Archive for February, 2012

Morning News: Children, Delusional “Ace”, and a Drunk Pirate

Friday, February 24th, 2012

 

Cubs For Your Kids If you envy Raker, Seymour, Cap’n and the rest of their fantasy camping pals – just know that the Cubs are providing the a similar opportunity during the coming summer, in Chicago. FOR KIDS.

Ryan Braun “Exonerated” We’ll almost certainly never know all the facts in the Ryan Braun failed drug test saga. This much is clear, he will NOT be serving a suspension for whatever happened (or didn’t happen). Braun did not dispute (directly) the test results, rather his gripe had to do with the custodial procedure of his sample.  Sadly, we’re all left wondering if herpes was the culprit here – and if medication to treat that affliction was the source of his synthetic testosterone.

Not a conspiracy theorist, but this is terrible PR for Selig. Former owner of the Brewers, often accused of favoring anything that benefits them and the first time a guy has a suspension overturned it just happens to be the reigning NL MVP from his former team. (This is the type of situation where Jim Gray’s pompous and self-important demeanor can be used for “good” – no way Gray let’s Braun off the hook easy.  Don’t like Jim Gray, don’t like Ryan Braun; I’d clear my schedule to watch that interview.)

Delusional Roy Oswalt Preface: Roy Oswalt is a really good pitcher, some might even call him great. Please don’t forget I said this. Main Point: Roy Oswalt is a delusional crazy person who clearly doesn’t have anyone willing to tell him the unvarnished truth. His career is (and has been) in decline. The days of multi-year mega-deals for Oswalt has passed. It seems as though his ability to dictate his own terms have passed as well.  Yet almost as soon as 2011 ended, Oswalt maneuvered himself into a corner. Eventually it became obvious that he preferred Texas or St. Louis. Unfortunately, neither team had the money and the motivation for such a move. Now he’s saying that he’ll sit out the first part of the season and “stay ready.”  What he means is, “check the standings on July 1st, I’ll be interested in teams with a real shot at winning, especially if they have deep pockets.”

Conclusion: My sense is that Oswalt thinks he’s a Roger Clemens type of guy who can dictate the terms of his employment even at an advanced age and in obvious decline. Maybe 4 years ago he was, but he’s not anymore. I pity the GM that swoops in to snag him in July and gets hung with a multi-year deal on a 34-year-old pitcher.  Apparently he wants to play for a winner; but the rest of his thought process is horribly flawed.  Neither team had extra rotation spots to fill, or piles of money to pass out.  (And no, I don’t want Oswalt as a Cub – his career numbers at Wrigley are atrocious.  If he’s bad when he’s FACING the Cubs, imagine what’ll happen when players from other teams step into the batter’s box).

Drunk Pirate This story is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Turn to page 72 if you understand why being the Pirates team president would require a drunken stupor most of the time. Turn to page 85 if you sympathize with a man who earns his living with no real hope of being told “you’ve transformed things around here in a positive way.” Turn to page 107 if you think the Pirates can lose that many games this year. Or Turn to page 142 if you think “…driving the wrong way…” is a metaphor for the Pirates’ last 20 years.

All Hail Keith Law It wouldn’t be the Friday Morning News if I didn’t link to an ESPN Insider article. You’re Welcome! HRH Keith Law runs down the Top 50 draft picks for 2012. We’re just a bit more than 3 months away from the draft and the Cubs have 4 of the Top 64 picks. If nothing else, it’s a good list of names – I’m partial to Stryker Trahan and Rio Ruiz. And just to be clear, Law’s ranking is perfect; I haven’t a single disagreement with his ranking at all.

Peyton Manning to Miami? Here’s the “story” and it’s not much of a story. But Peyton, Brandon Marshall and perhaps Reggie Wayne (who did time at Miami in college) would be a rather formidable passing attack. Andrew Luck is rubbing his neck beard in delight.

Best Buy Hacked Just beware if you’re in a Best Buy and near the TVs with your kids. Pervs are everywhere.

Lawn Dart Exposé Apparently lawn darts are alive and well. Easily obtainable on Amazon. You’re welcome, Seymour.

Join VFTB March Madness Lizzie, Joe, and CAPS are in…who else is ready? We’re about 2 weeks away from Selection Sunday where 58 teams are invited to join the 10 teams that have a realistic shot at winning it all. Go to Lizzie’s post from yesterday for instructions!

