Saying Goodbye: Tyler Colvin & DJ LeMahieu

DJ LeMahieu, we hardly knew ye. No, really. I don’t know what else to say, except Adieu.

 

As for Mr. Tyler Colvin, I always had a sort of soft spot in my heart for him. I think it had something to do with the freak bat stabbing in Florida. I was fond of him before that, and when you add sympathy to fondness, what do you get? A soft spot.

I think a move may be beneficial to Tyler and for that reason I am not too sorry to see him go. I shall miss him a bit, but hope sincerely that greener pastures await the lad in Colorado.

Best wishes and happy trails, Tyler… may your homers fly as high as your dreams.

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Survival of the Coldest

I was beyond delighted to be able to attend the match-up between the Cubs and San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field on April 18th. The game was awesome and exciting. The weather… not so much. The temperature and and wind were my inspiration for this post. It was evident that much of the crowd that evening were clueless as how to prepare for a night game at Wrigley in April. We shook our heads at all the poor saps who had little more protection than a thin hoodie and the Cubs winter gloves that were given away at the gates. With such folk in mind, I present you with the following list…

Necessities for surviving 2° Cubs games with the wind whipping directly in your face:

1. Blankets. That’s blankets, pluralized. You will be happy to have more than one, and the heavier duty the better (a W flag is not, I repeat NOT a blanket.) You may feel bulky carrying them around, but, trust me, you will not regret it.A snuggie is not a bad idea, either. No, really.

2. “Little Hotties”, “Hot Hands”, “Toasti Toes”, or a similar product. These things are a gift straight from the heavens. Put them in your gloves or shoes to ward off numbness in your fingers and tootsies. They work like a charm. I recommend activating the packets early on, while you still have feeling in your fingers. It can be difficult otherwise.

3. Layers, layers, layers, and more layers. Also, layers. (I probably should have listed this one first.) Do you have long underwear? WEAR IT. Wear multiple  layers on all parts of your person. Vanity will be the least of your concerns by the time the first pitch is thrown. Hats, hoods, scarves, gloves, mittens, socks (doubled, tripled… quadrupled, if there’s room in your shoes), pants (flannel or fleece lined would be great), sweaters, jackets, coats, etc., etc., You will find “too many layers” to be an oxymoron. Dress as if you were about to head on a mission to Antarctica and you will not dress amiss.

4. The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook. So you’ll know how to treat frostnip, frostbite, and hypothermia.

5. A smile. It probably sounds corny, but I earnestly believe that a good attitude can make all the difference. You’re at Wrigley Field! Watching the Cubs! It’s supposed to be fun! So make sure you’ve got a smile on underneath all those layers and enjoy the experience.

6. Starlin Castro. Because his ranginess and offensive prowess will warm your soul.

7. Tyler Colvin. To hit the walkoff double that ensures you go home home skipping and singing Go Cubs Go.

Wildcard Wednesday: “Are the cubs really as wild as they say?”

I’ve been a bit backed up blog-wise this week due to busy-ness and technical difficulties. Let us hope for smooth sailing from here on…

Today I thought I’d just fling around a few thoughts on the Cubs season thus far. It’s only been five days, but there is already plenty to talk about.

NL Central Standings, as of this morning

My scatter-brained thoughts on…

Tyler Colvin: Did you get a load of Tyler at first base yesterday??? He looked like a pro. I never would have expected as much, especially given the standard (years of Derrek Lee and, now, the very adept Carlos Pena) I can’t help holding him to. It was really a delight to behold. He’s had some delicious at-bats, too.

Carlos Pena: Speaking of Carlos Pena! How much do we love him already? Who could resist such gloviness or such smiles? I am happy he is on our team.

The Defense, in general: Much better, so far, than I expected. Starlin’s gems have outnumbered his hiccups. Mr. Pena has been great. Geovany Soto’s arm has saved us a number of times already. Nothing truly atrocious has happened in the outfield. Now if they can only keep it up…

Andrew Cashner: Cash put up a hey of a showing in his first ever major league start yesterday. Of course, given the Cubs fortune, his health is now in question. I am hoping and praying, for his sake and ours, that the shoulder tightness which forced Cash’s early exit proves to be nothing serious.

Matt Garza: Was very enjoyable to watch in his 12-K Cubs debut. Is even more fun to watch in the dugout during games he is not pitching.

Starlin Castro: I’ve tried to be objective when it comes to our young shortstop. I can’t do it anymore. I love this kid. He has thrilled me to my very tippy toes since I first watched him taking batting practice in Cincinnati last May. I can’t recall having as much satisfaction watching any single player as I have had watching Starlin. Of course, it is less than a week into the season. He probably is not going to maintain a batting average of over .500. Just the same, you have to think that we are going to have a whole lot of fun rooting for Starlin this year. And, hopefully, many many more years in the future.

Geovany Soto: Made the best tag ever on Sunday.
Darwin Barney: Runs funny. But so much fun to watch!


Kerry Wood: Boy is it ever nice having him back home where he belongs!

