Pay Tribute to Ron Santo with JDRF on May 19th at Wrigley Field As They Honor the Ricketts Family and the Chicago Cubs as Their ‘Best of Illinois’

Dailies

I will be posting a photo-filled, complete recap of my recent trip to Chicago in the next few days. Until I am able to do so, I wanted to let you know about an important event paying tribute to Ron Santo by the JDRF coming up at Wrigley Field on May 19th.

If you had asked Ron Santo what he wanted out of life, his answer would have definitely included two things. A World Series championship for the Chicago Cubs.  A cure for diabetes. And not necessarily in that order.

To the youngest Cubs fan, Santo was the voice they heard on the radio, doing color commentary for their favorite baseball team.  A Cubs legend, according to stories their elders have told them and what they’ve seen in the books they’ve read.

To the oldest Cubs fan, Santo is not only a name that brings up memories of entertaining broadcasts from an announcer with perhaps an even greater passion for the game and Cubs than all Cubs fans combined. His name also sparks recollection of great moments in Cubs history and the back of a baseball card that puts Santo among the greatest third basemen to ever wear a Cubs uniform.

Perhaps most powerful of all, hearing the name ‘Ron Santo’ also conjures up the moment they realized that the player they’ve made an argument for Hall of Fame induction for so long, not only performed at that level against expected odds such as weather, talented opposing pitching, a day game home schedule and the grueling toll a season of professional baseball takes on an athlete.

He also performed at that level while battling an unseen foe. Santo accomplished it all while battling diabetes.

Santo did all that he possibly could to push the Cubs towards greatness including injecting himself with insulin during ballgames when necessary and pushing his body to the limit. He wanted to be part of the team that ended the Cubs drought and brought a championship to the city of Chicago. And if he wasn’t going to be in uniform when it finally happened, he was going to be in the broadcast booth.

He also worked hard off the field, perhaps even harder, at helping foundations such as JDRF fund research in an effort to find a cure for diabetes.

The Cubs got behind Santo’s effort to find a cure very heavily in 1989 when Santo joined the WGN broadcasting team. You hear the name Santo, you think Cubs. You hear Cubs, you think Santo. You hear the name Santo, also think diabetes. The Cubs know that and know what Santo gave to this organization on the field and in the booth. There was no way they wouldn’t support Santo in his quest to find a cure.

Through the team’s efforts with Cubs Care, they have been a great partner with organizations such as JDRF in working to find a cure and it is this passion to continue Santo’s efforts even after he has passed, along with the work they did alongside Ron, that has earned the Cubs and the Ricketts family the greatest honor the JDRF awards by presenting them with the Best of Illinois award.

On May 19th, at Wrigley Field, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) will be honoring the Ricketts family and the Chicago Cubs while paying tribute to Ron Santo. The honor has been given by the JDRF since the early 80’s and is the highest honor the organization awards. The award started out as Man of the Year, then Person of the Year and eventually it became Best of Illinois. It has honored athletes, corporate leaders, broadcasters, politicians and more. All of the recipients received the award due to their commitment to finding a cure. Ron Santo propelled the Cubs and the Ricketts family’s passion for finding a cure to new heights. While they are to receive the award on May 19th on Wrigley Field, there is much more work to be done in finding a cure.

In case you were wondering after reading this if there is a way for you to be a part of this wonderful event and help towards a great cause, yes there absolutely is.

You can attend the ceremony and/or spend a day at Wrigley Field in honor of Ron Santo. Here is how:

The JDRF and the Cubs have worked together to organize a day of celebration, tribute and awareness and you can help out by attending in honor of Santo.

The day time portion of the event is geared towards families. Wrigley Field is being showcased as much as the generosity of the Ricketts and Cubs Care. You will be able to see parts of Wrigley that before now, you would have only dreamed of having this type of access.

The day time portion is called the Little Sluggers Family Event. It will go from 2-5pm and will involve a tour of Wrigley, guided by a Cubs Ambassador. For $150 per adult/child, you will be able to walk on the field and have a catch (no cleats please), tour the players’ locker rooms, enjoy complimentary concessions and beverages, bat in the batting cages, tour the media booth where Santo used to call Cubs games and view a special tribute video to Santo.  When the JDRF and the Cubs would team up for events in the past, Ron would always record a welcoming video to those that attended. This year, the video will be in honor of Ron.

The evening ceremony is when the Best of Illinois honor will be presented to the Ricketts family and the Chicago Cubs. For $250 per individual, you will able to enjoy all of the perks of the Little Sluggers Family Event (only without the guided tour feel by a Cubs Ambassador…you may tour the same areas at your own speed) as well as attend the evening ceremony and eat dinner at one of the night’s delicious buffet stations. An afternoon of making Wrigley your home followed by an evening of dinner at the ballpark and watching your favorite team and their owners be recognized for their work to find a cure for diabetes? It sounds like a great day to me. For $1200 per individual, you get the same opportunities as the $250 price, however your dinner will be at a reserved table under the dining tent and will include your own seat in an assigned section of the ballpark to watch the evening’s program. (NOTE: purchasing a ticket to the evening event gains you access only to the evening portion of the day. The day time event is a completely separate portion of the day’s festivities altogether).

If you have a large group of friends that you would like to enjoy the day with, you may also purchase tables of 10 for $10,000 and $25,000. For $10,000 you enjoy all of the opportunities mentioned above and your table is in the main dining tent as well. For $25,000 you receive all of the above plus a celebrity guest will join you for dinner. Former Cubs players have been known to attend such events and while there is no guarantee that your celebrity will be a former Cub, no matter who you are sitting with will have a place in their heart for the team and the cause like the rest of your group. (And if it is a former Cub?? How cool would that be!?)

The evening’s program will include a live auction including a signed Santo jersey donated by the Santo family, a tribute to Ron on the field, proceeds donated to a Fund a Cure’s specific area of research, in this case, complications in honor of Santo, the Best of Illinois presented to the Ricketts, and an acceptance by Tom Ricketts followed by an address from the Santo family.

I made a statement in my previous post that it’s nice to see people helping people nowadays. Cubs fans to other Cubs fans are like family and the Cub players, current and former including Santo are definitely some of our favorite relatives. The Cubs have been doing great things for years to support Santo’s and the JDRF’s efforts in finding a cure.

Santo wanted two things: a World Series title for the Cubs and a cure for diabetes. Cubs fans know he did all he could in both areas. He certainly would have wanted us all to be a part of the celebration when the Cubs finally won the Series.

In his honor, let’s hope that opportunity presents itself one day. In the meantime, let’s take
it upon ourselves to also be a part of finding a cure. In honor of Ron Santo, if you can attend either portion of the day, please do. It’s a great cause and a great organization. If you are unable to attend, you may make a donation of any amount at the following website: http://www.jdrfillinois.org/dinner/index.html

All donations help and are greatly appreciated. Baseball can be more than just a game and there are more than a couple ways to honor a former great one. The number is retired and the patches have been sewn to the sleeves. If you can, let’s honor Santo one more time by helping to find a cure
in honor of #10. And as always, Go Cubs Go.

Prose and Ivy is at Wrigley Next Week. Are you?

Dailies

Hey there, Cubs fans! Are you by chance going to be at the Cubs game next Tuesday night and/or Wednesday afternoon?

You are?

Well, great…ME TOO.

If you want to meet up during a game or before hand/afterwards, let me know and let’s see what we can work out! Not sure where I’m sitting as of yet, but I will be there taking in the last two games of the homestand against the Rockies at Wrigley. As of now, looks like I’ll catch Russell Tuesday night and then Coleman on Wednesday (ok, Soto will do the catching, but you know what I mean). Would have been great to see Wells/Cashner, but they are no where near ready to come back yet. Hopefully we see them on the mound at Wrigley again soon.

I’ll keep this post updated as I find out more! Go Cubs Go!

UPDATE – 4/27 7:25pm CST: An amazing day today in Chicago. Aside from coming to town to catch two games against the Rockies at Wrigley, I also had a couple meetings scheduled. I’m happy to say I will have some exciting news to share very soon. Regarding the games, today’s game against the Rockies was postponed until June 27th. No refunds or exchanges so I’ll probably be back in town to catch the make up game. I was at Wrigley long enough to eat another amazing tray of nachos (seriously, they must be the best in MLB) and take more photos to post on the blog. Those will be up in the next days or so. Looking forward to sharing them with you. It wasn’t raining very hard and the tarp never came off the field. I felt good about a 1:20pm start because of all the hours left in the day to start the game late if need be. However, I think teams’ travel schedules start to get in the way and unfortunately due to a lack of break in the poor weather and the fact that both teams would travel tonight, they called it. Flying out in the morning. Had a blast. Check back here in the next couple days for photos and more details about the trip. I’ll be scheduling another trip for May sometime and of course will look to come back to catch that make up game for a trip back in June among other return visits to the ballpark this season. Looking forward to it already. Go Cubs Go!

UPDATE – 4/26 10:50pm CST: Just got in from the Cubs game. Wrigley is the best place to watch a baseball game, hands down. Always more fun to see them win, but considering the way the weather was today, good to see a game at all. Didn’t turn out much better than my simulated version on PS3. Rockies beat the Cubs 4-3. Helton proved to be too much for the young Jedi, Russell and Soriano’s bottom of the ninth blast came leading off with no one on and came up short in the end. Russell doesn’t seem to be the long term answer as he didn’t get through five yet again although he threw his career high, 82 pitches. Took a ton of pictures and will have a lot more to say when I post after tomorrow’s game later this week. Also, for some reason my phone won’t allow me to access Twitter so if you follow me and were looking for in-game tweets, that’s why there weren’t any. I’ll update this again though after the 1:20pm CST game tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get to sing Go Cubs Go at Wrigley before the my trip is over. Go Cubs Go. Let’s raise that W flag tomorrow.

UPDATE – 4/26 1:10pm CST: Hanging out at my friend’s place where I’m staying these couple days. Played Rockies/Cubs on PS3, MLB 2K11. Russell pitched a great game but bullpen blew it late. Was up 2-1 going into the 8th on a Soriano home run. Ended up losing 5-2. Good thing it didn’t count…and hopefully it doesn’t end up counting as the only Cubs game I see today. Raining pretty hard in Chicago right now. That’s the bad news. Good news is it’s only 1:10 and today’s game time is 7pm. We’ll see. Hey Chicago, whaddaya say, how about we stop this rain today?

UPDATE – 4/25 10:30am CST: I will be sitting in section 110 at the Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon games. Third base side 1’10’. I may not have a jersey with the 10 patch on it, but I think it’s cool the first games I’ll see at Wrigley this year are going to be third base side, 110. Flying in honor of Mr. Cub. Root, root, rooting in honor of Mr. Santo. Go Cubs Go!

UPDATE – 4/21 9:50pm CST: Found out I’ll be in Row 14 on my flight there and back. I shall snack and read thousands of feet about the ground in honor of Mr. Cub.

Love MLB. Love This Kid. Love This Video.

Dailies

MLB is full of characters as is YouTube. This video is the perfect mix of both.

Cubs fan, Keenan Cahill has been featured on this site before and his videos are great. He suffers from a very rare disease called Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome. The way the YouTube community and a number of celebrities have embraced this kid is heartwarming. Here is an example of MLB getting on-board. The SF Giants are hosting a fundraiser for Keenan because medications for what he has can run up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Good to see people helping people, nowadays. Stay tuned for future posts regarding a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation event in Chicago honoring the Cubs and the Ricketts family for their commitment to helping millions of children and adults who live with diabetes. On May 19th they will be paying tribute to Ron Santo at Wrigley Field through their Best of Illinois honor. More details to come!

Baseball is more than a great opportunity to love a sport and eat popcorn and cracker jack. It can be a strong medium to also do some good. Enjoy the video. Go Cubs Go!

‘Prosecards from Cubs Nation’ – First Installment of 2011!

Dailies

This season could be described as exciting, frustrating, fun, miserable, promising and hope crushing…just depends on when you ask a Cubs fan “How is the season going?”.

One of the best parts of being a Cubs fan is that Cubs fans enjoy talking Cubs with other Cubs fans whether it’s here or Twitter, a bar or the bleachers. Cubs fans are some of the most knowledgable baseball fans out there and because the passion is so great across the board, it’s always a fun conversation no matter where it’s taking place.

A couple years ago, I decided to start a feature here on Prose and Ivy that would make the site more interactive and open up opportunities for fans to get to know each other. Or, at the very least, I’d get a chance to meet some more Cubs fans. The feature is called Prosecards from Cubs Nation and it’s just a chance to throw some fun interview questions at a Cubs fan and learn more about them. I’ve even had a chance to get to know a couple in person when we were all at a Cubs game at Citi Field in New York sometime last year. Very cool.

Today’s Prosecard is from Steve Isaacson, a Cubs fan since the ’60s. He may not have seen it all, but he sure has been through a lot as a Cubs fan, even a stint as a ‘Cub’ playing in a Cubs Fantasy Camp in 2007.

Cool guy, fun interview. Check out his answers here in my first installment of ‘Prosecards from Cubs Nation’ for 2011! If you are interested in being interviewed for an upcoming Prosecard, email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com and I’ll send you some questions! Go Cubs Go!

SteveIsaacsonProsecardPic.jpg

Name: Steve Isaacson

Why are  the Chicago Cubs your favorite baseball team?  Anybody who remembers “why” isn’t old enough! I’ve been a Cub fan since the mid-60’s, when I was 8, and moved not far from Wrigley Field.  Back then, I used to write to the Cubs traveling secretary ER “Salty” Saltwell about becoming a batboy and I would always receive a nice rejection letter on Cubs stationary with a schedule and Cubs stickers in return.  As a teenager I went to 100’s of games in the bleachers (including Kenny Holtzman’s first no-hitter) and then became a vendor for 5 years. I’ve now had season tickets for more than 25 years that I share with friends. I’ve been to spring training a bunch of times (including this year), the 1989 playoffs in SF (10 days before the earthquake) and went to Cubs Fantasy Camp in Mesa in 2007. Being a Cub fan is just who I am and have always been.

Who is your all-time favorite Cub?  It’s always been Ron Santo. In little league I played 3rd base and wore #10. At Cubs Fantasy Camp, 40 years later, I played 3rd base and wore #10. Even though as a player he had a reputation as a hothead, in reality you could never meet a nicer guy.  He also had a reputation for not being a clutch hitter.  I didn’t realize until after he died that it must have been harder for him to hit in late innings because of his diabetes wearing him down.  Realizing that, my respect for him has increased even more.  It’s a shame he wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame while he was living.  Now, I don’t really care. He is in all Cub fans’ HOF.Who is your favorite Cub on the current roster?  Kerry Wood.  When he came back this year for far less than he could have earned elsewhere, that told me that the players know that being a Cub is special just like being a Cub fan is special.

Nearly 103 years is a very long time to go without a title. What do you say to
fans of other teams who can’t understand why you are a Cubs fan? 
I tell them when we finally win, ours will be sweeter and better than anything they experienced when their team won.  Especially Sox fans (White and Boston).

You attended Cubs Fantasy Camp in 2007. What was that like? The more details the
better! 
Cubs Fantasy Camp was the best baseball experience I ever had! I have so many stories. My coaches were Ed Lynch and Bobby Denier. The daily clubhouse meetings were led by Joe Pepitone and you could not repeat his stories in mixed company or to children.  It was unbelievable when Rick Sutcliffe came up to me to introduce himself like I didn’t know who he was or when Camen Fanzone would ask if he could please sit down at my table at breakfast (a nicer person I have never met). Phil Donahue played on my team and Eddie Vedder played too and sang at the last night’s banquet.  The best was the last day when the campers played the former players at Ho Ho Kam. It was my daugher’s 20th birthday that day and she was in school in NY. We exchanged voice mail messages and she called me back again as I was walking down the main aisle. Ernie Banks was walking down the aisle by himself the other way towards me. I stopped him to ask him if he could take my cell phone and wish my daughter a happy birthday which he graciously did.  What a great birthday present for her!

What is your favorite part of seeing a Cubs game at Wrigley?  How little it has changed and brings back all the great memories I have from my youth. Still some of the same vendors from 35 years ago!

What is a Cubs/Wrigley Field/MLB pet peeve of yours?  My pet peave at Wrigley is how celebrities get the royal treatment and as a lifetime fan and long time season ticket holder I don’t seem to get favors or much respect. My pet peeve with MLB is how it has refused to seriously deal with steroids and cheaters.

Better having a family own team, or a giant corporation and why?  Makes little difference to me.  We need an owner who is committed to winning whatever the cost like Steinbrenner.  The jury is still out on the Ricketts.

You can play a pick up game against nine of your all-time favorite Cubs plus one
manager. Who would you most like to play against?
 If I pick a player for each position, then Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, Starlin Castro, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Hack Wilson, Andy Pafko, Gabby Hartnett, Fergie Jenkins, Leo Durocher, Something old, something new, something HOF, something my youth, Yeah, lots of others I could include, include  Mark Grace and Greg Maddux. I know I left off Sosa and Dawson. Sorry, I hold grudges.

What is the strangest/coolest piece of Cubs gear/memorabilia you own?  Coolest:  my LE replica of the Ernie Banks statue (a friend’s daughter worked for the artists) and a 1935 flag that flew above Wrigley (the Cubs won 21 straight games in September that year to win the NL pennantand the last time they won 100 games in a season).  The strangest, if I had one, would be a Soriano bobblehands doll.

Do you believe the Cubs are cursed? Why?  I don’t believe they are cursed.  Alou couldn’t have caught that ball. I was there and I saw it happen. It wasn’t Bartman’s fault.

Team that let you down the most (which year)? 1969, 1984, 2003. They all broke my heart.

What are your expectations for the 2011 Cubs?  Win some, lose some. Wrigley will be cold and empty come mid-October.  Hope I’m wrong! What a story that would be!

Carlos Marmol strikes out the side to deliver a Cubs World Series title at
Wrigley. You are the play by play announcer. Write out your call of the final
strike.
“STRIKE 3. CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!! IT’S A MIRACLE IN OUR TIME!!! FOR RONNIE AND HARRY AND ALL US LONG SUFFERING CUB FANS, THE MONKEY IS FINALLY OFF OUR BACKS!!! LET’S CELEBRATE!!!”

How would you celebrate a Cubs World Series victory?  Party hard for a long time and then, I joke, not renew my season tickets.  What else would I need to go to games for?

The Cubs, Like the League, Currently Sitting at .500

Dailies

This morning, walking to work, I was reading the MLB headlines – my regular morning routine. Nothing makes a 40 minute walk to work fly by like reading about who came through in the clutch last night and who fell flat on their face.

I read the Cubs recap for last night’s game. I was able to follow the game on-line but I always read the recaps, regardless. Demp was great until he wasn’t. That pretty much sums it up. After six innings he had only given up only one run and was cruising along. Of course, the trick is to catch him or any pitcher before they are no longer producing in a game. It’s always a gamble and something I’m sure Quade and his pitching coach are still fine tuning only 10 games into the young season. I was happy to see Dempster land his first W of the season and to hear that at his best he struck out five consecutive Astros batters.

It was good to read about Castro’s unbelievable day in the leadoff spot. Are we a little spoiled with Castro, or what? The baseball bat is to Starlin Castro what the ping pong paddle was to Forrest Gump.

No matter what you throw in front of Castro, if he decides to swing at it he is going to make contact. Last night in the lead off spot by the fourth inning, Castro had three hits, scored three runs and stole the Cubs elusive first stolen base of the 2011 season. Second base is no longer the Hope Diamond. We finally secured our first SB of the year and I’m hardly surprised Castro is the guy that accomplished it.

