Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

GirlieView (02/04/2016)

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2015 Off-Season = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.

Lizzies

  • If the guy isn’t getting the job done, then make the change. Someone else will be ready to step up.
  • Strop scares me – he channels his “inner-Marmol” far too often when asked to do anything other than bridge the game.
  • If Rondon is dominant this year, I hope we forgot about the save stat and let him pitch whichever inning is most important.
  • Big expectations last year for Lester and to me, he didn’t deliver. Lower expectations this year. I hope he can deliver on that.
  • So Brian Schlitter beat Murton to the sitcom thing.. Didn’t see that coming.
  • I have great memories of listening to Cubs games with my grandpa when I was young just he and I on the front porch.
  • In Sunday School my teacher had a contest for attendance, Bible verse, and bring your Bible. The top three winners won a trip to Wrigley Field. I won.
  • I noticed the necklace at an away game a few years later and she claimed to remember me (who wouldn’t I know).
  • That might be the necklace I gave her on her birthday when I was 10. When you had dinner, did she mention a little boy named Eddie with a pocket full of crayons?
  • I enjoy the strategy utilized by NL managers in various game situations, especially in the late innings.
  • I’m a traditionalist. Put your pitchers in the cages during spring training. Teach them how to bunt. Teach them how to swing the bat. Make them learn how to run and slide.
  • The business of the game will win this argument and at some point the NL will have the DH, much to my chagrin. The players union will see to it that the DH is not removed.
  • Can we DH for David Ross and let the pitcher hit when in an AL park?
  • Underwood was great in LA Law.
  • Underwood? Balls. Final answer.
  • I’m fine starting the season with the horses we have and letting Maddon tinker away.
  • I think this thread can be summarized in one word: balance. Last season our offense was way too swing and miss oriented, so Theo went out and got Heyward and Zobrist and their high OBPs to balance things out and get some bodies on base for all those taters. The Cubs have 2 dudes who hit so damn well they need to find somewhere for them to play in the field. Our infield defense is great, and so is Heyward, so the Cubs can afford to have a couple of guys out there who aren’t gold glove caliber.
  • When things were worst, my dad and I could always talk about baseball. Cubs baseball would always cut the tension and allow us to reconnect.

Lizard

  • It’s been a very real joy to write here.

Shout Outs

  • Big shout outs to Adam Peters, Bilyuds, and Sue Draper for their first 2015 Off-Season Lizzies!!!! Thanks for being here!

MVL

  • Congratulations to Doc Raker, Eddie von White, and Jared , our Most Valuable Lizzie-ers this time! Thank you all!

Top 10 of the 2015 Off-Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Sherm
2. jswanson
3. Doc Raker
4. Doug S
4. Eddie von White
4. Jared
7. Seymour Butts
8. Bryan
9. Nate Usher
10. Bartz
10. Brad Lyerla
10. Jerry in Wisconsin
10. Joe Aiello
10. Sean Powell

Chit Chat

Jared touched on this the other day, but since we’ve entered the month during which Spring Training begins we’ve got baseball right around the corner, so I’ll review some pertinent dates:

  • Friday, February 19 – Pitchers and catchers report
  • Tuesday, February 23 – Position players report
  • Thursday, March 3 – First Spring Training exhibition game (away vs. Milwaukee, available on mlb.com)
  • Saturday, March 5 – First radio broadcast (home vs. Cincinnati, 670 AM, 2:05 pm CT)
  • Wednesday, March 16 – First television broadcast (away vs. Kansas City, CSN, 3:05 pm CT)

Now, for the chatting. Have you ever attended any Cubs Spring Training games? Will you be heading there this year?

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Some quick thanks

Monday, February 1st, 2016

This is a harder post to write than I expected. I want to start by saying thank you. Not just to Joe, but to any of you who have actually taken the time to read anything that I have written in the past year for View From the Bleachers. It has been a very real blessing to my life to have had the opportunity for such an outlet for my Cubs and baseball related thoughts, and the reprieve from day to day life has been extraordinarily welcome at times. Not much more than a year ago, the very thought of writing about the Cubs in any capacity felt like a total pipedream. Being able to set everything else aside for a little bit and pour out my thoughts here has brought me not just a sense of personal satisfaction, but also a chance to branch out and expand my writing opportunities.

