Saying Goodbye: Tony Campana

If The FBB has seemed even more than usually neglected as of late, you may chalk it up to the fact that it’s authoress has recently acquired a full-time job (I don’t know why I’m writing in the third person… hi there. It’s me, Lizzy.)

I haven’t abandoned ship, but it is probable that my blogging habits will continue to suffer in the coming months. Just a heads up.

THIS is one post that wild horses couldn’t keep me from writing. And even if they could, I don’t know why they would want to. I mean, what grudge could wild horses possibly have with Tony Campana? Unless he beat one of their own in a footrace. Which is possible.

Like many Cubs fans (and unlike many others, I don’t doubt), I was sad to hear of the departure of our resident speed demon. He may not have been the best at getting on base, but when he did… golly! There was nobody this side of the moon more fun to watch.

I wish Tony the greatest in Arizona and beyond. I shall remember him fondly. And I have no intentions of removing this photograph from my wall any time soon:

Tony & Me!

 

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Seeing Double: Reloaded

I am so excited to be bringing you another edition of Seeing Double… it is absolutely one of my favorite things in the world, even if inspirations are sadly too few to permit anything but infrequent installments.

Today’s look-a-likes are the result of my having watched nothing but British programming and “24” on Netflix for a span of several months. If you know who more than half of these actors are, congratulations… you’re as crazy as I am.

This isn’t the strongest batch I’ve produced, but it’s still good fun, eh?

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Jeff Niemann/Jeff Daniels:

I actually plagiarized this one from somebody, but I don’t remember who. Sincerest apologies to the mystery individual.

Rich Harden/Chad Lowe:

Eye twins!

Tony Campana/Michael Angarano:

Not only do these guys resemble each other a great deal, they also both look a lot like Fievel Mouskewitz

Brandon (Cotton) Dickson/Laurence Fox:

I was delighted to discover that my only favorite Cardinal ever has an English doppleganger.

Mike Fontenot/Bradley James:

This might be a poor photographic specimen, but how often does one find pictures of random British actors donning t-shirts of American baseball clubs? Not bloomin’ often, my friends.

Rhyme-o-rama 2012! Part Three

Grab your kazoos and party hats! Cue the confetti cannon and fireworks! Prepare your happy dances!

Opening Day has, at last, arrived.

Although, if you’re a Mariners, Athletics, Marlins, or Cardinals fan you’ve had your moment already. This celebration isn’t for you. Go away.

For the rest of us, let’s let the good times roll.

And what better way to kick off this glorious day than with the conclusion of Rhyme-o-rama 2012?

My remaining and increasingly un-predictiony “spoems” follow. I hope you’ll enjoy.

~

Let’s hope our hearts shall oft be cheered
By the presence of Blake DeWitt and his beard.

Rafael Dolis is as cute as can be
He’ll set up, which is fine with me.

Starlin Castro is here to stay-
We get to watch him every day. (Yay!)

Kerry Wood is my favorite, you see,
So instead of two lines
I am giving him three.

Don’t try to hit ’em where Reed Johnson ain’t,
He is everywhere, see, an outfielding saint.

Geo Soto I’ll shower with flattery,
He’s always a positive end of the battery.

Lendy Castillo and Shawn Camp have somehow made it this far,
I literally have no idea who they are.

Darwin Barney plays second base
By bubblegum power he activates.

Tony Campana, Campana Tony.
His speed is anything but phoney.

Luis Valbuena was acquired last minute,
If there was a prize for most infielders, the Cubs now would win it.

~

Thanks to you all for joining me on this strange, rhyming journey. Enjoy Opening Day, and Go Cubs!

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”

My friends, spring has sprung. Like a jaguar out of hiding… like a slinky falling down a flight of stairs. It is upon us.

Here is a random collection of thoughts on Cubs camp happenings thus far:

So long, Chris Carpenter: It hurts to lose a promising young pitcher, but at least the saga of the Theo compensation will nag at us no longer. I extend all my best wishes to Mr. Carpenter, but I’m not looking back on this one. At least not until Chris goes and wins the 2012 AL Cy Young for the Red Sox. Which wouldn’t shock me one bit.

As you can see, Jeff Samardzija is going with the Alexandre Dumas look again this season:

This is fine with me, as it is an excuse to bring back my good friend, the musketeer lego man. All for one and one for all!

On the other side of that coin, Brett Jackson has cleaned up considerably since the winter…

If Jeffrey wants a pal to swashbuckle with, Travis Wood might be the best candidate.

I don’t quite know how a spring training bunting tournament ballooned into a spectacle that has Cubs personnel, media, and fans everywhere taking notice. But I like it. I like it a lot.
Tony Campana had emerged as the early favorite on the position player’s side, only to be upset by Steve Clevenger in the first round. The man to beat now might just be youngster Matt Szczur. My sources like Ryan Dempster on the pitcher’s end (the outcry to his being seeded as a #10 was significant. ‘Tis a head-scratcher, indeed, as Ryan has always been a most proficient bunter.) I always pull for the underdog, so you can bet I’ll be supporting whichever unlikely candidate makes it the farthest.
I know one thing for sure. After all the extracurricular bunt practicing and tourney hoopla, this team better be able to bunt with lethal precision once the regular season rolls around.
Stay tuned!

