An outfielder is always more valuable than a first baseman from the skill it takes to play the position. First base is where outfielders and infielders go at the end of the road.

With LaHair shifting to LF, it allows the Cubs to promote Rizzo to play first on a majority of the time basis with Lee in the mentor and part time role. Both Lee and Rizzo have good gloves so it should be a nice fit if Lee is willing to take him under his wing. With Lee being a righty and Rizzo being a lefty, it lends itself perfectly to a L / R split of time with Rizzo facing the righties.

Those are two things I’d like to see. They’re not rocket science, but moves that would make me grade this new regime an A for the off-season. What realistic things would you like to see, and what will we see?

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