Congratulations Byrd! Reds up close and personal

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

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

Congrats to Marlon Byrd…GO CUBS GO!

2010: New Beginnings and Opening Day with carLos

The Cubs kicked off the 2010 regular season today and Atlanta brought out the big guns right away.  Out came Atlanta baseball legend, Bobby Cox.  Introduced was MLB Hall of Famer and home run king (just like the same way you still call former Presidents, Mr. President even after their term/s are over) Henry Aaron.  And then after the Cubs looked like they may set the table for Zambrano and friends to jump out to a quick start, Atlanta introduced baseball fans to the newest addition to the highlight reel, Jason Heyward with a three run blast to tie the game in his first major league at-bat, as a result of his first Major League swing.

Zambrano was clearly off his game surrendering 8 runs in 1 1/3 innings, the Cubs recorded two errors, used seven pitchers in total and were dominated by a tough Atlanta team, 16-5.  Today’s Opening Day was simply a case of the Braves being the better team in all areas, all day long.  (Although, Z doesn’t fare too well on Opening Day.  Might be time to hand the ball to someone else??)

A bright start to the game was the three runs right away in the first inning.  Nice to see us jump on an opponent quick and not wait until late in the game to make up ground for a change.  Also, nice to see Byrd, the Cubs’ newest addition, put up three runs on a huge blast scoring his first home run in a Cubs uniform.  Welcome to Chicago Mr. Marlon Byrd.

We’re going to enjoy an off-day tomorrow, hopefully put this one out of our mind and come back strong in game two against Atlanta on Wednesday.  Cards, Pirates both won and the Brewers suffered a notch in the loss column in their opener as well.  I expect 2010 is going to be a thrill ride and we are just getting started.  To new beginnings, a new season and new possibilities.  Let’s get a W in game two!

Also related to new beginnings, I moved into a new apartment a few days ago hence the slight slowdown in posts (I HATE PACKING AND MOVING).  The new place is a great find and the extra space is going to be needed big time.  Why?

(this part of the post was written nearly three months ago, only I was waiting to include the news on my blog):

I think I know what video game characters feel like when they stand there waiting for you to make a move and tell them what to do next.  You know that look when the character you control through an alternate universe just stands there tapping their foot, or just simply breathing with no mind of their own as to whether they run, walk, shoot, jump, etc.  I feel like I am just living a blank stare waiting for someone to snap me out of it and tell me what to do next.

Why?

Because of this:

OH.  MY.  GOD.  My wife is preggers.

According to the first test she took this morning:

It was kind of like, “wellllll, I guess you’re KIND OF pregnant….maybe?”  The one solid line you see is the control line.  That line is apparently always there.  Then, after you take the test, if you’re pregnant, the second line shows up.  Well, as you can see there, it is so faint it was hard to tell if it knew what it was talking about.  I couldn’t take it.  We had to get a second opinion.  I’m going to freak out over a device that can’t tell me for sure whether there is a player to be added to this team to be named later?!?!?!?  No.  So, we went out and got another.  The pregnancy test for dummies as my wife puts it.  Much like a contestant on a Bravo clothing line competition, it’s either yes or no from the expert panel.  Pregnant or Not Pregnant.  Our only choices.  No kind of’s.  No maybe’s.  No, ‘ask again later’ (I’m kidding, my wife didn’t pee on a magic eight ball).

And now here I am totally out of my head.  If this test is correct and the doctors confirm it as such this week when my wife, Sasha, goes in for a blood test, then we’re looking at a due date of sometime in October.  Right smack in the middle of the World Series.  Talk about overwhelming.  What if the Cubs are in the World Series and all of this is taking place?  Isn’t having the Cubs in the World Series enough to worry about?!?  And now potentially the Cubs in the Series PLUS our first kid!??!

And, oh man.  What if my book idea actually becomes reality.  What if I’ve put potential financial income on the line that could benefit not only my wife, but my kid too!?!?  The stakes just got a lot higher for sure.  The first test was totally nonchalant about it and the second was a glaring YES, YOU ARE PREGNANT!   If this season puts that much at stake with every ball, strike, walk, out, win, loss, injury, trade, W and L flag raised at Wrigley…my goodness.  An intense season of Cubs baseball like never before.

(Regular readers of this blog know exactly what I’m talking about regarding the book.  If you’re a first timer, here is the book pitch I put out there about five weeks ago.  An absolute passion project that I believe would be an amazing account of one Cubs fan’s take on experiencing the ultimate season of lovable-loser Chicago Cubs baseball with more at stake for me than for any of the players, managers, coaches, owners, etc.