Marmol finished strong with three strike outs in his four-out save. It bothers me the club didn’t go to Marmol earlier as their closer. Remember that horrible experiment with Kevin Gregg?? Ugh. Marmol is dominating in the role again this season and I am becoming more and more comfortable with him that he will finish a game successfully as well as make it entertaining to watch (if not nearly heart attack inducingly entertaining).

The win put the Cubs back at the .500 mark at 5-5. We are 2 games back in the Central in second place tied with Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. We have that in common with those two teams…but my gut told me we had something in common with the league as well.

As soon as I saw the 5-5 record, something told me that’s about exactly what the league is doing right now. .500.  And as it turns out, as of this morning, it is. Adding up the wins in the win column across the league and you end up with 145 wins. Add up the losses in the loss column across the league and guess how many you get? 145.

145-145. That’s the league’s overall record as of right now. Many teams are hovering between 4-6 and 6-3 and for every 9-1, 8-2 or 7-2 team, there are those that are sitting at 3-7 as well. The Rangers have the best winning percentage at .900 followed by the Indians at .800 and Rockies/Phillies tied at .778. Otherwise, teams are either already considering making their basement stay a permanent fixture for the season or scraping to crawl their own way back to .500 while the rest is comfortably sitting at .500 looking to get better.

The Cubs, I feel are sitting in an uncomfortable .500 position. We are down two starters. We’ve been unable to secure enough run support to swing a couple of those losses to the win column and the Reds seem to be progressing every day. It’s surprising to look around and see that you’re tied with Pittsburgh ten games into the season. However I believe that they are in an uncomfortable position, not because of the negatives, but because of the potential positives around the corner. It’s uncomfortable to know that you’re this close to improving, this close to playing better yet knowing that you’re not quite there yet.

It’s frustrating to know that you have the talent and the capability and the signs are all there that you’re about to hit that level of performance that puts you over the top…you can taste it/see it, but you haven’t quite reached it yet. I believe Quade likes what he has seen lately in Barney, Castro, Colvin, Marmol and even Soriano. I believe he believed coming out of camp that he had the right mix of guys to surprise some people this year. I also believe that after Cash and Wells went down, he felt Coleman could step in and make a difference.

I believe that at .500 after 10 games, we could clearly be a game or two better possibly rooming with the Reds at the top of the division as opposed to the mid-level standings exception we currently reside in. However, looking at the league as a whole and seeing that overall the entire league is no better than .500 with only a handful of stand outs (mostly in the American League) it makes feel even better about the Cubs chances this year.

Sure, it would be fun to blow away the league and run away with it. However, sometimes, some seasons, all you have to do is stay competitive and consistently contend with those around you to make sure you are still in it come time to make that September push for the playoffs. I like that the Cubs are at least hanging in with the rest of the league and with three teams tied for second place, clearly they are hanging in their with the rest of the division.

Ten games in and the Cubs are .500. I believe Quade has them headed in the right direction though and that we’re on the upside of what the record shows, capable of winning more series and pulling away from that .500. We’re .500 now, sure, but no need to panic.

Essentially, so is the rest of the league. Go Cubs Go!

Update: After writing this, I realized something and I’m including an update instead of editing it in an effort to stay honest with you and also to point out some humor in it all. As soon as I tweeted about this new post with the headline as the tweet, I realized – wait a second. Of course the league is .500. The league is ALWAYS .500 because when one game is played, one team wins and the other team loses. ALWAYS. Except for the called All-Star game every few decades or so, every game has a winner and a loser. Thus, a .500 record across the league. The only thing that would not have made sense was if the overall league record was anything BUT .500. Ok, fine. So, maybe it wasn’t the epiphany I thought it was…but, still. The Cubs are playing .500 ball. Exactly at the level that the league can’t be worse than. The trick is to find the right mix to hang with teams like the Rangers, Orioles, Phillies and Rockies and not pull the league down like the Red Sox, Astros and Rays. Quade still has to be frustrated that he is this close to having this team perform well on a regular basis. A week ago when we were only mere games away from the first play ball of the season, it was just flashes. Then it became signs. Now, it’s clearly potential. Injuries have already affected the 2011 Cubs season but that’s going to happen to everyone. Quade needs to find a way to get this team playing better than average ball. The league average will always be .500. Right now we are average and we are two games out. Let’s start playing above average ball and see where we sit another 10 games from now. And as I told @croquet037: Next time coffee…THEN challenge the zero-sum rule! : )

PLAYBALL – WRIGLEY FIELD Note: The Roles of Wells and Cashner Will Be Performed by Rachel Dratch This Evening

Dailies

Five games into the season and the Cubs are 3-2. Currently, we are in second place tied with the Pirates (who by the way, I used to say ‘we’ll always have Pittsburgh’ and I’m not so sure that’s the case any longer), a game and a half behind the Reds. For the first week, not too bad and lots of great signs in the early season.

Castro has been unbelievable at shortstop, a sign that perhaps he is no longer affected by the error bug bite he endured last season. He is hitting at an astouding .476 with 10 hits in 21 at-bats and nearly half of those hits have been extra bases. In fact, he hasn’t swung at a pitch he didn’t make contact even once in five games. Talk about a ‘good eye’. He is showing no symptoms of a sophomore slump so far and he is probably the Cub I enjoy watching the most so far in 2011.

Colvin has been a nice surprise. He is proving he has returned completely healthy from the injury he suffered late in the 2010 season and has proven he is a capable back up at first base. Having his versatility in both the outfield and infield is once again going to prove to be very valuable.

Garza threw for 12 strikeouts in his debut with the Cubs. Garza is the guy many fans are going to keep their closest eye on given that the Cubs gave up a lot of young talent to reel him in from Tampa Bay. If he continues to perform like that, he will look to be a worthy acquisition come October.

Even Soriano looks great so far. His batting average is .278 and in five games he already has 2 HRs. Not sure why pitchers have kept a close watch on his leads at first base considering he is no longer the speed threat he once was. Either way, good to have Sori hitting at a respectable clip and hopefully it goes nowhere but up as the season progresses.

If only the promising outlook could hold a little longer. For the next few weeks apparently the four and five starters in the Cubs rotation will be Rachel Dratch’s famous character: Debbie Downer.

While things have been looking up, that is no longer the case as today it was announced that Cashner and Wells will be sent to the 15 day DL. Wells has a strained right forearm (wah-wah) and Cashner has a strained right rotator cuff (wah-wahhhh).

In my opinion, Coleman may end up getting one of the spots as will possibly Marshall, Samardzija or Russell. Quade is right back where he was a couple weeks ago trying to lock in a number four and five. With Silva no longer an option, this definitely puts the Cubs in a tough spot. I was on Twitter the other day chatting with Cubs fans, talking about Zambrano and Cashner and how they had to leave their respective starts with tightness/cramps and how that puts pressure on Demp, Garza and Wells. Someone joked that without everyone firing at full blast the Cubs have no shot so there is no pressure on those that remain.

I of course disagree with that statement. There is pressure as the season is only five games old. We are in second place, 1.5 games out and lots of baseball left to play. There are only five spots so not everyone could get one in the beginning of the year. That however doesn’t mean that guys like Russell or Coleman couldn’t perform to the level we need them to. Look at Cashner. Of course he stood out as the guy that could perform the best out of those left contending for the number five spot, but it doesn’t mean all is lost. If anything, people should focus on the fact that a) we’re only 5 games in and b) it’s only a 15 day stint which means missing 2 or 3 starts per. Not exactly an entire season affected here…as long as the DL stint is long enough for them to get healthy.

The rotator cuff bothers me more than the forearm however neither is good news and hopefully each heal quickly. The season was looking like it was heading in the right direction…and now this. Let’s just sit back and hope for the best. Enjoy the good news when you can because it’s a long 162 game season. Look at the Phillies: already affected by injuries in the line up and the bullpen. Look at the Red Sox: they haven’t even won a game yet. It’s a long season and it’s never going to be good news the whole way through. We’re bound to have some Debbie Downer type moments as the season goes on. Go Cubs Go!

http://www.hulu.com/myspace/http%3A%2F%2Fvids.myspace.com%2Findex.cfm%3Ffuseaction%3Dvids.individual%26videoid%3D55902800/embed/wJWwv-HGn0ONqCtHyVCvcQ

Thank You Notes to MLB Done Early. Dear _____,

Dailies

If you and I were to ever meet, you would then be able to tell people that you once met the world’s worst thank you note sender. I’m awful at it. I forget completely often and when I do remember it’s generally months later.

I’ve sent Easter cards as thank you notes for Christmas presents. My birthday is in October and I normally turn Christmas cards my wife remembers to send into my own birthday thank you notes. “Hey, Merry Christmas! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season…..and thanks for that Best Buy gift card you gave me back in October. That was really thoughtful. Love, Ryan”

This year, I’ve decided to get my thank you notes done early. For family and friends? No. I still owe a bunch thank you notes for Christmas presents I received for Christmas of 2009.

These thank you notes are going out a few hours ahead of the 2011 MLB season officially starting. Get ready to check your inboxes MLB front offices….these thank you notes are getting done early.

Dear Baltimore,

Thank you for giving Guerrero another shot at displaying his home run talents for baseball fans to enjoy. Thank you for giving Derrek Lee a home with a team within a city that truly loves the history of their franchise and is hungry for more success to come. Thank you for taking care of Felix Pie when he needed a good home. Things don’t always work out in Chicago for everyone so it was kind of you to rescue a center fielder who needed a place to live. Also, thank you for not trading Brian Roberts to the Cubs. While I thought that’s what I wanted a couple years ago, turns out there were some flaws with that model as we’re now seeing. Have a good time and enjoy the season.

Ryan

Dear Boston,

What can I say. Thank you for inviting the Cubs into your historic park this coming May. I don’t know if it was something we said but I’m glad you’ve decided to have us back. Thank you for using all of your buying power to keep key free agents away from the Yankees. I truly enjoyed watching that. But not as much as I’ll enjoying seeing the Cubs sweep your series at Fenway. Enjoy hoping your big names don’t end up on the DL anytime soon and tell Caroline I say ‘bah-bah-bah’. Neil Diamond Rocks.

Ryan

Dear NY Yankees,

Thank you for coming up short this season and not making the post-season in advance. I always enjoy watching you fail. As much as I like to have a W flag fly over Wrigley, I wish there was always an L flag flying over Yankee Stadium. Enjoy watching Jeter and A-Rod and Mo get older this season. I know I will.

Ryan

Dear Tampa Bay,

Thank you for participating in our gift exchange this year. While I think it is somewhat unfair that you made us bring nearly half a dozen gifts to the exchange to receive back only two, I believe we got the better end of the deal. Although maybe I should go look for the gift receipt just in case. You did give us a gift receipt just in case……right??? Anyway, enjoy the season and please end up regretting not having Pena and Garza.

Ryan

Dear Toronto,

Thank you for the bacon.

Ryan

Dear Chicago White Sox,

Thank you for agreeing to once again participate in the BP Crosstown Cup competition with us this year. I don’t know how many hours of sleep I lost this winter knowing that that glorious prize resides on the South side. Cubs fans want nothing more than to throw a parade after winning the Cup. What’s that? Oh right. I mean Blackhawks fans. Thank you for making it hard to choose between you and the Cardinals as to which team we dislike more. Always a good time.

Ryan

Dear Cleveland,

I hear you rock yet I haven’t seen any sign of it since……………I’ll get back to you. Thank you for being around long enough to at least be featured in Major League. I still think you should have signed Charlie Sheen this off-season. Thank you for challenging the Sox for the AL Central in advance. Cubs fans always enjoy seeing them sweat.

Ryan

Dear Detroit,

Thank you for giving Will Rhymes a shot at second base this year. I believe he earned it. We have our own competition going at second base at Wrigley. I believe Barney has earned the right to start there for the beginning of the season even if Baker and DeWitt are waiting in the wings. Enjoy keeping Cabrera on a short leash this year. If you’re able to, I think you could have a great season.

Ryan

Dear Kansas City,

I know you don’t have much so whatever you are able to do is always appreciated. The little engine that could I like to call you. However, I can’t remember the last time you could. Maybe the 80’s I suppose. Wow that was a long time ago huh? I hope you enjoyed the Pine Tar I sent you. Thanks for the laughs.

Ryan

Dear Minnesota,

Your accent is funny. Beat the Sox in the Central this year and there is extra mustard on your hot dog in it for you when you come to Wrigley. When do you come to Wrigley next? We should get together more often. Say hi to Joe and the kids and thanks for Kirby Puckett.

Ryan

Dear LA Angels,

Thank you for the rally monkey. It goes so well with ALL THE OTHER ONES you’ve given us over the years. I hope you enjoy the MLB season and claim the wild card because that’s my gift to you. I predict you will win the AL Wild Card spot.

Ryan

Dear Oakland,

Thank you for giving us McGwire and Canseco in the 80’s, they were amusing. Of course, I find them both entertaining for different reasons now. If Jose Canseco wins The Apprentice, I want someone to test him and make sure it wasn’t his brother all along.

Ryan

Dear Seattle,

Thank you for Ichiro. Oh, and Griffey. What’s with the Moose? Enjoy your road games this season when you get to see some actual sunshine.

Ryan

Dear Texas,

Thank you for your entertaining run through the playoffs this year and thank you for another amazing season from Hamilton in advance for this year. That guy is a great story and fun to watch. I must say, I have a hard time rooting for you because of the Bush family, but hey, that’s not your fault. Nolan Ryan’s cool. Thanks Nolan for that fight with Ventura highlight. Always fun to watch.

Ryan

Dear Atlanta,

I can’t say I care for you. I don’t like Chipper Jones, I don’t like your tomahawk chop, I don’t like that Heyward finished ahead of Castro in rookie of the year voting last year and I don’t like the Hawks. I know that has nothing to do with you, but still…thanks for making things difficult for the Phillies this year. Seriously…..do it. Thanks.

Ryan

Dear Florida,

Remember when we used to get together, you on TV and me at home in the Northeast…and you used to be in the post-season winning the Series and stuff. That was fun, huh? Thanks for Hanley Ramirez. I still hold some resentment for 2003. So I’m going to stop this thank you note there.

Ryan

Dear NY Mets,

I have enclosed twenty dollars with this thank you note. I hope that helps.

Ryan

Dear Philadelphia,

Thank you in advance for not being everything everyone thought you’d be. Sure you have an amazing rotation on paper but thank you for not just blowing through the National League and making it interesting. Can you find a way to do that right up until the NLCS where the Cubs beat you? That’d be great, thanks.

Ryan

Dear Washington,

Thank you for moving baseball to the nation’s capitol. Bacon is fun to get from Canada, why not baseball too. Thank you for taking Werth as well. I don’t think you’ll be any good this year and I don’t care for Werth so I think it’s a great match. Enjoy the losing streaks in 2011.

Ryan

Dear Chicago Cubs,

You guys rock. I appreciate all you’ve done for my family (see the posts included a few posts down) and I appreciate the moves you’ve made this off-season. I’m excited about the team as it looks and I’m hoping for the best. I have predicted that we win the NL and claim a World Series victory over the Red Sox come October. That would be an amazing birthday present for Rhys and I. Have an amazing 2011.

Ryan

Dear Cincinnati,

Thank you for making fans realize that the Central isn’t just about the Cubs and the Cardinals. You could tone it down a bit this year though with the whole Votto as MVP and winning the Central thing though. That would be appreciated. Oh, and thank you for Jim Maloney. I used to tell people that your great from the past was my Dad and kids believed me. That was fun.

Ryan

Dear Houston,

Thank you for the Zambrano no-hitter. That is one of my all-time favorite Cubs games. Thank you for working with Pittsburgh in building a strong foundation in the NL Central division standings for the rest of the teams to stand on. You’re too kind. Hope your Texans end up playing this year.

Ryan

Dear Milwaukee,

You should have told Grienke to leave the basketball to Jennings. That probably would have served you better going into this season. Thank you for making Fielder available after this year. Who knows, if not Pujols, maybe we end up with Fielder at first in 2012. (No one show this to Pena just yet). Thanks.

Ryan

Dear Pittsburgh,

Thanks for the Penguins. And of course, for letting us do so well against you over the past few years. It’s practically a day off. Enjoy hoping the Steelers come back this Fall. And of course praying for Sidney. In all seriousness, I hope Crosby is back soon.

Ryan

Dear St. Louis,

Thanks for nothing. Unless we get Pujols. Then you’ll get the biggest fruit basket of all.

Ryan

Dear Arizona,

Thank you for letting the Cubs crash at your place during Spring Training. Chicago is simply too cold and Florida is too far away. Mesa is just right. Thank you for 2001 as well as I never got to thank you for that. I always enjoy watching the Yankees lose. Enjoy the season.

Ryan

Dear Colorado,

People may think I am rocky mountain high for picking you to only win the wild card as some have you winning the NL West. Thanks for making things interesting in a division I really don’t care all that much about.

Ryan

Dear LA Dodgers,

Thank you for contributing to ruining our last two playoff appearances. A broom? You shouldn’t have. Let’s not make it a habit? Thanks.

Ryan

Dear San Diego,

Thank you for Anchorman and thank you being the team that Cubs fans hate yet don’t get to express enough. On a daily basis only the Sox, Cards and Brewers come up throughout the season. But talk about history and it’s you guys that they hate discussing the most. Thanks for those ugly camoulflage jerseys. Actually, forget I said that. They are hideous. Please stop. Enjoy the season.

Ryan

Dear San Francisco,

Thanks for an entertaining World Series last year. Thank you for watching out for DeRosa and Fontenot. Thank you for Lincecum and for showing Kung Fu Panda what a weight watchers meal looks like this off-season. Thank you for not repeating as champs and allowing the Cubs to win it all in 2011. Seriously. Thank you.

Ryan

NOW THEN….with all of the thanks out of the way…….LET’S PLAY BALL! MLB’S OPENING DAY IS HERE! Tomorrow, the Cubs, with Dempster on the mound. CAN’T WAIT. GO CUBS GO!

Now a Staff Writer for Baseball Digest

Dailies

In addition to covering the Cubs on Prose and Ivy, I will now also be writing about baseball in general for BaseballDigest.com.

While some of the articles will be Cubs-centric, others will not. It will really all depend on what assignments I receive from their assignment editor.
 
I’m excited to have my writing showcased under the Baseball Digest banner. I used to read the print version cover to cover, every new issue that came out when I was growing up. They are the oldest baseball publication in the country and it’s exciting to be a part of their staff.
 
You can read my first article on BaseballDigest.com by clicking here: http://www.baseballdigest.com/2011/03/13/baseball-digest-birthdays-johan-santana/
As part of their popular Baseball Digest Birthdays feature, I was assigned today’s birthday: Mets pitching ace, Johan Santana. Santana turns 32 today.
 
I hope you enjoy it!
On a separate note, I watched the Cubs battle the Dodgers today on WGN. Baseball in Vegas? Make that…Cubs baseball in Vegas??  Sounds AMAZING. Another Cubs item on my absolutely-must-do list!
 
Zambrano looked great and even though the games don’t count, always fun to see the Cubs win. I’m excited Castro looks as strong as he does. Can’t wait to see what this team is capable of this year. Go Cubs Go!

Spring Training: Good Place to Get Your Mind Right, Too

Dailies

I like that they throw the Cubs Convention every year and I can’t wait to attend one myself one day. Living in New York City makes it rather challenging to do so but when this last one came around, I mentioned it to my wife. She said you should go to it one of the years. Agreed. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

One of the things I appreciate about the convention is that it gives the new Cubs an opportunity to taste what the club means to the people of Chicago and across the nation root-root-rooting for the Cubbies. Every baseball out there knows about the drought and they hear about it endlessly beginning with when their name is associated with coming to the team. It doesn’t even wait until they are a Cub. It starts with simply rumors. Still, it’s important for new Cubs to understand it’s a honor to be a Cub and that appreciation needs to be taught to guys like Pena and Garza by guys that have been there ie Ramirez and Silva.

