I have been working on this for a while and I wasn’t sure whether to leave the original #1 reason in or start over. Â Partly, because I’m still upset about the whole thing, but mostly because I’m too lazy to rewrite it, you’ll see what had me most fired up about spring training.
To celebrate the 107th anniversary of the Cubs immortal 1908 World Champions, let’s see if we can come up with 107 reasons to look forward to spring training.
. I think I speak for us all when I say that it’s been more than four months since we last saw any version of this: And it’s waaaaay too long.Â I sent the Cubs a letter and I’m pretty sure I’ve convinced them to have a spring training batflip tournament.Â Luis is a 1:20 favorite.Â The field is a cool 1,000:1.
Look, we can’t still have the batflip tournament. Â I mean, look what Dexter Fowler thinks a batflip looks like:
2. Starlin Castro bashing – Another thing we just can’t get enough of involves idiots ripping the Cubs 24 year old, three-time All-Star shortstop, for reasons they have to increasingly reach to find.Â It used to be you could bitch about Starlin’s defense, but he’s pretty much put that to rest.Â You could bitch about his lack of focus, but that saw marked improvement, too.Â His offense returned to form last year.Â The Cubs have had a lot of problems the last six years, Starlin has rarely (if ever) actually been one.Â If I hear the “He’s not really a Theo Epstein-type player” one more time I’m going to wretch on whoever says it.Â Pretty sure Theo likes good players who are still getting better.Â That’s Starlin.
3. This sumbitch:
He’s just the best, isn’t he?Â He anchored a lineup that other than him and Starlin had nothing in it and he just raked all season long.Â At a time when hitting is hard to find, and power is even harder and left-handed hitting power is even harder than that, the Cubs have another 24 year old who’s already got it all figured out.Â Plus, he’s an awesome dude.Â Cubs fans have seen a lot of crap, but from 2004 to now, with just a few months worth of games in between we’ve had either Derrek Lee or Anthony Rizzo playing first base.Â A rare luxury to have great all-around players who also act like adults.
4. So he really picked the Cubs?Â This really happened?Â The Cubs and Giants rolled up huge wheel barrels full of cash, and the Red Sox had a slightly smaller wheel barrel and Jon Lester, the guy with the third lowest World Series ERA of all-time (0.43 in 21 innings) picked the Cubs?Â Seriously?Â I still feel like spring training will start and Lester will go to Red Sox camp and pretend none of this ever happened.
5. Joe Maddon’s crazy shit – What are the odds that after he gets a look at Clark the Cub, the Cubs theme for one of their first roadtrips of the year is that they all go pantless?Â In Tampa he did all kinds of crazy shit.Â He had a salsa band in the clubhouse, he had snake wranglers come in, hell, he did a media session on the field with a parrot (cockatoo, whatever) on his shoulder:
The Cubs have tried every kind of manager you can think of from old-school to passive to manic to mumbly to batshit crazy.Â Whatever this is will be a refreshing change of pace. So would some winning.
6. Jake Arrieta – He’s hunky, he’s suddenly as productive as everyone thought he’d be when he was the Orioles top prospect and once their opening day starter, and he can do this to Bryce Harper:
7. Cardinals schadenfreude -Â An update the other day on the Sirius XM’s MLB Network Radio had news that Adam Wainwright just started playing catch after having a “routine clean up” of his elbow. Â Look, I have an elbow–two, actually, and at no time has my doctor said, “Right after I stick this camera up your ass, I’m going to cut your elbow open and routinely clean that out for you.” Â Between that and the fact that Michael Wacha has FRACTURES IN HIS THROWING SHOULDER that nobody seems to be all that concerned about…I’m just saying, muahahahahahahahahahahaha!
8. Fuckin’ A Jorge -Â The best thing about the crop of superexciting Cubs prospects is that everybody gets to pick one and dream on him and chances are it’s a different one from your buddies. Â I get that there are reasons to take your pants off and root for Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Addison Russell, Albert Almora or God forbid, Kyle Schwarber. Â There is no right or wrong answer.
But those are all the wrong answers.
This is the right one!
As our good friend Len Kasper said, “Better get used to him.”
9. Surreal bleacherless games -Â To be clear, the Cubs haven’t said (yet at least) that the outfield walls won’t be ready for April (and early May) games, just that the bleachers themselves won’t be habitable. Â The left field corner hasn’t been that way for like 20 years. Â How weird is it going to be when somebody (to be fair, it’ll likely be Matt Holliday) crushes one into the left field seats, only to have it bounce off a cement mixer and become impaled on some rebar? Â Thirty-three thousand of the 38,000 seats in Wrigley will still be occupied opening night, but the sight of nobody in the outfield is likely to make it look like a Class A game, where some teams (Beloit Snappers) don’t have any seats in the outfield. Â When the bandwagon fans do the wave (and you know they will) early in the season, will they pause when the wave should be going through the bleachers?
10. Corncob dress references -Â Incredibly some of you have never heard the reason why the rest of us love to make Cindy Sandberg corncob dress references whenever Dave Martinez’s name comes up. Â Considering he’s the new bench coach of the Cubs, we’ll have worn them out by game three. Â If you don’t know yet, you’ll figure it out. Â We’re not that clever.
11. Miguel Montero’s grit enforcement -Â New Cubs catcher Miguel Montero made quite a name for himself in Arizona as the guy who took it upon himself to enforce former manager Kirk Gibson’s archaic rules of the “right way to play” baseball. Â Among the guys Miguel did not approve of were former D’backs and current White Sox centerfielder Adam Eaton and his new Cubs teammate Pedro Strop. Â Eaton rubbed Montero the wrong way by actually attempting to enjoy himself while playing, Strop pissed Miguel off by hitting him with a pitch last April with a two run lead in the ninth. Â Montero was sure Strop did it on purpose, which makes no goddamned sense. Â Montero also (probably) took lifeguard lessons after the Dodgers stormed the stupid Bank One Ballpark pool after clinching the NL West two years ago.
