Monthly Archives: February 2011

What to do amidst the NL craziness

Honestly, I don’t know what to write about. Someone pooped where Dusty stood. I don’t want to write about that.

Adam Wainright is hurt. I don’t want to write about that.

People were happy or less than gracious upon finding out Adam Wainwright was hurt. I don’t want to write about that.

The NL Central is probably not going to be very good. I don’t really want to write about that.

This makes me wish baseball would realign. Completely. I already wrote about that.

So if you want, go read about it.

First, I tried to point out how 3-division leagues make baseball kind of suck.

Then I proposed a realignment plan.

I stand behind all of this still today. Good day. And please, no one poop in the dugout.

Marlon Byrd Promises Cubs Will Combust

Guns don’t kill people . . . but I’m
not arguing with Marlon’s.

I’m not the one to turn to for a pep talk on the Cubs’ chances in 20!! (double exclamation points to the contrary). If I start talking about the Cubs contending this year, it’s because I’m blatantly choosing to ignore the information I have at my disposal. No amount of data can predict with absolute certainty what the Cubs will accomplish this season. But I think a postseason appearance in !! is entirely improbable. I won’t begrudge anyone their loftier predictions, I just won’t tend to agree with them on an intellectual level.

But if you want that pep talk, go to Marlon Byrd. If you can’t set up a personal appointment, go to his blog. He believes the Cubs are going to explode.

I won’t argue (although Carlos Zambrano promises he won’t explode). I really hope he’s right. I can’t rule out that he’s right. There’s no harm in believing the Cubs will catch the world (or at least the NL Central) by surprise. I’m just not ready to invest the energy to preach that sermon.

I will say that Marlon Byrd is exactly the guy I want delivering that message. He is a man of enthusiasm. A man of positivity. A man with pretty freaking huge arms. I’m glad he’s on the team, and I’m ready to start watching him play real baseball.

First spring training game is this Sunday. Marlon’s pep talk has definitely worked on me to some extent:

The guys we have — there’s not excitement on MLB Network, there’s not excitement on Baseball Tonight. That excitement is Greinke and Marcum with the Brewers and Berkman going to St. Louis and the Reds signing extensions to the young guys who are going to turn into big dogs. We’re going to fly under the radar and keep that excitement bottled up and once April 1 comes, we’re going to explode.

I share Marlon’s excitement. Just not his optimism.

F You for Being a Friend

“Thank You for Being a Friend,” Andrew Gold (Golden Girls theme, performed by Cindy Fee)
“F*ck You,” Cee Lo Green

The message of these two songs could not be more different. And the tempo is off a bit. But every time I’d hear the Cee Lo hit, I kept expecting it to close with a run of strings and a prolonged note from a song I couldn’t quite place. I knew it was a TV theme. I knew it was from the ’80s. But “FU” is such a catchy song, I never lingered on the similarity very long.

Also, since I now update this blog only annually, I didn’t feel compelled to take action. But today I finally cleared away enough mental laziness to try to remember what song it really is. I can’t say I expected the road that started at Gnarls Barkley to end at Bea Arthur, but here I am.

Spring Training!!!!!

How do I feel about Cubs Spring Training being underway in Mesa? Here’s the Answer:

FTE

I was debating whether I should post the funniest thing ever.


Thus endeth the debate.

Two Things

1. Not one, not two, but . . . okay, yeah, two new American Idol Hollywood Week recaps are up at Beth’s place (I Should Be Folding Laundry). I really do mean to brag. They’re both awesome: Wednesday | Thursday.

2. I recently asked Addison what he and I had in common. He said that we both liked to play Wii. Okay. Then he added the best part. “It’s not something we have in common, but it kind of is. We like the colors red and green.” You should know that by this he meant that my favorite color is red while his favorite is green. So you get the part about that being something we don’t have in common. So why is it kind of a commonality? He explained by making a laser sound effect and gesturing with his fingers to air-draw two lightsabers crossing.

Photo by Dori. Awesome by Addison.

Maybe we will rule the galaxy as father and son.

Seriously, I want to see the world through this kid’s eyes. (Who am I kidding? I so do.)

Should the Cubs Try to Sign Albert Pujols? The Insiders Answer.