In December, I joined the staff at Cubs Den to do game recaps when the season begins and an occasional feature post in the meantime, which I have loved writing along with my posts here for the past 5 or 6 weeks.

Most recently, I submitted an application to intern at Baseball Prospectus Wrigleyville a couple of weeks ago and was surprised and pleased to be added (along with several other good people) to what is already a strong staff there. This has already brought me the opportunity to write for them almost right away and even contribute in a small way to a prospects post that will go up on the main site later this week.

Because of this, my time here has come to an end. I want to put my best into each piece that I write, and I hate when I feel like I haven’t, so I am choosing to step aside here. I look forward to continuing to share my love of the Cubs with you as a reader (and occasional commenter), but this will be my last post for View From the Bleachers. It is genuinely felt like a privilege to contribute to this blog for the past year, and I will always be thankful that Joe gave me the opportunity.

 

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Dexter Fowler? I think we’re good here

Friday, January 29th, 2016

I will freely admit that I am not much of a perfectionist. I probably tend to go ahead with a plan or a process before I have checked all of the details, and sometimes that’s really not a good thing. You should have seen me a couple of months ago trying to set up my Christmas lights outside before I had checked to see if all of the strands were working (it’s no fun finding that out after you’ve wound them around the bushes out front, let me tell you). So, in some cases I probably create more work for myself in the long run by not checking ahead of time. But, sometimes it is just time to forge ahead and go with what you have, with what you have put together and prepared. Sometimes you don’t know or don’t have access to all of the details, so you do your best and adapt along the way.

That’s where my thinking resides as I think about the final weeks leading up to the glorious beginning of spring training. Current speculation on a Cubs-Rays trade and the return of Dexter Fowler (latest hints that it could be here or the White Sox) notwithstanding, I doubt that we will see changes to the roster of any significance before July. The biggest roster related decisions from here on out will be about the rotation and bullpen and about the bench players to keep on the 25 man roster. We should keep in mind that a re-acquisition of Fowler means that it is very likely, if not a certainty, that we are saying goodbye to Jorge Soler. However you might feel about getting Fowler back, that’s important to keep in mind.

With that in consideration, a trade with the Rays would almost certainly preface a signing of Fowler, in the same way that saying goodbye to Starlin Castro and getting Adam Warren from the Yankees was just as much, if not more, about getting Ben Zobrist. If, if, a trade with the Rays does happen the involves Soler, I would put my next paycheck on a Fowler signing being announced very, very soon after.

That said, yesterday’s Rays-Rockies trade does seem to hint that maybe the Rays have made the move that they were looking for.

It doesn’t mean that the Rockies might not be looking to flip their new pitcher, but it’s the Rockies. Of the MLB organizations that I think are best run, Colorado is not high on that list.

However, this doesn’t mean that I think the Cubs need to, or should, make a move like this. Of course, this may go back to my lack of perfectionism, but as I examine what our 25 man roster will likely be as the season begins in April, there is not a tremendous amount of room for improvement (especially compared to many teams around the league and even within our division – sorry, Brewers and Reds fans). In terms of our batters, my greatest concern is probably on defense. I am confident that they will light up the scoreboard enough to overcome their defensive deficiencies, but it doesn’t mean that the thought of watching practically a full season of Kyle Schwarber, left fielder, isn’t making me a little nervous.

As it stands currently, our outfield of Schwarber, Jason Heyward in center, and Soler in right is probably not among the strongest defensive outfields in baseball, or even in the top half. Small statistical sample understood, Schwarber’s UZR/150 in the outfield is -2.0, Soler’s is -12.7, and Heyward’s is 24, and these are all based on 2015 statistics, of course (see UZR explained here, if necessary). For what it’s worth, Fowler’s UZR/150 in 2015 was -1.9. My point here isn’t that Fowler would not bring value to the team defensively (chiefly because it would allow Heyward to move to his better position in right field), but I question whether the loss of Soler for Fowler would be worth it.

