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’

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?

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.

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!

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

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

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 _____,

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!