12. Jason Hammel’s back!Â Yeah, so that’s a thing that happened. Â He was pretty good last year and then the Cubs traded him to the A’s with Jeff Samardzija on July 4, and then he was bad for the A’s, and then by the end of the year, pretty good again, and now he’s back.
13. People bitching at Len Kasper for pronouncing Arismendy Alcantara’s name wrong -Â This is really a thing. Â Last year, people on Twitter took issue that Kasper dared to pronounce Arismendy’s last name Al-Contra. Â They feel it should be pronounced Al-con-tear-ah. Â Despite the fact that Kasper explained Arismendy himself said it should be pronounced Al-Contra, these dipshits still complained.
Proof that people are assholes.
14. We get to hearÂ what people think Ernie Banks would have rhymed 15 with -Â This should probably be on a (much easier to write) 107 reasons to dread the start of spring training list. Â Ernie loved to come up with a rhyming slogan every year, “The Cubs will be divine in 1969”, the “Cubs will be heaven in 2011,” stuff like that. Â Early leaders in the clubhouse for 2015 were:
– The Cubs will be keen in 2015.
– Andre Dawson lost his Afro Sheen in 2015.
– Don’t eat too many beans in 2015, you might have a fart attack and miss the Cubs World Series.
– Divorce lawyers are mean in 2015.
I’m sure Ryan Dempster will come up with something great.
15. Chris Bosio jersey watch -Â Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio is allegedly number 25, but no one has ever actually seen him on the field in a jersey top, so he might as well be number 29,347.
He apparently has only worn it once, to get his headshot taken back when he was on Dale Sveum’s staff:
I’m pretty sure that when the Loch Ness monster is finally photographed in non-blurry fashion, it’ll have Bosio’s jersey on it.
16. David Ross and Jon Lester mound badgering -Â Ever since Greg Maddux was caught on NBC mouthing “fastball in” during a mound visit in game one of the 1989 NLCS and Will Clark hit a grand slam on the next pitch, pitchers and catchers cover their mouths when they talk on the mound. Â Not so, new Cubs David Ross and Jon Lester. Â They use the descriptive, but indecipherable language of badgers to communicate:
17. Mark Grace will be at spring training coaching for the Diamondbacks
And this year he doesn’t have to spend every night in Joe Arpaio’s tent city.
18.Â Â This beautiful bastard is back and as fired up as ever
Apparently Shiraz Rehman has worked up some kind of metric that must show that too much awesome in one place can be counterproductive. Â So, when Hank White was brought back and added to the coaching staff, Luis Valbuena had to be jettisoned.
Your slide rule better be calibrated correctly, Shiraz.
19. Javy Baez swinging from his ass
So he strikes out a lot. Â Isn’t it worth it when every swing looks like that? Â Hey, an out is an out, if Javy wants to make a few less, I don’t care if half his ABs end with him striking out. Â I’m sure the Cubs are working on cutting his swing down so he makes more contact, but fuck that noise. Â Keep hacking, Javy.
20. People are freaking out about the Cubs not being on WGN radio
Tom Ricketts gave another of his electric speeches to kick off Cubs NerdFest, and the fans who didn’t immediately fall asleep were moved to boo when he reminded them that instead of airing their games on WGN radio, the games are now on WBBM. Â What’s the difference? Â WBBM is six to the right on your radio, but apparently that’s too much work for the sweatpant wearing shut-ins who somehow ventured out for two days in January. Â The shift in radio assignments is too much for them. Â Most of them have just decided to keep eating chicken in bed and wait for the Cubs to move back to 720.
21. Sammy Sosa’s still not welcome -Â Nobody liked Sammy more than me during his stint with the Cubs. Â I was a freshman in college in his last Jheri curl season with the White Sox and I loved telling my Sox friends what an overrated shitbag he was. Â Then, in spring training the Cubs traded Dominican gas station mogul George Bell for Sammy and Ken Patterson and I suddenly became Sammy’s staunchest defender.
Sammy was a force of nature for the Cubs. Â In that first year he pretty much spent his time striking out and running into Andre Dawson in the outfield. Â He morphed into a 30-30 guy (even though he had to selfishly steal meaningless bases late in countless losses) and I loved every minute of it. Â In 1997 he had 40 homers in only 124 games when he broke his hand and missed the rest of the season. Â In 1998 he showed up in spring training twice his normal size and absolutely crushed National League pitching for the next six seasons. Â Wrigley Field has never been louder than when he tied game one of the NLCS in the bottom of the ninth of game one.
(Goddamn that was great.)
Is it ridiculous that the Ricketts family doesn’t want Sammy around? Â Of course it is. Â They’re cryptic about what the reason is, because they don’t have a good reason. Â But what’s he going to do if they ever let him come back? Â Show up at the convention and say “buddy” a lot? Â Scare us all by how white he is these days? Â Do his Wayne Newton lounge act? Â I guess one of us might get lucky and find $25,000 wrapped in a towel in the hotel lobby. Â Otherwise, I could give a shit. Â Sammy was the balls (even as his were shrinking and crawling up into his torso) and a lot of sportswriters were offended by everything he did. Â You know what? Â Fuck them. Â Fuck them then and fuck them now. Â Hell, I want Sammy back just to piss off Barry Rozner.
22. Catching up with Doug Dascenzo -Â I can’t wait for Gordo to write about how Theo and Jed heartlessly killed Doug Dascenzo’s lifelong dream of being a big league first base coach when they fired Rick(y) Renteria and let Joe Maddon pick a few new coaches for his staff. Â What I really want him to do is find out if, given the length of the grass at Wrigley, whether players would have even seen little Doug standing down there.
