Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Cubs on WGN: How much is that worth?

It's a bizarre little economic triangle the Cubs are in right now, no? You've got Sam Zell, the owner of the Cubs and the Tribune Company; the latter filed for bankruptcy protection in December while the former was excluded in hopes the billion-dollar sale would not be compromised. Apparently when you file for bankruptcy protection, it helps not to have too many easily liquidated assets sitting around.

Next you've got the Ricketts family, who are trying to buy the Cubs for $900 million—although they'd like to see that price go down.

And then you've got a somewhat silent third party looking on: the bankruptcy court, which has its eye on every move Zell and the Trib make. Don't forget about them, especially as the closing of the Cubs sale gets complicated by one little issue that complicates not only the sale of the team but also the future worth of the Trib as it reorganizes under Chapter 11: the broadcasts.

Up until now, the Trib has owned the Cubs, so who cares how much the broadcasting TV and radio contracts with Trib-owned WGN are worth? The other 29 teams in MLB, that's who. 

For those of you who have never sat next to a Steinbrenner at a party, there's this little agreement the owners of MLB teams have called revenue sharing. The more money the big-market, big-revenue teams make, the more they have to share with the little guys (somewhere Joe the Plumber is blowing a gasket). So here's where the money starts to get a little funny.

Obviously advertising is the biggest revenue stream for almost any media company. In the case of the Cubs, any advertising revenue credited to the team gets shared; any money credited to the Tribune Company proper is untouchable. So if you own the Trib, it would be in your best and greediest interests to put a cap on the amount of revenue that gets credited to the team.

So it should have come as no surprise in 2001 when, lo and behold, it was revealed that the White Sox ($30 million) actually make about $7 million more per year in local ad revenue than the Cubs ($23 mill). The Cubs contract (with themselves, essentially) is structured heavily in favor of the Tribune. The team and the company split actual ad dollars 50/50, but things like sales fees, commissions, and back-end client agreements divert a huge amount of revenue away from the team.

That approach was great when the Cubs wanted to avoid sharing their money with other teams. But when the Ricketts get involved, they'll want to stop sharing money with the Trib. A deal that limits their ad revenue (and their ability to shop broadcasts to other, non-bankrupt entities later) severely decreases the value of those contracts and the team on the whole.

Meanwhile, the bankruptcy court will be very interested to see A) how much earning power the Trib will have after the sale goes through, and B) how much value the company's current assets are really retain. It seems like the Trib wants to hold on to one of their surest money makers, hide its real value from the courts, and inflate the value those interests represent to the Cubs. 

So is anyone really surprised this is a sticking point? The other main interested party is the fans, and I think we'd all like to see the new owners keep as much cash as they can. Yeah?

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Positive Spin on the Cubs' Offensive Struggles

The Cubs' offensive woes are well documented, and at this point I don't know if hitting the ball is really their thing. But that's no reason to hang your head. The Cubs can succeed in any number of other areas, and you can too

I can think of about a dozen guys with a future in Gatorade fountain repair.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

And the Ires Have It

All of you who had "Jake Fox's Bat Cooling Off" in yesterday's pool lost miserably. No, Lou didn't have one of his sweet explosions, but big Z picked up the slack. Pretty much the whole world has now overreacted to Carlos Zambrano's overreaction to the disputed out call in Wednesday's victory over the Pirates (it's just a big globe full of hypocrites, no?).

And now it's time to reflect on the simmering stew of tempers now residing in Wrigleyville and just how tasty it really is. If you filter through the extreme snobbery of moderation sermons being preached all across the Chicago and sporting airwaves this morning, you might actually notice that everything about yesterday's Mt. Zambrano eruption is hilarious.

There was Lou, unable to suppress the giggles during his post-game press conference.

There was Milton, also chuckling, and approving of the impressive nature of the explosion, adding, "It was on a Bradley level."

And of course, there was Carlos himself, pointing, gesticulating, ump tossing, incidental bumping, ball hurling, Gatorade bashing, and pitching-coach endangering. Yes, he'll be suspended. So what? The fresher he'll be in September and October. His tirade didn't hurt the Cubs. It helped humanity.

Maybe I should be sorry for enjoying a fit of childish rage, but I'm not at all. I love the fact that the Cubs now have three of the most volatile characters in baseball on their squad, ready to combust at any moment.