Going beyond just the defensive numbers, the difference in projected fWAR for 2016 is not that significant, either. Fowler projects at 1.6 (based on the Steamer projections – this will vary slightly depending on where you look), Schwarber at 2.8, Heyward at 4.9, and Soler at 1.1. The biggest difference here would probably come defensively with Heyward being able to play right field, where he’s much stronger. The unknown is if Soler is traded, and presumably for a pitcher, we don’t know what impact that addition would have.

Soler is a bit of a question mark, given his injury history and a relatively tame 2015 season (he was barely above replacement level), but my fear is that trading him to make room for Fowler creates a potential problem long term, as center field will be left unoccupied in a matter of just a year or two. Perhaps this is where Albert Almora fits one day, but that’s yet another question mark, and an even bigger one.


The Cubs released their spring training broadcast schedule on Wednesday, and here’s a look at a couple of highlights:

- All radio broadcasts are now on 670 AM (The Score)

- You will be able to stream some of the games on Cubs.com (register here to do that)

- 9 of the games will be televised on either CSN (first one is on March 16) or WGN (first one is on March 20)

- ESPN will broadcast their games on March 17 and 24


 

 

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

2008: Baseball announces the annual Hall of Fame Game played since 1940 will end after the June 16th Cooperstown contest between the Cubs and Padres. With the 68-year tradition ending, there are no longer any major league exhibition games played during the season.

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My Love Affair With The Cubs

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Jared Wylis’ post last week about how he fell in love with baseball was great. I enjoyed hearing his story. It’s nice to have an insight into what brought Jared to love the game that we all share our love for here on View from the Bleachers.

Like most of you, I have a story too. It is important to me. In the past, I have tended to keep it to myself. I did not want to bore others or become one of those people who preface everything they say about the Cubs with the self-defensive and mind-numbing, “I have been a Cubs fan for <fill in the blank> years” as if that gives their opinions greater authority. In particular, I have disliked it when a fan invokes his years of fandom in order to argue against the value of sabrmetrics. We all have seen too much of that the last several years, especially on-line.

But recently, I have been rethinking it. I may have been too harsh in judging my fellow fans. It may be that folks who ritualistically recite the number of years they have been a fan are not saying that their opinions deserve more weight, but instead are telling us where they are coming from. It’s not to make themselves out to be a greater authority, but to tell us that they are authentic and deserve to be treated as a colleague, even though we might disagree. I get that. That’s legitimate. And now I am happy and want to hear everyone’s story about how they became a Cubs fan.

Here’s mine. I was born in Savanna, Illinois, in 1954. There was not much there except a very large railroad switching yard and the Mississippi River. But when I was very young, I heard the adults talking about how Ernie Banks and Gene Baker had recently visited town on a duck hunting trip. Ernie Banks was the first baseball name that ever stuck in my head. Though I was too young to know what I was talking about, I began to tell people that Ernie Banks was my favorite player.

The high school in Savanna burned down and my dad had to find a new job. Eventually, he wound up teaching science at Niles East in Skokie. But during the transition, we lived with my grandparents who operated a dairy farm outside Anna, Illinois, about 25 miles south of Carbondale. As everyone knows, that is the heart of Cardinals country. My grandpa was a Cubs fan, however. He became a fan during the glorious period, 1905-1945. The Cubs went to ten world series during those forty years. As unlikely as this might seem today, my grandpa thought the Cubs were an elite team and the Cardinals were second tier. His influence caused me to follow the Cubs, which at that time in my life mostly meant collecting the baseball cards of all the Cubs players.

