The Cubs Have Lost Their Voice – RIP Ron Santo

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

This morning, however, was very different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIP Ron Santo.   

D Lee Denies LA

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

…but happy.

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

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Dawson’s Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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July 25th -Cooperstown, NY- The Andre Dawson Expo

When Hall of Fame induction weekend in July rolls around and I find myself standing in the middle of thousands of Cubs fans (and perhaps a few Nationals fans sprinkled throughout) in Cooperstown, NY to listen to Andre Dawson give his Hall of Fame induction speech, he MIGHT be wearing a Cubs cap. This has yet to be decided.

The cap on his Hall of Fame plaque however, this has been decided.  Andre Dawson will enter the Hall of Fame, forever enshrined as a Montreal Expo.  
I’m disappointed if only for Andre.  Otherwise, I’m still thrilled for the guy.
He didn’t want to say the wrong thing or look like a bad guy, or offend an entire group of fans that may still hold their time rooting for the Expos dear to their hearts.  That’s why he never came flat out and requested to go in as a Chicago Cub.  However, he didn’t have any problem hinting that he’d prefer to go in as a Cub and once the announcement was official, went as far as basically saying that he’s disappointed his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame will not be a home for which he may hang a Cubs cap.  It will forever be etched in bronze that he was a Montreal Expo first and foremost…and then, oh yeah, he also played for the Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins.
I of course would love for Andre to go in as a Cub.  Why wouldn’t I?  However, I’m not that upset about it.  It is what it is.  He’s a hall of famer, he made it and I’m happy for The Hawk.  However, what it is…is…a flawed system.  The hall decides which cap a hall of famer will have applied to their plaque as we know.  The player’s feeling is taken into account however they believe if those that run the hall crunch the numbers and decide which city will represent the time where the player was his most valuable and dominant, then historically speaking the dignity of the hall and the honor will be preserved.  Seeing that it’s an opinion, there will always be those who disagree.  Even in this case, Dawson himself isn’t thrilled.  Apparently this system got real fire under itself when Wade Boggs wanted to go in as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray. 
My question…so what?  Why not let him?
Think about what the player has to do to earn this honor.  The day in day out hustle and grind of the major leagues for many of them stretches nearly two decades.  To keep your performance at a hall of fame level takes an amazing amount of desire, dedication, hard work, commitment, consistency and character.  With all that this person must dedicate to earning a place among the greats, haven’t they earned the right to say which cap is on their plaque?  And what do we have to lose by doing so?  Historically speaking nothing.   The numbers are all the same and all the teams are listed on the plaque regardless.  If anything, by letting the player decide, we would actually end up gaining something.  
Imagine if Wade Boggs had been allowed to go in as a Devil Ray.  Imagine, historically speaking, what that would say about Wade Boggs.  Imagine the conversations that would generate…the reasons why he would do that.  The feelings he must have had towards the Red Sox to choose a Tampa Bay cap.  By allowing the player to choose, we actually find out about them as people, beyond the numbers, which if you ask me…would actually be fascinating.  Completely hypothetically speaking of course, but you’ll understand where I’m going…which cap would Dennis Eckersley choose, or Yogi Berra, or Reggie Jackson, or Rickey Henderson, or any other member of the hall that played significant time with multiple teams?  It would be fascinating to hear their reasons for choosing the caps they chose and it would be a real tell-tale sign of what their careers meant to them along the way beyond the numbers.
Many things are taken into consideration when the BBWAA votes on the candidates each year.  Some of those factors have nothing to do with numbers.  We know how loudly the numbers speak and they are loud at that, numbers speak very well by themselves.  But imagine how much more we’d know about the greats of the game if they were allowed to step up to the plate and make one more move in solidifying their place in the game.
That would be something I think a lot of people would get behind.  Except perhaps the Baseball Hall of Fame, that is.  
It is what it is.  And Andre Dawson’s HOF plaque cap is that of the Montreal Expo.  Whether he wears a Cubs cap at any time during his induction speech is completely up to him.  And if you ask me…that is exactly the way it should be all-around when you reach that day, that milestone in your professional baseball career.
Go Cubs Go!
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Andre Dawson – Hall of Fame Class of 2010

“And at the end of seven, it’s Dawson 5, Phillies 3.”

As for today, at the end of nine years, it’s Dawson 1, Everyone else 0.

The quote listed above is from Harry Caray in calling Andre Dawson’s classic three run home run game against Philadelphia on August 1, 1987.  Hawk had five RBI on the three home runs and nearly single handedly defeated the Phillies.  At the top of the ninth the graphic on the screen actually read: Top of the 9th, Dawson 5, Phillies 3.  An unbelievable performance from what is now, an official hall of famer.

Like that day in 1987, today was all about Andre Dawson.  If Andre Dawson’s living room were complete with a right field bleacher section, I’m sure it would’ve been filled with shirtless, thrilled Cubs fans bowing to the great outfielder as he heard the news that he was the only person to receive enough votes today from the BBWAA to be elected into Cooperstown.

What that moment must have been like for Dawson after an amazing career and 14 years after he last played in an MLB game.  Nine years of will he or won’t he, with the most recent years having him come within even 44 votes of being elected.  Dawson recently mentioned that while many HOFers were telling him it was only a matter of time before the player they respected so much got the call, 44 votes was a large jump for where he was and perhaps this wouldn’t be the year.  After all, he was a Cub and they are used to looking forward to next year.