23. More chances for awkward photos of Clark the Cub!
There are no words. Â But there is a registry Clark now legally has to put his name on.
24. More chances for awkward videos of Clark
Like this classic of Clark waving these kids into the back of his white conversion van.
25. Constant Wrigley renovation updatesÂ – Honestly, the thing looks pretty much done.
26. More chances for Anthony Rizzo to doÂ this -Â
Isn’t this the greatest thing ever? How much more badass do you get than this? Have I mentioned how much I love this guy? I did? OK, well…I do.
27. On a day off you can go to the beach and find…
Shirtless Brennamans! Â Oh, God. Â We didn’t need to see tHom and Franchester without shirts did we? Â My eyes!
28. Tom Ricketts Blue Ribbon Fan Experience Panel -Â This hasn’t been publicly announced yet, but my Cubs sources tell me that Tom Ricketts is going to be picking the brains of the brightest season ticket holders to find out what the Cubs can do–in the spirit of continuous improvement–to make the fan experience even better. Â Sounds like a good idea.
Until you realize he might very well be talking to these two hens.
“Tom, see what you can do about the hippies that we’re forced to sit near, and while you’re at it, take a look at your pressed meat selection at the ballpark…it’s weak. Â Really needs to be stepped up. Â Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’d like to ‘neck’ for a while before the end of batting practice.”
29. Big shoes to fill -Â I think Arismendy’s going to be a quality player, but he’s not ready to fill these shoes yet. Â So who is going to pick up the slack and keep up Luis’ proud tradition of unnecessary appeals?
Exhibit A – Beg the dugout to appeal a tag play to get your inside the park homer the hard way:
Exhibit B – Appeal your own check swing call to the third base umpire:
Goddamn, I miss him.
30. Gallons…no, drums of virtual ink will be spilled by nitwits demanding Kris Bryant open the season on the roster -Â There are reasons why the Cubs should just plug Kris Bryant into the opening day lineup and leave him there all year. Â Those reasons are all weak. Â As Brett at Bleacher Nation pointed out (you think I write long shit on short topics?) all the Cubs need to do to guarantee control over Bryant through 2021 instead of just 2020 is to keep him out of the big leagues for 13 days at the start of the season (that would only be NINE games). Â By leaving him in Des Moines for 13 days they can get an extra full season of him, in his prime. Â The Braves could have done this with Jason Heyward in 2010, but they didn’t, and that’s the reason they traded him to the Cardinals, because instead of having him for this year and next, they only have control over him for 2015.
31. Looking ahead to opening night and a reason to play this:
If it was good enough for the finals of the Reno Open with Roy Munson and Big Ern McCracken (and it was), it’s good enough for a Sunday night matchup between Jon Lester (he’s really a Cub, really?) and Adam Wainwright.Â If the Cubs were smart they’d get what’s left of ELO together and put them on a platform in the hollowed out bleachers and let them play all night.
32. I’m going to spend a week in Kissimmee with some big stars visiting Luis – OK, they’re stars, but they aren’t that big.Â Though they do love the Astros.Â It’s David Eckstein (right, pitching) and his boyfriend Gary.
I’m looking forward to hanging out with these guys again.
33. Elections for the new Mr. Cub -Â Now there should obviously never be another Mr. Cub. Â Ernie Banks was the one and only, but you know how these assholes will do anything for a buck. Â I expect to see a reality show launched one of those precious multichannels that Crane is always going on about with an American Idol-style panel of Dave Kaplan, Ryan Dempster and Laura Ricketts. Â At some point, Laura will stand up, unclip her mic, throw it on the ground and storm off, Todd will fill in and they’ll pick Dempster even though he was a judge and not a contestant. Â Prove me wrong, Cubs.
I know you won’t.
34. Outrage over Jon Lester’s uniform number -Â Lester has worn number 31 for both the Red Sox and A’s, but of course that number is retired twice over by the Cubs for Greggie and Fergie, so he chose 34 instead. Â Kerry Wood said he was “fine” with it, but don’t expect Cubs fans to be. Â Nobody should ever wear number 34 other than our Kerry! Â The Cubs, however, have plans to honor Kerry the most fitting way possible, short of retiring his number. Â They’re going to name the MRI room in the remodeled Wrigley after him.
35. The continued resurgence of Chris Coghlan -Â Coghlan was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2009 (granted, it was a light year in 2009 other than Andrew McCutchen who only played in 108 games), but then he battled injuries in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and spent most of 2013 in the minors. Â The Cubs gave him a chance to play 125 games last year and he basically duplicated his ROY numbers. Â He’s not old (30), but he’s not young, and he’s a nice player who gets on base, but doesn’t hit lefties very well and doesn’t hit for much power. Â In other words, he was a nice find last year, but he is imminently replaceable. Â The Cubs have the similarly talented Ryan Sweeney on the roster, too, and they really don’t need both. Â It’ll be interesting to see who wins the chance to platoon with the great Chris Denorfia in left field.
36. Where will the Cubs trade Welington Castillo? -Â I’m not in favor of the Cubs trading a quality young catcher to open a spot for whatever David Ross is these days, but if they do it, the only upside is that idiots can stop trying to get “Beef” going as Welington’s nickname. Â Castillo, has been around forever (he made his Cubs debut as a 23 year old in 2010) and is only 28. Â The Cubs are apparently not fans of the way he calls games and are definitely not fans of how he lets his glove drift when he receives pitches. Â But he’s better than some number one catchers in the league and better than almost all number twos. Â My take on guys like David Ross are that veteran presence is is a plus, but if the guy can’t play anymore, just make him a coach and don’t waste the at bats on him.