It was the early 1960s and congress had responded to Sputnik II by, among other things, making money available to train science teachers. My dad took advantage of that and returned to graduate school at Miami of Ohio in Oxford, not too far from Cincinnati. My first professional baseball game was at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. It was a double-header against the Milwaukee Braves on a hot, humid and sticky day in August. It was also my ninth birthday. Hank Aaron stole multiple bases that day. Pete Rose was a rookie. The field had an unusual feature. In lieu of a warning track, the outfield was graded to slope up as a fielder approached the wall. The concept was revived and used in center field at Minute Maid park when it opened a few years ago. My over-riding memory of Crosley today is not about the outfield, but how the ballpark stank of stale beer, old cigar butts and urinals.

When we moved to Chicago, I began to follow the Cubs earnestly. My family did not have a TV until a few years later, so I watched the games at my friends’ houses whenever I could. Oftentimes we listened on the radio. Most of us had small AM transistor radios that we carried to school so we could listen to the final few innings each day on the walk home after school. We also played baseball endlessly during the summer. And we argued passionately, but without resolution, about who was better Banks, Santo, Williams, Kenny Hubbs or etc. Banks was always my favorite. I think my love of Ernie was among the most important influences of my pre-teen years.

Then life started to get more serious. I was growing up. And I became aware of what was happening in the world. I cared about the civil rights movement and I admired Dr. King. I did not like the growing war in Vietnam. Influenced heavily by the liberal Scandinavian Lutheran church that my family attended, I wanted the world and life to make sense. I wanted it to be fair and just. I began to argue about such things with my father. Let me say that no one ever has been more blessed than I was. My parents loved each other and they loved me and my two kid sisters completely. I never had a day in my life when I felt unsafe or unloved.  But I was rebelling hard and things became very strained between my father and me.

I did not play football my senior year in high school and my dad did not take it well. I did finish four years of basketball (and gave basketball a go my first year of college too), but my father was at heart a football player. He had played in college and the Navy and he coached for many years while teaching high school. He treated my quitting football as a personal betrayal. And maybe it was in a sense. I was rejecting his values. I was becoming the independent person he wanted me to be. But the process was difficult for both of us.

That is where baseball came to the rescue. When things were worst, my dad and I could always talk about baseball. Cubs baseball would always cut the tension and allow us to reconnect. In my mind, dad was not a complete troglodyte because he shared my abhorrence that Ron Santo wound up with the Sox. In his mind, I was not an unsalvageable radical, because I agreed that the DH was not the way to go in the NL. It helped that neither one of us had played organized baseball. We didn’t have any ego invested in the organized game as participants. That made it easier. We loved the game as spectators and mostly we loved the Cubs. The bridge between us was forged by familial love, but was sustained by baseball during the years of my rebellion. It was as I emerged from this period that my devotion to baseball became complete. I understood then that baseball would always be woven deeply into fabric of my life, which as far as my dad was concerned, returned fully to normal only after I had children of my own in the 1980s.

My temporary alienation from my father was not unique to us, nor was the saving grace of baseball. Many others have lived their own version of it. W.P. Kinsella, a contemporary of mine, wrote eloquently about it in the novel, Shoeless Joe, from which the movie Field of Dreams was adapted. That Kinsella’s book and the movie resonated so deeply with such a large audience tells me that baseball played the same role in many other families that it did with me and my father. Thank you baseball. And dad, I miss you.

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Much Ado About Center Field…..

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

The signing of Yoenis Cespedes brought about a barrage of articles calling for the demise of Dexter Fowlers free agent status.  It appears that at any point in the near future Fowler will have found his squad and what appears to be a healthy payday in the process.

I liked Fowler just fine…I don’t want him for the sum he will command or the duration of the contract, but on a short term basis, sure!

That being said, just about everybody has kicked the Dexter Fowler tires this off-season.  The Giants and Mets were said to be smitten, until they got more smitten with Span and Cespedes respectively.  The White Sox are said to be in, as well as the Angels but there are cash issues afoot for the Angels and the Sox just don’t sign large deals, especially for guys who do not light up the marquee.

The Cubs could sign him, but in what is becoming a large Bugaboo in free agency, they need the draft pick they will get if he signs elsewhere. The signing of Heyward and Lackey sucked two draft picks away from the Cubs and you could almost see the pain in Theo’s eyes as those picks slid away into the night.

