Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What to do amidst the NL craziness

Honestly, I don't know what to write about. Someone pooped where Dusty stood. I don't want to write about that.

Adam Wainright is hurt. I don't want to write about that.

People were happy or less than gracious upon finding out Adam Wainwright was hurt. I don't want to write about that.

The NL Central is probably not going to be very good. I don't really want to write about that.

This makes me wish baseball would realign. Completely. I already wrote about that.

So if you want, go read about it.

First, I tried to point out how 3-division leagues make baseball kind of suck.

Then I proposed a realignment plan.

I stand behind all of this still today. Good day. And please, no one poop in the dugout.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Marlon Byrd Promises Cubs Will Combust

Guns don't kill people . . . but I'm
not arguing with Marlon's.
I'm not the one to turn to for a pep talk on the Cubs' chances in 20!! (double exclamation points to the contrary). If I start talking about the Cubs contending this year, it's because I'm blatantly choosing to ignore the information I have at my disposal. No amount of data can predict with absolute certainty what the Cubs will accomplish this season. But I think a postseason appearance in !! is entirely improbable. I won't begrudge anyone their loftier predictions, I just won't tend to agree with them on an intellectual level.

But if you want that pep talk, go to Marlon Byrd. If you can't set up a personal appointment, go to his blog. He believes the Cubs are going to explode.

I won't argue (although Carlos Zambrano promises he won't explode). I really hope he's right. I can't rule out that he's right. There's no harm in believing the Cubs will catch the world (or at least the NL Central) by surprise. I'm just not ready to invest the energy to preach that sermon.

I will say that Marlon Byrd is exactly the guy I want delivering that message. He is a man of enthusiasm. A man of positivity. A man with pretty freaking huge arms. I'm glad he's on the team, and I'm ready to start watching him play real baseball.

First spring training game is this Sunday. Marlon's pep talk has definitely worked on me to some extent:

The guys we have -- there's not excitement on MLB Network, there's not excitement on Baseball Tonight. That excitement is Greinke and Marcum with the Brewers and Berkman going to St. Louis and the Reds signing extensions to the young guys who are going to turn into big dogs. We're going to fly under the radar and keep that excitement bottled up and once April 1 comes, we're going to explode.

I share Marlon's excitement. Just not his optimism.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spring Training!!!!!

How do I feel about Cubs Spring Training being underway in Mesa? Here's the Answer:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Should the Cubs Try to Sign Albert Pujols? The Insiders Answer.

The question is simple. Should the Cubs try to acquire Albert Pujols in light of the negotiating deadline in his rear-view mirror? He's reportedly asking for something in the neighborhood of $300 million over 10 years. That's a really nice neighborhood. Anyway, I asked this question to a group of Cubs insiders to get their opinions, and here are their answers:

Carrie Muskat, Pujols is under contract with the Cardinals. Making an offer now would be tampering.

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune: Yeah, the Cubs need to give $30-million contracts to more old guys.

Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune: Only if they can sign Tony LaRussa as well and trade the Wrigley Building for the Gateway Arch. But it's unclear whether St. Louis would go for that.

Rick Morrissey, Chicago Sun-Times: I'll answer that question with another question: would you trade Flintstone vitamins for anabolic steroids? Would you plant an old, overripe watermelon in the ground and use a falsified birth certificate for fertilizer? Do you read my column instead of prescription drug warning labels? I'm not saying he's juicing and lying about his age and doomed to suck. I'm just saying.

Rick Reilly, ESPN: Signing Albert Pujols to a $300 million contract would be riskier than tightroping across the Grand Canyon on the final thread of talent still remaining in Alfonso Soriano's career.

Bruce Levine, ESPN Chicago: Should they sign the best player in baseball? Of course. But can they? The last I heard, the Ricketts family had to ask to borrow money just to clean the bathrooms at Wrigley.


Steve Rosenbloom, Chicago Tribune: Do the Cubs need another overpaid diva from another country? The question answers itself.

David Kaplan, WGN Radio: Albert Pujols is the best in the business. If you have a shot to bring him to the North Side, you take it. I want a World Series for the Cubs as much as anybody, and no one can ensure that that happens better than Jose Alberto Pujols. And when Prince Albert hoists the World Series trophy in the parade through Wrigleyville, and he needs a new best friend to share the moment with? I'll be there.

Editor's note: the following contributors did not return requests for comments. Answers were supplied on their behalf: Carrie Muskat, Paul Sullivan, Phil Rogers, Rick Morrissey, Rick Reilly, Bruce Levine, Judd Sirott, Steve Rosenbloom, David Kaplan

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

103 Things That Won't Happen in 2011 (but I'll hope for anyway)

It has been 102 years, 4 months, and 2 days since the Cubs last won the World Series. I round up to 103 years because that's the minimum amount of time we can expect to have elapsed between Series-clinching wins for the Cubs. Some people don't like that approach. This keeps me up at night. That's not the point.

Yes, that's a gang symbol. North Side!