Cub baseball just became fun to watch again.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jake Fox's Bat vs. Sweet Lou's Temper

The Chicago Cubs are reportedly recalling Jake Fox and his uber-bat from AAA, where he's hitting somewhere in the neighborhood of infinity with a google homers and 100% of his team's RBI's. (They also brought up SS Andres Blanco and LHP Jason Waddell.)

With this move, Cub fans are rewarded with three big items off their wish list while shattering one fairy tale:
  • Jake Fox has a chance to prove he's not just a AAA legend.
  • Aaron Miles will take a break from sullying the Cub lineup card, as he's being placed on the 15-day DL with a bad swing and a partially strained statistical projection.
  • Neal Cotts is being sent down to the minors where he is rumored to be trade bait for a Denny's Grand Slam Breakfast and a Bob Walk rookie card.
  • Bobby Scales, the exciting spark plug and fan favorite substitute teacher, has been sent down to AAA as well. It's sad to see him go, but his recent bout with the flu probably saddled him with more sick days than he could afford.
Seeing Miles and Cotts out of action will cause much jubilant relief among Cubbie faithful, but it's the Jake Fox call-up that really has fans buzzing, especially given their recent offensive woes. But all of Fox's minor-league exploits amount to little more than Jack Squat—he has to show his stuff on the major-league level. And it seems slightly doubtful that he'll see everyday playing time unless he shows he can play 3B.

Remember those stories of how SF Giants 3B Matt Williams used to practice fielding grounders with a ping pong paddle instead of a glove? The word on Jake Fox is that he looks like he's doing that, only not as successfully. We'll see how fast he cools off.

And speaking of cooling off, Cubs manager Lou Piniella is staying surprisingly cool during this offensive economic downturn, and it's sending some Cub fans' frustration over the boiling point. Lou says blowing up with a hell-fire hissy fit doesn't really work in firing up a team (Lord knows, he's done the research). He says now is the time for him to be calm and reassuring, but many fans are still begging for a classic Lou tirade. 

So here's the big question I'm hoping you can answer. Which will happen first: Jake Fox's bat cooling off like an iceberg, or Lou Piniella's temper erupting like a volcano?

Reed Johnson Fills in for De-Ro, Sparks Bradley

The Cubs didn't just trade away their most beloved utility man and clubhouse leader when they dealt Mark DeRosa to the Tribe; they gave away their resident blogger as well. And while Reed Johnson is strictly an outfielder, he's taken over those last two spots for the Cubs quite nicely.

Reed Johnson's MLBlog isn't heralded as a literary masterpiece. It's substance over style. Function over form. Short over sweet. It's less indicative of his wildly growing facial hair, more so of the razor that subdues it into control. But in his latest blog entry, Reed Johnson plainly states how he straightened out Milton Bradley's attitude.

To Reed's credit, he seems to have discussed this publicly for the sole purpose of addressing reports that have already surfaced. Bradley himself referenced the discussion in interviews, so it's not like Reed is touting his newfound position on the attitude police squad. He simply states how he told Milton Bradley, who was showing signs of discouragement and disgust during his at-bats, "You're better than that."

Kudos to Reed for having the guts to approach a strong personality like Bradley. And similar props go to Milton for listening to him, breaking out of his baseball-hating funk, and handling it like the great teammate we heard so much about in the offseason.

Most of all, a big round of applause to the Cubs, the rain, and a climatically shortened, bullpen-free W to wash away the stench of an 8-game losing streak.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bradley Lashes Out at Baseballs

Just days after accusing umpires of retaliating against him for imperceptible umpire bumping, Milton Bradley called attention to yet another conspiracy against his oft misunderstood self: the baseballs are out to get him. 

Bradley fouled a pitch off of the bottom of his foot in Monday's 10-8 loss to Pittsburgh, and he later told reporters he expects more of the same.

"It was definitely intentional. Ever since I crushed that homer off Peavy, I've noticed a lot of foul balls trying to get a piece of me," Bradley told reporters, his right foot wrapped heavily in ice. "And that fly ball that got away from me when I dove for it in the 7th? I'm pretty sure it laughed at me."

The ball in question, that Bradley swears "intentionally hopped out" of his glove, allowed the first of three Pittsburgh runs to score in the 7th as Neal Cotts continued to pitch, something that seriously must be stopped if the Cubs are to win. Bradley just wishes the baseballs would stop hating on him.