However, I sit here wondering, is Heyward enough when you potentially have a reformed catcher playing left and Soler in right?

I would sleep better in late August if the center field option were one of sheer defensive pedigree.  I don’t doubt, based on history, that Heyward will be a fine outfielder, but I would love a “run it down and crash into the wall” kind of defender out there.  If I may be so greedy, one that can hit too?

Here is where I ask the baseball gods for a gift….

Many of you know by now that the Cubs have been rumored to be in trade talks with the Rays.  It’s hard not to find at least one update per day on the still simmering hot stove regarding the Cubs young, but expendable players, some Rays pitchers (who I would like to have too) and the occasional random position player thrown in.  Here is where I tell you who I want…..

Kevin Kiermiaer.  Yup, the gold glove outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays.  He doesn’t light up the scoreboard with his hitting, it is respectable (actually hit .263 two years in a row….on the button?), but won’t fill the shoes of Soler at the plate.  However, his defense is probably some of the best in center field and I think he is attainable.  He is also controllable, which is how we like to roll in Wrigley these days.  It’s crazy, I look at Twitter everyday expecting to see a trade between the Cubs and Rays, my biggest of hopes?

To see Kiermaier’s name involved.  So bizarre, call it a feeling, but the guy is the greatest sleeper pick ever!

Anyhow, that’s my take, what should the Cubs do with center field? Should we stand pat and roll into 2016 with what we have, which is not a bad option, or should we make one more deal? Who do you want?

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A Quick Look at Duane Underwood

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Duane Underwood the next young start to potentially hit the majors. Underwood was a second round draft pick out of Pope High school in Georgia. He’s officially listed at 6’ 2” and 215 pounds while throwing right handed. In his first season within the Cubs system he pitched just five games since he was drafted mid-season pitching to a 5.19 earned run average and seven strikeouts to six walks.

His arsenal consists of a plus fastball that sits in the mid-90’s and has arm-side life down in the zone. His best secondary pitch is a curve that has the presence of a put away pitch. His third complementary pitch is a changeup that he uses to keep hitters honest with his three pitch mix. If he can keep the walks down and develop his changeup and curve a bit more as he moves through the minors. He has a real shot at being a very good number three starter and a quality two.

His breakout year came in his third season with the Cubs as he spent the entire year at Kane County (Midwest League Low A Affiliate). He pitched in 22 games (21 Starts) it was his first completely healthy season with the Cubs system. He had a 6-4 record with a 2.50 earned run average for the season. He achieved 84 strikeouts to 36 walks. This was good for a 2.3 K/BB ratio although you see the walks are a bit higher than you would like from a frontline starter. As mentioned above if he can cut down his walks to around 20 to every 80+ strikeouts then you’re looking a 4+ K/BB ratio.

In his time with the Pelicans he looked very impressive although he couldn’t stay healthy only pitching in 14 games. He dominated hitters but also did have a high number of walks compared to his strikeouts. He went 6-3 with a 2.58 earned run average to go along with his 48 strikeouts and 24 walks.

As he enters his age 21 season it’s a big step for Underwood. I would imagine he starts at Myrtle Beach for at least the first month of the season. If he shows his great stuff and can limit walks I think he get the call up to Tennessee. Double A is big step for many major leaguers as it’s the most competitive levels of the minor leagues. It’s filled with many top prospects on the offensive and pitching side. I’m projecting around 25 starts for Underwood with a 3.10 earned run average and having 132 strikeouts to 38 walks. I think he’ll make the Double A all-star game and have a shot at being in the Futures game.

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Just Say NO…To The DH

Monday, January 25th, 2016

In April of last year, St. Louis Cardinal pitching ace, Adam Wainwright, suffered a torn Achilles tendon, while attempting to run out a pop up. Unfortunately, it sidelined him until the end of September. Even though I strongly detest the Redbirds, I was impressed with his speedy recovery. No team’s fan base likes to see one of their star players get knocked out of a season, particularly at the beginning. When that star player is also a critical part of your starting rotation, the argument for the adoption of the designated hitter rule by the National League never fails to gain momentum and support amongst proponents.

