Beloved Cubs icon Santo dies at age 70

Beloved Cubs icon Santo dies at age 70 | News.

This news shocked and saddened me.  Wept throughout my attempt to read the article.  Of course I knew about his health problems due to his diabetes, but I was unaware he also had bladder cancer.  Impossible to capture how much he will be missed.

I don’t have many memories of Ron Santo as a player, though I’m sure I watched him on WGNTV and perhaps even saw him in a game at Wrigley.  But I wasn’t even born in his rookie year (1960) and was only 3 when he started his string of Gold Glove Awards in 1964.  By 1969 I was certainly a Cubs fan . . . who could forget that heartbreaking year? (Still hate those Mets!)  Too bad those Hall of Fame Knuckleheads didn’t manage to give him his due and elect him to the Hall before he died.

What I remember most vividly is Ron’s voice on WGN-Radio with Pat Hughes, the two of them painting a picture of the game as it unfolded so those of us on the other end of the radio waves felt like we were there with them.  If you tuned in late you could always tell how the Cubbies were doing just by the tone of Ron’s voice.  His mood directly tied to the fortunes and misfortunes of his beloved Cubbies.  And whenever there was a gap in the lineup of seventh-inning stretch singers, there was Ronnie, pitching in with gusto to lead the fans in our anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.  It’s “Root, root, root, for the CUBBIES, if they don’t win it’s a shame . . .”

RIP, Ronnie.

And please talk to the Big Guy Upstairs about letting the Cubs win a World Series.

My Year as a Twins Fan

After years as a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, I “let go” for a year and joined Twins Territory.  I gave it all I have: listened to or watched most games, participated in game chats, bought Twins gear, went to several games.  Overall it was a great season.  Certainly, in terms of wins and losses, much better than most Cubs’ seasons.

So why do I feel even worse today, after the Twins were swept by the Yankees for the second ALDS in a row, than I ever did after a Cubs’ losing season?  I’m afraid some deeply held beliefs that “true Minnesotans” hold, but that my New Jersey-born/Chicago-raised soul just can’t accept or comprehend, may have infected Twins Territory and are contributing to their inability to win in the postseason.  (Perhaps it is also time for me to move, but I’ll save that for another post.)

In his post-game press conference last night, Ron Gardenhire said “I’m very proud of this baseball team.” Yes, he was basing this assessment on winning the division. Well, that’s a goal they’ve accomplished six of the past 10 years.  And all but once they have lost in the first postseason series, by either three games to none, or three games to one.  SO what exactly makes him so proud?  I certainly don’t feel proud of the way the team has played over the past several weeks.

I can only conclude that his pride in his team (and the resignation that many Twins fans express about the Twins’ inability to win in the postseason) stems from one or more of the following common Minnesota Codes of Belief and Conduct:

  • Minnesota Nice (my def.:  overt polite friendliness and courtesy which is designed to avoid all confrontation and which seeks to conceal a basic passive aggressiveness and resistance to change)
    For the Twins this seems to take the form of rarely sweeping a series (it wouldn’t be nice to show up the other team) and easing up in a game once they get ahead by a few runs (ditto).  Dear Twins, you are being paid lots of money to win ballgames.  Please don’t feel bad for the other guys (who are also being paid lots of money).  Sports involves confrontation.  If you feel bad about that and bad about winning you are in the wrong business. And Gardy & Andy . . . I don’t care if the pitcher says he’s “fine” . . . it’s your job to pull him BEFORE the other team gets ahead by six runs, even if it hurts his feelings!
  • “All our children are above average” an extension of Minnesota Nice which declares it “unseemly” to point out that some people are better at some tasks than others and rewards “trying hard” equally with actually accomplishing a task.  (One Minnesota College which shall remain nameless refuses to be part of Phi Beta Kappa because it requires identifying the “best” students and setting them apart with an honor!)  Gardy’s most frequent excuses for losses take the form of “we didn’t get it done”  (GEE, REALLY?  I didn’t know that from the zeros on the board!) I can’t be certain from this sort of response whether the manager and coaches really don’t KNOW what fundamentals are missing from their ball players’ repertoire or whether they just don’t communicate well enough to point out to the players exactly what needs work.  I’m afraid that perhaps “just try harder next time” is the extent of the constructive criticism provided.  I WAS encouraged to read that Gardy recognizes some of the reasons why the Yankees are so successful: “They’re always looking in. They pay attention to everything. It’s not like they’re robots out there. They pay attention to the game. . . . They do a very good job of getting those guys ready over there.” There is NO reason why Twins can’t achieve the same level of preparation.
  • Upon pain of death, shunning, or firing, do not express emotion of any kind. Frankly, baseball can be a rather boring game.  For most of three hours, very little happens.  One way players can help alleviate potential fan boredom is by acting like they actually enjoy what they are being paid substantial sums of money to do.  Say what you will about the faults of Sammy Sosa, but when he entered the playing field (by RUNNING out to RF and acknowledging the fans) everyone knew his attitude was “GAME ON.”  Twins fans like to say that the (cheer)leading happens in the dugout and we don’t necessarily get to see it.  I WANT TO SEE IT!!! Show me that you care about the game and the fans.  Be FIERCE.  Not mean, not nasty, but definitely emotionally engaged in the game.  (One thing I definitely did NOT miss while Justin Morneau was out with his concussion was that stoic blank stare he usually wears throughout a ball game.) Yes, Gardy occasionally gets tossed  for arguing with an umpire, but those rare expressions of emotion are not enough to provide energy throughout a 162-game season.