The fact that they haven’t won it all in over a century guarantees that the team who does win it all will go down as one of the greatest accomplishments any team has ever reached on a baseball field. A World Series victory is not a World Series victory. They are not all the same. And when the Cubs break through and end their drought it will be talked about probably for as long as Cubs fans have been waiting for it to happen. Cubs fans will talk about it for at least that long or until they die. Whichever comes first.

I hope that the recent outburst by Silva in the Cubs dugout at Spring Training is simply a result of a pressure to win. Not merely make the rotation as he stated, but a pressure to win. I want the Cubs to realize the pressure they are under but not crumble by it’s intimidation factor, but rise up to the challenge and view it as the opportunity that it is.

Passionate ballplayers are a good thing to have on your baseball team. Quade needs to carale that enthusiasm and passion and make sure it stays focused in the right direction. Harnass that energy and emotion and make them play the game fundamentally sound and going all out, all heart, on each and every pitch.

Silva’s outburst should not be compared to Zambrano’s. Zambrano’s was during a regular season game against our crosstown rivals and the game counted. Heck, the BP Cup was on the line (kidding). Silva experienced only one year of Cubs baseball. Maybe that’s all it took for him to ‘get it’. Zambrano had been here for YEARS. We know he understands the pressure and the situation all Cubs are put in. You’ve heard other Cubs talk about it for years. However, some Cubs handle it better than others. Those guys with level heads need to help Quade keep guys focused, not motivate them to go out of control.

Ramirez was involved in the Silva skirmish and he’s another guy who has been here a while and has felt the pressure of the city and the fans. This game is a great thing. This team is a great home. The city of Chicago is a great place to live and the fans are a great group of people to want to win for.

Have there been incidents where Cubs fans haven’t exactly been put in the best light by their own actions? Absolutely. Does it happen across the country in ballparks with fans of all teams? Of course. Does that make it ok? Of course not. However, with however many bonehead moves any Cubs fans have made over the years to disgrace the rest of us, overall, the loyalty the group has shown this team outweighs any negative remark one could make against us.

The fans care. That’s all there is to it. They want the title so bad year in and year out. 103 years and counting and yet still…there the fans are rooting, supporting, praying, hoping, waiting. A great majority of league draws nowhere near what the Cubs do in attendance. Is Wrigley a big reason? Sure, tourists love it. However, many of the people through the turnstiles at Wrigley are die-hard fans who have stayed by the Cubs through thick and thin.

New and old Cubs alike need to appreciate that and play their hearts out. Care when the games don’t count and really care when they do. Only, know when to go ballistic. Know when is the right time and no when to let it go. Spring Training is the perfect time to care about your performance, but not to lose your mind over it.

I appreciate Silva and Ramirez’s passion however it needs to be focused in a positive direction. Still lots of Spring Training games left to clean up the sloppy play and get the mindset right. Quade has a tough challenge ahead of him. His words inspired a players only meeting called by two of the team’s veteran players. Hopefully I’m right in thinking he’s the right guy for the job.

I believe he is.

Go Cubs Go!

Does Quade Really Want to Hurt Them?

Dailies

You have to love Spring Training. The games don’t count towards anything real except evaluating players, figuring out potential line-ups and planning ahead for potential call-ups. However, many take it very seriously. Today was a great example of Quade taking it just seriously enough.

After Starlin Castro committed the Cubs’ eighth error of the Spring (after just three games, mind you) Dempster said Quade was going to start penalizing the players after future errors that are made. How, you ask? With less playing time? Being pencilled in lower on the depth chart? Making them run sprints?

No.

After every Cubs error, Quade is going to cut off one of the guilty player’s fingers.

Brilliant. Great line by Demp and awesome that Quade found it funny, too.

These games are supposed to be used to get back in the swing of things, no pun intended. To work out the kinks at the plate sure, but also in the field. Get them out of the way now, Quade said, and he’s right. Work out your throws to first. Let the sun win a few battles on pop-ups now instead of later. Get your timing down for double plays. Work it all out now. Besides, an errant throw to first in Spring Training is simply a future potentially autographed souvenir.  No big deal.

Quade is organized as I said yesterday and I believe he has the team headed in the right direction. It’s going to take great leadership but also a great sense of humor to make it through the grueling 162 game season. So far, Quade looks like he’s batting .1000 in both departments.

It’s a lot easier to replace a gatorade cooler than it is our star young player’s fingers. No need to go crazy now. Give them time to realize their crimes.

This video goes out to you Mike Quade, from a most appropriate sponsor:

So happy Cubs baseball is back. Go Cubs Go!

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

Dailies

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

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?

Dailies

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!
 

http://twitter.com/Sheldor8/status/78653594198487040

Thank You to MLBlogs and ‘The Chicago Cubs’

Dailies

I’d like to say thank you to MLBlogs for featuring Prose and Ivy on the MLBlogs home page today.  After participating in the I-70 Baseball Blog Talk Radio podcast, discussing the outlook for the NL Central in 2011 last night, I thought perhaps the increase in traffic that I noticed on my site this morning was based solely on my appearing on that show.

Then, I clicked on the MLBlogs home page and I was pleasantly surprised by this:

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The photo they used is a photo that I included in a post on here called ‘New Beginnings’ back in October or November of last year. If you click on the October and November links for 2010 in the sidebar you’ll be able to find it. The last thing I expected to see when I went to MLBlogs.com today was to see a picture of my son, Rhys and I with Prose and Ivy showcased as their featured site. It’s very cool of Mark and everyone at MLBlogs to take the time to promote the blogs that we all put so much time and effort into as bloggers. I appreciate them bringing my blog to the forefront today and introducing me to new readers, as they do any time they showcase any of our MLBlogs. And honestly, could I ask for a better description? “Vying for the title of King of All Media…keeps readers engaged with consistently strong writing and a dose of humor”. All I can say is I’m glad they enjoy it and I appreciate the encouraging words and support very much!

I really think MLB.com gets it right and does fan relations better than any other league (yes, even if they hadn’t showcased my blog). From the MLBlogs community as a whole, to the blogger features, the recent activity list, the monthly top 50s, the annual top 100, asking bloggers to contribute content to various articles for a byline on MLB.com and the interaction you get from the social media team on sites like Twitter.  The NFL, NBA, NHL and any other sports league trailing behind these guys in fan turnout or even lacking in audience as a whole could learn a lot from Major League Baseball. Thank you to Mark Newman and everyone at MLBlogs.com for helping bring my blog to a wider audience and making my son’s day as well.

Here is a picture of Rhys checking out himself and his Daddy featured on MLBlogs.com today:

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Now, something I’ve wanted to share with you for a couple weeks is how I feel that the Cubs organization exemplifies the level of class a team should have in relating to their fan base. I was going to dedicate an entire post to it, but this seemed like a great opportunity.A little while back, about a month or so ago, my son Rhys ended up admitted to the pediatric surgical wing at a hospital in New York City. He had a minor surgery but because he was only seven weeks old and they had to put him under to perform it, it was semi-serious considering that’s always a scary thing to have to do to someone so young. He is fine now and I’m happy to report all is well.

While I post often on this blog about the Cubs and their progression or regression (whichever is appropriate) during the off-season and throughout Spring Training/regular and post-season, I also am very active on Twitter.  Some of you probably follow me and if not, you can at @proseandivy. The Cubs fan community on Twitter is a group of people that I have come to admire and truly enjoy communicating with. It can be about the Cubs, baseball in general, or even the most mundane detail in life or pop-culture as we know it. My tweets are generally full of sarcasm and humor and I find the one-upmanship challenge with other people on there to be entertaining and inspiring. Once you feel you have something that’s funnier than anything else that can be said about something…boom…someone else posts something even funnier. And you try to top them and on and on we go.  Occasionally though, things happen like deaths in the family, scary surgeries or exciting moments like the birth of child. That is when the Twitter community really steps up their game and let’s you know they’re there for you.

When I mentioned that Rhys was having surgery and that I felt no seven week old kid should have to go through this, it was overwhelming the response I received from people on Twitter. The well-wishes and prayers that flooded my timeline meant a lot to me, there the Cubs community on Twitter was again, stepping up when it mattered the most. During this exchange, the Cubs social media team heard about Rhys’ surgery and after sending their best wishes that all turns out well, they took it a step further.

They direct messaged me and said, “Hi. A few of our mutual followers told me about your son’s surgery. Is he a Cubs fan? Perhaps we could send him some stuff to cheer him up.” Well, of course Rhys is a Cubs fan (or as the photo on the home page today put it ‘Cubs fan in training’). That’s all Kevin from the Chicago Cubs’ team needed to hear. He said he’d try to get something out soon.

Once we arrived home from holiday travel, the coolest thing was waiting for us. A box. Addressed to Rhys. Well, Rhys only knows so many people, so who could have sent Rhys mail?  A relative perhaps, sending a gift we didn’t get to exchange in person?

Nope.

Addressed to Rhys…..from…1060 W. Addison Street, Chicago, IL.  Oh my God.  Rhys just got a package from….THE CHICAGO CUBS!!!!

We couldn’t wait to open it. We rushed upstairs to our apartment and immediately opened the box. I’ve included photos below of what they sent to Rhys, items that will forever decorate his room and keep our family talking about for years to come.
Inside the box was: a Zambrano bobblehead doll, a Wrigley Field marquee frame, a light switch plate with the Cubs logo on it and two cool Cubs hats!  So, cool. Once Rhys’ head is big enough, he’ll wear the hats proudly I’m sure and we’ve already been playing with the Zambrano bobblehead.  The switch plate is now on the wall and the frame is waiting for a picture of us at Rhys’ first game.  Here is a photo showing the items included in the package:
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The coolest part however, was the card that was included.
Hand-written, with a picture of the W Flag over Colvin, Cashner and Castro, inside it read:
Happy Holidays, from your Cubs.  Rhys, We heard about your surgery and thought a few Cubs items would help cheer you up during your recovery. Happy Holidays and feel better! Best, The Chicago Cubs
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The thought that went into the package and the sentiment in going the extra mile for a Cubs fan truly made me respect the organization even more than I already had. I’m already a Cubs fan and of course, Rhys is as well.  But how many kids are lucky enough to have someone with enough class reach out and go the extra mile for them when that person doesn’t even know them?

And how many of those kids have that person reach out to them from their favorite baseball team?

Think about that. Think about the days before social media. What were the odds you’d get to communicate with your favorite ball club, or have the open-door type relationship we have with our favorite teams today. It probably never would have happened in our days as kids and even while it can today, how many teams would take the time to do something so thoughtful? I can’t speak for the other teams, but when it came to the Chicago Cubs…they stepped up and showed nothing but class.

One day, Rhys will truly understand and appreciate what it meant for someone from the Cubs to take the time and try to cheer him up after what was a scary situation for all of us.The Cubs aren’t perfect, nor are their fans and neither groups ever will be.  They will always make decisions that we won’t always agree with and we will always take the good with the bad because that’s part of being a fan. On their side, all they have to do is have enough players on the roster to fill out the jerseys that they sell to their fans and put enough butts in the seats to keep the organization thriving with enough hope in their fans’ hearts to keep them coming back to Wrigley and supporting them on the road for years to come.  What they don’t have to do, is go the extra mile for any of us. They really don’t have to. However, in this case, the Cubs did just that and I really appreciate it.

It says a lot about the team and the league as a whole.I realize the section of the MLBlogs home page where Prose and Ivy was featured is always a segment of the site that features a random MLBlog. However, while they take the time to showcase us bloggers, it’s right to take time and acknowledge that in this aspect of the league/fan relationship, MLB does it right. They do a great job keeping their fans interested, interacting and into their team year in and year out. There will always be something to complain about in life, but sometimes it pays to stop and be grateful for the cool things people do for you when they take the time to do so.

So, thanks again to the MLBlogs team for the plug today and to the Cubs. Once again…total class and thank you.  Go Cubs Go!

http://twitter.com/trmb1d/status/86525186161131520

AUDIO: Guest Appearance on I-70 Baseball Radio

Dailies

Monday night, I had the pleasure of making a guest appearance on Bill Ivie’s I-70 Baseball Radio podcast on blogtalkradio.com.  It is a great compilation of Cardinals and Royals fan bloggers and always a fun listen.  This particular episode, they gathered up bloggers representing every team in the NL Central.  I took part in the panel discussion and made my case for the Chicago Cubs winning the Central in 2011. Some of you may have already heard it as it was their highest rated episode since launching in July of last year.  (For a more in detail description of what I expect out of the Cubs in 2011, check out the post below this one).

It really was fun to do and I think you’ll enjoy it.  The Cardinals fans hope they lock Pujols in before Spring Training although they don’t think it’s a hard deadline, the Pirates fans seem to believe they will once again finish in the basement of the division, the Brewers folks are confident they will contend and everyone (except me) believes either the Reds or Cardinals is the best team in the Central.  Pretty sure they thought I must be delusional to think the Cubs can pull this off in 2011, although Bill Ivie was on board with the concept that it’s not impossible for things to fall into place and make 2011 the Cubs’ year.  Hey, crazier things have happened and this division is going to be one of the tightest in all of baseball.
Go Cubs Go!
Listen to internet radio with Ivie League Prod on Blog Talk Radio

2011 Season Preview – WE’RE GOING TO SHOCK THE WORLD

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We shocked the world“.

Those words are uttered in only two cases.  Absolute disasters, or sports miracles.  It’s kind of bizarre, but in no other situation do you ever hear of anyone saying that the world was shocked. Ever.  Even with Obama’s election, perhaps some of the world was surprised but no one stated that he had shocked the world, or that our country had shocked the world given our election’s result…and that was a historical Presidential election.

Many would consider the Cubs winning the World Series to be an absolute sports miracle. If the Cubs were to in fact win the World Series, become the champions of the world in the world of baseball…you can bet a LOT of money that someone will use that phrase.  Someone will flat out state that the Cubs’ victory over the Boston Red Sox (yeah, that’s right, the Boston Red Sox) surprised the entire world, our entire planet, so much that it is in shock. Chicago?  Certainly.  Boston?  Yes.  Canada?  Um, ok.  Bangladesh?  Paris?  Sydney? Helsinki???  Intrigued?  Perhaps?  Shocked?  No.

If the Cubs were to win the World Series then yes, someone will say they shocked the world. In reality?  They would have made millions of Cubs fans VERY happy and many baseball fans or people who have a heart would happily give them a pleasant smile, perhaps a teary eye and a ‘that’s cool’ sentiment considering the over a century long drought the team has suffered through and well, to not feel something towards a group of people who suffered for so long…yes, you’d have to be heartless to not.  However, I feel shocked is a bit of a stretch.

The streak itself lends itself as the only evidence you truly need to NOT be shocked by the Cubs winning the World Series.  Over ONE HUNDRED years without a championship.  Others have done it much more quickly.  The Mets.  The Marlins.  In fact, every single team that has won a championship has done it within a shorter waiting period of time than the Cubs would have with the current streak at 102 years and counting.  Give me a break ‘shocked’. The Cubs are DUE.

You know what I think would be shocking?  If the Royals win the World Series in 2011.  If the Pirates win the World Series in 2011.  If the Orioles win the World Series in 2011.  And yes, even if the Phillies win the World Series in 2011 I’d be shocked because how often do you actually meet expectations and nothing goes wrong for your team to stop you from what should have been an easily accomplished, obvious to predict feat?  In each of those scenarios, I would be SHOCKED.

If the Cubs win it?  Not so much.  Surprised?  Elated?  Thrilled?  Speechless?  Relieved? Absolutely.  But after 102 years and with the roster that we have (that’s right, the roster that we have) I believe in one of the other age-old sayings in sports when it comes to predicting how a season will turn out.  And that is: Why not us?

And really, why not us?

As far as I’m concerned, great teams need five key things to win it all and I believe the Cubs have the potential to meet every single criteria.  Pitching, youth, veteran leadership, wise management, luck.  Some are MUCH harder to come by, but I see no reason why the Cubs can’t land the money ball in every single category.

PITCHING: Our starters were great when it came to quality starts in 2010.  Dempster is about as reliable as it gets and a great guy to have in the clubhouse.  He’s the rock of the rotation for 2011 now that Lilly is gone and there is no reason to think he can’t be the leader in the starting five.  Zambrano is equal parts talent and equal parts imbalance. That’s what many believe, I don’t buy it.  Zambrano is extremely talented and capable of doing great things, proven in his overall Cub record, leading the team in the past five Opening Day starts, throwing a no-hitter, being a dominant figure on the mound and the way he finished the second half of last season.  If he can start the way he did last year and finish the way he did last year, then Zambrano might just be capable of handling just about anything.  And what are the odds that he will go from Opening Day starter, to bullpen, back to rotation with head issues in between mixed with being the center of a lot of team drama? Chances are that’s not going to happen again.  I like Z’s chances of having a real quality 2011.  Wells is working on showing people that his first year is the real Wells, not the sophomore slump guy we watched in 2010.  I like that he can admit that he grew too big for his britches last year. Talent is great but mixed with maturity, it can go a long way.

Silva/Russell/Cashner are practically interchangeable.  No matter who ends up staying with the club, they will be the Cubs’ fifth starter and usually .500 seasons out of your number five guy is about all anyone hopes for.  I know they are all capable of giving us that if not greater ALTHOUGH, if it’s not Russell, all we’re looking at are righties in the starting rotation.  (That can’t be good).

And of course, the Cubs’ new toy for 2011…the new piece on the showroom floor: Matt Garza.  I was disappointed when I heard we were bringing in another guy this off-season but his name wasn’t Carlos.  I really want to lead the league in Carloses (Carlosi?  Carli?). I’m kidding….Matt Garza is possibly the missing link the Cubs have been looking for.  15 wins last season, an ALCS MVP and an all-around solid pitcher.  Coming from an environment and culture similar to the Cubs where no one expected much, he knows what it is to help get a team from the basement to the penthouse of an incredibly competitive division.  I like the Garza signing.  I don’t think we gave up too much for him and I’m excited to have him as a key part of the Cubs starting rotation in 2011.

Marshall/Wood/Marmol. Is there a better bullpen trio in the league?  Maybe only the Yankees and that’s only because they landed Soriano to match with Rivera.  Rivera is a legend, but he’s also another year older.  Even if they make the Cubs #2 in the league, I’d take it because in the grand scheme of things, being number two in the league regarding your top three bullpen guys is pretty damn good and nothing to complain about.  I love the talent and potential we have to close games out now, starting with a lead going into the seventh and holding it throughout the rest of the game. 2010 was horrible for the Cubs when it came to one-run decisions.  This next season? Not so much.

The Cards are strong with their 1-2 punch in Wainwright and Carpenter.  The Reds are impressive with their young staff coming off a division title.  The Brewers always seem to compete and will do so with Greinke in 2011.  It’s not going to be easy, but pitching wins championships and I feel comfortable putting the Cubs staff up against any one else in the Central.

THE ROSTER:  Our starting line-up, while somewhat premature considering it’s only January 14th and pitchers and catchers don’t even report until a month from now, is pretty much figured out for the most part.  Not in any particular batting order, just a simple run-down of Cubs starters by position:

C – Geovany Soto – Talented young catcher, one of the best in the National League. Coming off an off-year last year but recently signed an extension with additional money/increased salary.  He’ll be looking to show the Ricketts and the fans that the Cubs didn’t make a mistake in signing him and avoiding arbitration, or for counting on him even after shoulder surgery (probably the key reason he was only signed to a one-year deal…again, man, this is the year of the one-year deal, isn’t it?). Also, all we have behind him is Koyie Hill really, so Soto, you have no choice.  You need to be awesome…no relying on Koyie. Thanks.