In 2010, there is no more waiting until next year for this Cub.  Andre Dawson is the sole player to be voted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

Sandberg mentioned Hawk in his induction speech.  It will be interesting to hear what Andre has to say in his. Immediately after I heard the news today I started calling around to hotels in the Cooperstown area.  I wanted to make sure that I had a room reserved so that I don’t miss the induction ceremony come July 25th.  You know Cubs fans.  We show up everywhere!  Forget sell outs at Wrigley game in and game out…Cubs fans show up on the road, at conventions and anywhere else we can to support the team.  I spoke to a women working for the BBHOF today and she mentioned that some years, they’ve had as many as 80,000 show up for the induction speeches.  Granted, I’m sure those were years when more than one player was voted in.  Still, Cubs fans are Cubs fans and I know that tiny town in upstate NY will be loaded with them come July.  I know I’ll be there and I can’t wait to capture and remember every moment of the weekend.

When I got home today I had to write again how amazing it is for Andre and say congratulations once more.  I immediately threw on his three home run game from the Cubs legends DVD collection and just got finished watching it. So cool to be able to relive that incredible performance.  In addition to writing this post, I also shot my first Prose and Ivy vlog for the site which is posted below and on my new youtube channel to partner up with this blog.  You can check out the site and leave comments on my blog here (obviously) and leave comments on my videos on youtube…the channel is called ProseAndIvyTV…by clicking here.

Here is the video I shot today about Dawson getting into the Hall of Fame:

Congratulations again to Andre “The Hawk” Dawson!  Baseball Hall of Fame – Class of 2010.  You deserve it and I’m thrilled for you.  Go Cubs Go!

DAWSON IS IN!

Need to get back to this tonight when I have more time to write, but I had to jump on quick and celebrate with a tiny post at least….2010!  Hall of Famer Andre Dawson!!!!  The Hawk is in!!!  So cool…way to go Andre!  See you in Cooperstown!

Byrd and Hawk Making Headlines

One of the major upsides I’ve heard so far to the Cubs signing Marlon Byrd as their new center fielder is that he’s a guy who comes with great character. Quality as a person through and through, the kind of guy the Cubs should be welcoming into a clubhouse that has seen it’s share of in fighting, finger pointing and broken Gatorade coolers in recent years.  I reached out to Texas fans on Twitter the other day to find out their POV of what we’re getting in Byrd and one of the responses I received read, “[Byrd is] an awesome team player who never quits!  He’s a player that will run out everything even if it’s a routine groundball.  He will make plays that will astound you in the outfield! I am sad to see him go.  He will be a player that I will watch and root for wherever he goes.”  Sounds like the kind of person we should be thrilled to have as a Cub in 2010.  Let’s hope he’s the kind of player we’d like as well.

Cubs hitting coach Jamarillo had Byrd for a few years and thinks very highly of him.  He has Byrd pencilled in as solid five hole guy in the Cubs batting lineup to start the season and mentioned he’s a great leader in the clubhouse and a great teacher.  Seeing that Byrd averaged .295 over the three years he worked with Jamarillo in Texas, it would appear that he understands the tools Jamarillo uses to teach so another solid leader improving our lineup from 1-9 couldn’t hurt.  We lost too many games last year due to an ineffective offense, run production way down from the year before.  Time to get back in form and match the success of ’07 and ’08 with division crowns.  Only this time, match that success with positive results in the playoffs (aka: don’t get swept by LA).

Sure Marlon’s last name obviously helps recall a guy like Andre Dawson whose nickname is the Hawk, but it’s the quality people see in his character that I’d like to focus on here.  Even Ryne Sandberg mentioned in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech that Dawson was once of the classiest teammates he ever had and that Dawson played the game the way the game was supposed to be played.  Sandberg said, “Andre Dawson, the Hawk.  No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more, or did it better than Andre Dawson.  He’s the best I’ve ever seen.  I watched him win MVP for a last place team in 1987 and it was the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen in baseball.”  The intangibles should be focused on when it comes to voting players into the Hall of Fame in addition to their career stats.  Andre Dawson should be a no-brainer to be voted in this year seeing that he has been on the ballot for nine years now and is long overdue.  He brought speed, power, defense and character to the ballpark year in and year out…starting with his first year as a Cub where he agreed to a blank contract and let the Cubs decide how much they wanted to pay him after he’d already agreed.  He loved the game of baseball and loved being a Cub.  Time for the BBWAA to show some love back.

After doing some research I came across a copy of the Hall Of Fame ballot sent to voting members of the BBWAA:

2010 hof ballot.png 
And here is a copy of the information the voters were sent regarding Dawson’s career:
 2010 hof ballot player info.png
Nothing mentioned anywhere about the character of any of the players listed above.  I believe Dawson’s numbers speak for themselves.  If the voters aren’t sure and are on the fence about  the Hawk, they should listen to some of the greats that are already in the Hall of Fame.  They are speaking for Dawson as well and providing even more reasons the Hawk should be in the Hall.  Byrd should not be held to the standard of the Hawk in all fairness.  Then again, if he were to hold himself to the Hawk’s standard and Jaramillo’s theory of Byrd being a great teacher is accurate, that could have an amazing effect on the 2010 Cubs.  We won’t know how Byrd turns out for the Cubs for quite some time.  The Hawk on the other hand will hear his fate in a few days from now.  (You can keep an eye on how long he has to wait to hear the news with the countdown listed in the right hand column).  Hope to see you making your speech in Cooperstown this summer Andre.  Go Cubs Go!