Archive for January, 2013

Morning News: Everything’s Gay

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

NFL
Artie Lange successfully targeted 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver during Media Day at the Super Bowl. Lange, professional offspring of Howard Stern, managed to get Culliver on-the-record with ‘anti-gay’ statements that are sure to have the NFL and the 49ers recoiling into crisis mode. Perhaps they can do a last minute switch and get Elton John in for the halftime show.

NCAA
Katie Couric has Manti Te’o on the record as not gay, in fact, ‘far from it’ so he says. But Dr. Phil had Te’o’s catfisher (is that the proper term, someone who watches MTV needs to help me out on that one), Ronaiah Tuiasosopo on his show yesterday. Tuiasosopo came to the conclusion that he was ‘deeply, romantically in love’ with Te’o. Tough days ahead for Manti in whichever NFL locker room he winds up calling home; he’ll be the only guy who 1) was in love with a fake girlfriend 2) created by his male stalker and 3) thus people wonder if Te’o is gay. That’s a LOT of baggage.

NBA
Rudy GAY was traded to the Toronto Raptors. To my knowledge, Gay is not gay.

Ghandi
Apparently Ghandi might’ve had a thing for a bodybuilder…a man.

Cubs Related
So this is where the gay journey ends and we turn to male chauvinism. As Lizzie, and a few others have noted in recent comments, Dave Sappelt has spent the off-season building a reputation as a Twitter bomb waiting to go off. Just peruse his Twitter feed and you’ll notice he’s not real big on courtesy or diplomacy. I’m not sure how popular that’ll make him in Chicago Iowa.

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There’s No Place Like Home

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Imagine yourself behind the steering wheel of a 2010 Lexus ES 330 for a few moments – interstate 90, stretched out as far as the eye can see. Gas pedal to the mat, anxiously anticipating that first, glorious moment of seeing 9 of your favorite men skip over the white chalk line and trot out to their respective places on the field. Nothing can compare to that moment of sheer joy as the pitcher winds up and delivers a perfect strike to begin the game.

Baseball season is right around the corner and the countdown to seeing the Boys of Summer suit up this season is at 60 days. The anticipation is building daily.

While the old adage, “Everybody loves the Cubs,” is a relative statement, it rings true for a large group of people. It seems as though people love the Cubs as a team so much, they lose sight of the glorious structure that supports their love for this team and this sport.

That structure, of course, is Wrigley Field. To some, it is merely the place where the Cubs play half of their regular-season games, while to others it is the closest thing to heaven they will ever see. Heaven, with clear blue skies, perfectly manicured lawns, and deep brown dirt seems to be the perfect place for a ballpark.
Wrigley Field has a charm about it that hits you as soon as you see it from Addison Street. It is filled with rich history and great stories that would entertain a person for a lifetime. When the scoreboard lights up with “Go Cubs, go!” the excitement of going behind the walls of the stadium consumes you.

People say that Disney World is the happiest place on Earth, but I would like to politely disagree with them. Why waste your money on fairytales? Why entertain the false hope of having perfectly combed tresses and consistently flawless makeup, when you could spend it on learning the invaluable life lessons of patience, sportsmanship, and the proper technique for calling somebody out? I can tell you that Disney World is not that place.

Disney is filled with empty promises and stomachaches from consuming too much cotton candy. At least at Wrigley the stomachaches are from hot dogs and nachos.
When Ernie Banks dubbed Wrigley as “The Friendly Confines,” he could not have found a more perfect nickname for it. (That is, as long as you love baseball and do not go around looking for trouble.)
Day games at Wrigley are like nothing else on the planet. The colors and sounds of the game are amplified. The beauty and precision of the crisp foul lines and the groomed dirt of the infield are mesmerizing; it’s like a whole different world inside the ballpark. Everything happening in the outside world is of little consequence for that 2 1/2-3 hour glimpse of heaven. Your joy hangs on every move that your favorite player makes – he better not let you down.
If you are a Cubs fan in need of resorting to the sought-after “happy place” that many folks talk about, you should not have to look far. Wrigley Field is that happy place.  (Unless, of course, your name is Steve Bartman or Milton Bradley.) Walking where legends have walked, sitting where they have hit foul balls and homeruns, and singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch are incomparable joys that can cure almost dreary day. Wrigley Field is a special place.
The one, most important thing that makes Wrigley Field so special is the special bond it creates with loved ones. Sharing a fifteen-dollar helmet bowl of nachos with a close friend, heckling the opposing left fielder with your younger brother, discussing the likelihood of a go-ahead home run from Reed Johnson with your father, and getting a wink from Anthony Rizzo as he ducks into the dugout cannot be replicated anywhere else.

Wrigley Field is a happy place. There’s no place like home.

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So Long Alfonso Soriano

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

I know I teased you with this awhile back and I feel bad, but I just did it again. As far as I know, no deal for Soriano is imminent, but it’s always fun to watch the rumors, the latest of which noted that Soriano could interest the Mets and the Rangers as they seek to add one more bat before the beginning of the season.

It’s hard to say if Soriano will be traded. There aren’t any sports betting lines to say what the odds are, but I feel like he will, though it may not come before the beginning of the season. One thing that is certain is that the longer he’s a Cub and producing, the more likely he is to be traded as that contract becomes more and more manageable for teams to acquire in a trade.