1B – Carlos Pena – Our latest Carlos addition to the Cubs.  Pena batted under .200 for the season in 2010.  He was one of many one-year contracts that were doled out in the off-season (do that many people think they have a shot at Pujols?) and he is expected to bring the power bat necessary to replace Lee’s spot in the order.  His glove is supposed to be reliable and his power numbers shouldn’t suffer at Wrigley.  I like the signing, I think it has a lot of potential to work out and I believe his BA will rebound.  God, help us if it doesn’t.  I’m tired of anyone thinking Colvin is a good option at first and Lee’s already been exiled to Baltimore.  This has a lot of potential to work and if he stays healthy, I believe it will.

2B – Blake Dewitt – I don’t expect much out of DeWitt and I believe Baker may even replace him come June or July. However, with the other guys in this line up, second base is a place that we really just need the flash and reliability of the glove on defense, not necessarily a whole lot of RBI.  Just get on base and set the table for the guys we’re paying to knock in the runs Dewitt and we’ll all be happy.

SS – Starlin Castro – The club already has ads sporting Castro against Jeter, so yeah, the organization is high on Castro.  All of the Cubs Con materials feature the youthful stars of the team and Castro, after finishing in the top 10 for the NL in hitting his rookie campaign is among the top of them.  No sophomore on the team is expected to do more than Castro is, I believe the expectations on him are even higher than Soto’s were.  Hopefully he lives up to them and continues to learn under Quade’s leadership.

3B – Aramis Ramirez – If Ramirez stays healthy (and I understand it’s a big IF) then he will be fine.  He is playing at the end of his current contract and if he truly wants to stay in Chicago as a Cub, then 2011 is the time to prove the Cubs should pick up the 2012 option. He picked up his own option for 2011.  The team has the call in 2012.  Rami can put up big numbers healthy.  I’ll be rooting for the trainers once again this year to see that it happens.

OF – Soriano, Byrd, Colvin, Fukudome – No, I don’t think we’re playing softball.  I simply believe left to right we’ll start Sori, Byrd and Colvin and Fuke will sub in where needed.  I believe we’ll be seeing Reed Johnson at Wrigley a bunch this year as well.  Chances that five outfielders stay healthy and produce are very slim, however, I like our chances with the guys we’ve got.  They all bring something different to the table and they are a talented bunch at that.  Hopefully Byrd can repeat his All-Star caliber performance of 2010 in 2011 (it wouldn’t hurt for Sori to make a return to the All-Star stage as well.  Just saying).

New manager: Mike Quade – Quade took a team playing for absolutely nothing and had them playing basically .600 ball. He proved to be a great leader in teaching the young stars on the team and the vets respect his long journey and knowledge he’s gathered throughout his life in the game.  As of Opening Day, the entire team will be behind the idea of having him as their manager.  Some more than others as some of them even went as far as publicly backing his selection before it was announced. Quade is going to get a chance to do something he’s always wanted to do and the players believe he can get them what they’ve always wanted to get.  The same thing the city has always wanted to see.  A title.  A championship.  A ring.

Given all the unknowns that happen to every single team throughout a baseball season, luck becomes a great factor, indeed. However, luck is out of our control as it is every other team in baseball so as for things we can control, I think the ingredients and potential are there. Let’s hope the execution and results show up as well.

Respect to the rest of the Central, the National League and the Red Sox (that’s right, the Red Sox…I don’t even think the Yankees are making the playoffs in 2011).  I think it’s going to be a tough road to get there, but after 102 years…come on…we don’t expect it to be easy…and we’re due.  Why not us?  A Cubs fan predicting the Cubs will win the NL Central and then go on to win the World Series.

I know.  Shocking.

Projected order of finish in the NL Central (rest of the league to follow in a post much closer to Opening Day):

1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates

Ok, now seriously, calendar…get moving!  Looking forward to hearing from any one that might have any news or pics from Cubs Con and of course, pitchers and catchers in a month!

Go Cubs Go!  

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Sometimes The Photo Inspires The Entry

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This post was 100% inspired by the above photo.  Quite possibly my all-time favorite movie character and Chicago fan, Clark W. Griswold, Jr.

In “Christmas Vacation”, Clark is seen wearing a Bears hat and a Blackhawks jersey.  I have to believe the man is a Cubs fan.  I just don’t see White Sox in him.  Ever the optimist, Clark looks above and beyond the challenges ahead and often times doesn’t even know they exist.  Completely oblivious or completely blinded by his optimism, this is what many would believe to be a great way to go through life.

You know the man must have had season tickets to the Cubs for him and his entire family.  He may have won them on another game show with Ellen and the kids dressed as pigs or some other farm animal.  Or maybe one year, instead of putting in a swimming pool, he got everyone seats along the first base line.  Cousin Eddie: “But I don’t like baseball, Clark”.  Clark: “I know that Eddie”.

Clark has to be a Cubs fan because he just has that excited look in his eyes even when his strained smile tells you things aren’t going his way.  He won’t take no for an answer when it comes to having a good time and providing those around him with one as well.  Sounds like Cubs fan to me!  102 years and counting?  I’d say that’s not taking no for answer if nothing else is!  And you know Clark would be THRILLED the Cubs pulled off the Matt Garza trade.  Clark: “Surprised, Eddie?  If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”  You know he’d go out and buy the new Garza jersey to wear to next season’s opener if he didn’t already have an old one with the last name GRISWOLD already sewn across the back ready to go.

Clark W. Griswold, Jr. would be the type of fan with season tickets who wins the drawing for a season ticket holder to sing the seventh inning stretch. Only when they decided that they’d have to cancel his opportunity to do so when Jeremy Piven showed up, he’d pretend to have a gun and force them to let him sing.  Is there a fan jail cell at Wrigley?  Probably, would Clark end up in it?  Of course not!  He’d talk his way out of trouble with the Ricketts by introducing his family and getting them to admit that they never should’ve done those crappy Way of Life radio ads to save a buck.  He’d then pack up the family and travel across the country to catch the Cubs play a road game on the kids’ holiday break.  (It would have to be a road game of course…the song ‘Holiday Home’ doesn’t have the same ring to it).

Spring Training Vacation is a movie I would love to see.  Clark and the family drive from their modest home on a ***-de-sac in Illinois, across the plains to Arizona.  Kick off the trip with a round of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in which Rusty refuses to sing along.  Have them check into the motel and send Clark out for a night swim where he runs into Cubs fan Marisa Miller at the motel pool.  Marisa Miller: “I am a big fan of Fukudome.  Do you like Fukudome?”. Clark: “This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy”. 

Of course things don’t go well when they arrive at HoHoKam Park and hilarity ensues. Cousin Eddie’s boy has been signed by the Cubs as a Spring Training invite and Rusty ends up going off and getting into trouble with the local radicals.  It all ends with Clark as the hero giving his family a great family vacation at Cubs Spring Training and of course this film features all new kids playing the Griswold children once again!

Anyway, kind of got away from me at the end, but you get the point.  Love the photo and yes, I believe Clark W. Griswold, Jr. HAD to be a Cubs fan.  He’s just too likable to be a White Sox fan.  Go Cubs Go!  Let’s win one for the Grizzer!

First Soriano. Then Fukudome. Now…Garza. I’ll Never Learn.

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There he is.  Matt Garza.  The Cubs new starting pitcher.  Potentially our new ace in the hole.  And when it comes to the Cubs making moves in the off-season, it causes me to spend an entire Winter displaying the worst poker face in all of baseball.

It has to be based on the fact that it’s been forever since the Cubs won a Series, couple with the fact that the two chances we’ve had to get the shot most recently resulted in an 0-for-6 showing against the Dodgers and D’backs combined respectively.

The Cubs make one move and I already think next year is going to be the year.  It’s pathetic really.  When will I ever learn? Probably never. I guess that’s part of the fun though in being a baseball fan, right?  Especially in being a Cubs fan.  No one utters This is the Year or Wait Until Next Year like a Cubs fan.  As if Pena wasn’t enough (and really, he wasn’t….merely replacing Lee’s bat in the line-up wasn’t exactly what I thought was the move necessary to put us over the hump), then the Cubs go and bet the farm on Garza.
About that. People saying the Cubs bet the farm?  I think it’s overblown.  We gave up a couple of top prospects and talented, hard-nosed outfielder we have no plans on ever really using again.  Other wise, we kept top pitching in addition to Vitters and a number of other young top prospects in the organization, safe and sound.  Enough about the Cubs betting the farm on Garza….although if we did, I might be ok with that.  I’m just glad we didn’t have to.
Pitching wins championships.  By trading for Garza our starting rotation is now one of the best in the National League, arguably the best in the Central although I believe we lose that argument to the Cardinals.  It definitely helps us hang in there for the NL Pennant though if we can make our way to the playoffs, even with power house Philadelphia bringing in Lee to team up with the rest of their Fab Five.  Garza, Dempster, Zambrano, Wells, Gorzy?  With the quality starts our rotation posted last season plus Garza’s potential coming off a 15-10 pitching in the uber-competitive AL East I think this is one of the best Cubs rotations I’ve seen.
I know…this is how I get when a big name becomes a Cub.  I can’t help it.
The Cards have great pitching.  The Reds came into their own with their young pitching staff. The Brewers landed Greinke. And now the Cubs snatched up Garza.
I’d rather have Garza than Greinke. How about you?  How does this trade make you feel about 2011? The 2008 team was probably the team I’ve been most excited about in recent years.  With the addition of Garza, right or wrong…I think I’m even more excited about 2011.  Please Cubbies…don’t prove me wrong.
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Go Cubs Go!

Happy Holidays!

Dailies

If you haven’t already seen the Cubs’ holiday e-card, you can view it here.  On behalf of myself, my wife Sasha and our son, Rhys, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  (Maybe we’ll find Brandon Webb tied to the train tracks under the tree this year?  Ok, that wouldn’t bode well for keeping him healthy in 2011.  How about NEXT to the holiday train tracks?)  Happy Holidays!

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(Funny story before we go to the holiday break….we were in the waiting room for one of Rhys’ doctor’s appointments.  It’s a pediatric surgeon so of course other kids were there. This one couple and their 2 year-old were sitting next to us.  The 2 year-old sees Rhys and says, “Mommy look!  It’s baby Jesus!”)
Good times.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a great 2011 Cubs season! Go Cubs Go!

Welcoming Back Kerry Wood: Set-Up for Success

Dailies

There have been some rather large events this off-season, signings that really jump off the screen at you, no?

Look familiar?

phillies rotation.png
Cliff Lee’s signing with the Phillies has significantly changed the landscape of the National League.  I don’t care how many heavy hitters you have in your line-up.  If they can’t drive through the ball on the sweet spot of the bat, or at least make contact and muscle one out of the stadium or deep to the wall for extra base hits, it doesn’t really matter.  Pitching wins championships and now with that rotation in place, Philadelphia has positioned themselves as the team to beat.  In not only the NL East, but in the National League as a whole.
In the year of the one-year contract, the Cubs managed to land Carlos Pena to man first base.  He’ll be expected to perform significantly better in the average department (.196 in 2010) and at the very least find a way to also stay on par in the power numbers department (28 HR, 84 RBI in 2010). In his time with the Cubs, Derrek Lee not only led by example in the clubhouse and delivered game changing presence at the plate, but his glove saved many errors from occurring over the years and in effect cancelled out a lot of would be runs.  The Cubs are going to need Pena to step up and play that same role.  A match of his .196 AVG in 2011 isn’t going to cut it.  The fans will have patience with the newest Cub but I can’t imagine the leeway lasting more than the first few weeks of the season.  If Pena follows ‘The Lee Way’ however, he will get off to a very slow start.  If we were able to give Lee time to get his season in gear year in and year out, we should at least afford Pena the month of April to do the same.
Think about how many one-run ballgames we lost last year.  Give us enough of those games back and we would have been playing meaningful games in a role other than spoiler, well past the middle of August.  Injuries and our record in one-run games in 2010 were two keys to the Cubs not living up to hopes/expectations.  Hopefully a new line-up featuring more Colvin in right with Fukudome as the fourth outfielder, a repeat All-Star performance by Byrd, a return to form by Soriano, sophomore success by Castro, a healthy Ramirez, another year full of quality starts by the rotation and an overall positive effect by inserting Pena into the lineup to help generate another run or two per game and we may be back, looking at the top of the standings in 2011.  I don’t expect Cincinnati go away, the Cards are always tough and Milwaukee is shoring up it’s pitching staff so it might take every single one of those things listed above happening in order for the Cubs to land on top next season in the Central.
Of course, this post was kicked off by talking about pitching making the difference.  We can add another couple runs per game (which would be great since we scored more than 80 runs less than our opponents did last year) however, if we can’t hold onto that lead late in the game, it won’t even matter.
And that…is where Kerry Wood comes in…by coming back.
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The return of Wood is the biggest headline of the Cubs off-season dealings and he’s going to be welcome with open arms, expected to carry the load late in the game.  Wood may just be the bridge we need to fill the gap from Marshall to Marmol.  Wood absolutely helps the Cubs form a powerful 7-8-9 inning tandem in Marshall, Wood and Marmol.  It will make the Cubs a scarier opponent going beyond the fifth inning with a lead.  Definitely, a lot scarier than the team was last year when we pitched so many youngsters in late inning, hold situations.
Wood’s return showcases the portion of heart that was lost on the team when Wood went to the Yankees.  He represents what could have been and now what could still possibly be. Kerry Wood isn’t the answer to all the Cubs’ problems.  I mean, just look at the list I put together three paragraphs back.  However, with two disappointing seasons behind them, the loss of their voice in Santo (whose funeral provided the opportunity for Wood and his wife to meet up with Hendry and kick off the dominoes it took to make this deal happen – and wouldn’t that be cool if while Santo can’t see the Cubs win the Series during his lifetime, his passing may be the thing that helps make the deal happen that pushes the Cubs over the hump to victory in 2011? – What a story that would be) and the great unknown ahead in what Quade can accomplish with a whole season, it will be nice to have a familiar face on the team again.  The face of a guy that never should have left in the first place, in my opinion.
The thing about Wood’s return is I can’t think of another pitcher that once served as a full-time starter, set-up man and closer for the same organization.  Can you?  Wood won Rookie of the Year and nearly led the Cubs to the World Series as a starter and tallied 34 saves in his one year as the Cubs’ closer, the same number he’ll wear back with the team as a set-up man.
Philadelphia may have landed Lee.  The second best pitcher dealt out there, Grienke, may have landed with the division rival Brewers.  However, when it comes to the Cubs making a difference with a pitching signing, it wasn’t about the big name or the big bucks.  The Cubs have a competitive, quality start-churning out five in Z, Demp, Wells, Gorzy and Silva if in fact those are the guys we go with come April.  So, it’s more so about a great pitcher with a lot left in the tank in short relieft, coming back to his home team, his home field, his home organization to carry the load, this time as the set-up man.
Hopefully this stint with the team will result in him setting up the team for ultimate success instead of let down.  Either way, it will be good to have him back and Chicago will be thrilled to once again be rooting for one of their own.  Go Cubs Go!

I’m Not Only A President, I’m Also A Member

Dailies

(Note: Those of you looking for the Santo dedicated post titled “The Cubs Have Lost Their Voice”, it is listed right below this entry.  RIP #10.  You will be missed.)

Depending on where you live in the world, if asked right now, “What’s today?” some of you may answer “Friday”. Some of you may say “Saturday”.  Some of you may say something that makes no sense because you are wasted.  And for those of you who write a baseball blog and are a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, today you may answer “Why it’s Baseball Bloggers Alliance Day, of course!”

Of course.

I have been writing Prose and Ivy for three years now and one of the highlights for me has been my relationship as President of the Cubs Chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA).  The idea of uniting baseball bloggers across the web and opening up opportunities to work on projects together seemed intriguing to me and it’s been an experience I’m happy I committed to.  From working contributing to others’ columns, to hosting podcasts, to voting on end of year awards and worth inductees for the HOF, the BBA has a great group of writers who are passionate about their team and the sport in general.  I have a list of all the blogs listed in my sidebar down on the right side of the blog. You should check it out if you haven’t.  If you have a blog and are interested in joining (no fee, just a few guidelines for membership is all), I urge you to contact the BBA and jump aboard!  The website for the alliance can be found here.

The logo for the group looks like this:

bba.jpgAnd in commemoration of my time as a member of the BBA, I wanted to post an interview I did around the intial time I joined the group.  That interview can be found here:

At the end of the award voting, I decided that since the Baseball Bloggers Alliance had come along so quickly, it might be nice to get an idea of who was actually in the group. To that end, I’m working through the roster and asking ten questions of each member. The first five are standard, while the last five are a little more personalized. Hopefully this will help us get a feel for our fellow members. So, here’s entry nine in a recurring series.

Ryan
Website: Prose and Ivy
BBA #14

Question 1: How and why did you get into blogging?

My two main interests are comedy and sports. I’ve been writing and performing comedy for over 12 years. I stopped ‘performing’ when it came to organized sports after my senior year of high school (not including intramurals or club sports in college, I suppose). So basically, I never had a real outlet for my ideas/opinions/thoughts on sports.

I love baseball and when I saw the opportunity to have a blog on MLB.com, I jumped at the chance. Thought it would be a fun opportunity to joke, vent, rant, etc when it came to one of my favorite things in life. And then, when they made the site free, even better. : )

Question 2: Do you have any blogging projects planned for the off-season?

Over the off-season I plan on continuing to write and follow the trade rumors and signings as they happen. The moves that effect the Cubs directly, as well as some of the bigger signings that effect the team indirectly. In addition to that, I will continue a key feature on Prose and Ivy where I interview Cubs fans, much in the same nature as you are doing here for BBA members. The feature is called “Prosecards from Cubs Nation” and it’s been a blast getting to know Cubs fans from all over and here about their thoughts and experiences rooting for the Cubs. Will definitely continue that feature right up until Spring Training starts and into the 2010 regular season.

I also have a blog talk radio show where I discuss Cubs baseball and post the shows to Prose and Ivy. I haven’t recorded a show since the season ended, but that is something I’m looking to jump into again and post to the site just after the new year.

Question 3: What’s been your most enjoyable experience as a blogger (particularly well-received post, a high-profile link, a connection you wouldn’t have had otherwise, etc.)?

My most enjoyable experience as a blogger was when I was given the opportunity by MLB.com to review an X-Box game for MLB.com/Entertainment. They were looking for people to review MLB 2K8 and the write-ups would be featured on the site with an official MLB byline. That was all I needed to hear. I let them know I’d like to review the X-Box version of the game if possible and after they said it was a go, I went right out and bought an X-Box. Had the system for about a week, long enough to review the game, but short enough so that Best Buy would believe I had purchased it as a duplicate gift and take it back. Well worth the two trips to Best Buy and the opportunity to be prominently showcased on MLB.com.

Question 4: How did you find out about the BBA and what attracted you to the group?

I can’t remember how I heard about the BBA, however I think I heard about on another blog or was approached by Daniel himself, I can’t remember. The most attractive part of the group is the alliance the blogs share, in that, if you are a fan of a blog on the list, and looking for more quality baseball information…if you look at the list of blogs the BBA members recommend, you will be forwarded on to another blog in the group. It’s great for referring readers along to other BBA blogs and a great place to get quality bloggers together to share ideas regarding how to improve their sites.

Question 5: What do you want to see out of the BBA in the coming year?

BBA representatives on sports talk shows. TV and radio, both. I think that would be an amazing jump for the BBA on networks like ESPN, MLB Network, as well as local sports news shows around the country. Might be a bit far fetched, but we’ve already received recognition on ESPN with one of the Yankees blogs being selected to represent NY (AL) in the covering the playoffs this year from the fans’ perspective. Seemed to me like a great step in the right direction to achieve what I mentioned above.

That and maybe keychains. Yeah, strike that. Definitely keychains.

