So Far, Quade’s a Hit…But Too Much of a Good Thing?

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Sometimes when people try too hard or try to be too cool, they fail miserably. That’s why Quade has to be careful not to be too much like Kraegen in the above video.

I like that Mike Quade is making this team his own by doing things a little differently, however, he needs to remember to keep the tough love leader as part of his game plan as well considering how well it was received by the team at the end of last season.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the Cubs hiring Quade. I like that he’s enthusiastic to see his guys start putting on display what they can bring to the team. I like that he is looking to further evaluate guys he’s familiar with within the Cubs’ system. I even appreciate the fact that he listed lineups three games in advance. I believe it will help players prepare and learn their roles. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t have a successful team without everyone knowing and embracing their role.

I think Quade has kicked off Spring Training the right way. Let the veterans know what is expected of them and let the youngsters know they are getting a fair look. That’s all any of them can ask for. But are the Cubs in danger of having too much of a good thing the way Quade has started off camp? Is he in trouble of setting a tone where there is too much of a good thing going here (loss to Oakland aside, that is)? Will the players get too used to feeling like they know what to expect and not ready to easily adapt when need be during the season? Like anything, I suppose it’s simply a matter of opinion. Many of you are still upset that Sandberg isn’t running the show. However, in answering the last question, I believe everything is going to be just fine and anyone who is freaking out over Quade’s system of three days heads-up being too soft needs to relax and enjoy having Cubs baseball back on the air. 

I understand that people like to pick at the bone for things to complain about, especially when we’re only one game in to Spring Training. Not a whole lot to get worried about but we’re sports fans and when nothing is there, sometimes we create things. I’m feeling pretty good about Quade’s leadership so far and don’t think you should be expecting or worried about any crazy flying basket locker room meetings out of Quade. He may have his own way of running the show that wasn’t done by Piniella or guys before him, but so far I think he’s taking this team in the right direction and has not discarded the Quade that got him the job late last season.  

It speaks volumes about Quade’s interest in respecting veterans and leaving windows open to surprises coming out of camp. He referenced Colvin the other day as a recent pleasant Spring Training surprise/success story. I’m glad that he is looking to fill in the roster spots around the guarantees with guys who earn the spot and want to play hard. Of course we’re going to see the guys you can wear. If you can buy a jersey with a player’s last name on it, it’s basically a guarantee you will see them play a major role, at least in the first month or so of the season. It’s the bench players that make a team great though. Stars make you ‘really good’. Depth makes you great.

When I was in Vegas for my honeymoon, I bet on the Cubs three times and won two out of three bets. It would be wild to log into a baseball spread site and predict which players made it out of camp. They very well may, I’m not sure. I know the regular season matters so as a fan of course those games are already fascinating. However, I wonder how many people buy the season previews or the annuals or the minor league prospect reports and try to bet on who will come out of camp. If they are then I’m sure these Spring games are taking on a whole new significance and importance to those particular fans. Imagine watching a Spring game and truly caring how long a player stays in the game. I love the fact that Quade left Garza in the game to hit instead of replacing him with a pinch-hitter. Quade’s right, he has to learn to hit sometime. Now is the time to do so.

I wonder what Zambrano had to say about it privately to Garza afterwards. I know it was reported that he didn’t see it but Z is one of the best hitting Cubs pitchers on the team. While Garza is working with Jaramillo to feel comfortable hitting after hardly doing so for the Rays, he must also be talking to the other guys on the staff and who better to ask than Zambrano? Of course, Garza did get shelled in his first appearance as a Cub in spring training including a grand slam to Coco Crisp. But (cue Fred Armisen’s Joy Behar) who cares, so what? It’s Spring Training. I’m sure the guy was nervous and worried about making a good impression. I’m sure it was just one pitch that got away that led to four runs. Do I want to see it during the regular season? No. Does Quade leave him in the game in a situation where he should replace him with a pinch-hitter when the game counts? No. So far Garza has a hit and the ball to place on his mantle. So far, Quade has been a hit with the Cubs and fans alike.