37. Billy Williams -Â Cubs fans in the 60’s had three (at least) pretty good choices for favorite player, you could go with Ernie, who had already won back to back MVPs, or the redassed third baseman, or you go with Billy Williams. Â I wasn’t around, but I know I’d have picked Billy. Â And I’m sure it clouds my judgement looking back with 100 percent hindsight that while Ernie and Ron were great guys, that Billy is always the coolest guy in any room. Â I have a Billy Williams bobblehead that I treasure (even though it looks like Ricky Gutierrez) just because it’s him. Â We miss Ron, and we’ve now lost Ernie, but Billy’s still going strong.
And, it didn’t hurt that he played Lando Calrissian in two Star Wars movies:
38. Fergie’s still weird -Â Look, I’m not saying Ferguson Jenkins wasn’t an all-time great pitcher. Â He undeniably was. Â At the time Greg Maddux retired, the only players in big league history to strike out more than 3,000 batters and walk less than 1,000 were those two former Cubs 31’s (Curt Schilling ended up doing it, too). Â But Fergie is…strange. Â He just is. Â And, unless you were ever married to him, there’s nothing wrong with that.
39. The spring training ballpark is named after a company that makes toilet parts! -Â Only the Cubs could find such a fitting company to buy the naming rights for their training park. Â Sloan, the name behind Sloan Field is number one in the number two business! Â When the inevitable rash of injuries hits this spring, you can come on out to the Sloan and watch the season circle the drain!
40. Time to admit (begrudgingly) that Dexter Fowler was a nice acquisition -Â I’m not sure trading a proven versatile part (especially one of your few guys who can get on base) was the right price to pay for Dexter, but assuming his defense isn’t as bad as the metrics suggest they are, Fowler’s a perfect fit. Â He’s a proven table setter with a career .366 on base average (it was .375 last year), he’s a switch hitter and he’s on the right side of 30 (he’ll be 29 in March). Â The fact that the Astros thought erecting the Evan Gattis statue in left and moving George Springer to center was a better idea…well, screw the Astros.
41. Remind people who think the Astros rebuild is better than the Cubs this -Â Springer looks like a pretty good player. Â He broke in last year, he hit 20 homers in 78 games and his average sucked, but his on base average wasn’t terrible (.336). Â The kid has a nice future.
The “kid” is older than three-time All-Star Starlin Castro.
42. NO MORE JUDD SIROTT! -Â THE ONLY PROBLEM I HAVE WITH THE ERSTWHILE THIRD WHEEL IN THE CUBS OLD WGN RADIO BOOTH IS THAT HE YELLED EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME! Â HE’S NOT MAKING THE MOVE TO WBBM, SO WE WON’T NEED TO HEAR HIM BLOWING OUT OUR EARDRUMS. Â But I’m sure whoever they pick to replace him will still be shitty.
43. Prepare for the MLB blackout rule apocalypse -Â Ironically, my return to Illinois from Michigan has me firmly in the “outside of Chicago, still inside the Cubs TV territory” abyss. Â The games on CSN Chicago will be on my TV, but without some kind of Cubs regional network (made up of those subchannels that you forget your local network affiliates even have) is set up, there could be as many as 70 games I can’t see. Â I’ve been assured by people at our local affiliates who know that the Cubs are setting up such a network, and the only question is whether the ones to air the WLS (25 games) and WGN (45 games) games will be the same or different. Â One of the people I’ve talked to said the network should be “much broader” than the ones WGN has for the Bulls and Blackhawks, meaning that more markets in Illinois, Iowa and Indiana should be offered Cubs games. Â However, that same person is at least somewhat skeptical that the Cubs will offer them at an attractive price. Â He’s afraid the Cubs will set the cost too high for some station owners to feel they can recoup the cost throwing them on a MyNetwork or MeTV subchannel.Â Crane’s in charge of this and he’s an idiot, so prepare for it to be screwed up.Â He never gets anything right on the first try.Â Ever.
Also, the Cubs are expected (and they basically promised to do it during Cubs NerdFest) to appeal to MLV.tv to lift the blackout restrictions for in-market broadcasts of Cubs games on WLS and WGN to those of us who buy MLB.tv or MLB Extra Innings.
Last fall, MLB announced they were going to consider doing that for every market anyway. Â They were happy with the way airing every Fox Saturday game (not just the one designated for each market) had gone last year and they think (and they are right) that there’s more money to be made by allowing anyone who paid for the game to watch it.
How many of us have been at work and wanted to watch a Cubs game on our computer (while diligently working away, of course) only to remember we couldn’t, but we could watch Twins-Astros! Â Oh, goody!)
Chances are this will shake out just fine for most of us, but it’s the Cubs, and you know how they manage to fuck things up that seemed unfuckupable.
44. Another reason to be thankful Chip Caray doesn’t work here anymore -Â Can you imagine how much of spring training (and hell, the entire season) would be dominated by Chip Caray going on and on about how his would-be boyfriend Craig Biggio is a Hall of Famer? Â Chip being in Atlanta is perfect, since they don’t have any real fans for him to bother anyway.
45. Admit it, you’ve missed Pat and Ron -Â I know Ron Coomer is not a universally beloved analyst, but give him credit for easily jumping over the very low bar that Keith Moreland had set for him, and for developing some chemistry with future Hall of Fame partner Pat Hughes. Â The best radio team the Cubs could put together would be Pat by himself, but Coomer can at least read the ads and scouting reports out loud and adds some genuinely interesting analysis on occasion. Â We put up with whatever Ron Santo was doing all those years because we loved him, but it’s nice to have a competent radio broadcast.