Used by American League managers since its adoption in 1973, the DH rule has extended the careers of many seasoned players, David Ortiz of the Red Sox, being the most notable. Supporters argue that it is much more exciting to see a DH than having to suffer through the “sure out” of a pitcher’s plate appearance. Yes, it’s true that they usually whiff and saunter back to the bench. Using the DH also protects pitchers from getting hurt, like Wainwright did.

Why then, do I passionately remain a staunch opponent of this rule being adopted by the National League? There are several reasons.

First of all, I enjoy the strategy utilized by NL managers in various game situations, especially in the late innings. Do you pinch hit for your pitcher? Or do you leave him in and hope he can get the sac bunt down or, even better, the rare, extra base hit? Do you perform a double switch to strengthen your lineup? The risk of failure makes the game more intriguing and, at times, damn nerve-racking! I love it! The AL sends an aging player to the plate with far more predictable results. As exciting as Big Papi’s bat is at Fenway, I get more pumped when an ace pitcher, like Jake Arrieta, can also do this:

Other pitchers, like Madison Bumgarner and Zack Greinke, take pride in their hitting ability and the fact that they can contribute from somewhere other than the mound. Even my favorite current Cubs pitcher, Travis Wood, has raked at the plate in the past. Fans relish these break out shows of offense! I know I do. Paul Casella, from Sports on Earth, points out that, with the exception of Mike Leake, the following pitchers spent little time at the plate before breaking out their bats in the bigs: The Majors’ Five Best Hitting Pitchers.

This leads to my second suggestion. Pitchers need to learn to hit and run again! They belong on the offensive side of the game in addition to defense. Minor leagues have adopted the mindset that pitchers are like the boy in the bubble. Once they reach the majors, swinging a bat or running the bases is viewed by owners and managers as a death wish. For God’s sake, stop treating these top notch athletes like they are made of glass. Oh, they get paid too much to risk injury you say? Then hard cap their salaries along with everyone else on the roster! Radical? Yes. Necessary? Yes. Will there always be someone waiting in the wings who can perform just as good or better? You bet. Just like you and I are always replaceable at our jobs, pitchers should be more expendable at theirs. If they get injured put the next guy in who can throw a 98 mph heater or wicked curve. Perhaps the 25-man active roster could be increased to supplement the need for more frequent pitching replacements. Active rosters typically have 5 starters and 7 relievers. Why not more? Make your starting rotation 7 instead of 5. Increase the 40-man expanded roster or consider its use before September 1st. The time has come to stop putting pitchers on pedestals. Safety equipment is constantly being improved upon, yet remains underutilized.

Another reason I don’t want the DH in the National league is because it runs the risk of being extended to other hit and miss (literally)- performing positions, like catchers. Will the entire infield eventually be DH’d until you essentially have two teams? Stop trying to make it easier for the offense! Baseball is a game of failure and success. Each and every player should have to play their position defensively and offensively. If a player is too old to play defense and can only swing a bat, then it’s time to retire in sunny Florida. If a pitcher can’t generate any offense, then find one who can.

Lastly, if the American League is intent on retaining the DH then that’s their right. But don’t force it on the good guys. Per Wikipedia, the National League hasn’t voted on the adoption of the DH since 1980 when four teams, (the blasted Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and San Diego Padres), voted for it and five teams, (our beloved Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, and San Francisco Giants), voted against it. Thank God for the three teams who abstained from voting, (Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros).

Wikipedia also gives a trillion examples of how a DH has or can be used in a game. I don’t care. I want the original starting nine, including the pitcher, to play the game. Use your substitutions, not a DH. I’m a traditionalist. Put your pitchers in the cages during spring training. Teach them how to bunt. Teach them how to swing the bat. Make them learn how to run and slide. It’s what this fan wants to see. Not a middle-aged, overpaid DH who can’t run the bases.