The question is simple. Should the Cubs try to acquire Albert Pujols in light of the negotiating deadline in his rear-view mirror? He’s reportedly asking for something in the neighborhood of $300 million over 10 years. That’s a really nice neighborhood. Anyway, I asked this question to a group of Cubs insiders to get their opinions, and here are their answers:

Carrie Muskat, cubs.com: Pujols is under contract with the Cardinals. Making an offer now would be tampering.

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune: Yeah, the Cubs need to give $30-million contracts to more old guys.

Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune: Only if they can sign Tony LaRussa as well and trade the Wrigley Building for the Gateway Arch. But it’s unclear whether St. Louis would go for that.

Rick Morrissey, Chicago Sun-Times: I’ll answer that question with another question: would you trade Flintstone vitamins for anabolic steroids? Would you plant an old, overripe watermelon in the ground and use a falsified birth certificate for fertilizer? Do you read my column instead of prescription drug warning labels? I’m not saying he’s juicing and lying about his age and doomed to suck. I’m just saying.

Rick Reilly, ESPN: Signing Albert Pujols to a $300 million contract would be riskier than tightroping across the Grand Canyon on the final thread of talent still remaining in Alfonso Soriano’s career.

Bruce Levine, ESPN Chicago: Should they sign the best player in baseball? Of course. But can they? The last I heard, the Ricketts family had to ask to borrow money just to clean the bathrooms at Wrigley.

Judd Sirott, WGN Radio: OF COURSE THEY SHOULD! HE’S A DIFFERENCE MAKER! DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO SHOUT ABOUT WHAT KOYIE FREAKING HILL IS DOING ON THE FIELD? THIS ISN’T AS EASY AS IT SOUNDS. I NEED SOMEONE TO ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING GREAT TO KEEP THIS VOLUME UP FOR MUCH LONGER.

Steve Rosenbloom, Chicago Tribune: Do the Cubs need another overpaid diva from another country? The question answers itself.

David Kaplan, WGN Radio: Albert Pujols is the best in the business. If you have a shot to bring him to the North Side, you take it. I want a World Series for the Cubs as much as anybody, and no one can ensure that that happens better than Jose Alberto Pujols. And when Prince Albert hoists the World Series trophy in the parade through Wrigleyville, and he needs a new best friend to share the moment with? I’ll be there.

Editor’s note: the following contributors did not return requests for comments. Answers were supplied on their behalf: Carrie Muskat, Paul Sullivan, Phil Rogers, Rick Morrissey, Rick Reilly, Bruce Levine, Judd Sirott, Steve Rosenbloom, David Kaplan

103 Things That Won’t Happen in 2011 (but I’ll hope for anyway)

It has been 102 years, 4 months, and 2 days since the Cubs last won the World Series. I round up to 103 years because that’s the minimum amount of time we can expect to have elapsed between Series-clinching wins for the Cubs. Some people don’t like that approach. This keeps me up at night. That’s not the point.

Yes, that’s a gang symbol. North Side!

The point is it’s been a long wait. The intersection of realistic people and people who expect the Cubs to win the World Series this year is the empty set. And at this point, I don’t care. As the late Ethan Hawke once said when asked which of his movie’s soundtracks most exceeded the film in terms of quality, critical reception, and revenue generation, “Reality Bites.” So here’s a list of 103 things that won’t happen this year. But I want them to (well, most of them), and I’ll go ahead and pretend that’s realistic.

103. The Cubs will sign Albert Pujols when free agent season commences and he’ll give them the “Screw you, Cardinals” discount.
102. Carlos Marmol will save 50 games.
101. Starlin Castro will have a 25-game errorless streak.
100. Todd Ricketts will throw six bench players in the trash and pay for them out of his own wallet.
99. Angel Guzman will pitch. In the majors. Effectively.
98. They’ll open a Starbucks in my house.
97. Bleacher ticket prices for all home games after July 1 will be lowered to $10.
96. Rudy Jaramillo will learn to control the wind.
95. Aramis Ramirez will hit 30 home runs.
94. Before the All-Star break.