"It's definitely one of those things where they're like, 'Oh, you hit my friend? Then I'm gonna hit you, see how you like it.' Well, I don't like it," Bradley snapped before shrugging and adding, "But what are you gonna tell 'em? They're baseballs. Whatever."

The much maligned right fielder, acquired by the Cubs as a free agent for a reported $30 million over the next three seasons, may use his baseball vendetta to actually earn his salary; he homered in his very next at-bat. But the baseballs don't understand his rush to judgment.

MLB baseballs' director of public relations Bobby Spalding called Bradley's theory "ridiculous." 

"If there's anybody we don't have a grudge against, it's Milton Bradley," Mr. Spalding posted on the organization's blog, which speaks out in defense of battered and mishandled balls across the league. "He's treated us with nothing but the utmost tenderness and caution for most of the year. Maybe two, three of our members at most have been hit hard by Milton. If anything, he's our favorite hitter; when he's batting, we know we can breathe easy."

Meanwhile, Cub fans across the world are desperately hoping the issue doesn't get resolved and that Bradley has finally put an end to his fair and ethical treatment of baseballs.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I Am Jim Hendry

Let's say I'm the GM of the Cubs. Or you're GM of the Cubs. The team's stuck in the sappy crust of a 7-game losing streak, the offense isn't scoring enough to win a soccer match, and every so-called slugger on the team is either on the DL or flirting with the Mendoza line. What do you do? As I see it, here are the main problem areas that need to be addressed and the 5 moves that could improve this club right now:

Add Relief via Trade, Free Agency, or Minor League Call-up
The Cub bullpen needs help, no question. Neal Cotts pitches on a regular basis . . . any questions? They have Gregg, a closer with no stuff, and Marmol, a guy with great stuff when he's not closing. And then there's Heilman, a guy who probably needs to be starting if he's going to do well. But is this really the reason the Cubs are sitting at .500 and showing every intention of dropping even further? Not really. But here's the move I would make to improve the bullpen if I were Jim Hendry: 

1. Acquire Pedro Martinez (free agent) and use him as a closer. He's supposedly 37. He's not playing anywhere. He's probably too old to be a serviceable starter, but I can definitely see him excelling in a John Smoltz, Kerry Wood, Dennis Eckersley starter-to-closer metamorphosis.

2. Make Aaron Heilman the 5th starter and move Marshall to the bullpen. Heilman's stuff is brilliant when he's on and BP-awful when he's not. Inconsistency is poison for relievers, but for starters, it's almost expected. Most starters rarely have all three or four of their pitches working, but an entire game allows them to figure out what is working. Heilman has three killer pitches and no idea how to use them in a single inning of work. Marshall is brilliant wherever he goes.

Acquire a Utility Player/Backup 3B
I.e. Mark DeRosa. It's been well rumored that Mark DeRosa is on the trading block since Cleveland looks to be out of it. It would be great to have De-Ro back, overrated, underrated, or unrated director's cut. So, this one is kinda easy:

3. Get Mark DeRosa from the Indians for three minor leaguers.

Get Jake Peavy
Uh . . . yeah, this is obvious. Peavy's agent made it crystal clear on ESPN Radio Chicago's morning show: the longer the Padres wait to deal Peavy, the lower the benefit for the team who gets him and the more it hurts the Padres. The Cubs are the only team he wants to go to. If the Padres kept him for the next two years, he'd account for almost half the team's salary. In the predicament the Padres find themselves, the Cubs shouldn't have to give up a lot at this point. They won't get him for free, but the team will have to be left intact for Peavy to OK the deal.

4. Trade the Daytona Cubs for Jake Peavy. 

Do Something Drastic
The Cubs are past the point of tinkering, and this is the time to do something that get the attention of the entire team. They could bench Milton Bradley. They could have Zambrano play third. They could wear red hats (I don't care if Bud Selig held a gun to their heads, what the crap is that about?!?). But if Jim Hendry really wants to wake up the Cub bats and a whole lot more, this is what he'll do:

5. Fire Lou. Hire Ryno. I'm not one to criticize every tactical move Lou makes, because the guy knows baseball (and knows his team) better than anybody. What I will criticize is the attitude of the team. Lou was supposed to bring (and has brought) a culture of winning and professionalism. Haven't seen much of that this year. The Cubs play like crap and carry themselves like crap. The mystique of Lou is not in the X's and O's but in the scowls and bellows. None of that's working, and it's time to make a change. 