Question 6: How would you describe the Wrigley Field experience?

I would describe the Wrigley Field experience as incomparable when you see it in person for the first time. If my friend Justin is reading this, that means you can’t compare it to anything. It’s like no other stadium in the big leagues and only Wrigley and Fenway can actually say that, both for unique, distinct reasons. No jumbo-trons showing you the same blooper reels from 1982. An energy of a fan base just chomping at the bit for a championship banner to raise on Opening Day the following season.

Being at Wrigley feels like attending a reunion filled with family members you’ve never met before. People you look forward to spending time with as you know you have a ton in common, whether you know their names or not. Before you know it, you’re having a beer together laughing about shared family stories and happy you had a chance to share that time together at the world’s greatest ballpark. Like favorite cousins by the end of the day related not by blood, but bleeding Cubbie blue (cheesy, but accurate).

The Wrigley Field experience is also kind of like a weird montage from a High School Musical film where when you see it for the first time you wonder, how on Earth do all of these people know the words to that song and why are they all singing it simultaneously? I mean, that doesn’t happen in real life. Does it?

Wrigley’s basically amazing. You see the names on the jerseys like family members you share the same memories about. Sandberg, Banks, Smith, Grace, Lee, Davis, Dawson. A feeling that you’ve shared the ups and downs and simply can’t wait to get to your seat, have something to eat and enjoy watching your favorite baseball club compete day in and day out. It’s possibly the greatest way to spend three hours on any given day, bar none*. (*pun intended. the bars are a bonus. it’s the team and the stadium that makes the day great.)

Question 7: Is it tough not to be fatalistic as a Cub fan, to not just expect something to go wrong?

Yes, but that’s all part of it. At this point, it’s part of being a Cubs fan. You expect the worst which is what will make the day the Cubs win the title that much sweeter. It would mean, finally, something didn’t go wrong. (Then of course, I believe you may cue the action sequences of the film 2012 to follow very closely behind. Pretty much right after ‘Cubs win! Cubs win!’. Consider yourself warned.)

Question 8: How did you become a Cub fan?

I think a lot of people either become a fan of team because their parents rooted for them, their friends rooted for them, or they end up with a favorite player and then the team follows suit. For me, it was Ryne Sandberg. I grew up in Connecticut with no professional baseball team to be found among the up-turned collars and Eastland knots. Most of the games I attended growing up were at Shea Stadium down the turnpike and into Queens so I saw a lot of National League ball. Ryne Sandberg was my favorite player. The Cubs attachment followed soon after and it’s been an interesting ride (to say the least) since it did. As always…Go Cubs Go.

Question 9: Do you enjoy having a MLBlog?

I definitely enjoy having an MLBlog. MLB.com is the go-to place for all things baseball (obviously) and MLBlogs is a great opportunity the league has given the fans. The system gives you the opportunity to add a lot of cool features to personalize it so it really feels like you’ve made it your own. I would highly recommend it. (That and chocolate frosties at Wendys. Those things are awesome.)

Question 10: What’s up with that blog address?

I probably should have just gone with the words prose and ivy in the url, would probably be easier for people to find. But…I didn’t. The url is www.onedayatwrigleyac000000.mlblogs.com. The w’s I had nothing to do with and in a way, I feel they’re a little redundant. We’ve seen what one ‘W’ can do, let alone three. The mlblogs part comes with the territory. The onedayatwrigleyac000000 part was all me. It basically refers to the sign at Wrigley that refers to the Year of our Cubs (the AC “Anno Catuli”) and keeps track of the number of years it’s been since the Cubs won their division, league and the Series. The day the Cubs win it all (including their division that is), the sign would read AC000000 as in Anno Catuli and then zero years since the last division title, league pennant and Series title. Lofty goals for sure, but then again, it’s not all about the seventh inning stretch and Lou throwing a fit now is it. Ask me again when we have more time and I’ll tell you how I came up with the .com.

Take some time to check out the group’s site and don’t forget to wolf down some peanuts and cracker jack.  BBA Day holiday tradition…of course.

Go Cubs Go!

The Cubs Have Lost Their Voice – RIP Ron Santo

Dailies

What an unbelievably sad day.  I normally sign on to Twitter as an escape.  As a place to be slightly more sarcastic or obnoxious than society allows me to be in real life.  To hang out with my Cub friends who I would never have met or talked to if it weren’t for the site considering I live in New York City and most of them, in Chicago.  It’s usually a rip-roaring good time. 

This morning, however, was very different.

I have about a 40-minute walk to work.  It flies by generally because of the hustle and bustle that is New York City.  Lots to look at and take in to distract me from the journey and nowadays, the cold.  Twitter is the perfect walking companion.  When I signed on today as I headed downtown and checked my @ replies, the first thing I saw was RIP Ron Santo complete with birth and death dates.  At first I wasn’t sure it was even real as it came from FakeLouPiniella.  However, considering the date was just yesterday’s date, Dec 2nd, and not even FakeLouPiniella would make such an awful, unfunny joke…something told me that it was actually true.  I checked my Twitter feed and unfortunately, it is true.  My Twitter timeline was almost nothing but messages about Ron Santo’s passing.  I couldn’t believe it.

The Cubs lost their voice and most likely their biggest fan.

There is always that moment when you receive horrible news that you are in fact speechless.  You have absolutely nothing to say, mixed with the fact that you have no idea what to say at all.  That moment usually passes when you utter the phrase “I’m speechless”.  Technically you are speaking, yet still, you are speechless.  Cubs fans all over Twitter could say nothing but tweet kind words about Santo, condolences to the Santo family and gratitude for the years he served as one of their favorite Cubs. 

The Hall of Fame hadn’t come around to inducting Ron Santo and it’s unfortunate.  If he gets in now, we won’t know if it was for sheer performance or because he’s passed before enjoying the moment.  It’s unfortunate because no one deserved to represent the Cubs as a hall of famer the way Ron did and no one would have enjoyed seeing his Cubs win it all like Santo would have.  People admire Dawson because of the way he played through injuries and they should.  Santo was injured for a great portion of his career with a disease no one even knew he had.  It says something about his performance that people consider him Hall-worthy and his play at that time as one of the best in the game that they couldn’t even tell he was dealing with a disease.  Santo was a great Cub, a great ballplayer, a great person and a great listen on the radio.

Many Cubs fans I know watch the game on TV and listen to Santo on the radio.  To a lot of Cubs fans, Santo’s calling of a game is the Cubs.  There are also a lot of young fans who only know Ron as the radio voice of the Cubs.  A Cubs broadcast will never be the same, not without one of the great Cubs in front of the mic.  His passion from his playing days and his desire to win while in a Cubs uniform never waivered once he was away from the base and in the booth.  This Old Cub is probably many fans’ favorite documentary as it chronicled his battle with disease in becoming one of greatest to represent the North Side.  His number 10 hangs proudly at Wrigley, something he held dearly in his heart, perhaps even more so than a potential HOF induction.  His love for the game and the joy he brought to Cubs fans after a victory was demonstrated in heel clicking delight.  It became as much a part of a Cubs win as the W flag itself.  Many little leaguers across the country who loved the Cubs I’m sure performed the same heel click a thousand times.

Ron Santo has passed away.  Suddenly many things that normally bother Cubs fans about the Cubs don’t matter as much as they usually do.  Today, all that matters is that we lost one of our own.  A member of our family.  And if it’s left everyone speechless, including the Cubs, it makes sense.  The Cubs have lost their voice.

RIP Ron Santo.   

Prose and Ivy BBA App Available For Your iPhone

Dailies

First, iTunes became the gateway to The Beatles.  Now, naturally, Prose and Ivy is part of Apple’s next best thing.

Ever finish playing Angry Birds and think “That was fun, but I’d really like to read a sarcastic point of view of the Chicago Cubs’ latest news”?  Ever wrap up whipping your buddy at Words with Friends and wonder “How can I access all the Cubs information I need to know, and still be thoroughly entertained”?  Ever end your nether-region photo session and email your last pic to Jenn Sterger and think “Man, I could sure go for a little Prose and Ivy right about now”?  Well, two out of three isn’t bad!
And now, you can!  (Access incredible baseball news from bloggers around the country, including Prose and Ivy on your iPhone that is, not email pics of your junk to random former sideline reporters…well, you could, but that’s not what I was really referring to).


As the Cubs Chapter president within the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) I have some exciting news to share with you today.
Julian Levine of SplashingPumpkins.com has released the iPhone BBA app…and it is awesome!  Not only can you access the latest posts from this blog, but also the best baseball blogs on the web!  From passionate writers covering the Cubs and every other MLB team, you can see what everyone is talking about and join in on the fun.  There are a ton of blogs out there that deserve your attention and if you’re introduced to just one new quality blog, that on top of the article feed makes the app well, well, worthwhile!  You can get the app here.  It is rated 4+ which means all of the articles sent to you through the app contain no objectionable material…however the humor, analysis and baseball insight is like no other.  Some technical details of the app on iTunes:
  • Free
  • Category: Sports
  • Released: Nov 30, 2010
  • Version: 2.0
  • 2.0
  • 2.4 MB
  • Languages: English, Spanish
  • Seller: Casey Haakenson

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later

Anyone who picks it up, let me know what you think!  Android version of the app coming soon!
Go Cubs Go!

Want To Make Starlin Castro Nervous?

Dailies

From the folks over at The Beckett Blog, a photo of Derek Jeter, the Yankees’ pride and joy and captain…proudly featured posing in a Cubs uniform.  Hysterical.   Although it certainly would trump the Cardinals announcement that they signed Ryan Theriot to play shortstop for the next 2 years!  (How about that?  Theriot to the Cards.  2011’s Jim Edmonds.  Get ready for a bit of bizarre world Cards fans….and you better hope it’s not more like having Aaron Miles on your side again).  No need for Castro to sweat though.  Just another ‘Fun With Photoshop’ moment for bored baseball fans on the Internet.  Thank goodness for that.

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Many people can’t understand why the Jeter talks are taking so long.  Many also forget that baseball is a business.  A huge, huge business.  Like all businesses, it’s all about your return on investment (ROI).  And when you are as old as Jeter is and coming off the career-worst year that Jeter is coming off of, your legacy is the only thing you have going for you in the boardroom.  And like many of the greats before him, that might not be enough for the Yankees to offer what Jeter is looking for.

It would seem wrong to see Jeter play on another team, but it happens.  The athletes that accomplish amazing things, setting them apart as the sport’s elite are few and far between.  How many of those players actually get to play for one team their whole career?  Even fewer.  Jeter wouldn’t look right in another uniform but if the numbers don’t look right to the Yankees front office, then it won’t matter.

I like Castro at short.  I love his upside and potential.  We aren’t simply a Jeter away from winning it all and to bring him on board would be silly in tampering with Castro’s development.  Still, the simple fact that they took the time to photoshop Jeter into all 29 teams uni’s is hilarious.  Perhaps fans of some of those teams who could upgrade at SS, without a true young up-coming talent, who is a Jeter away from winning it all, now have reason to dream the dream: spending the Winter daydreaming over what might be next Fall after landing one of the game’s premiere talents.  Jeter isn’t what he was in the 90’s, but still.  You could do a lot worse.

Too bad he doesn’t play first base.  Now that would be a move where the talent we currently have doesn’t stand a chance in measuring up against Jeter…’90’s or 2011 Jeter for that matter. 

Not much player news on the Cubs front.  Quade and coaching staff locked in and everyone’s looking forward to the upcoming December Winter Meetings.  Jeterless, sure.  Still, can’t wait to see what the roster looks like come Spring Training in February.

Go Cubs Go!

What would it take to make the Cubs unstoppable?

Dailies

Yes, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.  Yes, I have some ideas of my own.  Yes, I wanted a lame excuse to post this hilarious SNL digital short here on the blog because it’s hilarious.  Yes, I realize I used the word hilarious twice in that last sentence.  Yes, I know what a thesaurus is.

Things I believe would make the Cubs unstoppable in 2011: a miracle, an ace starting pitcher, more Colvin/less Fukudome, a power hitting first baseman, a repeat performance by Marlon Byrd, Soriano does his impression of Cocoon 3, Quade convinces Castro he’s up for rookie of the year honors again therefore avoiding any possibility of the young one having a mental sophomore slump, Marmol reaches 96 saves, Todd Ricketts appears on Millionaire Matchmaker, Say Yes to the Dress, International House Hunters and Celebrity Apprentice, the Cardinals close their doors forever, the Reds are moved to the American League and last but not least, we sign Mike Schmidt to manage our AAA club.  That’s right, take that, Phillies.

http://www.hulu.com/embed/cERl5D-flvffA27zxg1s9g

List in the comments what you think it would take to make the Cubs unstoppable in 2011!  Go Cubs Go!

No Wonder I Haven’t Heard from Keenan Cahill

Dailies

Whether you are a regular reader of this blog or perhaps you follow my Twitter account @proseandivy you know that I have been trying to get Internet superstar Keenan Cahill to sign on and agree to doing one of my fan interviews, “Prosecards from Cubs Nation”.  The kid is hilarious, his videos are blowing up youtube and he’s a huge Cubs fan.  He’d be a great interview.

Well, I haven’t heard from him and now I think I know why.  He has bigger fish to fry.  Like hanging out and making music videos in his bedroom with none other than 50 Cent.  Ok, Keenan that’s cool.  No problem.  But you know he’s a Yankee fan, right?  Check out the video here (and you can save time if you’d like by jumping ahead to the 1:20 mark for the big entrance):

Go Cubs Go!

New Beginnings

Dailies

Recent post on my Twitter page:

Good thing about the Giants win last night? The Cubs are once again in the running to win the World Series.
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning the 2010 World Series.  Not many paid attention to the Series in comparison to other years but it does nothing to dampen the thrill of victory for the Giants or their fans, I’m sure.  A series, filled with pitchers with excellent resumes and two teams who would be providing a first if they were to take home the trophy, this one was something more fans should have enjoyed despite the lack of usual headliners.  Seeing as the All-Star game proves to be a very difficult thing for the NL to win year in and year out, it’s nice to have the championship trophy reside with a National League team.  Hopefully, next time it finds it’s way to the North Side.
And isn’t that the best part of the season ending?  YOUR team has a shot yet again at winning it all.  As soon as the ‘E’ is posted next to your team’s city in the standings, the rest of the season is for every reason OTHER than winning the World Series.  All valuable in their own way, however none worth as much as winning it all.  Once the season ends, the playoffs run their course and the final out of the Series is recorded with players dressed in laundry other than that of your favorite players spraying each other in champagne (or ginger ale as it were this season in the Texas locker room) all of a sudden, we’re looking at next year and what moves are necessary to elevate your team to the promised land.  The promised land of course is a bit much as nothing is promised, especially that of a World Championship.  Anyway, it’s a saying, so I said it…the point is, the beauty of the Giants finishing their parade route is that door has closed and a window of opportunity has opened for the Cubs.  Let’s hope the right moves are made so we’re thrilled it’s open.  The wrong ones could make us want to jump out of it.
Mike Quade will be our manager in 2011 and I’m excited at the prospect of what that means in a 162 game sample of what he’s capable of achieving.  There is something to be said about the way he handled young talent like Castro in his benching early on in Quade’s interim tenure and the way the veterans got behind him as a candidate for the one of the most coveted job in all of sports.  Coveted in that, the man the manages the Cubs to the World Series victory the city has been waiting for, for over a century, will be appreciated in a way no other coach or manager would ever be or has ever been in all of sports.
There is also something to be said for the way the organization kept on nearly the entire coaching staff, something I’m sure Quade had a say in.  To me it says that this team believes that with Quade and this particular supporting coaching staff, they have the leadership that can take the Cubs all the way.  At least the best that their money can buy right now and are willing to let ride on the small sample we were privy to at the end of 2010.  As a side question, what happens to Eddie Vedder’s Cub anthem if we do go all the way?  An ‘I Told You So’ remix perhaps?
The belief Hendry and the Ricketts have in this compilation of leadership in the dugout/bullpen and the loyalty the players and organization have displayed towards Quade in the early moments of this off-season makes me proud to be a Cubs fan.  I believe it’s setting a strong tone of all focused on one goal as it needs to be, as early on as possible.  Hopefully the small sample of success demonstrated in the last few days of 2010 translates into greater success with the opportunity to do so in a complete 2011 campaign.
The length of the Quade contract is also wise.  Enough to give Quade a shot but not enough to eliminate other options if it doesn’t work out.  Including I’m sure, giving Ryno a little more time getting experience under his belt in case he were interested in the position once again a few years from now and the Cubs thought he was ready.  Remember, Quade was passed over for the Cubs job once before.  Never say never and nothing is ever impossible when it comes to hires and fires and coming and going in major league baseball.  Makes me want to keep an eye on the length of contracts guys like Girardi sign with the mindset of perhaps the length of the deal they sign may show whether they’re still keeping the Cubs job prospect alive in the back of their minds.
The key lineup devisers and skill coaches are in place.  Now we have holes to fill and hopefully we land players looking to start anew with the Cubs and give themselves and us as fans, lots to cheer for and be excited about.  A starting pitcher, bullpen help, a power hitting first baseman and perhaps a strong utility infielder are all positions the club should be looking to fill this winter (a lot will be said for how the club feels about Hoffpauir and Vitters with their off-season moves).  As per usual, all eyes will be watching the news and reading the sports sites for updates on who may or may not be a Cub in 2011 and those resource outlets won’t disappoint when it comes to rumors and predictions.
The Cubs Convention tickets are on sale now, a great sign that 2010 is over and everyone is looking forward to 2011.  Especially the fans as we’re all ready for the club to land that elusive championship.  Time to start the clock over as winners when it comes to Chicago Cubs baseball.  It’s time to move the AC clock to read AC000000.
Speaking of ‘new beginnings’, on a personal note, my wife gave birth to our first born on Oct 23rd.  Below are a few pictures of our son, Rhys Lewis Maloney, all 9 lbs 6.5 ounces of him.  I’ve already started reading the sports section to him and telling him every story I can think of to assist in his love of baseball.  I can’t wait to enjoy games with him and am already planning our first trip to the ballpark.  Parenthood has already been a trip with a ton of diapers, multiple sentences uttered including the words ‘butt paste’ that I never thought I’d say and even a few occasions where I was unable to beat the clock and was as a result…peed on.  Good times.  Rhys has been a great baby though and it’s been awesome to have some time off to spend with him and my wife for a couple weeks after bringing him home from the hospital.
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To new beginnings.  Go Cubs Go!

BBA Chicago Cubs Chapter Voting Results for NL Pitcher of the Year (The Walter Johnson Award)

Dailies

As Chapter president, I hereby (just really like using that word) post the Cubs Chapter votes representing our contribution to the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance) tallying of votes for the NL Pitcher of the Year, aka The Walter Johnson Award.  Here is how our chapter voted:  First place Roy Halladay.  Second Place: Ubaldo Jiminez. Third Place: Tim Hudson.

On a personal note……heading to the hospital first thing in the morning….could have our son any time over the weekend!!  Keep you posted!  And of course, Go Cubs Go!

Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) Chicago Cubs Chapter announces vote for NL Goose Gossage Award

Dailies

As Chapter president, I am hereby posting our votes for the recipient of the NL Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever).  First place: Brian Wilson. Second Place: Billy Wagner.  Third Place: Heath Bell.

Overall, we love Marmol and what he does for the Cubs.  Hard to find a Cubs pitcher that can be so dominant late in a game.  Love his intensity, his potential and his upside.  Love what he did this season with the strikeout ratio but when you look at the numbers this year, these three guys simply had better years.
Looking forward to seeing how this plays out….and of course….posting my thoughts on MIKE QUADE OFFICIALLY BEING NAMED MANAGER OF THE CUBS!  Go Cubs Go!

