In addition to covering the Cubs on Prose and Ivy, I will now also be writing about baseball in general for BaseballDigest.com.
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!
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?
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!
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!
I have a question for you, Cubs fans.
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:
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:
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?
Addressed to Rhys…..from…1060 W. Addison Street, Chicago, IL. Oh my God. Rhys just got a package from….THE CHICAGO CUBS!!!!
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!
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).