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Falling in love with baseball

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

 

I thought a lot about putting together a news focused post for this morning, and there would have been a few things to choose from, but when it’s getting to be late January the desire for retrospection on the previous season and/or speculation on the upcoming one starts to dwindle, and I just want to see baseball happen. For the curious, here’s a quick rundown of what’s made Cubs-related news in the last week or so:

Cubs signed Munenori Kawasaki to a minor league deal. He’s a fun clubhouse guy and quite a character, but will likely see only a handful of appearances in the majors.

The DH to the NL talks are springing up again. I, for one, think it should have happened when interleague play went full time, but I wrote about the DH more extensively in a different post here a while ago.

Our front office called their shot back in the winter of 2014 with the Jason Heyward signing, and they used it to sell Jon Lester on coming to the Cubs. That’s just nuts. I don’t think the average fan has any idea just how smart our front office is, and how hard they are working to bring a title here.


Now, the real thing I wanted to share was a post that I wrote on Medium a while ago about what made me fall in love with the game of baseball. I always enjoy hearing people’s stories of how baseball grabbed them, and I thought I’d share mine in hopes that you’ll leave a comment with your experiences as well. Here’s the link to my original post, but I’ll include it in full here as well:

I went to a really, really small high school in a very remote part of Michigan. Somewhere out in the middle of the lower peninsula where there’s just nothing else around. We had a total of three stop lights, and we had to drive at least 45 minutes to get to a movie theater. And the mall? That was a day long excursion. My high school had something like 450–500 students in it when I was there (I graduated with just over 120 people). We moved there when I was 10, in 1992. Prior to that, we had lived about 45 minutes north of the Detroit area. It was living there that I experienced my first in person baseball game.

This was probably in the summer of 1990, but to be honest, I don’t remember for sure. I do know that my fascination with baseball had already taken hold when I set foot in Tiger Stadium the first time, and probably because of Kirk Gibson. I’m a sucker for dramatic underdog stories, and his improbable home run in the 1988 World Series is probably what did it. I was 6 then, and just old enough to appreciate what I was seeing. So, a lot of it was Gibson, but a lot of it was also that first jumbo pack of 1989 Topps baseball cards the following

summer. Either way, I was in love with the sport more than I would ever be with any other sport (this remains true today) long before my Dad took me to my first major league game.

Tiger Stadium was grand and intimidating at the time (I had dreams about the walkways to the upper deck for a long time afterward), and now it’s just mostly an empty lot — I have resolved to visit the Navin Field Crew one of these summers — but back then, I had never seen something so big, grass so green, or so many people in one place. It was terrifying and wonderful.

I don’t remember a lot of the details of that first game, just that the Yankees were in town, someone spilled their beer on me, and I got an autograph on my Little League hat that I left on the bus on the way home. I was less concerned about losing the autograph at the time than I was about losing my hat and not remembering who the player had been. I was 8, so all the value in an autograph really came from the fact that an actual Major League Baseball player had ventured near enough to the stands that I could ask.

Since those early trips to Tiger Stadium when I was 8 and 9 years old, I ended up a Cubs fan. When we eventually moved three hours north, trips to Tigers games weren’t really an option anymore. The Cubs became my team simply because that’s who was on TV. Them and the Braves. I used to love the Braves, too, but something about the Cubs took a hold of me really early on. Maybe because they were on TV in the afternoon those summers, maybe because Wrigley Field looked so different, but probably because even back then, I knew they were an underdog, and I’ve always loved rooting for the improbable.


So, I’m curious. What did it for you? I know that baseball is far and away my favorite, and easily grabs my attention and has my heart (not to get too sappy or anything) far more than any other sport. I think I’ve pinpointed just what it was, but I still feel most of the time like I can’t totally put my finger on it. Let me know what you think.

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GirlieView (01/21/2016)

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2015 Off-Season = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.