BBA Chicago Cubs Chapter Voting Results for NL Rookie of the Year (The Willie Mays Award)

Dailies

The Chicago Cubs Chapter, which includes myself and other Cub bloggers signed on as members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance(see the list in the post below this one) have voted for NL rookie of the year, or as the BBA calls it, our Willie Mays Award.

After compiling our votes, here are the results.  First Place: Buster Posey.  Second Place: Starlin Castro.  Third Place: Tyler Colvin.
Looking forward to seeing how the other chapters voted when the award is announced!  Go Cubs Go!

Chicago Cubs Chapter of the BBA votes for NL Manager of the Year (The Connie Mack Award)

Dailies

Had Mike Quade been the Cubs manager and posted an over.600 winning percentage for all of 2010, I do believe the Cubs Chapter would have unanimously voted for Mike Quade for NL Manager of the Year (winner of the BBA- Baseball Bloggers Alliance- Connie Mack Award).  Considering he came in late in the season to relieve Lou of his duties, voting for our own didn’t make a lot of sense.  As fans we may be die-hard Cubs, but when it comes to recognition and deserving talent as recipients of year-end awards, you have to go with your head.

As Cubs Chapter president, I had the honor of collaborating with my fellow Cubs bloggers in deciding on which NL manager would be receiving our two votes:
After tallying up our individual two cents/votes, the race came down to a two-man competition.  Dusty Baker and his performance with the Reds and Bruce Bochy’s body of work in 2010 leading the San Francisco Giants.  For me personally, it is always a matter of wins vs. losses and what pieces were dealt to the manager to win with.  Is his ballclub young?  Was there much adversity?  Were they expected to win?  How did they live up to expectations?  How did they perform this year in comparison to last year and how did they do under their current manager compared to other managers leading a similar roster/ballclub?
When weighing all of those variables plus others, the Cubs Chapter of the BBA has decided to commit our two votes (by way of majority rules within the Chapter) for NL Manager of the Year – The Connie Mack Award – to Dusty Baker of the Cincinnati Reds.  (Final vote: Baker 3, Bochy 2 and in honor of the work Quade did with the Cubs rounding out the year, he gets our 3rd place vote as all BBA ballots require three nominees – a few blogs abstained from voting). Majority rules so Baker gets both of our BBA Cubs Chapter votes this year.
Looking forward to seeing how the other Chapters of the BBA voted and which NL manager wins the BBA’s Connie Mack Award for the 2010 MLB season! And on a separate note….Go Cubs Go!

The Qualm After The Storm

Dailies

Oct 15th. That is my son’s due date.

About a week ago my wife and I finished up cleaning the entire apartment.  They call it ‘the nesting period’ according to our very expensive and nearly as informative child care/lamaze classes.  Talk about thorough, it wasn’t short of a visit to the ER to make sure my thumb was ok after cutting it while, none other than…scrubbing the tub.  After an hour in the ER, some hospital glue and a ‘have a nice day’, we were on our way home to finish up and situate the nest to a level classified: Ready For Baby. (I’m fine, thanks for asking).

Things were cleaned, arranged just so.  Nightlights were placed, sheets were laid down and curtains were put up.  All that needed to happen was the baby’s actual arrival.

AND THEN….the storm came.

It rained extremely hard last Thursday night here in NYC and apparently a drain on our terrace area was blocked.  By about six leaves mind you.  This was just enough to cause a flood in our bedroom and living room.  Classification now: Nowhere Near Ready for Baby.  All of a sudden there is a ton of work to do as all of the floors in our apartment need to be ripped up, gutted and replaced.   Joy.

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My employer was nice enough to allow me to work from home to supervise the activity.  This is more for my wife to feel OK about everything as I think she feels better with me here.  So, here I sit waiting for emails or calls from my boss, blogging about the Cubs, sitting in the middle of a flooring ripping whirlwind party all around me.  You know those construction sounds you can ‘kinda’ hear from across the avenue, on the building next door and it just ruins your day?  Now take that noise and put it fifteen feet away from you.  Nice, right?  Clink, clank, scrub, clink, clink, clink, hammer, clank, clink, clink, scrub, scrub, clink….all, day, long.
It did get me thinking though.  A) I can’t believe this is happening so close to when the baby’s due date is.  And I realize Oct 15th is still 11 days away, however, you know how babies can be.  It’s all up to them.  So, we can mark the 15th on the calendar all we want. Circle it, underline it, put stars all around it…it makes no difference.  He is coming whenever he wants to and we have no idea what to expect.  and B) If I think about the horrible timing of this all, I will go crazy so let’s compare the repairs going on here to the Cubs repairs necessary this off-season.
Considering the season ended just yesterday in disappointing fashion (losing to Houston resulting in a fifth place finish this year for the Cubs) I can only pinpoint so many needs.  A power-bat, preferably at first to replace Lee.  A stud in the starting rotation.  Another couple arms in the bullpen.  A quality second baseman (maybe not this guy as rumored in recent years) and maybe a young third baseman with some upside in the scouting to have around to compete for the third base job after Rami’s gone whether it be figuratively or literally.
Oh yeah….and a MANAGER.
Or a decision re: the manager anyway.  Quade has shown incredible skill with the youngsters (benching Starlin to make a point re: hustle/effort) and with the veterans (keeping them playing hard throughout the last 40 games of the season even though they were on the brink of or officially eliminated from post-season play).  Lou Piniella is not the easiest act to follow and even though his tenure ended poorly, he did deliver two divisional championships while he was with the Cubs.  Quade has one of the best records of a manager filling in as manager of the Cubs mid-season ever.  I have a lot of confidence in him and wouldn’t mind seeing if he could do the same thing in 2011 that he has in his final quarter of the season in 2010.
Then again, Sandberg is a guy learning and having some success in the minors and is a fan favorite.  A guy like Sandberg along with old successful vets like Torre, Girardi and LaRussa are the only other guys I think have a shot at this spot.  I don’t foresee Wedge being the guy (and I really don’t see LaRussa here either).  Who know if Torre wants to manage really.  We don’t want another Piniella situation, aside from his ailing mother.  And Girardi may stay with New York so it may be down to Sandberg and Quade.  Between the two, I take Quade yet I’d be happy to root for Sandberg (again).  Just not sure he has the experience it will take to be successful just yet (look how long it took Mattingly to learn under Torre before he got a shot) and Quade keeps saying ‘nothing replaces experience’ (and I don’t think that’s by accident either by the way).
I don’t think the Reds are going away anytime soon and I don’t think this season was a fluke. Their young pitching is a huge part of their success and if healthy they will be competing among the top teams in the Central for a while.  The Cardinals are of course going to be competitive.  Personnel wise, Hendry and Ricketts have a ton of decisions to make.  A ton of work to do to make this Cubs team successful.
Notice I didn’t say competitive.  We are competitive.  Think about how many one-run games we lost this year.  Think about how many games we lost to Houston and Pittsburgh.  We have to win the close games and we have to beat the teams we are expected to beat.  Where is it toughest to win, in theory?  On the road.  Quade’s road record was 17-5.  Just saying.
A lot of decisions to make.  A lot of work to be done.  Let’s just hope it’s quick and painless. Unlike the way this last minute, unexpected floor construction in my apartment feels right now.
Clink, clank, clink, clink, clink, scrub, scrub, hammer, bang, clink, clink, clank, clink, clink…
Go Cubs Go!

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards announced – Prose and Ivy named Cubs Chapter President

Dailies

For those of you who also write an MLBlog, you know how powerful the baseball blogger community can be and how active they are with regards to all headlines related to the great game of baseball.  For those of you who tweet during games and have started a Twitter account to discuss your favorite baseball team, you can appreciate the network of baseball fans that exists across the country and how much fun it can be when they unite to discuss the latest news regarding your #1 team.  For those of us lucky enough to have the opportunity to work together as baseball bloggers, looking to raise the bar when it comes to baseball blogging, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) has been an amazing experience and a fantastic outlet for baseball bloggers across the globe.  With members that are fans of all AL and NL teams as well as authors of general baseball sites, the group is overflowing with knowledgable, passionate baseball fans thrilled to type away and share their thoughts with you regarding the daily happenings surrounding the MLB.

I am excited to say that I have been named the President of the Cubs Chapter for the BBA and look forward to incorporating news from the Chapter in postings and updates here on the site.  One of the fun things the group has done in raising it’s level of participation and recognition mirroring the impact the BBWAA has on the game, is name award winners at the end of every season.  As a chapter, myself and the other Cubs blogs will decide who we feel deserves to win the award and we will vote accordingly.  While the exact nature by which we decide who our Chapter will vote for has not been locked in as of yet, I’m guessing it will be completely by committee and by a majority vote.  
Here is a copy of the press release going out from the BBA regarding this year’s awards.  Feel free to leave your thoughts regarding the awards in the comment section!  Go Cubs Go!
Baseball Bloggers Alliance Announces New Award Names

Changes reflect appreciation for history of the game

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) recently announced the renaming of
their annual postseason awards to comply with the wishes of the Baseball
Writers Association of America (BBWAA), thereby avoiding confusion between
the two organizations.  This allowed the BBA an opportunity to recognize
some of the legendary greats of the game, naming their highest honors after
them.

Earlier in the year, the BBA reached an agreement with former Yankee
reliever Goose Gossage to name our newest award, recognizing the best relief
pitcher in each league, after him, said Daniel Shoptaw, founder and
president of the Alliance.  It only seemed fitting, then, that we rename
the rest of our awards after other legends of the game.

The five awards are given to a player in each league: The Connie Mack Award,
given to the top manager; the Willie Mays Award, for the top rookie; the
Goose Gossage award, mentioned above; the Walter Johnson Award, which would
be analogous to the BBWAA's Cy Young Award; and the Stan Musial Award,
awarded to the most valuable player in each league.

According to Shoptaw, These names are synonymous with quality, achievement,
and dedication.  These names have not only stood the test of time, but have
been strengthened by it.

The schedule for the announcement of these awards is as follows:

Connie Mack Award: October 14
Willie Mays Award: October 18
Goose Gossage Award: October 21
Walter Johnson Award: October 25
Stan Musial Award: October 28

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was founded in 2009 and numbers 222 blogs
covering all major league teams and various other aspects of baseball, as
well as blogs and sites that are affiliated as Friends of the BBA.  The
official website of the BBA is located at http://www.baseballbloggersalliance.com.

The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the
hashmark #bbba.  Members of the BBA may be heard at Blog Talk Radio every
Tuesday night with their call-in show, BBA Baseball
Talk http://www.blogtalkradio.com/baseball-bloggers-alliance,
which may also be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes.
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(Don’t) Passonmikequade!

Dailies

With the recent success of the Cubs interim manager, Mike Quade, many Cubs fans are torn as to who should get the gig next year.  Lots of fans, while Lou was still here, thought it was a no brainer: get Sandberg up here and let’s roll!  Lots of other fans also thought trying to get Torre, LaRussa, Girardi, Bobby Valentine and the long list of others were no-brainers too.

However, now that the Cubs have posted a 9-5 record under Quade (an over .600 winning percentage) fans are wondering if perhaps Mike Quade shouldn’t be passed over and maybe he is the guy that should land the job for 2011.  Those that believe Quade should be given a shot if he finishes the season as strong as he’s started his shot as Cubs skipper are quite adamant about it and hope he does so and carries this success over to next year.  (Then again Cubs fans are always passionate in their beliefs of their Cubs no matter what those feelings are now aren’t they?)

The idea of Hendry’s buffoonery and Ricketts’ newness to the post and the fans’ new feeling of giving Quade a shot inspired this post.  Please enjoy this new development in the world that is known as The Chicago Cubs through the eyes of Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon”.

In this video and the parody script listed below it which you can use to read along in Cubs translation…Tom Ricketts will be played by Dr. Terminus and Jim Hendry is played by his shorter, older con-artist minion.  Ladies and gentleman, I give you “(Don’t) Passonmikequade!” (I suggest clicking the video window to open it in a second window and scrolling this page for parody lyrics)

Ricketts: Quick, who will they want to manage the team in 2011?

Hendry: Just pass on Mike Quade.

Ricketts: Just pass on my whatty?

Hendry: Pass on Mike Quade!

Ricketts: Got it. How wonderful to see your smiling faces again I…I’ve never known such warmth, such welcome, such loving hospitality

Man: Get out ya hack!

Man: And don’t bring those Milton Bradleys here again!

Woman: Go on back where you belong…Ameritrade!

Ricketts:
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
I sense enthusiasm I sense loving response
And that’s why I feel Wrigley is my home away from home
I’ve been making millions in my time at ‘Meritrade
Went to U of C and that’s right down the road
You’re gonna like us, No use in fightin’ us
Caray, Ernie, Billy Williams, let’s have statues surround the stadium!

Little Jeff Samardzija was so nice to visit
He comes and goes from Triple A when recalled

Man: Why doesn’t he stay there?

Ricketts: But through all the tips
You know who could manage this place
Make the call now, one name on my list
Why…..it’s…Get Joe Girardi, uh, Call up Joe Torre, no, no… Bring back ‘ol Dusty, uh, Try Alan Trammy, p…p…Persuade Bob Brenly Uh, Quick sign Jim Tracy, uh, Pass me a hottie? Oh, I know! I’ll Hire my daddy!

Cubs fans: No, don’t Pass on Mike Quade!

Ricketts: Of course, that’s what I meant to say

Woman: I thought we’d win, 2008 And then we got robbed!

Ricketts: Remember we’re losers who do thrive on your love!
I know Silva looks like he only drinks Buttermilk
Leads aren’t under firm control given to Marmol
Santo’s emotions, “Unreal” he does notion
New statues for Cub alliance
Forget we make losing a science

With L.A. we trade away
We couldn’t keep Ted here
Don’t know what to do with Sean Marshall

Cubs fans: You’ll probably ship him out

Ricketts: Ha, ha, yes we probably will…

Man: The issue is, no thanks to Jim our Cubs always stink!

Ricketts: But WE’RE here – the wins are coming!

Cubs fans: We’re gonna flush your BS down the troffs near the sinks!

Ricketts: Wait, listen, my specialties are Hand-shaking, public speaking, statue unveiling, beer guzzling Bleacher-bumming, sibling-having, spin-doctoring! And every other ‘whatever-ing’ you can think of! My friends, you are not giving me a chance!  We brought all of these free agents in from Tokyo! Japan.

Cubs fans: oooh…

Old Cub fan: Oh Ricketts, oh Ricketts, Ricketts, Ricketts, help me.

Ricketts: I hear someone. I hear someone calling me. A Cubs fan in need. A Cubs fans calling out to another great cubs fan. A service only I can provide. Madam, Tommy Ricketts is here to appease you.

Old Cubs fan: Ayye?

Ricketts: What’s your problem lady?

Old Cubs fan: Ayye?

Ricketts: How can I turn my back on such a dear woman? It’s the bleacher bum in me.

Old Cubs fan: I hear…Santo…yelling.
I hear…opponents…giggling.
I hear…fans…singing.

Ricketts: That’ll be exactly $150 madam. $75 a seat!

Old Cubs Fan: Oh, bless you Ricketts! Wait ’til next year! Wait ’til next year!

Ricketts: My decision can cure her! Did you hear her bless me while I blessed her too? How wonder I feel right here in my heart! And that’s what the baseball business is all about folks! People helping people. You should all get help!

(Hendry jumps up on Convention stage in disguise)

Ricketts: Gadzooks! What have we here?

Hendry: Oh, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. All I’m asking for is a miracle.

Ricketts: All he wants is a miracle! How can I deny him folks….IF he’s willing to pay for it, he’s gonna get it!

Hendry: 8 years for $136 million!

Ricketts: 8 years for $136 million!

(Ricketts pours Old Style into Hendry’s mouth out of a flask, Hendry begins to dance to Go Cubs Go!)

Woman: I trust him!

Woman: I believe he’ll hire the right guy!

Man: I’ll put my hard earned money for season tickets with no guarantees in his hands!

Ricketts: My friends you’ve seen a miracle!
And you’ll see many more, People will come pouring in to, see Wrigley!

Sosa failed testing?
Surely you’re jesting!
Keep those dimes and dollars mounting

Hendry: I’ll collect!

Ricketts: I’ll do the counting! Everyone who roots for us will strong and happy We’ll be getting more wins by the day!

Cubs fans: Yay!

Ricketts: Get them off waivers!
Need the right man to lead us
All of Cubs Nation’s gonna say…
To…
Buhh..Bring us Bobby V, no,
Raise up Frank Selee,
no, no, Dig up McCarthy,
Uh, Call Atlanta ’bout Bobby?,
p…p…Player/Coach Rami,
q…q…q…Call up Bill Dancy
… Hire Barbaro Garbey,
Go with Bud Bailey,
Sandberg’s the must be,
Help me Girardi,
Just get Joe Torre, I want my mommy…ha ha ha ha!

Hendry (whispers): Pass on Mike Quade

Cubs fans: Don’t Pass on Mike Quade!

Ricketts: I know.

Guess we’ll see how it plays out!  For now, yes…if Mike Quade finishes this season the way he’s started, I agree.  The guy should be given a shot and someone should suggest the Cubs (Don’t) Passonmikequade.  Go Cubs Go!

Statues of Limitations

Dailies

The Cubs will honor one of the greatest Cubs of all-time tonight when they unveil a statue of Hall of Famer, Billy Williams.

The statue will be revealed in a ceremony at Wrigley before their game against the Astros at the corner of Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue.  Lots of folks had a problem with the way they handled the Harry Caray statue situation in replacing his long-held location at that intersection with the new Williams statue.  While I don’t really understand the decision to move Caray for Williams (why not just leave Caray and Banks, the only other player to be honored with a statue at Wrigley, where they are and put Williams else where?), it doesn’t bother me outside of not understanding the logic in doing so.

Williams already has his number retired by the club and it’s a great honor to be immortalized outside the game’s greatest stadium.  I’m currently reading about Billy Williams and it’s a fascinating story.  I’m happy for him and can’t wait to see the statue next time I visit Wrigley.  (Banks too for that matter as I’ve only seen the Caray statue in person).

A team that is short on championships and long on failures, I’m glad the Ricketts have decided to find a way to keep moving forward while updating but not changing the old stadium and honoring greats of the past, highlighting the positives that Cubs fans can be proud of while many obsess over the losing seasons and loveable loser reputation (a little too much in my opinion).  I feel it’s hard to break out of the lovable loser/losing mentality when you are constantly embracing it and while it may be necessary in a laugh-instead of crying kind of way, it won’t ever help us win a title.  The more ways we can emphasize the positives and look to move this team forward in a way that makes a positive difference, the better.

In a way, it would be easy for the Ricketts to push the old Veeck mentality of come out and have fun at the ballpark, don’t worry so much about the winning.  This would be even easier for them than other potential owners considering they grew up with it all around them finding love in life and for their team in the bleachers of Wrigley and as die-hard fans, it would be easy to take that loveable loser mentality into the owner’s box.  Think about how horrible that would be if they took the ‘let’s have a sense of humor’ approach and commemorated some horrible moments/characters in Cubs history with statues outside of Wrigley.  My Cubs statues of limitations if you will.

A statue of Lou Piniella for instance.  Giant belly, raving lunatic face, maybe even yelling in the face of an umpire (this statue would take a while considering there’d be an ump as well).  Holding two giant stone tablets, one reading 2007, one reading 2008 and beneath him on the ground, two broken tablets: 2009 and 2010.  His left arm in the air in anger and his right arm reaching out, just short of a carved out stone version of the word “potential”.

A statue of Dusty Baker for instance.  This one would have to be practically a characature.  Big smile on his face commemorating his arrival in the Windy City.  A toothpick so large it’s nearly the size of the rest of the statue.  Carved out fans crying all around him at his feet and a little Sammy Sosa in the back of the statue doing whatever he feels like.