P.M. Post I don’t want to completely spoil Jeremiah’s post, but if you haven’t already figured out what you’re doing tonight after work get ready to carve out some time for a baseball movie that can be streamed on Netflix. I can 1) almost guarantee you’ve never heard of it, and 2) almost guarantee you’ll like it. I said almost! Check back in around 2pm EST/11am PST.

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GirlieView (02/23/2012)

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Administrative (but fun!) Stuff

We’re running a College Basketball Tournament Pick’em here on VFTB for anyone who cares to participate. While some of us are enjoying the beginning of spring training, others are anxious for March Madness to begin! And others are just bored. This is just for fun … you don’t even have to know anything about college basketball to participate. Trust me on that one! In fact next time I’ll share some of my favorite bracket-picking methodologies with you! But for now, get yourself set up if you’re interested in playing, as follows:

  • Go to http://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/t1
  • Click on Join a Group (yellow button, middle of page)
  • Click on Join Group (under Accept an Invitation to Join a Group)
  • At this point you’ll be asked to sign into Yahoo or create a Yahoo ID if you don’t have one.
  • Also at this point I can’t really continue with the step-by-step instructions since I already have a Yahoo ID and also already signed up for the Tournament. But eventually you’ll need this information:
    Group ID = 4275
    Password = lizzievftb
  • You’ll be asked to create a name for your bracket. It would be helpful if you used something similar to the name you use to post around here but that’s not essential.
  • Once the teams in the tournament are determined and the games scheduled, you’ll be able to go back in and actually pick your bracket.
  • If you have any questions or need any assistance drop me a line at lizzie@viewfromthebleachers.com

Lizzies

  • Theo and Jed appear to be addressing the lack of quality pitching available by going for quantity instead.
  • I would most certainly not want Randy Moss on the Chicago Cubs next year, or the Chicago Blackhawks for that matter since those are my teams.
  • the Blackhawks might be better with Randy Moss.
  • the player that Soriano best compares to this season is David Dellucci and that might be an insult to poor Mr. Dellucci
  • Burma Shave
  • If Dempster ISN’T better in 2012 it’ll be the end of my letter writing campaign to have the term “contract year” repurposed as “Dempster year” because of Ryan’s penchant for performing at his peak only when a payday is imminent.
  • I like Soldier Field over the Cell.  Less scheduling conflicts and forced interaction with Sox fans.
  • At some point people have to take responsibility for themselves
  • If there was a chew ban imposed upon our team, our roster would be two guys deep.
  • I love the fact that Sox fans have collectively acted like 2012 won’t be happening.
  • I’ve found that it pisses Sox fan off a LOT more if I just don’t care.  They WANT you to hate them.  I choose to not care.
  • my wife and I welcomed our first child, Bennett, to the world on January 12.
  • I have been vocalizing my distaste for the DH around Emma…laying the foundation.
  • How does one get an avatar on this site?  Is there an application process?  Do I need to clean Lizzie’s house?  Kiss cap’n's pinky ring?  How?
  • I’ve actually been considering rocking a pinky ring.  Chuck might have just forced my hand…
  • Between Raker and Butts – an unenviable position.
  • Man I gotta do something to get a lizzie!  I’m too old to wait much longer!!!
  • I swear I haven’t been drinking, the internet connection in Peoria is changing my letters. “I now have one less Lizzie than I do Twitter followers! Go Me!”
  • The MLB’s steadfast refusal to make thorough use of instant replay is past the point where you could reasonably call it “quaint” or “traditional.”
  • the only kind of playoff expansion baseball fans want to see is the expansion of the League Division Series to seven games.
  • The “human element” is really a euphemism for human error. We don’t need it.
  • Watching Doc purchase the annual “Bill James Handbook” at a Barnes and Noble.
  • You can bring a Doc to Barnes and Noble to purchase a Bill James Handbook but you can’t make him read it.
  • I could define my “bucket list” as enjoying every remaining day above ground.
  • as you get older you just set the bar MUCH lower – so when you take that “60-day cruise through the Panama Canal” you replace it with “make it Denny’s before 5pm WITHOUT forgetting your ‘meat-chewing’ dentures.”
  • It will be part of my memoir book “Things You Can’t Unsee: How a six fingered man led me to found VFTB”
  • I have half a mind to launch a Kickstarter account for us all to chip in and send Joe to Mesa next month so he can witness firsthand the sun-drenched majesty of Spring Training.
  • Cubs are always in first place during spring training since they have yet to lose a game for the upcoming season- hope springs eternal.
  • Dave and I always shared the mutual love for under appreciated and somewhat skillfully-limited baseball players
  • Quite a tribute..I understand he plays hard too!