I have already heard some griping about what a pain this Cubs team is going to be to watch this season, what with all the young, inexperienced players we’ll be trotting out. It baffles me how such pessimistic souls live with themselves. I mean, they’re probably right. It is very likely that the Cubs are on their way to limping through yet another sub-par year. But, for goodness sake, it is Spring Training! A game has yet to be played. If you can’t feel at least a little excitement at this point, I pity you.

Hey, guys… the first real game of the preseason is just five days away! Be ready to jump for joy (or, even more appropriately, spring for it.)

Here are just a few more visuals to tide us over:

Marlon Byrd offers some of his expertise to Reed Johnson’s little boy.

Dale Sveum can see you.

Brotherly love.

Recapping Cubs Con: Day Three

If you visit The FBB often, you will know that I have a great love for our up-and-coming minor league boys and it won’t be much of a surprise to learn that I looked forward to Sunday’s “Down on the Farm” forum with much anticipation. The line-up was a solid one: Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, Junior Lake, Matt Szczur, Jeff Beliveau and newcomer Anthony Rizzo appeared along with Jason McCleod, Tim Wilken, and Oneri Fleita. The latter three did most ofh the talking, while the players mostly sat in silence, or fidgeted with their drinking glasses and pens. Brett Jackson (prospecto numero uno in the Cubs system) was the exception. He took the reins on the majority of questions leveled at the players, speaking well and with a good sense of humor. Anthony Rizzo also spoke a bit (on the challenges of being traded, among other things) and smiled more than the rest. 

I’m more than a little ashamed to admit that up until the midpoint of this session, I was completely unaware Junior Lake is Latino. I should know that sort of thing, I really should. In any case, Oneri Fleita translated a question for Junior, who rattled off an answer in his native tongue. Dave Otto, who was officiating, jokingly turned to Mr. Jackson for an interpretation. Brett’s response: “He said that Brett Jackson was the best player he’s ever seen… that I’m his best friend, and that my Spanish is above average.” Brett also playfully turned an audience inquiry about how closely the minor leaguers follow the Cubs over on Junior…

Brett: “Junior, did you watch the Cubs at the end of the year?”

Junior: *Confused, non-commital look*

Brett:  “Just say ‘yes.'”

On the whole, “Down On The Farm” lived up to my expectations, although it seemed to go by really fast. We finished off our Cubs Convention experience by collecting a few more autographs, all from fellows who had appeared in this session (Matt Szczur, Jeff Beliveau, and Josh Vitters.) It can’t hurt to collect before these guys hit the big-time, can it?

Here are a few more random notes to wrap up my recap… they didn’t really fit anywhere else:

-I am extremely sad to inform everyone that my little friend Theo 2 was lost somewhere in Chicago. Jed Jr. is all alone now. Let us observe a moment of silence in his memory…

Their last photo together, taken shortly before the Opening Ceremony on Friday.

-Darwin Barney cited chewing gum as one of his superstitions…. Bubblegum Power Activate!!!

-Reed Johnson is a Redskins fan (haha) and he uses Canadian imported birch bats.

-During the Cubs Caravan (which took place the day or so before the convention) some of the younger minor league guys dared Tony Campana to eat a large number of some Fruit-By-The-Foot-like product in 10 minutes (or some such minuscule amount of time.) Apparently, he didn’t quite make it. And I’m guessing it will be a long time before he voluntarily eats any Fruit-By-The-Foot again.

-Josh Vitters as some really sparkling eyes. Usually, I would not make a point of sharing such an observation, but it’s really true.

Well guys, this is all I’ve got for now. I’m heading to California tomorrow, but when I get home I hope to put up a few more pictures (better ones. I hope.) Until then, thank you for putting up with my inefficiencies.

Peace out.

Recapping Cubs Con: Day Two

Saturday morning kicked off with a Theo Epstein Q&A hosted by Len Kasper. (Warning: This is where my lousy note-taking skills are going to start rearing their ugly heads.) Theo cited the devoted fan base as a major factor in bringing him to the Cubs. “You don’t find this kind of passion a lot of places,” he said, adding that, “I’ll never forget that Kerry Wood moment for the rest of my life.” He said that he didn’t think he had done anything yet to deserve having his name chanted, but that he hoped it might be more warranted down the road. When asked what kind of changes would be made to Wrigley Field, Theo responded with, “I think that the ‘W’ flag should be raised more.” He’s clever, eh? The session as a whole was quite interesting. There is something captivating about this guy because, even though he didn’t say anything that I did not expect to hear, I was thoroughly enthralled for the entire hour.