A statue of the Cubs batting glove Bill Buckner wore in game six of the World Series in 1986 for instance. Simply to commemorate the once a Cub, always a Cub feeling.  You may be able to take the player out of Chicago, but you can never take Chicago out of the player.

A statue of Sammy Sosa for instance. Biggest torso on a player’s statue ever created with a tiny head and two gigantic arms sitting upon two gigantic, powerful legs.  In his back pocket a syringe.  His right arm pointing up to the sky in celebration of a home run and his left hand behind his back with his fingers crossed to denote the honesty that each home run was bashed in while chasing down unattainable records.  Of course there would be no number on his back because next to him would be a very little Tyler Colvin wearing the number 21 just laughing and having a great time doing a respectable job representing Sosa’s old steroid infested number.  At Sosa’s feet, a Spanish to English dictionary ripped in two and set on fire in hopes that no one knew it ever existed in Sammy’s possession, ever.  And the bonus feature, for some reason after years and years of looking this way, the statue’s face will begin to fade until the face is so white it longer resembles anything that it used to be and fans will have to do a double take to make sure it’s who they think it is.

A statue of Todd Hundley if you will for instance.  Todd Hundley’s statue would be made of the most expensive metal and yet, would deliver the least amount of entertainment value.  If fans had their way, it would probably also receive the largest amount of bird excrement.  Hundley would simply be standing there with hands in his pocket offering absolutely nothing with a giant smile on his face.  No glove as he was horrible behind the plate.  No bat as he delivered nothing compared to what was expected of him.  Next to him on the ground?  A giant bag of cash with a cartoonish $ symbol.  Hundley’s would be the only statue with a sound effect…that being, the sound of a truck backing up which would commemorate the giant contract he was given.  When the truck doesn’t arrive, fans will realize that it is commemorating how long Cubs fans waited for results out of Hundley even though all of his money was on the way.

And last but not least, a statute of Will Ohman for instance.  Quite possibly the worst Cubs relief pitcher to ever demonstrate hilarious ineffectiveness right before my eyes.  Ohman’s statue would be of him on the mound looking in for the sign.  Behind him, a brick wall covered in ivy and the famous scoreboard.  Out of the scoreboard would be a kid just waiting to flip over the visitors’ run total on the scoreboard. When Ohman pitches, the other team scores a ton of runs and it will show.  Ohman’s statue, the only one with a cool interactive feature, will allow fans to step up to the plate, literally.  You can step on a home plate and right on cue a ball with be shot out of a small cannon, flying over the outfield wall.  The run the boy running the scoreboard was counting on, delivered.

Needless to say, this would be a horrible sight to see and I’m glad the Ricketts are knowledgable enough of the past and looking to celebrate it.  We need more focusing on the positives these days as our team is falling apart beyond what I expected.  2007, 2008 were a blast.  2009 was a let down.  However this year, has simply been sad.  No playoffs.  No title.  Not even having Lou for the whole season.  The bright spots need to continue getting us through and they need to continue to be celebrated.  Williams is a bright spot from the past and we need to keep those bright spots in mind while enjoying the current bright spots of today (Quade, Castro, Colvin….and that’s been about it).

You guys have any other ideas for Cub Statues of Limitations?  Congratulations Billy, you deserve it!  Go Cubs Go!

Follow this kid and tell him to be my next “Prosecard from Cubs Nation”!

Dailies

I have found more Cubs fans to interact with on Twitter than in ‘real life’.  Why?  Because I live in New York City.  Many of my “Prosecards from Cubs Nation” features have featured Cub fans I found on Twitter and a few of them I’ve even had a chance to meet at Citi Field attending Cubs v. Mets games.

They were all great interviews and I appreciated everyone stepping up to the plate and participating.  I have one I’m looking to put together with Brian from popular Cubs blog “Bullpen Brian”.  We should be able to arrange in the next week or so.  Until then, I’d like your help in getting another Prosecard set up.  Follow this kid @KeenanCahill and send him a tweet telling him to do our next Prosecard from Cubs Nation.  He’s a Cubs fan and he cracks me up with his videos.  If you haven’t seen them, here are a couple.  Great to cure the 2010 Cubs blues.  (Although Quade is also helping I must say…..and come on Castro!  Get that AVG up and win the batting title man…big September is all you need!)

Check out his videos and let’s make this happen!  Silva back on the mound tonight.  These videos go out to Big Carlos Silva!  Get that W Silva!

Go Cubs Go!

My Stand-Up Comedy MP3 available for download starting TODAY!

Dailies

Our season’s in the dumps, our manager’s retired and left the game forever and we don’t have much to root for, for the remainder of 2010.  Let’s lighten things up around here Cubs fans!  Feel better about your day by downloading a copy of one of my recent live stand up performances!

The MP3 is called “One Track Mind” and is available for downloading today for only $1.99!  You can’t beat it.  Check out the track’s page here and download a copy today.  (I’m talking to you too Lou….you could use a laugh, no?)

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Ryan Maloney: One Track Mind

Lee Accepts Trade to the Braves. Fans Try To Do the Same.

Dailies
‘The D-Lee News’ is closing it’s doors forever.  

A favorite feature of Prose and Ivy since I launched the site in 2007, The D-Lee News segment in the side column (scroll down to get to it) will be retired after the 2010 baseball season.  Today it was announced that Derrek Lee has been traded to the Atlanta Braves for three young pitching prospects.  I thought Lee was going to end up being one of the toughest calls for Ricketts/Hendry to make this off-season.  Apparently, the decision was to let a class act go, but not for nothing.  Listed below is a review of his career up to this point, including a solid stint leading the Cubs to multiple division titles and landing himself one NL Batting title.  Right below the graphic summarizing his career is everything that’s been posted on my D-Lee News segment here on Prose and Ivy.  Again, the D-Lee News will not exist as a feature on Prose and Ivy following the end of the regular season.

As I said on my Twitter account today when the news was announced:
@proseandivy Goodbye Derrek Lee, you’ll be missed. Good guy, all class.  Feel free to win it this year because NEXT YEAR, is all our’s.

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GM Hendry and Lee.

Every regular season we’ll be keeping tabs on one guy who MUST perform up to expectations for the Cubs to continue repeating in the Central Division and hopefully finally make a run through October!

Lee’s current 2010 stats: 16 HR, 56 RBI, .335 OBP, .416 SLG AND .251 AVG.

Lee’s 2009 stats: .309 AVG, .395 OBP, .585 SLG, 35 HR, 111 RBI, 1 Baby. First time since 2005 Lee puts up 30 or more HR’s in a season.

Lee was one of the biggest reasons the team had their best April in 2008, hit 10,000 wins all-time, had a 55-26 record at Wrigley, captured the NL Central Division crown for the second year in a row…and really the only reason we stayed in playoff contention as long as we did in 2009!!! Lee’s final stats for 2008 (for those that are interested): .291 AVG, .462 SLG%, .361 OBP, 20 HR, 90 RBI.

(Note: Here were my thoughts on Lee during Spring Training 2008…good thing his stats turned around when the games started to count: As of my post on 3/18 Lee is having a ROUGH Spring. 3-for-39 so far with about as many walks as strike outs, only four RBI’s and a BA of .154. Let’s hope he’s just warming up and once we get closer to our everyday lineup he gets comfortable with the guys around him and his stats improve drastically. Do your thing D-Lee…seriously, SOON, Opening Day will be here before you know it! (And so will the end of September, so be sure to continue to show up and deliver!)

Of course, 2008 didn’t turn out the way Lee or anyone else would’ve liked…nor did 2009 for that matter. Here’s to a horrible Spring once again in 2010, a great regular season and a postseason with a happy ending to report in the D-Lee News of October 2010!! For you stat guys/girls out there, his final 2009 Spring stats: 19-for-58, 5BB, 9SO, .369 OBP, .458 SLG, .322 AVG. Can’t wait for Spring to get here!!! Go Cubs Go!!! UPDATED: Lee’s horrendous 2010 Spring stats: 7-for-40; 3 HR; 9 RBI; 8 BB; 11 SO; .294 OBP; .450 SLG and a scary .175 AVG. 2010 should be great.

Go Cubs Go!

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V-5 and the Illusive Cubs Championship

Dailies

Year in and year out.  Next year.  Wait. Wait. Wait.  Wait until next year.  A century plus.  Cubs fans raising Cubs fans, who raise Cubs fans.  The never ending disappointing cycle of let down generation after let down generation.

Make a move.  Make a trade.  Buy your tickets.  Get a program.  Look at the roster.  Watch the scoreboard.  Follow the off-season.  Complain about non-moves.  Relish in the potential of team additions.  Listen to sports radio.  Blog about your favorite team.  Buy a jersey.  Wear the jersey.  Wear out the jersey.  Watch name on said jersey get traded.  Buy new jersey.  Repeat.

Watch games on television.  Join the new age of sports voyeurism and subscribe to an on-line service to watch your favorite team.  Hope for the best.  Expect the Worst.  Enjoy Spring training.  Analyze spring performances and talk about this being the year for a certain youngster.  Write up your preferred roster, line-ups and rotations for the regular season.  Disagree when the big club decides otherwise.

Give too much credence to an outstanding April. Dismiss a crap start to the season and believe May is when the bats will turn themselves around.  They always do, right?  Sit in the sun and bake in the dog days of Summer.  Stand for the anthems and stretches.  Applaud your favorite celebrity and guffaw over confusing cameo selections of has-beens, never was and never will be’s.

Wait for winter meetings.  Wait for trades to be announced.  Wait for pitchers and catchers to report.  Wait for the games to count.  Wait for the pitchers to settle in and the bats to wake up.  Wait for the all-star break’s say in where you stand.  Wait for clincher.  Wait for the playoffs.  Wait to not be swept.  Wait to make the playoffs.  Wait for a shot at a World Series.  Wait and wait and wait.

Root for the veterans and hope for the rookies.  Cheer on the new hope that a new manager brings and say goodbye to their expected or promised dream results left unfulfilled.  Give new ownership the benefit of the doubt.  Attend Conventions.  Speak your mind.  Wait in line to get your autographs.  Wait until the day you no longer have to wait.

Look up in August and see that you’re almost twenty games out.  Wait to play spoiler.  Wait for consecutive wins.  Wait for series wins.  Wait for tickets to go on sale.  Wait on the wait list.  Wait in traffic on the way to a game.  Wait in line at the concession stand.  Wait for the moron running on the field to get caught by security.  Wait for the pitcher with the unbelievably slow pace.  Wait for the other team to meet at the mound.  Wait for Lou to get to the mound.  Wait for the hop to go away.  Wait for the crazy to go away.  Wait for offense and the pitching to get on track at the same time.  Wait for the Cardinals to have a bad day.  Wait for the Reds to come back to Earth.  Wait and wait and wait.

Remember that year?  That was the year.  That was going to be the year.  How many people are even still here to remember the year.  Wait, what was the year?  Wow, all those years.  Will it be this year?  No, not this year.  How many more years?

And scene.

This posting will now be played out for you in youtube form.  Cubs fans will be played by Steve Martin.  A World Series championship will be played by the rental car assigned to V-5.  The baseball gods will be played by the lady at the counter.  New Cubs ownership will be played by John Candy.  Go Cubs Go!

We’re a Major League Baseball team.

Dailies


cubs amex commercial.jpgEverybody
: Hello. Do you know us?
[Everybody, except Zambrano, puts on their caps]
Everybody: We’re a Major League Baseball team.
Lou Piniella: But since we haven’t won a pennant in over 100 years, nobody recognizes us – not even in our own home town.
Ryan Dempster: That’s why we carry the American Express card.
Derrek Lee: No matter how far out of first we are, it’s cool. You know, it keeps us from getting shut out at our favorite hotels and restaurant-type places.
Aramis Ramirez [pointing to us] So if you’re looking for some Big-League clout, apply for that little green home-run hitter.
Tyler Colvin: Look what it’s done for US. People still DON’T recognize us but…
[Tyler snaps his fingers]
Carlos Zambrano: We’re contenders now.
[Also dressed in a tuxedo, Starlin slides into home plate and holds up a green credit card]
Starlin Castro: The American Express card: Don’t steal home without it.

17.5 games out of first in the NL Central.  Go Cubs Go!


Listen to my guest appearance on St. Louis Cardinals’ radio show, ‘i70 Baseball’ on blogtalkradio

Dailies

Every now and then, I make an appearance on another blogger’s blog or radio show and sometimes, they aren’t Cubs fans.  Usually, if they don’t root for the Cubs, they are Cardinals fans (just the way it’s been working out).  These guys in particular are Bill Ivie (Cards) and Matt Kelsey (Royals) and they have a great show on blogtalkradio.com called i70 Baseball.  We had fun discussing the weekend series between the Cubs and Cardinals (what a fluke that series win for the Cubs was, huh?), Piniella’s announcement, the future of the Cubs come this off-season, whether the rivalry between the Cards and Cubs is the same that it used to be and why the Cubs and Cards annual series always seem to be tight even if one team is 1 game out of first and the other is 17 games back.

Have a listen and feel free to leave a comment in the comment section agreeing or disagreeing with anything I said!  Go Cubs Go!


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Listen to internet radio with i70baseball on Blog Talk Radio

 

Felt Like Sharing

Dailies

Travis at Royals blog, One Royal Way www.oneroyalway.com, not only covers Kansas City Royals baseball, but his site also includes a page featuring information on every major league ballclub.  He has bloggers that are fans of each team contribute the team description for each team page so that it adds a little more to the reading experience. Also, he feels it makes more sense for a fan of said team to write the description instead of him doing it himself.

He asked me to create the description for the Cubs page and it was fun to write.  Thought I’d share it with you here.

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are the kind of life long commitment that they should sell insurance for. Think about the things that you buy insurance for to protect you from. They are for all of the worst case scenarios in life. House burning down, flood, car accident, death. They should immediately add to the list: Cubs fan.

In all of the above situations you are put out, living a situation that leaves you speechless and wondering, how could this happen to me? Why me? And when you are a Cubs fan, that happens all of the time. Follow by a quick look to the fan to your left or right at Wrigley, in a bar, at home, or at an opposing team’s stadium and asking aloud “Why us? Why us AGAIN?”

It would be the most expensive insurance of all insurances sold to baseball fans of course because we as Cubs fans would need it the most. Essentially, all other baseball fans if they too could purchase insurance for rooting for their team, their monthly payments would only exist to cover costs the insurance company would gather in paying out to help out Cubs fans. It is a brutal existence and a little insurance as a fan to add to those occasional and not-so-often insurance runs would be a great thing to have.

This team is called the Lovable Losers, however I’m not sure how many fans ‘love’ their Cubs as opposed to simply being ‘addicted’ to them. Rooting for the Cubs is a bad habit that few are able to break. The highs are so great because they are so rare that you can’t wait to experience another and it drives you crazy that jonesing in between the highs.

The team hasn’t won a World Series since 1908 and hasn’t appeared in one since 1945.  The ration of fans who live to see the Cubs win a World Series to those that spend their life eting peanuts and Cracker Jack and then never getting a chance to even decide whether they want to get back or not…I couldn’t even begin to guess.  All you can do is put on your Cubs hat and hope that you do get to see them win the big game in your life time and that things like Brock, black cats, goats and Steve Bartmans stop getting in the way. (Moises Alou would never have caught that ball by the way, just saying).

The Cubs have given us stars like Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Mark Grace, and on and on. Addicted or ‘in love’ with their Cubs, fans come back to root them on at Wrigley Field, visit them on the road, watch WGN, listen to the radio and hope for the best. You can learn a lot about the team in many, many places on the web. Just thought this might give you a better insight as to what it’s really like to be a Cubs fan. However, the short answer to the question tell me about the Cubs and what it’s like to be a fan? It’s awesome. (Calling Geico now to deliver my pitch). Go Cubs Go!

If you are a fan of one of the teams he still needs a blogger to write the description for, shoot him an email and see if he’s interested.  Otherwise, go check out his site simply because I said so.  (Plus, even on the East coast, you still have an hour and half to kill before the work day’s over so why not?)

Go Cubs Go!

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D Lee Denies LA

Dailies

Lee opted to stay with the Cubs instead of waive his no-trade clause to be sent to the Angels. As far as I’m concerned, he’s one of the best Cubs first basemen of all-time.  If he wants to stay and finish his contract, so be it.  Happy to have him through the rest of 2010. Technically we’re not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs so who’s to say we can’t pull off something miraculous.  Granted, we are WAY further behind in the standings than I would’ve expected to be at this point.  I would have thought we’d be about 5 games back and still in the thick of things by now and only behind the Cards possibly (I really don’t think anyone saw this season coming from Cincinnati).  However, Lee’s commitment to the team is something I respect and I’m happy to have him slugging away (or let’s face…or not) for the rest of this season. I mean, not this happy:

…but happy.

Lilly on the other hand is another story and I’m not sure how much longer we have Super Ted on the squad.  Demp had his time at the top and Zambrano was supposed to be the team’s ace and he completely fell apart over the time Ted’s been here.  In the few years we’ve had Lilly he’s been the least supported, most consistent pitcher on the team.  If we had five Lilly’s and essentially in that case, no ace, we would have won more games over that time period than with the guys we’ve had.  I honestly believe that.  I think we would have three-peated in the Central from ’07-’09 and would have seen the playoffs for one more season than we did.  Which would have given us one more chance at redemption to make up for being swept in the first round of the playoffs two years in a row.
We are definitely sellers in the market though as you don’t hear any of the big names left as rumored to be coming to the Cubs.  Lee doesn’t appear to be going anywhere and Lilly is the big sideshow right now that all the other clubs are coming to see/scout and hopefully land in their own flying circus.
The team is going to look extremely different next year and I’ve accepted that.  Great chance that our first baseman, second baseman, rotation, bullpen and right field all are all occupied by different players in 2011.  If you have any favorites on this team, enjoy them now because next year, who knows whether they’ll be back or not.
On a personal note, my father-in-law has been moved from the hospital to the rehab center and it seems as if he’ll finally start the rehabilitation process after having a stroke three weeks ago.  I was up there with him over the weekend but had a chance to catch the Hall of Fame induction on MLBN.  Lots to come about that in the coming days.  Go Cubs Go!

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One List. Two Lou’s. Three Acceptable Options.

Dailies

I’ve often wondered what my Mom and Dad did to pass the time during the day at work.  My stepfather and stepmother were a plumber and teacher respectively so they never really had the 9-5 challenge of staying awake and being productive.  Nowadays you can practically coast through 2/3’s of a given day on Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Youtube, Foursquare (not sure why this one exists), various blogs, websites, Hulu, and on and on.  Honestly, how many times can you go to the bathroom?  How many times can you walk over to a co-worker’s desk (notice, not email or IM) and ask them to grab some coffee or visit the water cooler?  If I had to put up with that nowadays, I don’t know how I’d survive.

With the Internet we find out things instantly and we are able to communicate to others in an instant of finding out the news of the day.  Somehow it got by me yesterday that James Gammons passed away.  Now for many of you, chances are that by name alone, you don’t know who I’m talking about.  However, what if I say “None of this OH-LAY ********” or “Forget the curve ball, Ricky.  Give him the heater”.

Now do you know who I’m talking about?

Of course you do.

The actor that played Cleveland Indians manager, Lou Brown, in the film Major League passed away yesterday at the age of 70. Here is the article in the NYTimes.  In my opinion, James Gammon is responsible for giving us the best overall performance of a baseball manager in the history of film.  I loved his dry humor and the way he’d deliver his lines.  His voice could help you pick him out of a line-up all by itself, as it probably should be credited for landing him a number of roles that he played.  His performance was impeccable and unforgettable, proven by the fact that I still quote him over and over again even after a decade’s passing since the film came out.