93. Cubs fans on Twitter will stop arguing after losses and instead tweet Kumbaya repeatedly.
92. I’ll learn to calculate tERA in my head.
91. I’ll find a link to an explanation of tERA.
90. New Cubs radio analyst: me.
89. The Cubs’ first loss will come in May.
88. First 3-HR game of 2011: Carlos Zambrano.
87. I won’t mess up the numbering of this ridiculously long stupid idea for a post.
86. The first Cubs/Cardinals game will be decided on a Ryan Theriot TOOTBLAN.
85. I’ll have the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
84. The Cubs will employ a six-man starting rotation, and all six starters will win 20 games.
83. I’ll order another one of those sandwiches.
82. “Go Cubs Go” will be played over the Wrigley PA 50 times between April and October.
81. And about 10 more times in October.
80. Mike Quade will have to downplay his effect on this team and defer credit to management and the players.
79. Jim Hendry will refrain from saying, “I told you so.”
78. But he will have told you so.
77. Paul Sullivan will hug it out with Big Z.
76. The nickname “Grouchy Faun” will catch on.
75. Cubs players won’t be known by their disparaging adjectives.
74. Jennifer Lopez will sing the 7th inning stretch.
73. Shut up.
72. I’ll laugh at how many of these will come true.
71. That number will be higher than 6.
70. Ryan Dempster won’t miss a start.
69. The Cubs will have to replace the W flag from overuse.
68. Four times.
67. Cubs fans will start referring to 2011 as 20!!.
66. President Obama will dread welcoming the MLB champions to the White House.
65. He’ll take credit for the Cubs’ success.
64. I won’t care.
63. I’ll stop filling up these options with fragmented filler.
62. Pat Hughes will discuss wOBA at length.
61. 10 walkoff homers.
60. Keith Moreland will make us love him.
59. He’ll even sing that song from Dreamgirls, and point at everybody in Wrigley shouting, “You and you and you and you and you . . . you’re gonna love me!”
58. And you.
57. I’ll only come up with good ideas for blog posts, ones that I can finish lazily and not want to stab out my eyes halfway through.
56. Wait, I’m not halfway through? Please alert me of any typos by voicemail. My eyes no longer work.
55. On account of the stabbing.
54. A new Garfield movie will come out, and everyone will not loathe it.
53. Alfonso Soriano will start live tweeting Cubs games from left field.
52. He will answer all criticisms before attempting to pick up the ball that just got by him.
51. Spring Training games will be meaningful.
50. Andrew Cashner will be the 20!! Rookie of the Year.
49. I’ll verify rookie-of-the-year eligibility requirements before making predictions of that nature.
48. I’ll celebrate my birthday with a Cubs victory.
47. I’ll finally have a beer.
46. I’ll begin four consecutive list items with I’ll.
45. Make that five.
44. Dammit.
43. The cause of advanced statistical projections will be set back 10 years by the ridiculously improbable success of the Chicago Cubs.
42. This team will have a nickname. The Whodathunkits or something.
41. It will be warm on Opening Day.
40. The DH will be implemented in the National League at midseason.
39. The NFL and the NFLPA will reach a labor agreement. Because of the Cubs.
38. All of the things John Lennon imagined will come true in a Danish think tank.
37. They’ll conclude it wasn’t all that great of a dream to begin with, whether he was the only one or not.
36. Calvin & Hobbes will come back.
35. Parking at Cubs games will stop sucking.
34. Not a single broadcast will go by without Pat Hughes using the word cerulean.
33. We’re going to miss Ronny. A lot.
32. . . .
31. I’ll take in a game with Tim and Julie.
30. I just poked myself in the eye with my thumb for real. Even my subconscious hates this post.
29. The winner of American Idol will be booked to sing the national anthem at a very important Cubs game.
28. She will be bumped at the last minute and replaced by Jim Cornelison.
27. Figuratively speaking.
26. Albert Pujols will tell Chicago sports talk radio that he’s on the right side of the rivalry now.
25. Koyie Hill. Game winner. Game 5.
24. I know, right?
23. Geovany Soto will see the 2-spot in the batting order.
22. A rookie we aren’t talking about will do something special.
21. Randy Wells will confound his doubters and throw a no-hitter.
20. The day after getting absolutely plastered.
19. No one in Chicago will ever boo Carlos Zambrano again.
18. Tyler Colvin: shard free.
17. A prominent Chicago writer will conclude that the hype around Starlin Castro has, up to now, been understatement.
16. Kerry Wood. Standing ovation. In Game 7.
15. Wire.
14. To.
13. Wire.
12. A lot of people who never saw the Cubs coming will say that they should have seen the Cubs coming.
11. I’ll get through this without laughing till I puke.
10. AU-GIE. AU-GIE. AU-GIE.
9. Matt Garza will make the smart people feel stupid.
8. Fernando Perez will conduct a seventh-inning-stretch poetry slam.
7. Carlos Pena will smile all day every day, and he won’t quit until every last Cubs fan in the world is smiling with him.
6. Only five left. I can’t believe there are only five left.
5. At some point, the Wrigley faithful will be chanting M-V-P. Maybe for Derrick Rose, I don’t know.
4. At no point will I regret ever typing this godforsaken list.
3. Bill Murray will describe this team as a Cinderella story.
2. Albert Pujols will hire me as his agent.
1. The Cubs will win the World Series.