Lizzies

  • Jared owes 1.2B on his student loans.
  • Sounds familiar.
  • I would tag along with Raker.
  • I’d buy the place next to Raker’s house and send my kids over there to raise hell.
  • Treat Seymour to a fancy sub, like a chicken bacon ranch melt. Oh, and some Sun Chips.
  • Did I mention I attended the no-hit game?
  • No shit?
  • one too many letters.
  • I think Maddon gets credit for alleviating the yips
  • So, St. Louis loses Jason Heyward. I feel bad for them, but at least they still have professional football. Oh, wait…
  • the prices for these things just keep going up, but fans keep spending the money, so we can’t really complain too loudly at the organizations.
  • All I can say is free market. Every game is sold out at Wrigley. People are willing to pay 9 bucks a beer and 120 to get in, so that’s what they charge.
  • I know many were disappointed when he didn’t get the managing job here several years ago, but it wouldn’t have turned out well. It was probably better to let Mike Quade take the reins at the time.
  • I am a big Ryne Sandberg fan but I had no delusions he would be a good manager. Great players don’t always make good managers.
  • cue the Cindy Sandberg jokes in 3…2…
  • Dave Martinez, Raphael Palmeiro and Seattle Slew walk into a bar…
  • Why the long face?
  • 12″ pianist?
  • I now expect to see balls and strikes called automatically in my lifetime.
  • Yes balls are now under constant observation and protection. No more just throwing the sack in a heap on the ground until needed. They now receive great care. We can all thank Tom Brady for that…or maybe it was Ming Sue at the massage parlor, I forget which.
  • Did you know campers at Randy’s camp can request a high or low pitch from the pitching machine. “Hey, Randy, set that thing for thigh high cookies, can’t rake with pitches at my eyes.”
  • Randy must not have heard about the 1887 rule change.
  • Half of the campers love it, since camp rules like this take them back to the rules of their childhood.
  • Right…and the other half are the older ones who can’t remember anything at all.
  • It includes groupies, they bus them in from Sunset Assisted Living.
  • Worth every penny – without question. Incredible once in a lifetime event. Except for Seymour, to whom it is an annual thing, kind of like a birthday, Christmas, or shower.
  • They may have changed the strike zone in 1969, but they forgot to tell the umpires
  • We had an intern start today… Calvin, spelled Kalvyn. Just stop it everyone.
  • Probably best not to even talk to him. Parents must have raised him to be litigious.

Lizard

  • The league is going to do its best to adjust to this young team, and now they need to avoid any sophomore jinxes, and keep improving.

Shout Outs

  • Big shout out to cap’n realist for his first 2015 Off-Season Lizzie!!!! Thanks for dropping by!

MVL

  • Congratulations to Sherm, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Way to go!

Top 10 of the 2015 Off-Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Sherm
2. jswanson
3. Doc Raker
4. Doug S
5. Eddie von White
5. Jared
7. Seymour Butts
8. Bryan
9. Nate Usher
10. Bartz
10. Jerry in Wisconsin
10. Joe Aiello
10. Sean Powell

Chit Chat

I might have hinted last time at maybe being a little bit tired of the off-season jibber jabber … look back, look ahead, what to expect, what went right, what went wrong, all of which points directly to our off-season boredom. So I’m going the pop culture route today. And it’s ok if you don’t like it. I’m sure a real baseball column will follow shortly!

I’m curious about what people like/dislike on TV. Especially during the winter months, which is pretty much the only time I watch any. I don’t watch much. But these shows come to mind for one reason or another, some of them because I watch them, others because they’re in the news, and others just to round out the list.

How about you? Do you watch and/or have any opinions about any of these shows?

a. Fargo (the series, not the 90s movie)
b. American Idol (you can admit it. We won’t hold it against you.)
c. Making a Murderer
d. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
e. Angie Tribeca
f. Last Man on Earth
g. Schitt’s Creek
h. Bloodline

And, do you have any other favorites? Just curious. Consider it a bit of a sociology experiment. And thanks for answering. You probably realize your participation in my chit chat (especially when it’s a silly topic) makes me happy. And a happy Lizzie awards more Lizzies. ;-)

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