Regular readers of Prose and Ivy know I’ve been emotionally invested in the ups and downs of Chicago Cubs baseball for years.  I’ve been writing this blog for a couple of years now and writing about sports in general since I would cut out pictures from the sports section and tape it to construction paper which I would type up imaginary sports articles on when I was little.

I’ve written reviews and articles for MLB.com/Entertainment and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  I’ve written and produced television shows for Fox Reality, A&E, Travel Channel and Showtime.  I’ve performed stand up for over 12 years, shot pilots for shows I’ve created and written comedy for Comedy Central.  It’s all been a blast and I look forward to doing more when the opportunities present themselves.  Unfortunately, today’s economy has made these opportunities few and far between lately and like many, I am displaced working day jobs needed to pay the bills but not necessarily in situations classified as ‘ideal’.  When it comes right down to it, all in all, I love writing and I love baseball.  The ultimate dream for me would be writing an entertaining, timeless classic account of being a fan of the Chicago Cubs.

But how do you write about the Cubs and take it in a direction that hasn’t been covered before?  There are countless books about Wrigley Field. (Not literally countless).  There are endless books about the best Cubs players by the numbers (not literally endless) and a ton of books about individual Cub personalities or listing interesting factoids about your favorite Cubs players/organization of all time (not literally a ton, I don’t believe).

The question: How do you write an engaging, entertaining, timeless book about being a Cubs fan and the greatest organization in baseball without blending in and reiterating everything that’s been said in Cubs based books previously published?  What could I write that is unlike any book sitting on the baseball shelf at your local bookstore today?

Today, I believe I’ve figured it out.

I had a thought today about raising the stakes for myself as a fan and having the outcome of the 2010 Chicago Cubs baseball season actually effect my life, win or lose.  That thought?

“What would happen if I bet it all on the Cubs?”

Here is the pitch:  I write a book about my experience as a fan of the Chicago Cubs during the 2010 season.  The twist, I am the one fan in the world with more at stake than the players themselves.  While the athletes may have incentive based contracts, those incentives are simply bonuses on top of their salaries.  Come the end of the day, they get paid something (a very large something at that) no matter whether they win, or lose.

The deal: my entire advance and residuals for the book are at stake.  If the Cubs win it all in 2010, I get paid.  If they don’t…I don’t.  Simple as that.

Aside from your actual ‘life’ itself, there are no higher stakes one could gamble than the quality of your life itself.  I’ll have more riding on the 2010 Chicago Cubs season than any other fan out there.  More than any player, coach or manager.  Players, coaches and managers get paid, do or die.  I won’t have that luxury.

Every decision Hendry makes behind the scenes will directly effect my life come the end of the season.  I will share my thoughts on every move he makes throughout the year. I’ll follow the team during Spring Training, recap each game and keep an eye on the players that will determine my fate including a visit to Spring Training to see the team perform in person.

During the regular season I will travel to Chicago from New York to see the Cubs play in person.  When the team visits the East Coast, I will get tickets and check out the team’s performance at each Northeast stadium they visit.  It will be the Cubs roster that decides whether I get paid for a passion project and make my dream come true. Wouldn’t you want to evaluate and see them for yourself as much as you possibly could?  Me too!

Also, if Andre Dawson is voted into the Hall of Fame this year, a trip to Cooperstown would definitely be included!  Interviews with other fans regarding the Hawk and being a Cubs fan in general as well as their thoughts on my venture along the way would be hilarious no matter how the team is doing.  What an exciting detail that would be to add to the experience, an honor for the Hawk well earned and much deserved, without a doubt!

Now, I have a wife.  I live in New York City, arguably the most expensive city in the world.  Committing a ton of time to a passion project with no guaranteed financial benefit is not something every wife would be supportive of and I have no idea how she’d react.  Would she get angry?  Would she become as addicted to knowing the in’s and out’s of Cubs baseball as I am?  What would her reaction throughout the season be?  How would I react?  What would it feel like to see the W flag raised with so much at stake?  How would it feel come the All-Star break with the Cubs sitting pretty in first place in this situation?  And what if they’re losing?  What if Bradley wasn’t the problem and the chemistry still isn’t there in 2010?  What if injuries are a problem once again and all of our stars, one year older, are spending even more time on the DL?  What if Hendry makes a bonehead move (in addition to Silva, that is)?  How would it feel to see an error in the field cost me more than just the once in a lifetime opportunity (potentially) to see the Cubs win a title?  What if I had this deal going at the time of ‘The Bartman Game’?  What would that excerpt have been like?