46. You have undoubtedly missed Len and JD -Â Len Kasper is just the best. Â Smart, funny, up for the moment (the rare moment in recent years) when something truly exciting happens, and smart enough to know when to not talk. Â He immediately developed chemistry with Jim Deshaies two years ago and it’s a safe bet to assume that now that there should be actually interesting and important games for them to cover now that they’ll be even better. Â Some may think the TV and radio broadcast teams aren’t that important, but we spend a lot of time with both of them each summer, it’s nice to have two pairs we actually like.
47. No road uniforms -Â The Cubs are one of the few teams who wear their actual home uniform for home spring training games, and they wear their blue batting practice jerseys for road games, which means we don’t see their road grays until the regular season. Â One of the many things the passing of Ernie Banks has done is remind us how much better Cubs road jerseys used to be:
Compare that beauty to either of the ones they choose from now:
(That shot, was of of course taken during a Pissburgh game last year when Junior Lake wore the wrong jersey–then again, there is no right choice.)
48. No more blues at home, ever -Â I’ll give the Ricketts credit, two years ago they very quietly ended the option of having the team wear those weird blue jersey tops at home. Â The home pinstripes are the best looking uniforms in the game, and short of a one-off throwback look, it’s the only thing you’ll see them in at Wrigley. Â Nice job.
49. Jumbotron mania! -Â Among the many not-so-charming things about Cubs fans is our ability to worry about shit that isn’t important, and hasn’t happened yet. Â The video board will be up in left field for opening night, and already people are freaking out about how it’s going to ruin the Wrigley experience. Â Sure. Â Just like lights did. Â Just like semi-edible concession food items did. Â Just like banning trough diving. Â It was absurd that once MLB made replay an everyday part of baseball games that fans at Cubs home games would be the only ones in the league who couldn’t sit and watch what was being reviewed.Â That’s not to mention the money the team was missing out on by not selling ads on it. Â It’s going to be OK. Â Plus, it’ll be fun watching Jorge and Kris try to obliterate the damn thing.
50. Who has two thumbs and is inexplicably allowed to be on Kap’s little TV chat show talking about the Cubs as an ‘expert analyst’ -Â
51. No bad omens yet about the Jon Lester signing:
You know what I always say about the SI cover jinx? (You don’t, I’m sure.) Â Nobody’s been on the cover more than Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali, which is proof that when you’re good, there’s no jinx.
52. Old greats come to spring training to remind us what they were best at:
53. Always a good chance Al will let a reader hotlink straight to an image on Desipio and we’ll just change the link for him -Â
54. Todd will sit in on every player press conference this year -Â He did such a great job at the Jon Lester presser that the Cubs asked him to do them all.
55. I get to break the news to my wife that I’m probably going to be watching every Cubs game intently again -Â
56. We can stop to thank the Giants for the valuable service they’ve done limiting the Cardinals postseason success, but also let them know that the Cubs can take it from here -Â
57. No more Bud
58. Every fan gets this personal greeting from All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo -Â
59. Al said we can all crash at his place -Â If you didn’t know, Al Yellon winters in the Mesa area, and he said we can all stay with him when want to come watch our heroes train.
60. You have some homework -Â If you have Netflix (and if you don’t I’m sure you have somebody else’s login to use) and you haven’t watched this yet:
What are you waiting for?
62. We’re going to find out if Kyle Hendricks is really any good -Â The question seems silly. Â He’s put up good numbers at every minor league stop, then put up a sub 2.50Â ERA in 13 big league starts. Â Sure he didn’t strike very many guys out (47 in 80 innings, but he also only allowed only 72 hits and 15 walks. Â For enlightened fans like us, it should be obvious that you don’t need to throw 99 miles an hour and strike everybody out to be successful. Â Then again, at no time in big league history has it been easier to strike people out and he still didn’t do much of it.
63. We’re going to find out if Hector Rondon is really any good – One of the positive byproducts of the Cubs not trying to win for a few years there was that they could do things like stash a Rule 5Â player onÂ the roster like they did Rondon two years ago. Â He’d basically missed two full seasons (his age 23 and 24 seasons) with arm problems. Â The Cubs didn’t use him much in the first half of 2013, but he pitched fairly well in the second half and then last year they gave him the closer job after Jose Veres imploded. Â Rondon was excellent, saving 29 games with a strikeout per inning, a 2.42 ERA and his best months were August and September.
64. The Cubs should probably give Pedro Strop some driving lessons – Not long after the tragic Oscar Tavares accident in the DR, Pedro drove his car into a wall. Â A wall. Â When the Cubs finally move the bullpens to under the bleachers they shouldn’t bring back these if they’re going to let Pedro drive:
65. Check out Eric Hinske’s new ink -Â I’m sure he’ll have some. Â Hell, he’s already got Kosuke Fukudome covering his back:
And he apparently wears Banana Ana Republic underwear.
66. We can use the Square D fax machine to trick Pat into an unintentional Two Girls One Zac Rosscup joke -Â Seriously, how hard could this possibly be? Â And if we do it, it’s the Cubs fault for still having a goddamned working fax machine.
67. Hey, at least “we” don’t have this:
68. Oh never mind -Â
Does Ronnie come with actual urine soaked pants, though? Â I mean, “authentics” are always worth more. Â Get the Steiner Sports guys on this.
69. Before they’re all gone, let’s get a mindset check from the 1969 Cubs -Â We know the 1985 Bears are happy as hell that no Bears team since has won a Super Bowl to cut into their cottage industry of getting dumbass Bears fans to pay them for anything with their names on it. Â Do we know if the 1969 Cubs are jealous that the 1984 Cubs and 2003 Cubs have actually upped the ante on how to kick Cubs fans in the balls? Â We’re going to need a ruling on this.