Lizard

  • WTSHEHTS???–What the sam hell ever happened to Sherm???

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

  • cap’n Obvious – 23
  • jswanson – 23
  • Jeremiah Johnson – 21
  • Doc Raker – 19
  • Jedi Johnson – 18
  • Buddy – 16
  • Seymour Butts – 13
  • Chuck – 10
  • 29 others have < 10. I’ll run the full list every other month or so.

Shout Outs

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

  • Allan
  • Josh Cornwall

Lizzie’s Kitchen

Chit Chat

This past week Joe scheduled some Skype calls for the writers and I was explaining to him my Skype-a-phobia. I hate it. It’s not because of the video. Despite what I might say, I really don’t care if y’all know what I look like. It was just a fun little game I played when a few of the contributors thought I was Carrie Muskat! I hate Skype because of my experience the first time I used it.

This was several years ago. I was trying to get my parents set up on Skype so we could talk across the miles. If you have older parents you will understand how trying the installation process was, especially since I was here and they were in Pennsylvania (the whole point of the Skype in the first place!) Once we were all set up, I thought yay! Now I can talk to them and see them too, whenever I want! Well, the call lasted about three minutes. First, my father couldn’t even carry on a conversation because he was too busy watching himself. Next, my mother walked by wearing a nightgown that was too big on her hence her left boob was hanging out of the sleeve hole. It was a scene right out of Everybody Loves Raymond. Well, aside from the nudity.

I’ve never used Skype since, until this week. I was scarred for life. What’s your “scarred for life” story?

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The Tortoise or the LaHair (and other Wednesday happenings)

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Who says you can’t teach speed? According to today’s Muskat Ramblings, a big spring training focus for Bryan LaHair will be working on his foot speed.  The expected opening day starter at first base will be working with speedsters David DeJesus and Dave Sappelt and learning their speed drills which he will incorporate in his routine three days per week. I don’t imagine we’ll see him challenging Tony Campana to any foot races before Spring Training ends, but if it helps his footwork around the bag, I’m all for it.

Speaking of speed, the fleet of foot Campana was disappointed to learn that running won’t be involved in the bunting tournament that Cubs manager Dale Sveum brought with him to Cubs camp from his minor league days. The 64-person tournament kicks off (tips off? squares off?) on Thursday and will culminate with the best bunting pitcher squaring off against the best bunting fielder for the title of Cubs bunting champion. The dark horses in the tourney are conditioning coach Tim Buss and Sveum himself who are rounding out the field of 64 (as there are only 62 players currently in camp). Sure, it’s a little silly but I applaud Sveum’s effort to put the “fun” in “fundamentals”. I can only imagine how ridiculous the side bets (for entertainment purposes only) will be on this within the clubhouse.

Albert Pujols is apparently displeased  with the decision of his new team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, to include his commonly used nickname “El Hombre” in their advertising campaign for the new look team. The Angels placed 20 billboards around SoCal featuring the “El Hombre” moniker, which Pujols prefers not be used out of deference to Stan “The Man” Musial. I saw one of the boards when I was traveling for work last week, but the debate in the car was to whether or not it was actually Pujols himself, or just a Hollywood stunt double.

Remember when the NBA Slam Dunk Contest was awesome? Yeah, I vaguely remember those days too. Michael Jordan. Dominique Wilkins. Spud Webb. Vince Carter. Kobe Bryant. Iman Shumpert. Actually, scratch that…Knicks guard Iman Shumpert withdrew from the All-Star Weekend activity due to a knee injury. Shumpert will be replaced by the equally “Huh?” worthy Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz who will join Houston’s Chase Budinger, Indiana’s Paul George, and Minnesota’s Derrick Williams, rounding out the worst dunk contest foursome in history. Raise your hand if you could have told me who 3 out of the 4 dunkers played for without me telling you. I’m a fan of the NBA and I’m not sure I can honestly say I would have been able to do it myself.