Whew.

What is a Cubs Game Worth?

Do you really have to be there?

The newest Cubs ticket plan, the six pack, is now on sale at Cubs.com. Six games for $150 or more (they advertise the prices starting at $97, but the cheapest seats available in package E, for example, ring up at $141.16 once fees are included.) Not bad, all in all, I guess. You’re going to pay $23 a ticket for not very good seats to 1 premium game and 5 games you’ll try to sell to someone else (or maybe vice versa, I don’t know you).

But is a trip to Wrigley worth that right now? I’ll throw out all the other costs associated with getting to the game, because going into Chicago is worth it. I love Chicago. I love driving into Chicago. Up Lakeshore Drive. Through the tangled mess of the Dan Ryan. Neighborhood routes or expressway bypasses, I don’t care. I love being in the city, and I’m not going to add the price of getting there into the Cubs’ side of the ledger. Getting there is on me. Glad to do it.

Once I’m there, though, is it worth $23 to mingle around the statues and take in the ballpark rising from the cramped city . . . trapezoid; to trudge through the fog of beer fumes and hot dog vapors; to fade into a crowd of people who more than anything just want to see a Cubs win and enjoy a few drops of sunshine along the way; to sit in uncomplicated seats; to bring my voice close enough to the field that the players can hear my cheers of support and groans of disappointment and shouts of triumph? Is that worth $23? $30? $125?

How much is it worth to me to indoctrinate my sons with an emotional attachment to a team that offers little rational return on the investment? To bring them to a place so big and green and beautiful that reveals itself in a sudden wave of glory as we head up the steps onto the mezzanine? To sit beside them and talk about whatever they want to talk about and answer every question and not have a TV on? How much is that worth to cement a moment in time between me and the members of my family?

I guess about $15 per person is what I’m saying.

I Should Be Watching Idol

A lot of people ask me if I’m going to keep doing American Idol recaps. (And when I say, “a lot,” I mean it has happened before.) So if you are one of the many several two unspecified quantity of people banging down my virtual doors at a shot to see what I have to say about Idol, today, you should knock somewhere else.

Specifically, you should head on over to my friend Beth’s place, ishouldbefoldinglaundry.com, where Beth and I have completed our first tag-team American Idol recap. It’s pretty fantastic if I do say so myself. If you like my recaps, you’ll love Beth’s take on . . . well, I think you’ll love Beth’s take on just about everything. You’ll love her photography, too . . . this is a promise. (If you don’t like falling in love with pictures, don’t go to her site, it will mess you up.) Essentially, if you don’t already (i.e. you don’t know her) you’re going to love Beth once you get to meet her, you know, at her house of blog.

If you’re wondering if I’ll continue to do recaps here, the answer is . . . blowing in the wind. I think I’m going to try something a little different this year. Doing recaps this early is new for me, so you’re already getting extra recappage. But once the top 24ish field materializes, I’m going to recap in a new way that I think you’ll love. I could speak more confidently about this if I was 100% sure what it was, but trust me, it’s going to be not the worst thing ever.

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