70. DeRo is promising to be around!Â
Dreamboat Markie told everyone at Cubs NerdFest that he will always consider himself a Cub and that he expects to be around more now that he’s 100 percent retired. Â I for one, always really liked DeRosa, and feel like the fan backlash that exists has nothing to do with him, but rather resentment for the nitwits who gave him standing ovations before his first at bat in ALL THREE games when the Indians came to Wrigley in 2009. Â After all, this is the guy who staked Ryan Dempster to the 1-0 lead in game one of the 2008 NLDS, and who covered a multitude of holes in what was Jim Hendry’s most complete roster. Â Plus, his wife is smokin’ hot.
71. What are we going to do about Ryan Dempster?Â He’s clearly one of the Ricketses favorites, and he’s been enabled by media’s efforts to make him think he’s funny, when he’s just “baseball funny.” Â What’s the difference? Â Funny people are funny. Â Baseball funny people are people who aren’t actually funny but like to make jokes that elicit fake laughs from baseball writers (the most humorless pricks on the planet) in an attempt to get on that player’s good side. Â Dempster isn’t clever, he dresses like a clown, his impressions are of other people doing impressions. Â And, if the Cubs actually do turn out to be good the next few seasons, we’re never going to get rid of his asshat.
Take his horrific mess from Cubs NerdFest for example:
Actually, don’t. Â Just don’t. Â You’ll be dumber for the experience, and as Cubs fans we can’t afford to get any dumber.
God forbid what happens if the Cubs ever actually get their own TV network.
72. Neil Ramirez, more Neil or more Ramirez?
73. Stunning Iowa housewives with announcements that something happening during a spring training game is brought to you by Pink Taco -Â
It’s a restaurant! Â We promise!
74. We’re going to have to figure out who John Mallee is and why we’re supposed to think he’s so great -Â
Supposedly he’s the new Cubs hitting coach (apparently Jeff Pentland couldn’t be wooed back) who came over from Houston when Bill Mueller decided it was just too hard to try to teach these idiots how to hit. Â Mallee strongly endorsed bringing in Dexter Fowler, which, of course, cost the Cubs Luis Valbuena. Â So this guy better know his shit.
75. We are 75 reasons in and we still have THIRTY TWO to go. Â Damn this pathetic franchise.
76. Travis Wood, fifth starter or best bat off the bench?Â
Despite the fact he’s never lost less than 12 games in any of this three seasons with the Cubs, Travis Wood was excellent two years ago, and in fact, was a deserving All-Star. Â But last year he was a mess. Â This year he’ll be battling to win the fifth starter job, and might not even be the best lefty in the mix for that (Tsuyoshi Wada could very well be better). Â Wood is not without talent, so you expect he’ll get it together, but if he doesn’t, should the Cubs just keep him around to be an extra bat on the bench?
Last year he posted an OPS of .700, with three homers and 10 RBI in only 56 at bats.
So the answer is…hell no. Â Even if the lefty pitcher were also a lefty batter (he hits righty) it would still be asinine. But somebody’s going to suggest it.
77. Will the Daily Herald let our good friend Bruce Miles come out and play? Â The Cubs are blessed with some excellent beat writers, including the Tribune’s Mark Gonzales and the Daily Herald’s Bruce Miles, but incredibly the Daily Herald severely limits Bruce’s travel. Â Unless they find a special reason, he only covers games in Chicago (Wrigley for US Comiskular) or within driving range (Milwaukee and St. Louis, maybe Cincinnati if Franchester lets him sleep on the couch.) Â It’s absurd that the completely bankrupt Sun-Times sends Gordon all over the country, but Bruce is stuck watching road games on TV. Â I guess the real question is why doesn’t a real newspaper hire him?
Oh, we know the reason for that.
There are no real newspapers left.
78. Will this be the year Carrie loses it writing the Muskbox? Â Carrie Muskat’s Cubs Inbox column (formerly the Muskbag) tackles the dumbest questions in the world every time. Â The reason for this is simple. Â The only people compelled to write questions into the Muskbox are shut-in Cubs fans who haven’t heard of Google yet. Â So she gets questions like, “Should the Cubs move Anthony Rizzo to third base to clear a spot for Bryan LaHair” (actual question) or “Will the Cubs be selling portions of Ron Santo’s ashes in the team store” (not an actual published question, but honestly you know somebody wrote it). Â How Carrie doesn’t go ballistic writing that thing is one of life’s great mysteries.
79. What’s Gordon going to be most pissed off about this year? Â For several years running it has been the Cubs debt load, but last year he kept going off about Rick(y) Renteria’s refusal to use Carlos Villanueva for multi inning stretches. Â Seriously, he was worried about that shitbag’s usage, and seemed offended that the Cubs wouldn’t save that great weapon on the off chance that a game went 29 innings. Â This year it could be a lot of things. Â Chances are he’s going to be on the receiving of the majority of the most smartassed/sarcastic Joe Maddon answers (though Jesse Rogers will be awfully close), and you know Gordon’s going to hate that. Â So I assume he’ll be on the “I told you Maddon wasn’t that smart” train earliest. Â So just buckle up.
80. What’s Sully up to?Â – Our good friend Paul Sullivan is basically a baseball generalist now at the Tribune which gives him the freedom to travel the nation writing longer form pieces on what interests him. Â It’s a good use of his skill, and after all those years as a Cubs and Sox beat writer he had to be done with that part of the job. Â I know a lot of you don’t like Sullivan’s writing, but frankly you’re all just wrong. Â And, I’ll see what I can unintentionally get him in trouble for this year. Â Last year I somehow got him in trouble with his sister for showing footage of him letting his nieces throw bobbleheads out of a window in his apartment.
81. How long can Kap and Haugh actually stay on TV when literally nobody is listening to their show?Â The only reason to have that show in the first place was as a simulcast of the show on The Game, but with that shuttered, do we really think anybody is going to wgn.com to listen to them? Â Then again, nobody listened to The Game, in fact, some people in older cars couldn’t literally turn their dial to 87.7 FM because it didn’t go that low. Â I don’t want anybody to lose their job (well, maybe Haugh), but how is this still a thing? Â I’m seriously asking that.