The BIRDS: The droves of seagulls and low volumes of people have made Wrigley Field something of a sight these past few days, dontcha think?

Hopefully it doesn’t come to anything like this…

Predictorama!: Your 2011 Chicago Cubs, Part One

I shall conclude all my prediculating this week with an “in-depth” peek at the Chicago Cubs. Come to think, I’ll probably due some more once October hits, but no worries! That is many months off.

For now the end (mercifully, of both Predictorama! 2011 AND the off-season) is in sight. What better to do with these few remaining days than taking a stab or two at what the future may hold for Chicago’s North-siders?

This is Part One… look for Part Two on Thursday, Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise. To help measure my expectations, I have instituted a “system” of baby sloth hugs. The more hugs, the better, obviously. It’s not an exact science, though, so don’t read too much into it.

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In 2010, I predicted that the Cubs would be neither as bad and people generally expected nor as good as they secretly hoped. Don’t think it cheap of me, but I pretty much expect the same for 2011. That’s about all I have to say on the team as a whole. I’ll take the rest of this preview player-by-player, going in alphabetical order. Ready? Here we go.

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Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney, Blake DeWitt: It is hard to say who will see the most playing time at second base. I consulted a magic-8 ball, but it was noncommittal, so I am lumping these gentlemen all together. Their names are conveniently close together alphabetically. I am strongly of the opinion that we need something cool to call this infielding trio. “Killer B’s” has been done… do you think “Bakey, Blakey & Barney” works, or does it sound too much like a law firm of  babies? I am wide open to any better-suited suggestions.

Marlon Byrd: I am prepared to award Mr. Byrd 5 baby sloth hugs per web gem he makes. That should add up to something like 7,000 hugs, right? I forecast a slight drop-off from the offensive stats he put up in 2010. Nothing drastic. Byrd will continue to be the Wyrd.

Additional Note: Baby sloth would highly approve bringing back the post game victory hug that was instituted for a time last season.

Andrew Cashner: I am delighted that Cash was awarded a spot in the starting rotation and have every hope of his holding his own there. I expect we’ll see some flashes of brilliance interspersed with a few rough periods. Don’t lose heart, though. He’s gonna be alright, in the long run.

Starlin Castro: If Darlin’ Starlin continues to play in the regular season like he has in the spring, and improves a bit in the field, I will buy him a pony and grant him infinite baby sloth hugs.

Tyler Colvin: Will easily become the most popular “TyCo” in the Midwest since beanie babies. With any luck, he will hold onto his value better. Speaking of which, what will anyone give me for a Patti the Platypus (near-mint condition)?

Ryan Dempster: I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that Demp will have another solid year. Who could ask for a steadier, more reliable pitcher? Or a more genuinely like human being, for that matter? Baby sloth hugs: lots and lots.

Kosuke Fukudome: I would be no more surprised to see Fu put up respectable numbers than I would be to see him wearing a different team’s uniform by August. Doesn’t really need any baby sloth hugs, as he has an adorable Asian child of his own to embrace at his leisure.

Matt Garza: Matt gets two baby sloth hugs for every different muppet he will remind me of this season. That’ll add up to more than a few. Pitching-wise, I am going to be optimistic and predict 14-15 wins and an ERA in the mid 3’s.

John Grabow: I honestly believe that John G. will exceed expectations this season. I’m not saying he won’t eat a few kittens along the way, but I have a generally positive feeling. 12 baby sloth hugs, one for each hold I predict John will record.

Koyie Hill: I hear more lamentations about Koyie than any other individual on the team. I’ll stick up for him, not just because I like him, because I don’t find it entirely fair. There aren’t more than half a dozen really good starting catchers in the major leagues. It’s almost funny that people seem to  expect so much from a back-up. I can only owe it to the fact that we were spoiled for several years with Henry Blanco, who was exceptional for a second string guy. I am sorely tempted to do a bit of a study on back-up catchers. I may well do it, if I continue to be provoked by peoples treatment of Koyie. Really, I would just implore that folks be a bit more realistic. That’s all.

I grant Mr. Hill one baby sloth hug per insult he receives this year. I hope they are less than in 2010.

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Wildcard Wednesday: “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”

Yesterday was “picture day” for the Chicago Cubs, and probably for another team or two as well. Today is picture day at the Fair Base Ballist. Enjoy the visuals… it’s just a few more days ’til we get to see baseball players in live action. Hip hip hooray!

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Some interesting training techniques going down at the Oakland A’s spring headquarters.

I’ll let y’all give this one your own caption.

This is sweet. Although, I’m not sure how that ball was going to fit through the chain link.

A nice artsy shot of Randy Wells from photo day. On a side note, the Chicago Tribune has mislabeled Randy as both “Justin Berg” and “David Wells” in the course of a month. I don’t think they know who he is.

Seeing Double: Jeff Samardzija edition. I can think of no excuse for a man to look like this in the 21st century.

Fernando “Tight-Pants” Perez tries to make sense of the discrepancy between his slacks and those of the rest of the team.