The point is it's been a long wait. The intersection of realistic people and people who expect the Cubs to win the World Series this year is the empty set. And at this point, I don't care. As the late Ethan Hawke once said when asked which of his movie's soundtracks most exceeded the film in terms of quality, critical reception, and revenue generation, "Reality Bites." So here's a list of 103 things that won't happen this year. But I want them to (well, most of them), and I'll go ahead and pretend that's realistic.

103. The Cubs will sign Albert Pujols when free agent season commences and he'll give them the "Screw you, Cardinals" discount.
102. Carlos Marmol will save 50 games.
101. Starlin Castro will have a 25-game errorless streak.
100. Todd Ricketts will throw six bench players in the trash and pay for them out of his own wallet.
99. Angel Guzman will pitch. In the majors. Effectively.
98. They'll open a Starbucks in my house.
97. Bleacher ticket prices for all home games after July 1 will be lowered to $10.
96. Rudy Jaramillo will learn to control the wind.
95. Aramis Ramirez will hit 30 home runs.
94. Before the All-Star break.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What is a Cubs Game Worth?

Do you really have to be there?
The newest Cubs ticket plan, the six pack, is now on sale at Six games for $150 or more (they advertise the prices starting at $97, but the cheapest seats available in package E, for example, ring up at $141.16 once fees are included.) Not bad, all in all, I guess. You're going to pay $23 a ticket for not very good seats to 1 premium game and 5 games you'll try to sell to someone else (or maybe vice versa, I don't know you).

But is a trip to Wrigley worth that right now? I'll throw out all the other costs associated with getting to the game, because going into Chicago is worth it. I love Chicago. I love driving into Chicago. Up Lakeshore Drive. Through the tangled mess of the Dan Ryan. Neighborhood routes or expressway bypasses, I don't care. I love being in the city, and I'm not going to add the price of getting there into the Cubs' side of the ledger. Getting there is on me. Glad to do it.

Once I'm there, though, is it worth $23 to mingle around the statues and take in the ballpark rising from the cramped city . . . trapezoid; to trudge through the fog of beer fumes and hot dog vapors; to fade into a crowd of people who more than anything just want to see a Cubs win and enjoy a few drops of sunshine along the way; to sit in uncomplicated seats; to bring my voice close enough to the field that the players can hear my cheers of support and groans of disappointment and shouts of triumph? Is that worth $23? $30? $125?

How much is it worth to me to indoctrinate my sons with an emotional attachment to a team that offers little rational return on the investment? To bring them to a place so big and green and beautiful that reveals itself in a sudden wave of glory as we head up the steps onto the mezzanine? To sit beside them and talk about whatever they want to talk about and answer every question and not have a TV on? How much is that worth to cement a moment in time between me and the members of my family?

I guess about $15 per person is what I'm saying.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chicago Cubs in Music: Can the Cubbies Get Back to Contention?

If Starlin Castro has a sophomore year that's more Albert Pujols then Jerome Walton . . .

If the Luck Dragon smiles on Carlos Pena's BABIP . . .

If Mike Quade actually is the Luck Dragon . . .

If Albert Pujols gets angry and only takes it out on his own team (and occasionally the Brewers and Reds) . . .

If a whole bunch of other really awesome things go just right for the Cubs . . .

The Cubs could seriously contend in 2011.

BUT . . . 

Well, that's an awfully big but. And if you like that sort of thing, this is your year. And this is your song.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chicago Cubs in Music: Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry

Because I don't know that words will convey my current feelings on the Cubs quite precisely enough (I mean, the pre-Spring-Training pangs are so nebulous, so elusive, so coincidental to the ebb and flow of blogger lethargy), I'll be relying on the power of music to get the point across. First up, fittingly I suppose, Chicago.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Remaining Cubs Ticket Sales Announced

Still want Cubs tickets? They're having a sale! Here's the gist:

This Friday, Feb. 11, a six-pack plan goes on sale. Six-ticket packages starting at about $100 plus taxes, fees, and what-are-you-looking-at? surcharges.

The Cubs have lifted their ban on the Saturday, June 18 game against the Yankees. A new 13-game plan featuring the previously unreleased tickets goes on sale now, NOW! Prices start at ZOMDR!

The MasterCard pre-sale is back and exactly the same as ever! Wednesday, Feb. 23 and Thursday, Feb. 24 will give fans the opportunity to spend more than they otherwise would for tickets no one else will be willing to buy. Hurry!

Plain-old vanilla single-game tickets will go on sale Friday, Feb. 25. You can buy them online or by joining the teeming severals of fans who like to wear wristbands and avoid the mass ticket-agent surcharges. They'll be selling tickets by phone, too, because some people apparently still use those.

Happy money losing!

Okay, that's totally jaded of me. I still love the Cubs. I hope they win lots and that the tickets are all worth every penny. But . . . *

*meaningful ellipses dripping with sarcasm

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A League of Her Pwn

Julie has up and moved her kingdom. I highly recommend you update your bookmarks and get your digital booties over to the new A League of Her Own and check out Julie's just-launched sports network, the brand new, femininely epic

What are you still doing here? Go! Now!