In transaction news, Lendy Castillo was designated for assignment to make room for Carlos Villanueva on the 40 man roster. The question now is who is moved to make room for Scott Hairston as his deal is not been officially announced yet. Moving Soriano would certainly help that situation, but most likely a move is going to need to happen in the coming days to make room for him before the start of spring training. My guess is the Hairston signing really puts the future of Dave Sappelt in jeopardy with the Cubs.

In case you missed it, John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com posted a prospect note on Junior Lake and Brett Jackson

Junior Lake, SS, Chicago Cubs
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-3 WT: 215 DOB: March 27, 1990

If you see Junior Lake on the right day, he looks like one of the best players in the world. He’ll blister a long home run, or he’ll make a spectacular defensive play, or he’ll show off a tremendously good throwing arm, or he’ll steal a critical base. If you see Junior Lake on the wrong day, he’ll look like one of the most confused, helpless players in the world. He’ll swing at a breaking ball two feet off the plate, or he’ll butcher a routine little league grounder, or he’ll throw the ball 20 feet over the first baseman’s head, or he’ll run himself into a critical out. Sometimes he does the good and bad things in the same game, or the same inning. Lake’s tools are simply excellent, especially his throwing arm. He’s made improvements around the edges and flashes intriguing baseball skills, but he’s not consistent about it and is still frequently frustrating. Triple-A pitching will be a big test of his adjustment skills, though he could put up some superficially strong numbers in the Pacific Coast League. Pay a lot more attention to his BB/K/AB ratio than to his standard slash line. Also watch his position: he’s still rough at shortstop and could end up at third base or the outfield. Grade C+

Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 6-2 WT: 210 DOB: August 2, 1988

I have been an optimistic about Brett Jackson, but now. . .well, now I don’t know what to think. The tools are obvious: his combination of speed and power is very potent. He’ll take a walk, helping his OBP even when his batting average is low. Although many scouts think he fits best in right field, I’ve seen him make some very stellar plays in center, demonstrating plenty of range to go with his arm strength. But you know the rest of Jackson’s story, don’t you? The strikeouts. . .oh, the strikeouts. His whiff rate was simply obscene last year, especially after he was promoted to the majors. He seemed to go backwards with his swing at Iowa, having problems with breaking stuff outside the zone, but also with fastballs that would tie him up inside. As stated, he makes a serious effort to work counts, but he just swings and misses so damn much. Jackson’s other skills are strong enough that he could be a productive and useful player even if he’s hitting .230, but what if he can’t break the Mendoza Line? That’s a legitimate question. Pacific Coast League sources are quite split on him. Some think he will still be a valuable regular player with a few adjustments, others think he’s destined for a reserve role. Some believe he’ll never solve the contact problem and is doomed to wander the Quadruple-A borderland for the next decade. What do I think? I think he’s the bastard son of Rob Deer and Andy Van Slyke. If I were the Cubs, and I’m not trying to contend in 2013, I would stick him in the lineup, let him hit seventh or eighth, and just see what happens. Grade B-.

On a more broad spectrum, MLB is changing a rule this year, making it illegal to do the fake to third, throw to first move. The rule change is long overdue. The move never works and is a complete waste of time. Now, if we can just get the umps to call the strike zone the way it’s written and we’d be in business.

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Morning News: Short & Sweet

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Apologies but time constraints this evening will force me to forgo most of the usual commentary. I have every confidence that you can more than compensate for my lack of snark in your comments below.

No real Cubs news of late, at least nothing I deemed worthy to mention. However, there is always this picture which never fails to make me smile. Pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks.

Former Cubs infielder Ronny Cedeno signed a one-year, $1.15M deal to back up Rafael Furcal for the St. Louis Cardinals. For those of you who hated Cedeno in his Cubs tenure for his inconsistent hitting and frequent fielding gaffes, feel free to release the hounds.

Last week I mentioned how happy I am to have the NHL back in my life, and that was before the Blackhawks had racked up a team-record six wins to start the season. If you haven’t been watching, you can catch up with the highlights here.

After several weather delays, Tiger Woods won the Farmers Insurance Open Monday, the 75th tournament victory of his career–just seven back of the all-time record. It was Woods’ eighth victory at Torrey Pines, a course I absolutely own on his PGA Tour 10 game for Nintendo Wii.

In the spectrum of difficult stolen items to resell, $65,000 worth of frozen chicken wings has to be at the extreme far end, right?

A 88 year-old man loved Burger King so much that his family drove his funeral procession through the drive-thru and buried him with a Whopper Jr. America!

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Morning News: Fat-Free Edition

Monday, January 28th, 2013

The Closest We Will Get – Fat Dan
MLB.com has Dan Vogelbach rated as the 8th best first base prospect in the minors. To which I say, if Dan is a 1B prospect, then Soriano really might play 3B for us this year. In reality, Vogelbach needs to get traded to the AL or hope the DH is instituted in the NL – and quickly. Most talent evaluators have him rated as a 1B strictly because the Cubs keep trotting him out there – not because he’s capable of fielding the position. When you’re 6′ 250lbs (and if he’s only 250 someone should check and make sure he didn’t cut off a limb) there isn’t a lot of hope for your longterm prospects as a fielder.

It’s Been A Slow Weekend For Sports
Novak Djokovic won the Australia (Tennis) Open. The sputtering Lakers & Celtics each scored big, regular season wins. Tiger is likely to run away with the tournament at Torrey Pines when it finishes on Monday. The NFL Pro-Bowl was on Sunday…no one cared.

Travel Tips
Don’t go to Brazilian night clubs. Or Egyptian soccer matches. Or Venezuelan prisons. Or Compton. Or the Isle of Wight.

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