All of which leaves me with the not-so-long-anymore offseason to contemplate whether to return to Twins Territory next year, or go back to my “loveable loser” Cubbies, who even when they are losing seem to be able to show me that they enjoy this game I love AND that they really WANT to win.  Tune back in April to learn my answer.

I’m gonna miss “The Riot”

Cubs send Lilly, Theriot to Dodgers | News.

but they get Blake DeWitt (no relation) . . .

Everyone knew that Lilly was likely to go, but how can they trade TheRiot?  We’ll miss him and the Fontenot/Theriot Louisiana connection. Yes, I know that Starlin Castro is the latest hot young infielder .  . . but the Theriot-DeWitt trade doesn’t seem to add much (except a great last name).  The two infielders have pretty similar stats . . . .We’ll see how it all works out.

The Cubbies definitely need pitching help, so getting two new arms in the pitching part of the trade might at least shake things up out there.

Gonna miss Howry too, though I know he’s been struggling lately.  He was a class act.  Really hurts to send him away in order to make room for Zambrano to come back . . . what a waste of space on the roster that one is . . .

Enough for now . . . there will likely be more to comment on by the end of the day.

Cubs working on deal with Toyota | News

Cubs working on deal with Toyota | News

The Cubs, looking for sponsorship opportunities, are working on an agreement with Toyota in which a giant logo for the Japanese carmaker would be erected behind the left-field bleachers at Wrigley Field.

Yes, you read that correctly. And no, today is March 17, not April 1st. I’m guessing now’s a good time to try to make deals with Toyota ;-D

For me, this may be the last straw. Now that I can only follow games on the radio, I’ll be catching very few Cubs games, but lots of Twins games.  Part of me will always be a Cubs fan, but it may be time for a few years off (like until Lou and Soriano are both gone).  I guess this means I’ll have to start working on a new set of header photos for this blog. Not sure whether to do a “Logorama”-style version of Wrigley, or just defect to the Twins (though I’m sure there are plenty of Target bullseyes in the new stadium). (BTW, if you haven’t seen the Oscar-winning Logorama, do check it out. You can see it here.  Not the best of the Animated Shorts (IMHO), but still worth seeing. )

Wild Day at the Ball Parks

Two wild games today.
The Cubs beat the Phillies 10-5, but they could have easily lost that game. At least twice the pitchers loaded the bases and narrowly escaped allowing several runs to score. But a win is a win, and a win against the Phillies is worth more than the multiple wins against the Nationals. So, good job Cubbies.
Quite the meltdown by the Twins, losing 1-16 in Oakland. I’m worried about Perkins, who hasn’t seemed to be himself since he suffered a high fever just before the White Sox series. I hope the medical team is checking to make sure he really is better and not suffering some long term problem from that fever. But Perkins was only in the game for one inning (plus 2 batters), so obviously the rest of the team needs to take some responsibility for the loss. I’m just thankful that by the time I checked in with the Twins game, the tragedy was almost over.

All of us can use the time off between now and Friday’s games . . . let’s hope that everyone brings their A-game on Friday.