Archive for January, 2012

GO: Opening Day Starter

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Who is your choice for the Cubs’ Opening Day 2012 starter?
a. Ryan Dempster
b. Matt Garza
c. Paul Maholm
d. Someone Else (Who?)

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Tradition (Huh! Yeah!) What Is It Good For?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

When your team is on the wrong side of 100 years of futility, you have to choose carefully which traditions to hold onto and which to let go.  Protecting too much of your tradition means you run the risk of celebrating incompetence.  Dump it all and you might as well load up the Mayflower trucks and move the whole operation to a new city.

Tradition means a lot to Cubs fans.  For some–in place of championships and past glory–it means everything.

But sometimes that tradition can hold you back.  For nearly half a century, the Cubs organization chose not to install lights at Wrigley Field and play only day games because that’s the way they’d always done it.  Don’t get me wrong–day games aren’t necessarily a disadvantage.  In fact, if anything, they ought to be an advantage.  But instead of making the most of the scheduling peculiarity, the Cubs let it become an excuse for failure–and more than a few players used it as license to become fixtures of the Chicago nightlife, squandering considerable potential in the process.  Did the abundance of day games automatically make the Cubs losers?  No, but it paved the way for a variety of failures.

Most Cubs fans can’t agree on which traditions they’d like to preserve, even if they’re far less consequential than the decades of day games.  Some fans love the bricks and ivy, the old manual scoreboard, and the schizophrenic ways that Wrigley Field plays depending on the weather.  Others want to tear the whole thing down and build a domed stadium on the same land–still others want to move out to the northwest suburbs where parking is more plentiful and the commute shorter.

I can’t agree with that kind of thinking.  I want Wrigley Field to stay the way it is, and with some thorough, careful renovations, I think it can.

But that doesn’t mean I’m a fan of all the Wrigley Field traditions.  Along with the bricks, ivy, and the manual scoreboard, I’d keep:

  • The “W” and “L” flags  As a former frequent passenger on the Red Line, I know how fun it is to ride past Wrigley and see the result of the day’s game flapping in the wind.  And the abundance of “W” flags unfurled after road wins has helped cement it as celebratory tradition.  (I still can’t figure out why some division rival hasn’t started selling the blue “L” flags for their fans to display after Cubs losses.)
  • Wayne Messmer singing the National Anthem  His trademark glory note on the word “brave” is my Pavlovian indicator that a Cubs game is about to begin.
  • No mascots or cheerleaders  Ronnie Woo-Woo and the Dixieland band don’t count.
  • The 7th inning stretch  “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is simply more appropriate than “God Bless America.”  (More on this below.)
  • The rooftop bleachers  You’ll remember that a few years back, the Cubs installed screens to block out the view from the rooftops until they came to a financial agreement with their Wrigleyville neighbors.  In the years before and since then, the Cubs have had opportunities to buy those buildings.  I hope they eventually do, because I like the idea of watching a game from a nearby rooftop, and I think the only way to keep them open long term would be for the Cubs to take full control.

Most other Wrigley traditions I could take or leave, although there are a few that need to die, preferably sooner than later.  I would gleefully get rid of:

  • The guest conductor for the 7th inning stretch  C-list celebrities garbling the words to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” does not honor the memory of Harry Caray.  It’s time to dump the guest conductor gig–and the usually nauseating interview that follows–and just use a recording of Harry or Ron Santo (I’d use Harry for day games, and Ron for night games).  And if you want to have the occasional guest conductor with some true connection to the Cubs, I’ll give in.  But the list needs to be short.  Real short.  Like “let’s limit it to Cubs Hall of Famers and Bill Murray” short.
  • “Go Cubs Go” needs to go  This one is relatively new, and I’ll admit I’m a little torn.  On the one hand, I only hear it after Cubs wins, so I’m predisposed to want to hear it.  But the song is so mind-numbingly, teeth-gratingly hokey.  Really, if we want to honor Steve Goodman, wouldn’t it be better to play “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request”–a far superior song–after every Cubs loss?  I don’t know if a lyrical update or a rerecording of “Go Cubs Go” could improve the song, but something needs to be done.  Soon.
Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Morning News: None of these things is quite like the other

Friday, January 20th, 2012


Conference Championships – this is the most intriguing weekend of the football season. Two weeks of buildup and one game, or one week of buildup and two games? I prefer the latter. 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. The first game finds the Ravens in New England looking to pick up a road win to advance. You’ll get to see a great defense (Ravens) against a fantastic offense (Patriots) AND a crap defense (Patriots) against a pedestrian offense (Ravens) all in the same game. Once the AFC has been decided, there’s a rematch in San Francisco where the 49ers host the Giants – Eli’s Giants not Lincecum’s. Jeremiah has more than once remarked that the Jimmy Neutron helmet Eli wears gives him an inordinate amount of confidence when he takes a hit – he’s going to need that advantage against the 49ers’ defense. Either of these games could be ugly, great, memorable, or all of the above. In the end though, we’ll get one of four games 1) a Harbaugh Bowl II (Ravens v. 49ers), 2) a rematch from the 2008 Super Bowl (Giants v. Patriots), 3) two franchises with a bunch of Super Bowl wins between them (49ers v. Patriots), or 4) a quirky matchup which would guarantee either Eli surpasses big brother’s ring total or the NFL franchise from Baltimore makes a name for itself yet again in Indy (Giants v. Ravens). Any of those would be interesting matchups, but the one that would get the most hype would no doubt be the 2008 rematch.

Tim Tebow’s Take: He needs the Patriots to win so that Brady winds up missing out on the Pro Bowl next week in Hawaii (though admittedly, Brady might skip it anyway). Andy Dalton is the AFC’s first alternate QB, Tebow is next in line. It’s conceivable that one of the other two Pro Bowlers (Ben Roethlisberger or Philip Rivers) could bow out of the game for any number of reasons. So you may not be done with Tebow just yet!