Why not Ryno? Why not now?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Worst. Rivalry. Ever.

UPDATE: Hooray!! Yes, the Cubs got swept, but that $#&#@! series is over, and we won't see that blasted Arch until September.

I hate this rivalry. Cubs/Cardinals is my least favorite matchup in sports, it really is. To me, playing the Cardinals is like heading into a Haunted House—the only thing you can really hope for is to make it out alive.

It's not that I fear the Cardinals. I hate the Cardinals. And while Yoda might say those two things are nearly synonymous, I don't see it that way. The simple fact of the matter is, the Cardinals have won 10 World Series since the Cubs last called themselves champs. So no amount of regular-season winning can erase that edge. 

When the Cubs beat the Cardinals, it's a relief. It's escaping the bully. When the Cardinals win, it's like getting a noogie, a swirlie, and a super-wedgie all at once in front of your junior-high-school crush. And when they win the World Series, it's like watching them walk away with said crush while you hang suspended by your underpants with a sore forehead and a wet, twisted hairdo that reeks of stale number 1.

All that has made this series, in which the Cubs have scored one futile run, an embarrassing Freaks/Geeks flashback. Hopefully the Cubs can get one win and we can escape without any further ripping of whity-tighties.

And, oh, yeah, LaRussa is the Devil. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sun, Meet Dog's Tail End

As a Cubs fan who blinked twice, looked up, and realized the Cardinals had just blanked my favorite team in under 2.5 hours, it feels a bit odd to say this, but here goes: Games like this make me love baseball even more.

Yeah, getting blanked by a guy who has no business throwing a complete game shutout (a guy named Joel Pineiro) sucks, but he was on today. Baseball is a game where some days, a not-so-great pitcher can have a Cy Young day. I love that about baseball. When the sun shines on a dog's can, it shines really, really bright. Smile, doggy butt, this is your day in the sun.

And it's so easy to walk away from a game like this without feeling bad. Tomorrow could be Bobby Scales chance at 3 homers or Milton Bradley's long-awaited 5-for-5 effort. Who knows? There are plenty of K-9 keisters just waiting to bask in the glow.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day-Off Reflections: Sammy

It's been over 10 years since Sammy Sosa first entered the 60-homer stratosphere, and nobody really celebrates that anymore. It hasn't been a full 8 years since he last hit 60 home runs in a season. It has been nearly 5 years since his early exit from the final game of the 2004 season, and for some reason that's the image of Sosa that seems to linger in Cubbie memory. And the release of the Mitchell Report was just a year and a half ago, but most people have apparently forgotten that Sosa's name wasn't on it.

There has never been any hard evidence linking Sammy Sosa to steroids. The obvious one—the simple fact that he hit a ton of home runs and they went a really long way—is a fair enough point, but that's hardly damning testimony. The usual argument I hear is, "Look at the pictures. Compare Sammy the twig from his early years with Sammy the hulking hero circa Y2K, and the difference is stunning."

Here's the problem, anonymous hypothetical accuser: the photos don't incriminate Sammy.

The above link (and the following link) is a Chicago Tribune photo gallery of Sammy Sosa over the course of his career. I expected it to show me a wiry Sosa no bulkier than the average Jheri Curl. And I expected the '98 photos to be bursting with musclebound, acne-ridden Sosa power. And, of course, I expected the photos from his final years with the Orioles and Rangers to show a completely deflated version of the fallen slugger.

What I saw instead was an early photo of the same glowing, goofy smiling head supported by a neck that was just as thick in the late '80s as it was in the mid '00s. He was definitely skinner as a kid, but not as much as I imagined. And he was ripped in '98, but not huge (the SI Cover of Sosa and McGwire, photo 11 in the gallery shows just how much smaller Sosa was than McGwire in height and bulk). To be frank, his legs looked like tree trunks pretty much his whole career. And in his last few years in baseball, Sammy didn't look skinny . . . he just looked like a dude in his late 30s who had kind of let himself go a little.

I've heard other people talk about Sammy's injury history, which I don't understand at all. From 1997 to 2002, Sammy played in at least 150 games every season, including two years ('97 and '99) in which he played 162 games. Sammy was a horse who made every effort to play every day for most of his career.