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Chet’s Corner: Five Burning Questions (Spring Training Edition)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

With the off-season officially in the past and the spring training drills firing up, I decided we needed another Five Burning Questions.  Today’s questions deal with compensation, that kid from Notre Dame and a lot of over unders. 

1) In general, if you had to describe your level of satisfaction with the Epstein/Hoyer regime to this point would you say you are:

A.  Extremely pleased

B.   Satisfied

C.   Very Medium

D.  Disappointed

*I am going with satisfied.  I could almost go with extremely satisfied but feel it is a bit early.  I do love the fact that we have a direction and purpose though.  That alone is reason enough for optimism.

2) Was Chris Carpenter fair compensation for Theo?

*I would take this every day of the week and twice on Sunday…..enough said…..

3) The Cubs had 71 wins in 2011, does this team eclipse that mark or fall short?

*I feel it will be over, but only by a few games and we will enjoy watching this team lose more than last years team. 

4) If you could choose one pitcher to make the rotation that doesn’t have a spot already locked up, who would it be?

*I am going with Samardzija.  After reading Doug Padilla’s column yesterday, it seems Jeff has gone full on psycho mode with his efforts to lock down a spot as a starter.  The effort alone makes me cheer for him, now as far as it actually happening???

5) Knowing what we now know, would you take back the Garza trade or would you still go through with it?

*I am very aware that I may be in the minority here, but I still like the trade.  It will really depend on Chris Archer’s perfromance in the next year or so.  He had a rough go of it last year in the minors.  Hak-Ju Lee looks like the real deal so far at shortstop, but he has yet to hit the bigs.  This deal may be the quintessential proof, good or bad,  that prospects are prospects until proven otherwise. 

 

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Bending Rules, Keeping It Classy

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012


Bending Rules: MLB has amended Official Baseball Rule 3.05. The amendment will “prohibit a manager from sending his current pitcher out to warm up with no intention of having him pitch because a relief pitcher is not ready to enter the game.” The rule was changed because Joe Maddon needed some extra time for one of his relievers and sent Sam Fuld to the mound to bide some time for Cesar Ramos to get warm. Fuld never actually pitched. “I know this, that all the odd kind of moments that occur during the season regarding umpiring, that they do write them down, and they’ll talk about it at the end of the season. So, it doesn’t surprise me. And it also indicates that they’re on top of things, so I kind of like it,” Maddon said. What a class act. Seems like a nice guy.

Class Act: Matt Kemp does not want the MVP Award. If you recall, Matt placed second in MVP voting. If Braun loses the appeal to his 50-game suspension, he could lose the title and could potentially be given to Kemp. Kemp said he would feel like the award would be given “by default’ and hopes to have as good a season this year and win the award “straight up.” Kemp also feels kind of bad for Braun and the situation he’s in. Seems like a nice, classy guy.

Personally, I think Kemp should have been the 2011 MVP.

Moving On: Remember when Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in November? Remember when he was rescued two days later? He has reported to Spring Training and is ready for the season. The man went through and extremely traumatizing experience, but he’s ready to get the season under way. Here’s to a lucrative season for Wilson (and maybe Strasburg?).

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Reed Johnson: The Man, The Beard, The Legend

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

My unhealthy obsession with Reed Johnson started during my freshman year of college when I went up to Toronto for series between the Jays and Red Sox. It was a nice August day and the roof was open at the Rogers Centre. Josh Beckett was on the mound that day and was handling a struggling Jays lineup with ease. I can’t remember for sure if Mr. Johnson had a hit that day, but I do remember being absolutely astounded by a diving catch he made on a blooper to short center. It wasn’t more than an inning later that Reed vaulted himself up the wall underneath the hotel balconies to rob JD Drew of a double.

On March 25, 2008 my good buddy Dave knocks on my dorm room door with a grin on his face and a little bit out of breath, which I later decided was due to excitement. He asks me if I have been on to MLBTradeRumors.com, in which I subsequently tell him no. As if he can’t wait any longer he spits out some combination of “Reed Johnson! Cubs! Signed!”  The next few minutes are a bit of a blur, but I can confirm that there may have been jumping on my bed and a hoot or two. Dave and I always shared the mutual love for under appreciated and somewhat skillfully-limited baseball players, a category which I place Reed Johnson in.