82. Does Todd Hollandsworth’s stutter not bother everybody else? Â For me, I limit my exposure to him on Cubs pre and postgame by just not watching it, but I know from past experience that he’s the king of the weird half-laugh, half-stutter thing when he’s trying to think as he’s talking. Â Chip Caray starsÂ sentences without knowing where he plans to end them, and Chip compensates by just talking and talking and talking and not going anywhere. Â Hollandsworth does it and just mumble-laughs until he figures out where to get out of the sentence. Â How does anyone find this remotely entertaining or informative? Â Why do the Cubs hate us so much?
83. I’m sure I’ll get Twitter banned again -Â Last year I tried to convince the Cubs social media guy Kevin Saghy to let me do a Twitter takeover, and then one day, I decided just to do it myself. Â So I changed the Desipio Twitter avatar to the Cubs logo and our display name to Cubs and within 20 minutes I was banned, my account was frozen and it was more than a month before Twitter let me back in. Â Previously to that I’d been banned on Twitter for more than a week when I replied to what I didn’t know was a spam tweet with a naked picture of Steve Stone. Â I’m sure I’ll do some stupid shit and get banned again.
84. As bad as we have it sometimes, we don’t have to deal with this:
85. Or this:
(Nobody does family day like the White Sox.)
86. But we know this asshat will be back, won’t he?
87. How did Randy Myers not actually kill him that day?
For those of you who don’t know, the creep who sells those It’s Gonna Happen signs and t-shirts (which he originally created for Chicago’s ill-fated, Wally Hayward run ((same thing)) Olympic bid), is the guy in the blue shirt who Randy Myers is strangling in the second photo. Â He’s still banned from Wrigley, but his shitty Red Sox-fonted signs aren’t. Â Though CSN and WGN tried to avoid showing them after a while in 2008.
87. We all know there’s still like a 60 percent chance that this team is going to suck, right? Â As optimistic as we all are (which contrary to public belief is not the default setting for a Cubs fan), this team could be terrible. Â The track record of players in their first year of a big contract with the Cubs is awful, and the team is relying on a tremendous number of young, unproven players this year. Â It’s not the wrong approach, but while some are expecting playoffs (idiots) and most think the team will be competitive, there’s a better than half chance that they’ll just suck again. Â So hey, there’s that!
88. Are they still going to play Go Cubs Go after wins? -Â The playing of it makes no sense in the first place. Â It’s an awful (on purpose) Steve Goodman song that he penned for WGN in response to their dislike of his awesome ‘A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request’ that was meant to be played on the pregame show. Â So the line “Hey Chicago, what do you say, the Cubs are gonna win today” is asinine to hear after games. Â Plus, the song is lame, and Goodman must roll in his grave that they still use it. Â Plus, it references WGN at a time when all games were on WGN TV and radio and now there are just 45 games on WGN TV and none on WGN radio. Â But Laura Ricketts did two informal surveys in the fetid petri dish that is Cubs Nerd Fest and not surprisingly, the nerds want to keep it.
89. Why are the Cubs so afraid to play music from Chicago?Â – At least playing a Goodman song was a nod to the fact that bands and musicians from Chicago are among the best in the world (even if the song was horseshit), but for two decades the Cubs played a fucking Van Halen song when the team ran on the field (they could have least played Atomic Punk). Â The franchise is still literally and figuratively tone deaf.
90. Speaking of Steve Goodman -Â At least we should enjoy how awesome music videos were in the early 80s:
91. Smug appearances on sports radio by Steve Stone -Â I mean, this is a given, since he knows no other way, but let’s all just get ready for him to laud the White Sox offseason “reloading” while the Cubs took “years” to “rebuild.” Â He will ignore the fact that the Sox thought they were going to contend last year and somehow lost just as many games as the Cubs. Â Plus, even the “reloaded” Sox aren’t all that good. Â But hey, David Robertson!
92. Jim Rose -Â Even though it’s a small number of games, WLS has some Cubs games, which means…Jim Rose. Â Ugh.
93. Brennaman envy -Â We already took time to admire their nipples, but the best part of this spring and season is going to be Franchester Brennaman’s inability to hide his disdain for how well the Cubs have constructed this team. Â Franny hates the Cubs. Â Mostly he hates how many Cubs fans invade their shitty park, and so he’ll say things like, “This is why the Cubs never win,” and just mixes and matches it to fit. Â Now, granted, the Reds should be better than they were last year, because Joey Votto should be healthy…well, healthier, but a return to health by Brandon Phillips isn’t likely to mean much, because he’s on steep decline. Â I’ve also never known what to think of Jay Bruce. Â At his best, I’ve thought he was just pretty good, while others insist he’s a star, and most of the time, he’s kind of bad. Â So basically, screw the Reds.
94. The Brewers have no clue -Â Trading Yovani Gallardo for prospects was a good idea, because Yovani sucks now, but if they really do trade for Jonathan Papelbon…I mean, why? Â Why would any team pay that much for a closer? Â Unless that closer is Mariano Rivera it’s guaranteed to be a waste of money. Â The Brewers have figured this out themselves, they replaced closers on the cheap with John Axford then he went bad, then Jim Henderson, then he went bad then K-Rod on a short contract (after they foolishly absorbed the end of his long term one), why would they do this to themselves? Â Then again, they’re still clinging to one half of one good season from Jean Segura like it means something. Â And, they can blame Ryan Braun’s thumb on him sucking last year, but it’s more likely his raging herpes and lack of fancy performing enhancing drugs. Â If he gets off to a bad start again, he’ll cheat and he’ll get caught and he’ll have to sue…again.