Is posting game lineups three games in advance too coddling? Is giving veterans reasonable expectations and laying all of your cards on the table too much? Is giving young players the feeling like they could possibly leave the minors behind and join the club for Opening Day or very soon into the season the wrong way to handle your business when it comes to prospects? No. No to all three.

I like what I’ve heard from Quade so far this Spring and I don’t think any of these things are a bad thing. This is Quade’s team now. It’s his time to put his stamp on it and run the show the way he thinks it should be run. At the end of last year he essentially had all of his players’ support that he should be hired as manager as well as mine.

I believe while it’s still early, Quade still has that support 100% and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the Spring plays out leading up to Opening Day. Go Cubs Go!

Question: Would You Be a Cubs Fan If You Knew?

I have a question for you, Cubs fans.

First, watch this video:
That is an Ebay commercial I did roughly eight or nine years ago. When you see me there, what you see is a guy who decided to leave everything he knew to blindly head out and pursue a goal. To try and achieve something that isn’t guaranteed. Something that is obtained by very few. A guy that knew what he wanted but had no idea how to get there, mainly because whether he made it there or not was completely out of his control. 
 
Essentially, a perfect example of absolute blind faith. A gutsy move to leave everything and everyone with the hope that perhaps, one day, all the time invested would pay off and the ultimate goal would be realized.
 
This was my very first commercial gig, ever. It was before I was a member of SAG (that wouldn’t happen until a few years later). It was one of the first auditions the agent I had at the time sent me on. He called me up and asked me if I could do a Sean Connery impression. I either said ‘no, but I can develop one’ or flat out lied and said ‘yes, ABSOLUTELY’. Either way, I hung up the phone with an audition set for the next day and absolutely no idea how I was going to pull off a Sean Connery in 24 hours.
 
I rented a couple of Sean Connery films that night at the local Blockbuster and watched them beginning to end. I don’t even recall which films they were. I practically walked into the place asking ‘Do you have any copies of Sean Connery’s accent in stock?’. 
 
After a couple of viewings, I was pretty sure I had it down. Make your throat sound froggy, hit the hard consonants on the end of your words and slur your S’s. That’s what I was going with. I had no idea if it was going to work but that was the plan. 
 
Again, blind faith locked in, ready to go.
 
The role was that of ‘Son’. The family was obsessed with collecting Sean Connery memorabilia and the son was an awkward geek. I’d be up against a bunch of other people for the role…and those were the only details I had. I went to the studio for the audition and there were a number of other white guys waiting to go in. I tend to audition for a certain type and for some reason there always seems to be a lot of white guys waiting in the waiting room with me. Go figure.
A guy sitting next to me had these great, geeky looking glasses. They were thickly framed, complete with tape on the bridge. Perfect. I asked him if I could use them for my audition after he went in for his. He said no, without hesitation. I thought that was pretty uncool. But, ok, you brought glasses. I didn’t. Fair enough. 
 
May the best Connery win.
 
I went in and read for the part and killed it. I nailed the script the way they wanted and they enjoyed my improv to them as Connery (thankfully the director of photography’s name was Seamus). I found out soon after that I would be doing the commercial. Sweet.
 
Since doing that commercial I must have gone on hundreds of auditions. I’ve booked a number of them as well as some short films, a couple of pilots and one feature. It seems like each time I think no small amount of success is to come my way again in my career, a little morsel of goodness comes about and it keeps me going, pursuing the goal. 
 
Chasing the carrot, running on nothing but blind faith.
 
This is pretty much the same exact way I feel about rooting for the Cubs. It makes me wonder if you, as a Cubs fan, would have become a Cubs fan if you knew that you still would not have seen your team win it all at this point in your life. If when your family persuaded you to jump aboard the fan base, or when you looked around the majors and decided the Cubs were the team for you…if you were told flat out that from that point up until February 9, 2011 the Cubs still would not have won the World Series, would you still have chosen the Cubs as your team? 
 
Would you still have gone on the long, disappointing, frustrating, although at times thrilling journey?
 
I have no idea what I would have done although I’d like to think that if the person couldn’t tell me what would happen beyond today regarding whether the Cubs would win it all or not then I would still decide to go with blind faith, thinking that it would still happen sometime after today. 
 