It got me thinking about the greatest performances of all-time when it comes to depicting baseball managers.  As soon as I posted on Twitter upon hearing the news that I feel Gammon’s performance was my favorite and the best of all time, someone tweeted “Wilford Brimley is pissed at you right now”.  I know Brimley was the oatmeal guy and had a long respectable acting career.  I know he was likable and many think his performance in The Natural is the all-time best.  However, I disagree.  I respect Brimley’s performance and in fact I think it was the third best of all time.  Who comes in second?  Well, here is my list of the top five of all time starting with number 5:

5. William Devane in “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training”

While he can’t live up to Matthau’s performance and really, who can?..(not Billy Bob Thornton, that’s for sure)…he is responsible for coming through in the end for his son, Kelly Leak, and for his Bad News team against the mighty Houston Toros.  Watching Tanner run away from the umpires is my all-time favorite Bears moment, however, it’s the moment that happens right after Tanner starts yelling “The game’s not over, we’re not finished!” that really tugs at the heart strings.  The old guy with money to burn and a ten gallon hat jumps on board, then we as the audience do as the rest of the fans in the Astrodome do when the Bears’ manager, Kelly’s dad, runs on the field to support Tanner’s efforts in giving his guys a chance to win it all with a heartfelt “LET THEM PLAY!  LET THEM PLAY!”  TRY to watch that scene and not feel the absolute yanks on the heart strings while he convinces everyone in that stadium, the Astros included (in their old ugly uni’s, although to their credit they are the inspiration for the chant) to let the game go on.  A great moment and simply for that, he gets number 5 on the list.  Here is that moment:
4. Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own”
It goes to show you how I feel about the other performances if Mr. Oscar himself is sitting in at number 4.  Hanks’ comedic chops and timing deliver a memorable performance of a washed up, alcoholic, has-been who is stuck managing in the lady bigs.  A guy’s guy, managing a bunch of women was probably the last thing Jimmy ever thought he’d be doing.  However once he comes around and realizes the heart his players have and decides to work along side his star player in Geena Davis, his story hits it’s arc and it’s a performance worthy of number 5 on this list.  And honestly, we all remember there’s no crying in baseball.  Why?  Because Tom Hanks said so.
3. Wilford Brimley in “The Natural”
The old guy just wanted to win.  He had nothing left for BS.  He had nothing left for politics.  He certainly didn’t have anything left to battle gambling that was starting to play an effect in outcomes of games.  When he found out his ‘new’ talent was an old outfielder and that he was expected to do something with what he viewed as never-was garbage, he was irate.  Yet it was this same talent, Roy Hobbs and his Wonderboy bat that saved the day and the pennant.  Brimley’s mustache helps him get the edge over Hanks in addition to the film itself being a classic.  Movies can’t achieve that status without it’s actors providing incredible performances like Wilford’s.
2. Walter Matthau in “The Bad News Bears”
Matthau starred in one of the raciest baseball scripts of it’s time as a little league baseball manager.  Although they way these kids talked and the way Matthau’s character behaved it easily could’ve been the Majors.  This was basically South Park before there was South Park.  All we needed was Lupus running around going “Oh My God, they killed Tanner!”  Matthau hates his life but has to continue his role as manager of this sorry group of kids.  As their season goes horribly and the kids are ready to give up, he’s afraid of seeing that part of him coming through in his kids and he gets under their skin to finally get them performing.  Swiggin beers and working with his new female pitcher (another role of a movie manager having a problem with a female player, interesting) and his new star outfielder in Kelly Leak, along with building a comraderie with Engelbert, the two kids who could only speak Engl
ish and his useless in the field, great at keeping score/taking a pitch team geek made Matthau and this team a bunch of guys you loved to root for.  A drunk little league manager doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of guy you’d like to root for, but in Matthau’s hands it was a lot of fun and one of the best ever.
1.  James Gammon as Lou Brown in “Major League”
The great thing about Lou Brown as a manager was the way he used the information he had on the owner’s wish of throwing the season to move to Miami as motivation to get his guys angry and play beyond expectations.  That’s something that a big league club needs.  A common goal and common enemy at times to get your team going as a team and picking up ground in the standings.  Gammon showed absolutely no interest in joining the club at first and then in the end of course, they get it done.  The rest of my thoughts on his performance are included above.  Thanks for all the quotes, James.  You da’ man buddy. Of course, not a lot of his quotes aren’t NSFW so here is a fun behind the scenes video for the film:
That aspect of being able to rally your team for a common goal is something I feel Piniella was always missing (and still is) with the Cubs.  Division titles in 07 and 08 were great, but you could tell he couldn’t get this team over the hump in being swept in the playoffs and not returning in ’09.  Lou announced he’ll retire after the 2010 season and I’d love to see him go out a winner.  I just don’t know that a cardboard cut out of Jim Hendry with removable pieces revealing more and more of his body is going to cut it with this squad.  (Maybe the Ricketts sister?  Or what about Sarah Spain perhaps?)  I appreciate what Lou has done with this team as it’s been one of the best tenures in Cubs history.  Just would’ve been great to see him win the big one with the Cubs knowing what it’d mean to him, the city and the organization and it’s fans.
Seeing that he’s out soon, here are the three possible replacements that I would actually be OK with:  Ryne Sandberg, Bobby Valentine and Alan Trammell.  More on that in another post.  For now, here is some information on the career Lou has compiled.
Going to watch the rest of the game now without typing through the whole thing.  Cubs down 6-0 in the fourth to the Astros currently.  Dempster on the mound.
Forget the curveball Ryan, give him the heater.
Go Cubs Go!

Dawson’s Week

Dailies

Andre Dawson will finally be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  On Sunday afternoon, he will take his rightful place among the legends of the game.  The lawn in Cooperstown, I’m sure, will be absolutely packed with Cubs (and possibly some Expos) fans for as far as the eye can see (or at least until the lawn runs out).  I’ve never been to an induction ceremony and this was to be my first.  If I had the opportunity, I would’ve attended Sandberg’s.  With the announcement of Dawson going in back in January, I immediately looked around to make hotel reservations.

As you could imagine, hotel accomodations were extremely hard to come by.  Many hotels were sold out when I called and I started calling only minutes after the announcement was made.  I had my numbers ready to go and as soon as my blackberry sent through the note that Dawson was in, I kindly stepped out of the meeting I was in and started the hunt for my Cooperstown home for this upcoming weekend.  Apparently, while I wanted to be sure of Dawson getting in, many fans made their reservations ahead of time ‘just in case’.

Motels nearby: sold out.  Hotels: sold out.  Quaint country side inns and Mom and Pop bed and breakfasts: sold out.  One place was completely taken over by the media and Cooperstown employees which would make sense I suppose, at least for the media as they too would have to sleep somewhere, right?  Well after widdling my way through sold out venues and those that require a 3 night stay (the induction is only on Sunday and the museum probably only really needs one day so 3 would be a little excessive….and expensive, like $1200) I finally found a place about a half hour/forty minutes away in beautiful, sunny, tropical Utica, NY.  Ok, not ideally sitting on Main Street, Cooperstown with a view of the parade from my room window, but still, close enough to be a part of all the action and share in Dawson’s big day.

Then about a week or two later, my wife and I found out she was pregnant (perhaps the only new year’s resolution I’ve ever actually kept and accomplished so quickly by the way. TMI?) and we’d be having a baby come October and she’d be right in the thick of pregnancy in the hot, hot Summer days of July.  A total trooper and excited about coming home with a new baseball cap, my wife was still game and hot or not, she was ready to go check out Cooperstown for the first time in her life and share in Dawson’s big day.

I wanted to head up there with her and take in all the sights and sounds the town and the museum has to offer.  Show her some of the cooler baseball memorabilia they have on display.  Interview a ton of Cubs fans and get their take on the event and what it means to them.  Interview haters and find out perhaps why they don’t think Dawson belongs in the hall.  Make some silly videos and archive our experience in Cooperstown that weekend to share with you all.  And most importantly, just be around it and share in a historic afternoon that will bring Dawson’s baseball achievements to a close with perhaps his greatest honor yet (the highest you can obtain as a player so yes, his highest honor). 

Unfortunately, although I’ve mentioned it here in a few times and in the vlog I shot on the day of Dawson’s Hall announcement, I will not be able to make it to Cooperstown this weekend.  I do plan on finding some way of covering this event whether it is through an interview of some sort or what, I haven’t decided.  However, due to important family matters I will not be able to attend.  My father-in-law had a stroke about two weeks ago and it was very, very scary.  Driving my wife up to see him in the hospital, not knowing what was happening or what could happen was one of the most intense car rides I’ve ever experienced.  I know what her parents mean to her so I just tried to get her there as quickly as I could.  A good 5 hour drive from NYC to NH and we did it in about 4 hrs and 20 mins (don’t tell the police though). : ) 

He is doing well and is able to talk although he has a lot of recovering to do and rehabbing coming up.  A clot in his brain and some brain hemorraging was occuring and if his wife hadn’t had him to the hospital as quickly as she did, this weekend could be much different.  I just wanted to let you all know that I won’t be able to go up to Cooperstown and share photos/videos with you of the big Andre Dawson gets into the Hall weekend as I said I would.  As disappointing as that is, all things considered, I am happy to say that we will be spending the time with her father and mother at the rehab center in New Hampshire. 

As I have my own son on his way, I’m starting to further understand how important family is.  Back in January I couldn’t name you one place I’d rather be this coming weekend.  However with recent events, there’s no way I’d be anywhere else than where I’m going to be.

If anyone has any photos, videos, etc after this weekend they’d like to share, or if you are attending and would be up for me interviewing you afterwards, please don’t hestitate to email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com.  Thrilled for The Hawk and I look forward to hearing his speech and seeing all of the coverage on MLBN.  It’ll be cool too to hear Sandberg’s speech or from anyone that is there to speak on behalf of Dawson as they knew him in his playing years and beyond. 

This coming Sunday, Andre Dawson and I will having something in common.  We will both be exactly where we should be and all things considered, for both of us it could be A LOT worse.  (A more uplifting post about two Lou’s and the greatsest movie managers of all time is to follow this evening.  Go Cubs Go!)

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Pitch In

Dailies

Those of you who read this blog and own an MLBlog of your own are probably already familiar with Zack Hample.  If you are not already familiar with this ball snagging phenom (seriously, his commitment to snagging baseballs…if the rest of applied it to our own passions it would be scary what we could accomplish)…here is a video showing him on CBS discussing some of the best tricks in the game when it comes to taking home a baseball from the next game you attend.

 

Now, Zack has been on countless TV shows, in numerous publications and even has his own books out about his passion and various aspects of the game itself so it’s not like my mentioning him here is going to do much in getting the word out about him.  However, what I do hope it helps is get the word out about the charity Zack works with on a regular basis called, Pitch In For Baseball.

Pitch In For Baseball is an amazing organization that provides the proper equipment needed to kids around the world so they too can enjoy the great game some of us may take for granted.  Think of the local baseball field and your experiences playing the game growing up.  Probably some great memories, yes?  Imagine having no gloves, cleats, bats, balls, etc around to do so.  Honestly, if it were me and that experience was taken away from me, that would’ve been tragic.  Last year, every ball Zack snagged raised money for Pitch In For Baseball.  You are able to donate as much as you’d like per ball and every little bit helps.  I recall seeing the joy on kids’ faces when they were showing footage of kids getting soccer/futbol equipment around the world during the World Cup and it made me happy to have taken part in the same type of effort through PIFB.  There are organizations out there working hard to provide medicine, vaccines, water, food and of course all of these things take precedent over baseball equipment.  However there is something special about being given an opportunity to play a great game and dream about playing like your favorite players that deserves recognition, respect and action as well.  The group does a great job and I just wanted to take a moment to mention them here and provide you with the info you would need in order to help. 

The group’s website is found at http://pitchinforbaseball.org/html/index.html and Zack’s charity pledge page can be found at http://www.zackhample.com/charity.php.  I’m pledging to help with what I can this year.  I have a new little baseball guy on the way and come October he’ll be on his own little journey to hopefully enjoy the game as much as I do.  If we lived in a country where we needed help to make that happen, I’d hope others would help him out as well.  Check it out and do what you can.  Thanks for reading.  Go Cubs Go.

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Only in New York

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While we have a small break from MLB today…congrats to Marlon Byrd for his huge play in the All-Star game helping defeat the American League for the first time in nearly a decade and a half.  And in other news: this happened on a NYC subway train: 

Don’t take things too seriously. It really just ends up being a giant waste of time. (You hear me Joey Votto?) Go Cubs Go!

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Congratulations Byrd! Reds up close and personal

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Congratulations to the Cubs lone all-star in Marlon Byrd!  Check out the hitting stats of the top 10 Cubs’ performances so far this year (in stats listed below) and you can see why it was a clear, cut and dry result, in choosing Marlon to represent the Cubs in the Summer classic.  Sometimes injuries happen and people are unable to play.  As a result, perhaps only Marmol has a shot of joining the party late, but it’s highly unlikely.  Nice to have fresh enthusiasm on the team and a great example of what Jaramillo’s hitting program can do for guys.  Now, let’s hope it catches on for the rest of the team in the second half of the season.

Our 5-8 and Fukudome helped the Cubs destroy the D’backs out West with a barrage of extra base hits.  Great spark in Fukudome leading off the game with a home run and the rest of the game followed suit.  Tomorrow night I’ll be at Citi Field for the Mets/Reds game.  Looking forward to seeing the NL Central leading Reds up close and personal.  Maybe seeing them in person will help answer some questions as to why they are having the kind of season they are because I still haven’t figured out why their 2010 is turning out the way it has been.  Anyone have any thoughts as to why in the world we are looking up at of all teams…the Reds???  Almost as bad as being brutally roughed up by the Pirates this year.  And that’s bad.

Congrats to Marlon Byrd…GO CUBS GO!

Padres Disappoint a Cub Once Again

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If you read Prose and Ivy regularly, then you know that I also have a podcast at BlogTalkRadio.com that compliments what you read here on-line.  I’m due to record another Prose and Ivy podcast so I will set that up soon.  However, as a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I also co-host a podcast occasionally for the BBA.  Tonight, I was supposed to co-host the podcast with the gentleman “Web”, from the San Diego Padres blog “WebSoulSurfer”.  Well, Mr. Web never showed up.  So I had to host the hour all by myself.  Have you ever talked about baseball to no one but yourself for an entire hour?  I hadn’t either.  However, now I can say I have.

Hopefully all is well with Websoulsurfer…even though once again the Cubs side of things were let down by the Padres (like 1984 all over again).  I tweeted about the show and asked fans what they’d like for me to say to the Padres fan.  One gentleman said “Ask him if we can have Andy Masur back” (funny).  Another guy said tell him, “See you in the playoffs”.  I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but it may have to considering so far in the podcast arena, the Padres are a no-show.  Check out what happens when one is left to his own devices for an entire hour talking to no one but himself by clicking here.  Enjoy.  Go Cubs Go!  

Blessing in Disguise

Dailies

When it comes to Chicago Cubs baseball, if recent events have taught us anything, it’s never say always.  One of my favorite things to say here at Prose and Ivy is, “We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh”.  Given our performance in the past against the lowly Pirates, it always appeared on the year’s schedule as a gift-wrapped blessing.  A small three day break if you will where wonderful things happen like Cubs home runs flying out of the park, pitchers dominating on the mound, Cubs ending up on the right end of a blow out and W flags are hooked to the flag pole rope at the top of the first for it’s inevitable rising after the top of the ninth.  Plan to head home early folks because the Pirates are coming to town.  There won’t be any Cubs batting in the bottow of the ninth because there won’t be one.  These games are given.  The Pirates can’t handle the talent and the skill level the Cubs bring to their games.  Regardless of how the Cubs were going, if you see Pittsburgh coming up on the schedule, get ready for at least a three game turnaround and find your brooms.  The Cubs were about to seem the Pirates and all will feel right again in Wrigleyville.

That was then.  This…is now.

All of a sudden, the Cubs can’t be counted on to beat one of the worst teams in all of baseball and the cellar dweller or the NL Central.  See that .342 winning percentage and the 17 games that they currently sit behind the division leading Reds?  Don’t let that fool you!  When the Pirates have had the all-of-a-sudden priviledge of playing the Cubs, they are a surreal .800 ballclub!  In ten games against the Cubs this year, they’ve won 8 and lost 2.  What?!?  WHAT!?!  There are certain things that this blog feels it can count on:  baseball magazines and websites and blogs will have the Cubs listed as contenders in the Central, talk whether this is the year and then the Cubs will let you down come October (some seasons even earlier); Dempster will predict the Cubs will win it all; Carlos Marmol will be responsible for at least six heart attacks across the midwest throughout the course of a season; Sox fans will hate on Cubs fans and vice versa; and if nothing else is going our way, hey hey…at least ‘We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh’.  Well, that last one apparently no longer applies.  And it just may be a blessing in disguise.

Think about how this season is going.  The Reds lead the NL Central and the Cubs currently sit in fourth place looking up at the unfortunate view of Brewers behinds, hardly even keeping the Cardinals in sight, while the Reds are a ******** 10 games out in front of them.  The offense thinks it’s still the off-season.  Carlos Zambrano is seeing a shrink.  Piniella seems to be snoozing through the first half of the season.  All of our ‘all-stars’ suddenly look too old, too injured, or too apathetic.  Castro started out hot and then cooled off to an average pace.  Wells can’t seem to find the form that kept him one of the club’s most dominant pitchers in ’09.  And for some reason, we CAN’T beat the Pirates.  Fine.  If that’s the way it is…if that’s the way it’s going to be, then perhaps the rest of the things we’ve come to expect can start to make a change as well.

Perhaps the head shrink can get Zambrano under control and he can perform out of the bullpen upon possibly returning after the All-Star break.  Perhaps Wells can find his form and start to lead this club through a charge to possibly make up 10 games to the top of the division.  Our crosstown rivals just made a huge push to put themselves in the club of relevant baseball teams for this year, and if they can do it I KNOW we can do it.  Perhaps we will find a way to win one run ballgames in the 2nd half of the season.  Those eighteen losses in one run games might just be the single most frustrating aspect of 2010.  Perhaps since what has become the norm against Pittsburgh has been turned on it’s head, maybe all of these other things we’ve come to expect from this team this year can take a change of course as well.  Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise.

Of course, if it does happen there is a very good chance that we may have a few different guys wearing that same disguise as there are rumors that everyone from Zambrano to Marmol to Fukudome to Lilly are on the trading block.  I’m not sure how far behind we need to be for Ricketts to consider himself a seller as opposed to a buyer.  He’s a good business man it seems, but he’s also a fan.  I wonder how hard it must be for him to make rationale decisions when analyzing at point this particular team is no longer going to make the push it needs to contend.  I wonder if Ricketts thinks Pittsburgh is just another symptom of an extremely frustrating and disappointing Cubs season.  I wonder if he can find a way out of this mess and find the blessings in all of this turmoil.  So many fans on-line if you read around the Cubsblogosphere have already said ‘please, no more’ or are very close to taking that flag and throwing it in like a towel.  I don’t like our odds against the rest of the league if we can’t even handle Pittsburgh.  However, I didn’t expect Pittsburgh to put the beating on us the way they have.  Hopefully an unexpected 180 on this season’s trajectory is around the corner as well.  If not Pittsburgh, we’ll always have fool’s hope, right? 

(Any thoughts you’d like to share can be done in the comments section, or if you’d like, you can call into tonight’s Baseball Bloggers Alliance podcast.  I’m guest hosting tonight at 11pm EST and you can find the show’s site and information here!  And since I’m hosting with WebSoulSurfer who runs a Padres blog, I’ve included a clip of the Derrek Lee/Chris Young fight.  Why not?  Enjoy.  Go Cubs Go!)