“There aren’t a lot of Albert Pujolses around, and I’m glad the one there is isn’t in our division anymore.”

We followed up the Theo event with an hour’s fruitless wait in a Darwin Barney autograph line (oh well) after which we headed to the “Kids Only” Press Conference. It featured a line-up of Tony Campana, Darwin Barney, Reed Johnson, Todd Walker, and David DeJesus. Only youngsters were permitted to ask questions, and it was a scream. Where else would you learn Todd Walker’s dog’s name (which is Mr. Caboodle Snorkleson, or something close to that)? Or hear such a query as, “What would happen if you fainted on base”? Or learn that Tony Campana recently got carded at the movies? Or that if not a ballplayer, he would have liked to have been an astronaut? Tony was definitely a popular guy in this session, and Reed Johnson had us all in stitches.

Just a few gems from this highly entertaining hour:

Q (to Tony): How did it feel when you hit your inside the park home run?

Tony: I was tired.

Q.: What would you do if you were in a pickle?

Reed (confusedly): A pickle jar?

Reed: Is the reason every question is for Tony Campana because he’s the same size as you guys?

Q.: What do you do after a loss?

Reed: Cry. [Short Pause] A lot.

Q.: If Ernie Banks was still on the Cubs, what would he do?

Darwin: He’d wanna play a double header.

Q (to Tony): Are you gonna hit a real home run this year?

Q.: If you could change into any animal, what would it be?

Reed: A cheetah, so I could be just like Tony.

And I am sure the whole world will want to know that Reed Johnson’s favorite flavor of ice cream is mint chocolate chip, while Tony’s is cookies & cream, Darwin’s and David’s is strawberry, and Todd Walker’s is vanilla (with stuff on it.) I know that this is some pretty hard hitting stuff…. I hope you folks can handle it.

Almost immediately following the Kids Only conference was a session called “Outside The Foul Lines”, with Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto, Randy Wells and Tony Campana (again.) It was, unsurprisingly, another winner. I won’t rehash all the contents of this panel as it was, I believe, broadcast on WGN radio and should be available for download sometime soon. It is worth a listen, for sure.

To round off the afternoon, we waited in a few more lines and procured autographs from Travis Wood (sorry you’ve not gotten a ‘Welcome To Chicago” post yet, Travis) and Todd Walker (I’m still a fan. Can’t help it.)

Doesn’t he look like somebody? I can’t figure out who. Help me out, people.

Before heading back to the ‘burbs for the night, we happened to witness Randy Wells in a hallway with a lady friend. He was taking her picture with a life-sized cardboard figure of himself and urging her to “kiss it”… I don’t think she did.

Saying Goodbye: Your 2011 Chicago Cubs

“I am and always will be the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams.”

I know that the average Cubs fan was relieved when the 2011 season finally ended last week, and probably doesn’t think there was much worth remembering fondly from it. I believe that there is always something worth remembering from every year. This year, by some miracle, I have come up with not one or two but TEN positive things to either take from the 2011 Cubs, to look forward to in 2012, or (in a few cases) both.

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10. Sean Marshall… the man who deserved better than the Chicago Cubs. Sean recorded 34 holds and a 2.26 ERA and all that, but I don’t need to recite his stats. We all know how good he is.

9. Jeff Baker & Reed Johnson. Is it just me? Maybe. These may not be marquis-type players, but I have determined that they are genuinely likable human beings and I enjoy watching them play very much.

8. Carlos Pena’s smirk. I’m glad Carlos got to spend a year on the North side. I’ve always been a fan, and I will miss his smile next year.

7. Matt Garza. It obviously isn’t reflected in his won-loss record, but Matt had a very good year for us. And what stands out even more than his solid pitching performances is his enthusiasm. If it was so unflappable in a stinky year like this, I would love to be able to see how psyched up he’d be for a good year of Cubs baseball.

6. Kerry Wood. If seeing Kerry back home again didn’t warm your heart, you might not have one.

5. Throwback uniform days. We got not one, but TWO vintage uni days in 2011, a rare treat. Throwbacks will never fail to thrill me.

The socks… oh! The beautiful socks!

4. Ron Santo-ness.

3. Darwin Barney. I know that a lot of Cubs fans have long since turned their noses up at Darwin, proclaiming him unworthy of whatever acclaim he may have received this year. I know he isn’t Robinson Cano or anything, but Darney certainly exceeded my expectations of him (in the first half, particularly) and that is enough for me to count him among the high points of this year.

2. Tony Campanarama’s mad wheels. I know that some of the same noses turned up against Darwin Barney are likewise against Tony. He may not possess a lethal bat, but honestly… find me someone more fun to watch on the basepaths. You won’t, because there isn’t anyone. This is more than enough to earn our little speed-demon a spot on this list.

1. STARLIN CASTRO. Enough said.

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