I mean, really, how can anyone expect something so awesome to come quickly and so easily? (pipe down Yankees fans)
 
Hanging in there with my career as a writer and performer has been very similar to hanging in there with the Cubs. It is often a dark, frustrating, mind-boggling journey. While my career doesn’t have a definitive X-marks-the-spot-end-goal necessarily (no matter what I achieve, I’d probably always want to achieve more), the Cubs do have the ‘X’ target to shoot for. 
 
A World Championship. 
 
Once that is achieved, of course fans who get to witness their team win it all, want that feeling over and over again as many times as they can possibly experience it. However, for the Cubs to reach that goal ONCE in our life times is all any of us are really hoping for. And really nothing is driving it besides absolute blind faith. 
 
Every now and then a little morsel comes along making me continue hanging in there, either chasing the carrot myself, or as is the case in rooting for the Cubs, to nab it for me/themselves/all Cubs fans alike.
 
Morsels. An NL East championshp here. An NL Central division title there. An amazing come from behind win, a triumph over a rival, a key free-agent signing. The organization going the extra mile for my family and I, making me proud to be a fan. All of these moments keep me going as a fan and it’s so funny how amazing the moments’ timing are. Just when I’m feeling like there’s no hope, somebody pitches an absolute gem or a season comes along where we make the playoffs or a winter signing occurs and I think there it is. The missing link. Next year is definitely going to be the year
 
I’ve felt good about auditions before and those are generally the ones I never hear back from for a callback. I’ve felt like I’ve bombed others and it turns out I booked it. I’ve seen games on the Cubs schedule that I ‘know’ we’re going to win and it turns out we lose miserably. I’ve seen road stretches that seem like the absolute demons of the schedule and we come out smelling like roses, returning to Wrigley victorious.
 
It’s about the journey. I never know which pitch of an idea or audition could result in some great, exciting news. The next moment that keeps me going. I never know which year is going to be the year for the Cubs to win it all and all my time surviving the ups and downs take on a new meaning. The hardest part of going after something completely out of your control is the fact that you can only have faith that it will happen. Some day, some how..all the while knowing that nothing is guaranteed. 
 
I can’t wait for the day the Cubs hit the X. I can’t wait for them to hit their mark. For one of these Cubs teams, one of these Cubs managers to leave their mark. 
I was thinking today about some of the road gigs I’ve done over the years performing stand up and meeting cool people in small towns or big cities over the years. I was thinking about shows I auditioned for and didn’t get and the breaks I have received and how I appreciate them so much considering what I’ve gone through to achieve them. It got me thinking about the journey and whether if when I started back in 1997, if I could go back in time and tell myself what I will have achieved by this point in time, if I would have gone through with it anyway not knowing what else might be possible from this point forward.
Like rooting for the Cubs, I believe I would have said yes. It would have been a shame if I had that opportunity and decided not to. I feel the same way about the Cubs. Ryne Sandberg is the key reason I root for the Cubs and if he had come to me one day years and years ago and said, look…(like Piniella, I guess)…by Feb 9, 2011 the Cubs will have only won a handful of division titles and had no real success in the post-season. We certainly will not have won the Series by that point in time, so it’s up to you if you still want to root for the Cubs…your choice”, I believe I would have said “well, what happens in 2011?”
 
And if he didn’t know and neither did I, I believe I’d still power on ahead and hope for the best that it would some how, some day happen after this point in time.
 
What about you? Would you have still chosen to be a Cubs fan all these years if you knew ahead of time that up to this point in time they still would be World Series trophy free? Completely World Series titleless in your life time?  If you don’t mind, leave me your thoughts in the comment section, I’d love to hear your response.
 
Pitchers and catchers coming up in about a week. Sounds like another morsel of hope to me. Can’t wait to see if all this blind faith culminates in experiencing the Cubs winning it all. (Notice how I didn’t say ‘I can’t wait to see if this all proves to be worthwhile’. It’s absolutely about the journey and I already believe it has been).  Go Cubs Go!
 

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