95. Pissburgh’s pretty good -Â They’ve got a good bright orange manager, their outfield is excellent and they’ve got a nice deep pitching staff with a legit (at least potentially) ace in Gerrit Cole. Â What they don’t have is an infield you can plan on. Â They’re hoping a move to first fixes Pedro Alvarez. Â It might fix his throwing problem (though, you still have to make some throws at first), but not his alarming Javy Baez like strikeout rate. Â They have to pray Josh Harrison is really good, not a player who had a good season, and that Neil Walker can play every day so they can mix and match the tepid Jordy Mercer and Kang! at shortstop. Â What’s good about this team outweighs what’s bad about it, but it leaves the door open for other teams.
96. The best fans in baseball -Â They never boo (except when they do), they always politely cheer players on the other teams (except when they don’t), they understand the game better than any other fans (except they don’t) and they dress like they’re in a cult (OK, they do that.) Â The fans of St. Louis are the most insufferable, overrated fanbase in all of sports. Â The media created this image of the Cardinals fans out of whole cloth, and it was fostered by an adopted St. Louser, Bob Costas, who still does his damndest to perpetuate the myth. Â Thanks to the geniuses at @bestfansstlouis we can keep tabs in real time of Cardinals’ fans insecure, always homophobic and often racist behavior.
97. Will their magic work on Jason Heyward? -Â Heyward appeared to be on the Jeff Francoeur road to nowhere in Atlanta, where you follow up an impressive rookie season with several mediocre ones. Â Heyward is certainly a better player than Francoeur, but his overall numbers have yet to build to stardom that was hinted at as a rookie. Â What he is, though, is a great defensive outfielder and that will certainly help any team. Â But Cubs fans (and every other fan of an NL team) is dreading the magic “elixir” that we’ve seen the Cardinals use to turn players careers around. Â Larry Walker was finished until he got to St. Louis, then he wasn’t. Â Scott Rolen was done until he got off the turf and into the Cardinals lineup and then he wasn’t. Â Will Clark’s career was dead and buried until a half season renaissance at the end in St. Louis. Â Given their history of drug cheats, that’s what most people attribute these kinds of turnarounds to, but in all of these cases there’s no fire and very little smoke. Â Heyward has already indicated a desire to test free agency after the season, so maybe it’ll be one and done no matter what. Â But it worries you, doesn’t it?
98. Gee, maybe this top tier Hollywood star will show up!
How long can “I used to open for Sinatra” still get you gigs?
I guess, forever.
99. Or this guy:
100. Can we get this updated? Â -Â It’s back in the rotation because of the Ernie Banks tie-in when Pearl Jam played Wrigley, but watching it and seeing this much Ryan Theriot and Rich Harden is kind of painful.
101. Is this the most underappreciated moment in Cubs history?Â
Consider it’s the first time a Chicago baseball team (Sox or Cubs) had won a postseason series since 1917. Â The Cubs beat a 103 win Atlanta Braves team to win the NLDS. Â The Cubs did it after losing a clinching game at home and flying to Atlanta where surely they’d lose. Â Thanks to the horrific events of the NLCS we hardly ever even think back to this, but at the time, it was awesome.Â Actually, it’s just awesome.Â As time passes, I find myself finally remembering what was good about 2003 and not just how it all blew up in a shitstorm of epic proportion.
I guess I still mostly remember how it blew up in a shitstorm of epic proportion.Â So maybe it’ll take a real pennant to get us to look back with some fondness at, what is sadly, the most successful Cubs team of our lifetimes.
102. We have reason to worry about the Nationals rotation -Â For the past few offseasons all we’ve been worried about is who the Cubs got and who the Cardinals didn’t, but now a move like the Nationals signing Max Scherzer to go with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, etc. should mean just as much to us as if the Cardinals had gotten him. Â The Cubs are going to have to beat this team to get to the World Series one of these days. Â It’s kind of refreshing, actually, to have broader concerns than we’ve been used to.
103. We have reason to worry about the Dodgers -Â For the same reason as the Nats. Â The Dodgers team is highly paid and pretty damned good, and I think because they’ve gagged in the playoffs the last two years to the Cardinals we forget that this is a hard team to beat. Â It also shows you how much luck of the draw has to do with winning a World Series. Â The Giants could not have beaten the Dodgers in the playoffs, but they could beat the Cardinals, and that’s the team they ended up with. Â Ugh, this stuff is starting to make my head hurt.
104. More Mets shortstop rumors -Â OK, this isn’t a thing to look forward to, any more than Dreesen or Belushi are. Â Until the Mets find somebody to play short there are going to be rumors of them trading one of their good young pitchers: namely deGrom, Wheeler or Syndergaard for one of the Cubs shortstops: Starlin, Javy or Addison Russell. Â These rumors won’t go away because they’re easy dots for lazy sportswriters to connect.
105. Speaking of Addison Russell -Â Most of us haven’t seen him do anything yet, but we’ll get a good look at him in the spring, and chances are it’s just going to make us all the more impatient for the Cubs to find a spot for him. Â But like Bryant, it makes no sense for the Cubs to do anything with him they have to.
106. We want to see some sun -Â Hell, half the reason to watch any spring training anything is just to see guys doing something in the sun and to remind us that winter will someday go away.
And, finally (WE DID IT!)
There are already too many impossible expectations put on this guy. Â Hell, the city expects him to be baseball Jonathan Toews. Â But as much hope as we have for Soler and Rizzo and Starlin, it really seems like this whole plan comes together once he comes up, finds a spot and starts raking.
And, while I will wait, I can’t wait. Â Huh?
OK, did we get an old ladies love Patrick Mooney mention in? Â Well, we’ll probably need a 108th reason next year.