As a social experiment, I will write about my day in and day out experiences rooting for the Cubs, putting complete faith in them to change my life by winning the World Series.  Something the team hasn’t accomplished in over 100 years.

I imagine the stress will be immense.  I picture the frustration with poor play and cold streaks at the plate to be unmatched.  I predict the heartbreak over an injury to be unbearable.  Box scores will be reviewed closer than a Biggest Loser trainer breaks down ingredients and calories for completely invested contestants.  The 2010 season will play out like a fantasy baseball team with results that are unparalleled.

For years people have wondered why, when I refer to my favorite sports teams, I use words like ‘we’ and ‘us’.  ‘How do you benefit if they win?’ they ask.  ‘Don’t say we.  It implies you win as well’, they say.  Well, this would make that comment completely irrelevant and obsolete throughout the 2010 Cubs baseball campaign.  Imagine letting it all ride on arguably professional sports’ least lucky, most cursed team.  If you ask me, that story and experience would be absolutely fascinating.

If there is anyone reading this with the power to make it happen and is at all interested, please email me: proseandivy@cubsmvp.com.  And readers should feel free to leave their thoughts here as well.  I expect some of you to think it’s cool and some of you to think it’s the dumbest proposal they’ve ever heard.  No matter which side is right…I think it would be amazing to be so invested in one season of Chicago Cubs baseball.

2010.  The Chicago Cubs.  World Series Champions.  It could happen.  I mean, someone will win it all next year.  Why not the Cubs?  What would that be like with the ultimate dream at stake?  And that my friends is why I’m willing to bet it all on the Cubs in 2010.)

I thought the stakes were high five weeks ago.

“Pregnant”.  Yikes.  Go Cubs Go! 

And as an update, of course, yes, it was all confirmed and we are just out of the first trimester.  Expected due date is in October.  Wouldn’t a Cubs World Series appearance be the perfect way to kick off your first few weeks in life?  Hard to argue with.  Looks like the Cubs may need some convincing.  Let’s hope Z comes back strong and we move forward with a W against the Braves in game two on Wednesday!

Go Cubs Go!

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!

Happy Birthday MLB Network

The MLB Network turns one today and much like my nephew who turned one in November, really only the people that created it understand it’s being celebrated.

New talent will make for an even greater 2010 on the network with Peter Gammons of ESPN fame joining the gang. Hopefully, the new talent the Cubs add this off-season will provide a positive boost as well.  Marlon Byrd may be the biggest acquisition thus far for GM Hendry and the team on the North Side, however the off-season is long from being over.

Hendry is keeping within the budget the owners have asked to stick to and considering so far we’ve rid ourselves of an ineffective bullpen stat line eye sore in Gregg, a second rate dud at second base in Miles and an outfielder who couldn’t stand Cubs fans who resorted to giving out free baseballs to fans in right as souvenirs (unfortunately on fly balls he caught while there were still less than three outs and men on base) and upgraded our outfielder situation by moving Fukudome to right (where he’ll be more of an asset) and mixing in the talented and if nothing else, available, Byrd in centerfield…I’d say so far, so ‘pretty good’ by Hendry this off-season.  Would I count on Byrd to put my chances of a thrilling October with a happy ending for a book deal all by himself?  NO WAY and I’ll have more on Byrd later.  (Regarding the book deal, see the post listed below this one).

There are still more moves to be made and deals to be done.  By GM Hendry for sure and hopefully with an interested publishing company as well.  Time will tell.

For today though, happy birthday to the MLB Network!  Mark Newman, the enterprise editor of MLB.com wrote an article commemorating the network’s first anniversary.  He asked for people to send him their thoughts regarding what it has been like having the network available 24/7 over the past year.  I submitted and am quoted at the end of the piece!  It reads:

Ryan Maloney, a Cubs fan in New York, said it changed his baseball world and he cannot wait to see what is next.

“Having MLB Network 24/7 has been an amazing resource, as it practically puts the viewer in the Commissioner’s Office with their timeliness in breaking news and updates surrounding the game,” Maloney said. “Having MLB Network on 24/7 has provided younger viewers with an opportunity to allow historic-game footage to serve as the face of the biggest names of baseball past.

“[It’s] a great way to allow fans of all ages to truly appreciate what makes the game of baseball the great game it has developed into today and the people that have contributed to our country’s favorite pastime along the way. The days of getting your baseball news from boutique sports news stations ended a year ago, the day MLB opened its specialty shop in the MLB Network.”

If you’d like to read the entire article, you can do so here.  Happy New Year to you, Happy Birthday to MLB Network and as always….Go Cubs Go!