Here's what I'll remember about Sosa:
  • Sammy played hard and performed at a high level from the instant he stepped out of the dugout and raced into right field.
  • He seemed to be able to hit home runs at the most dramatic moments (if not the most important ones from a baseball standpoint): his flag-waving homer in the first game after the 9/11 attacks; later that season, he homered the day after Arne Harris died; in his first game back in Chicago after leaving the Cubs, he doubled and homered against the Sox; again with the Rangers, he hit his 600th career homer against the Cubs).
  • Every at-bat was important to Sosa. For him, the show was always on.
  • He couldn't cork a bat to save his life; seriously, that thing was a mess. If that's how he cheated, his idea of taking steroids would likely involve poking his biceps with a sewing needle dipped in berry juice.
  • He became too big for his own good . . . but what do you expect when a guy gets worshipped for six years straight?
I guess I just feel like Sammy got the shaft. If he gets excluded from the Hall of Fame because of his association with the Steroid Era, I just want to know . . . where's the association?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How do you spell relief? $#!^@

I know. Kevin Gregg looks like a complete failure, which makes Jim Hendry look like a complete moron. As Ed, the genius behind, so eloquently tweeted, Can we charge a loss / to Kevin Gregg, even though / the Cubs won the game? 

Unfortunately for statistics, Gregg will get neither a loss nor a blown save, since the Cubs won and they had a four-run lead when Gregg entered. Aaron Heilman gets the tough-luck Blown Save after giving up a game-tying bloop with the bases-loaded, no-out crapfest he inherited.

After the game, Lou defended the rusty and ineffective 3-G goggle wearer, saying he hadn't been used lately and faced a tough Astro lineup. And others point to the fact that Kevin Gregg, like so many other closers, doesn't feel the same intensity when he enters the game in a nonsave situation.

So how should we look at this as fans? Is Gregg a failure? Is today's hit parade evidence that his acquisition was a major mistake? Is it time to usher Carlos Marmol into the closer role?

No. Whatever the side effects, go ahead and ingest that chill pill. 

This was one game, albeit one horribly abysmal game. He got no one out. He looked awful. He pitched like your mom. But Gregg is better than what he's shown so far, and he's definitely better than this one bad outing. One bad outing can lie to you, and so can general impressions. Statistics lie, too, but when you find yourself moping over the Cubs' bullpen woes, their truth can set you free. Here are some liberating Gregg stats to cheer Cub fans up and back them away from the ledge . . . for now:
  • Gregg's current ERA this season (6.06) is about 2 full points higher than his career ERA (4.08). Neither number inspires a ton of confidence, but his career ERA as a closer is in the mid 3's. 
  • Gregg has 18 appearances, just about 1/4 of what you would expect (on the high end) from a closer. It's not a huge sampling. For comparison's sake, check out Mariano Rivera's stats from his first 18 games of the 2007 season. They are eerily similar to Gregg's opening stats as a Cub. That's not to say Gregg is Mariano Rivera, just that it's too early to dismiss him as a failure.
  • Gregg has blown only one save this year, believe it or not. And he's actually striking out more than a batter an inning. (Mark that one down as the skewed results of a small sample. He's never done that over a full season in his career.)
  • While Gregg professes to prefer save situations, statistically the 9th inning is Carlos Marmol's worst (the 8th is by far his best). Opponents' batting averages go up 30 points in the 9th against Carlos, and their OPS is almost 200 points higher in the 9th than in the 8th.
Is Gregg the best closer in the world? Nah. But he'll do. Trust me, by the end of the year his stats will be respectable. (Although I would love to see Carlos develop a closer's mentality.) Dealing with crappy outings like this is what proves a closer. Nasty stuff wouldn't hurt, either, but I'll take resilience if I can get it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And I Slept at a Holiday Inn Express

So I was at the game last night. And as I watched firsthand as Carlos Marmol stepped on to the mound seemingly possessed by both Good Rex and Bad Rex, I got to thinking about one of the most annoying phrases in sports fan commentary: "I was at the game, and . . . "

I love how people (including myself for at least a brief moment of Lou-doubting during one of Bad Rex's demonic spurts of wildness) think that being at the game qualifies them as some sort of premier expert about anything that happened during the game. It usually takes the form of the "if I was the manager" observation:
Well, I was at the game, and I can tell you, Lilly was done. I don't know how Lou could leave him in there, 'cuz he had nuttin' left.
As if Lou was not at the game. Too bad he didn't buy a ticket and watch from Section 512 Row 19 Seat 3, or else he would have known Lilly's night was done. Or there are the Terrace Reserved psychologists who, from being at the game, know exactly what every player was thinking:

Oh, you could tell, that pitch that hit Soriano wasn't a mistake. I was at the game, and you could see the pitcher glaring right at him the whole time the ball was in the air. From where I was sitting, there was no question; he plunked him on purpose.