Side NFL Noteour Vice President is a buffoon, although I bet most of you never heard about this yesterday. Somewhere Dan Quayle is trying to spell envious.

Captain Stubini – if you haven’t been tracking the sinking of the Costa Concordia, I’ll sum it up: if the captain had been French instead of Italian, we could’ve confirmed nearly every French stereotype in a single story. I always knew Gavin McLeod didn’t get enough credit.

Baseball? – that’s what I’m supposed to be covering? Not too much that’s terribly interesting, Jamie Moyer took a minor league deal in Colorado. At the age of 49 there’s no truth to the rumor that Seymour is recruiting him for next year’s fantasy camp. The Cubs re-signed Rodrigo Lopez – don’t worry, it’s just a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training and a decent pay raise if he stays on an MLB roster. Yu Darvish got $60 million (salary only, the posting fee was another $50 million) from the cash strapped Texas Rangers; no word on CJ Wilson’s analysis of the deal. And Fausto Carmona was caught using a fake ID; which is apparently redundant as his given name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia – not surprisingly he’s been lying about his age too!

And now for something completely different – the Carmona story reminds me of this famous Monty Python bit.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Northside Archives: Trade Compensation

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The Cubs are still sorting out the trade compensation they’ll be sending the Red Sox for “acquiring” Theo Epstein. You may recall that this little matter was either to be settled by November 1st or at that time it would become a matter for the commissioner’s office. The organizations have mutually agreed to let it drag on this long for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the cozy relationship between Epstein (and Jed Hoyer) and Red Sox GM Ben Cherington.

The most obvious precedent for such a transaction is actually in the Cubs’ past. Andy MacPhail was hired by the Cubs in 1994 and in return the Twins received the forgettable Hector Trinidad. A hard throwing righty who had performed well at the A and AA levels for the Cubs, Trinidad wasn’t able to duplicate that success in the Twins organization.

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. It’s reasonable to expect he’ll require the Cubs to send more than the 2012 version of Hector Trinidad.

Just this past off-season, the Marlins sent two players (Ozzie Martinez and Jhan Marinez) to the White Sox in return for Ozzie Guillen. Ten years ago Lou Piniella was “dealt” from Seattle to Tampa bay in return for Randy Winn and Antonio Perez. The Pirates traded for Chuck Tanner in 1976, sending Manny Sanguillen to Oakland in the process. And two years before they were the “Amazins” the Mets “acquired” their future World Series manager Gil Hodges by sending Bill Denehy to the Washington Senators (Texas Rangers). It was 1960 when the first manager was traded – for another manager. That year the Tigers and Indians swapped managers.

Trading a coach has happened in other sports, Jon Gruden and Bill Belichick (NFL) have been traded. Pat Riley (NBA) has been traded, in a manner of speaking; after the Heat tampered while attempting to lure him, the league ordered compensation to the Knicks. Yet trading an executive is still a relative novelty in most sports.

There isn’t a lot of precedence for this type of deal which makes Selig’s job even more difficult. If the Cubs can get away with something similar to the Marlins package for Guillen it’ll be a relative bargain. First though, Selig needs to identify assets within the Cubs system that Boston might possibly want – perhaps the toughest task of all.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Darvish Domino Falls…Whither Goes the Prince? Oh, and Rob Lowe…

Thursday, January 19th, 2012


Darvish Lands in Arlington:  Yu Darvish, the latest “next big thing” from Japan agreed to terms on a six year, $60 million deal to bring his talented right arm to the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are on the hook for $116 million in total for Darvish after paying a $56 million posting fee to the Nippon-Ham Fighters for the right to negotiate with their ace. The Rangers’ window to negotiate with Darvish was set to close at 5 p.m., and the team completed the deal just before their window expired. A few questions remain following the Darvish signing:

1) Darvish’s numbers in Japan were certainly impressive…but we’ve seen that before, haven’t we Mr. Matsuzaka? Will Darvish live up to the hype and help the Rangers fill the void at the top of their rotation caused by the departure of C.J. Wilson, or will he follow in a long line of disappointing Japanese star pitchers in America?

2) What happens to Prince Fielder now? Darvish was believed to be the last domino that needed to fall before the Prince Fielder sweepstakes could conclude. If Darvish and the Rangers didn’t come to terms, it seemed likely that Prince would be playing deep in the heart of Texas next year. Now? It’s less clear…Washington? Seattle? One thing seems likely, it probably won’t be Texas.

3) Is there a better team name in all of sports than the Nippon-Ham Fighters? I’ll answer for you. No.

The Tainted MVP to Speak: Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who was handed a 50-game suspension for violating MLB’s substance abuse policy (read: got busted for PEDs), will accept his 2011 National League MVP award in person and will speak at the upcoming Baseball Writer’s Association of America on Saturday. I’ve got to say, “It’s B.S.” doesn’t make for a very compelling acceptance speech.

Big NFL News Leaked By the Bartlett White House: Well, Rob Lowe hasn’t created an internet stir like this since…wait, the internet wasn’t around in 1989, was it? Any way, Lowe jumped into the spotlight this afternoon with a tweet announcing that his sources told him that Peyton Manning would be retiring from the NFL. Manning’s father denied the “report” later in the day, but one has to wonder where Lowe (a known Colts fan) was getting his information. According the the story, the actor was the very first person that Colts owner Jim Irsay followed after joining Twitter. Hmmm…

This is a Cubs site, after all: Today, the Cubs signed Jason Jaramillo to a minor league contract. Yes, Jason Jaramillo. Rejoice, Cubs fans…The Theo may have just found us a replacement for Koyie Hill!


Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us: