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!

Now a Staff Writer for Baseball Digest

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

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!

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

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?

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’

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:

mlblogs home page jan 18.png
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

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!
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