"I believe that Johnson can be a factor for the Cubs successes in a season that has no real expectations from both fans and management."

Johnson quickly became a fan favorite at Wrigley (at least so I hear since I’m not a season ticket holder nor do I live remotely close to Chicago) because of his hustle on the field and candor off of it. According to Johnson it was that very reason that he came back to Chicago after his one season stint with the Dodgers in 2010. Although I’m not sure that anyone else offered him a contract either. Despite getting only a minor league contract from the Cubbies last off-season, he played well enough in Spring Training (something he often has done throughout his career) and predictably won a bench job out of camp.

Reed played well in spot starts last season getting 266 plate appearances while showing up in 111 final box scores. He rewarded the team at the plate with a .309/.348 mark, but did struggle at the one facet of his game that’s made him a valuable major league asset: his fielding.  His fielding percentage was the worst of his career at .976, which some attributed to shifting around to all the spots in the outfield. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, because Johnson has split time at the three outfield spots for a majority of his nine season career.  The three errors in 86 fielding appearances were the most he’s had since his four error rookie campaign in which he started 94 games.  The fielding decline isn’t anything to get alarmed about just yet, although it is a bit troubling coming off his 1.000% fielding percentage season with LA.  Johnson, who just turned 35 in December, will need to show that his fielding is still up to his standards in limited duties this season, especially if he wants a major league contract after this upcoming season.

Reed is far from the player that started 143 games for that ’06 Blue Jays team that won 87 games, but he can still be an effective player in The Show. The beginning of the Cubs season will most likely determine the amount of opportunities that Johnson will get in 2012. An older outfield of Soriano, Byrd and DeJesus should provide plenty of playing time whether it be because of injury or fatigue. However if the Cubs really struggle out the gate, Theo will hear plenty of cries to start bringing up the kids as early as May. Such circumstances could both hinder his playing time and ultimately cost him a roster spot in the long run.

Now some most of you are probably wondering why on Earth I would decide to talk about a player that really has no future with the organization. Yes I have a man crush, but that’s not the only reason.  It is because I believe that Johnson can be a factor for the Cubs successes in a season that has no real expectations from both fans and management.

He’s not going to put up great numbers at the plate or get to every ball in the outfield with an aging body, but what he can provide is leadership in the clubhouse for a fairly young team. Along with Byrd, Johnson will be a mentor (hopefully) to a team that will likely see a variety of call-ups before the season closes.

I know, I know. Leadership doesn’t always mean a whole lot in baseball as it does in other sports, but we’ve all seen the aftermath of the 2011 Red Sox mess. Sometimes the best guys in the clubhouse are the guys that can will their teammates to wins during a slump or tough stretch of games.  For me, anything that Johnson can do on the field spectacularly is gravy if he can prove to be exactly what I described for this team. Sometimes it’s okay to say screw the metrics or stats and just go based off of your gut, which is exactly what I’m doing. I’m not saying that Johnson is going to greatly improve a team that will likely finish second or third in the NL Central and miss the playoffs. What I am saying is that he’s an important cog in the culture change wheel on the North Side.  Unfortunately for Johnson, he’ll unlikely see the end result of a Cubs World Series run.

Randomly Inaccurate and Unscientific projections:

.280 avg/ .330 OBP/ .992 Fielding percentage

And what could be better than some Reed Johnson Trivia to boot?

Answer: Nothing

  1. Where did he play college ball?
  2. What was his first number for the Cubs in 2008?
  3. What year was he drafted and by which team? Bonus: For naming the round.
  4. What year did he make his pro debut? (To prove you actually read)
  5. How many Reed Johnson jersey t-shirts has Josh owned?
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Morning News: The Return of Baseball and the Mystery of Human Hibernation

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I realize we’re still several weeks away from meaningful baseball, but the ON switch for the 2012 season has been flipped.  Sunday the Cubs’ pitchers and catchers reported for duty, and most of the rest of the team will trickle in over the next few days.  While nothing that happens in the next month-and-a-half will do much to raise our modest hopes for the season, there’s a certain amount of cautious optimism and excitement to be had as the Cubs’ rotation and lineup begin to take shape.  We’ll have all season to gripe about what and where we’re lacking–for now, let’s bask in warmth of another new spring.  Baseball is back!

But it’s not all good news–I was shocked a tad surprised to find out the other day that our Blogfather Joe Aiello is not a fan of Spring Training.  I have half a mind to launch a Kickstarter account for us all to chip in and send Joe to Mesa next month so he can witness firsthand the sun-drenched majesty of Spring Training.

On a scale of Joe-to-10, where would you put your own excitement for the start of Spring Training?

Cubs News Roundup  Grantland’s Jonah Keri has been gearing up for the season by previewing a new team every day, starting with the NL Central.  It’s fitting that his Cubs preview went up on President’s Day, since the Cubs look to be taking the whole season off…  Gene Wojciechowski has some thoughts on the new direction for the Cubs in 2012, including their new in-house philosophy and purpose statement that Joe wrote about yesterday morning.  Called “The Cub Way,” the guide will not be distributed outside the organization, which only makes me all the more determined to get a copy for myself…  Blake DeWitt accepted his assignment off the 40-man roster, and will try to win back his spot this spring.  I don’t know enough about all the other infielders in camp to gauge his odds of making the team, but I’m optimistic he won’t be one our best options when April rolls around… Jeff Samardzija hopes to make the Cubs’ starting rotation.  Unless he’s figured out how to throw under thirty pitches across five-to-seven innings, I don’t like his chances.

UPDATE: The Cubs have agreed to send right-handed pitching prospect Chris Carpenter to the Red Sox along with a player to be named later as compensation for Theo Epstein.  Click the link to see Theo’s statement.  ESPN Chicago has more details.

It’s Only A Flesh Wound  San Fransisco catcher Buster Posey is recovering from his horrific knee injury last season and plans to catch the Giant’s spring opener.  The article points out that Giants manager Bruce Bochy has ordered Posey not to block the plate for the time being, and that he’s lobbying the MLB to change the rules regarding plays at the plate to better protect catchers.

Is The G.O.A.T. Heading Out To Pasture?  Yankee closer and future first ballot Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera may be ready to hang it up at the end of the season, but so far he’s not telling.  On a team known for prima donnas and me-first superstars, I always thought Rivera was unusually humble and likable.  I almost never cheer for the Yankees (they do occasionally play the Cardinals), but it will still be a bummer to see one of the game’s most consistent and dominant pitchers call it quits.

Mannyball  After spending big last week on an unproven prospect, the Oakland A’s made another mildly head-scratching move Monday when they signed Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal.  Ramirez will still have to sit out his fifty-game suspension for his second violation of the MLB’s drug policy, so you’ve got until mid-May to corner the market on dreadlocks wigs in Oakland.

I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means  Apparently the ESPN headline faux pas regarding Jeremy Lin was an honest mistake.  I’m inclined to believe the guy, especially since I know how poorly chosen my own words become the later it gets.

One Man’s Hibernation Is Another Man’s Debt Solution  You can’t run away from your mistakes, but apparently you can hide from them for a couple months in your car/igloo, surviving on snow, cigarettes, and comic books.

 

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Who Am I?

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Who Am I? is a feature here at VFTB designed to give some of the focus back to those who make the site a success: YOU! We’ll tell you a bit about one of our regulars and you guess who it is. We’ll be back later in the day with the answer.

(Would you like to be included? Let me know at lizzie@viewfromthebleachers.com … the more the merrier!)

Who Am I?

  • I was born in Chicago, about three blocks from Park Ridge. I can’t remember exactly what age I became a Cubs fan, but I fondly remember watching the 1989 playoff run.
  • No one in my immediate family is much of a baseball fan at all. I also love the NFL and NCAA  basketball. Actually I love competition of any kind.
  • I tend to favor stats, but by no means do I consider myself a stats person. I couldn’t explain half the crazy metrics out there, but I wish I could.
  • Antonio Alfonseca brought me to VFTB. No joke!
  • I was a fan of Jim Hendry and am also a fan of Theo Epstein. I was happy to hear that Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano won’t be back next year.
  • I used to go to opening day at Wrigley Field every year from about 7th grade through high school. I still take that day as a holiday from work every year.
  • If I was dining with Seymour I’d order an open faced Reuben sandwich with waffle fries, a big fat deli pickle, and split pea soup followed by a bowl of spumoni ice cream and wash it all down with a large mug of either root beer or Cheerwine

Who Am I?

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Spring Training Is Here, Foot in Mouth Disease, and We’re on Facebook

Monday, February 20th, 2012

The Cubs have reported to spring training, which is the biggest tease in all of sports. The mid-February date is such a waste of time considering it’s more than two week before the first pitch is thrown in a game and even then almost a month till the pitches actually mean anything. Still, there are those who get excited, so we’ll mention it before we get to some nuggets of news this Monday morning.

We’re now on Facebook. You’ve bombarded my e-mail inbox with letters (not really, it’s more that I’ve been lazy setting it up) and we’ve listened. You can now follow us and interact with us on Facebook. The most important thing I would ask is to use it to share the site you “like” with fellow Cub fans. Help them find out about us and continue to build on the community we’ve developed here. This site remains fun for us as writers because of you the reader. Let’s continue that. Take a minute and visit the Facebook page and let everyone know you Like Us.

Paul Sullivan had a story as camp opened discussing Theo’s plan for the team. He “stressed the collectively-written manual as a way to get the entire system on the same page, from the Dominican Republic summer leagues to the majors leagues.” It’s usually the pat answer, but it’s so key to make sure that the team you’re running has the same message preached throughout. If you want guys to play a certain way, preach it and teach it from the day they sign till the day they leave the system. Then tell them it was all crap and to forget everything they learned. To accomplish that you have to hire the teachers at every level of the system. Hire guys that buy into what your philosophy at every level and train them to be the teachers to develop the skills. Up until this point, I never felt the Cubs have had that in their system. We hear things about the “Dodger Way” and read interviews from players in the organizations that have systems like this in place and it’s all they talk about. They stress the fact that from the moment they entered the system there was consistency throughout. Everyone on the same page. If Jed and Theo can develop that system, the success will come as a result.

Jed Hoyer met with the media over the weekend and discussed Matt Garza and the possibility of signing a long term extension.

“We focused really hard on getting the one-year number done a few weeks ago. We didn’t have any kind of long-term discussions before that, but certainly there was some dialogue about possibly having some long-term discussions at some point maybe this spring. . . . I think we probably will sit down and talk. We’ve said many times he’s the kind of guy we need. We need more Matt Garzas, not less. We need a rotation full of those guys, so if we can work something out, that’d be wonderful.”

As the season draws closer, everyone seems to have their prediction on what the 25 man roster will look like. What interests me most is what they see as being the starting five when it comes to the rotation. The folks at Hardball Talk took a crack at it and came up with:

Ryan Dempster  -R
Matt Garza – R
Randy Wells – R
Paul Maholm – L
Chris Volstad – R

I agree with all but Volstad, with Travis Wood being my pick. I mentioned in my appearance last week on ESPN radio that I didn’t think someone like Jeff Samardzija had a chance at the rotation, but there are those that believe he does. Ultimately, can we really say any of the spots after the top two are a lock and set in stone? I don’t think you can at this point. Certainly Wells and Maholm are close, but what it they come out and tank in spring training?

Shifting our focus now to people who have put their foot in their mouth lately, we look at the fool who no longer works for ESPN who came up with the headline about Jeremy Lin “A Chink in the Armor”. If you missed the story, the headline was sent to mobile devices and caused a lot of outrage as a result. It’s a terrible thing to make racist comments, but what if this guy didn’t even mean to reference Lin’s ethnicity in any way when he came up with the headline? What if it was an honest mistake? Ultimately, I think ESPN’s hands are tied in that instance and they have to sacrifice him to save face, but it’s sad that we live in a society that is so filled with litigation that mistakes can no longer happen. I don’t know either way. I just found it interesting.

Bruce Weber, coach of the Illini basketball team, also had some insert foot in mouth comments that put a good amount of nails in his coaching coffin at Illinois over the weekend. What he didn’t finish, the team took care of with an embarrassing, no heart, effort against the last place team in the Big Ten on Saturday night. If you didn’t get a chance to listen to the press conference late last week, it’s worth listening to. It’s not too often we see a coach all but lists the reasons for his AD to let him go.


Sources:

  • ‘Cubs Way’ underway – Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune)
  • After gauging his trade value, Cubs seem ready to make Matt Garza a long-term investment – Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun Times)
  • Running down the rosters: Chicago Cubs – Matthew Pouliot (Hardball Talk)
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