Again, too bad the umpire couldn't have had a view from "almost right behind third base and then like twenty rows up." The pitcher and manager would have been ejected immediately along with any fan wearing a Padres jersey. 

What is it about possessing a ticket stub (although, they aren't even ticket stubs anymore) that makes people think they're geniuses? From my experience, I always have a much better idea about what's going on when I'm watching the game on TV than when I'm sitting in front of some drunken chanting idiot who thinks it's funny to comment on every person in the stadium.

That's what people in attendance should be saying. "Yeah, I was at the game, and food costs too much. And Cub fans are great and all . . . but the loudest ones are usually complete idiots." Or, "I was at the game, and I missed all the replays. What the heck happened on that ball Fukudome misread? I got distracted by this old dude in front of me picking his giant nose."

I don't know if Lou makes all the right moves or if Theriot is a mind reader. But I do know this: these two pictures were taken exactly 24 seconds apart from each other. The grounds crew rolled out the tarp, and then rolled it right back in again. I was at the game, and it was hilarious.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gathright for Freel AND Farney

There's been plenty of talk in the media, the blogospheroids, and inside Ryan Freel's own head about his imaginary friend, Farney. He says it's all a joke, according to Paul Sullivan as well as his latest appearance on ESPN 1000 with Waddle and Silvy. Here's what I gathered from that interview:
  • Ryan Freel isn't crazy, but he does have a few screws loose.
  • Farney doesn't live in his head, but that doesn't mean the demons in there are silent.
  • Ryan is a Hulk Hogan brother-er. Yeah, he'll drop the Hoganesque, "brother," exclamation as frequently as Canadians say, "eh." It's beautiful.
  • He hates the Orioles and doesn't want to talk about them.
  • He really, really wants to talk about them, but Waddle and Silvy were too dumb or chicken to probe the issue.
  • Ryan Freel has no speech filter, and he loves to talk candidly to whoever will listen.
Awesome. We finally have a player who will say inappropriate, hilarious stuff into microphones real and imaginary. That talent was hidden in Cincinnati and Baltimore, but it's about to hit the big time. This is Chicago, where the media loves to blow Zambrano references about Yankee Stadium amenities into doctoral dissertations about why Wrigley Field should be demolished. I can hardly wait to see what happens when Freel actually does give his thesis on Baltimore, McFail, steroids, and who knows what else. Personally, I hope Freel sticks around long enough to become this city's biggest sideshow since the Unholy Rodman Empire. 

He's gonna be the most quotable guy in town, even if Farney never says another word.

Why Black & White?

I've had several people ask why I would choose black & white for a Cubs blog. I get comments like this:

"Aren't those White Sox colors?"

"Are you secretly a White Sox fan?"

"Isn't that just lazy design?"

I guess, no, and so what? 

The last time the Cubs won the World Series, black & white were their colors. I'm not proposing the team go back to break any mythical curses, but this blog is staying B/W as long as the Cubs stay championship-free. I'm also paying 2 cents for a loaf of bread and getting paid $750 a year in tribute to the early 20th century.

So there you have it. I bleed Cubbie blue, but I blog in monochromatic anticipation.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blogging DL

It's been a long time since the last post (Aaron Heilman the 5th starter? . . . insert abbreviated interrogative curse here). I was out with a strained give a crap. It's not that I haven't cared about the Cubs, but I just found it too hard to talk about independently. 

But now I'm back, ready to opine ad nauseum if that's what it takes. What it takes for what? No clue. Why do Cubbie-related opinions matter at all? What difference does our cheering, caring, and commenting really make in the grand configuration? Why should we waste our . . . wait. These are the kinds of questions that put me on the DL to begin with. Stop thinking. Start caring.

Go Cubbies!