There were a lot of less-than-flattering shots that I found from yesterday, but the Matt Garza ones take the cake.

Look at ‘im! Fortunately for Matt, I find people who look like muppets endearing.

Fact: When young Kyle Smit turns sideways, you can’t see him.

Don’t you just love Carlos #4 and his happy face already?

It was windy in Arizona this week.

Tyler Colvin wins the award for being the Cubs most photogenic player. Though I think you could have shaved for picture day, Tyler.

News of the morning? Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright may be headed for Tommy John surgery. Bum! Bum! Bum!


 

 

Wildcard Wednesday: “Thank God for Arizona, in splendid sunshine dressed”

Happy Wednesday, one and all, and a belated happy beginning-of-spring-training! All I’ve got for you today is some photos I’ve scavenged up from around the web and a few thoughts on the spring’s early goings-on.

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A familiar face at Yankees camp.

A first glimpse of Matt Garza in Cubbie blue, courtesy Tim Sheridan.

It seems the Cubs have gotten new warm-up jerseys for this year. I like the old ones better.

Buzz!: Mr. Carlos Marmol and the Cubs reached an agreement on a three year deal worth 20-million smackeroos this week. Congratulation, Marmee. Please, please live up to this.

Tyler Colvin is ready to go. Notice the patch on his sleeve.

Buzz!: Carlos Silva has no intentions of yielding “his” spot in the starting rotation. Says he, “For [the other candidates] it’s open, or whoever is competing. For me, there’s only one spot open. I am one of the starters, you know what I mean. Whatever they think, they think that, not me.” Confidence is nice, but you still gotta go earn it, Carlos #3.

Additional buzz:

-The Cubs traded infield prospect Tony Thomas to the Boston Red Sox for right-handed pitcher Robert Coello yesterday.

Coello was drafted as a catcher, but was converted to a pitcher in 2007 while in the Angels organization. He made his major league debut with Boston last September. He made relief appearances in 6 games, compiling a 4.76 ERA. He has pitched 242.0 innings in the minor leagues and racked up 286 K’s (to 109 walks) to go along with a 2.98 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.

-Brett Jackson launched a home run on Tuesday that broke the windshield of a passing car outside of Fitch Park.

-Kiddo James Russell had the following pearl to offer when asked about himself and fellow Texan Andrew Cashner: “We’re young and dumb and ready to throw strikes.” That’s what I like to hear.

-Albert Pujols. Sigh. I’m not one for speculation, but if I had to, I’d speculate that Mr. Pujols and the Cardinals will end up working it out in the end.

Think of what I’m saying, they can work it out and get it straight or say goodnight. They can work it out. They can work it out! Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.

Cough. Anyway, it isn’t that I wouldn’t like to have Albert on our side or anything. Even so, signing players to contracts for lots of years and obscene amounts of money hasn’t really worked for us and I think it would be a very rash thing to do (on the chance that the opportunity should present itself.)

 

 

2010 MLB Year in Superlatives: Part One

The 2010 Major League baseball season is officially over and done with. Now that the off-season  has commenced, I can think of nothing better to do than to take a look back at the events, the highs and lows, the quirks of 2010. Lets think of it as a baseball funeral… but let us not consider it a sad event, the passing away of this season. Instead let us celebrate the wonder of the season that was!

This is the first of two FBB installments on the 2010 MLB Year in Superlatives.

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Most Bizarre Injuries: On the American League side the distinction goes to the Angels Kendry Morales for breaking his leg in the happy victory huddle at home plate after he’d hit a walk off grand slam. A happy victory huddle never turned into a sad defeat huddle so fast. I bestow the title #1 freaky injury on the National League side upon Tyler Colvin (who we now- thankfully- know for sure is not a vampire.)

Honorable mentions: Mat Latos, who went down holding in a sneeze and Marcus Thames, who tripped on his own bat and landed on the DL.

Greatest commercial cameo: Randy Johnson’s snowball bit for Geico. I can’t be the only one who thought this was stinking funny.

Biggest surprise(s): First, the San Diego Padres. They may have just missed the playoffs, but who expected them to even be close? I know I didn’t. Second, Jose Bautista. The man is 30 years old, was entering his seventh year in the majors, was playing for his sixth team, and nobody knew his name. Guys like that don’t usually end up hitting 54 home runs.

Biggest disappointment: Who else is deeply embarrassed for thinking that the Seattle Mariners would be good this year? I know I’m not the only guilty party. The really sad thing is that they weren’t just not-good. They were the very definition of stinky.

Happiest news out of Japan: The at-last unleashed offensive fury of Matt Murton. I always knew he had it in him.

Best Names from the Draft: Corderius Dodd. Trugg Larsson-Danforth. Roderick Shoulders. Theophilus Griffin. Sebastian Vader. Gauntlett Eldemire.

Best Worst Headline: Pirates’ plan is to acquire talent from Draft

Worst Gun-Jumping Journalism: Remember when, for a few hours, Cliff Lee was “traded to the Yankees”?

Best Slide: Fordham’s Brian Kownacki turned in not just the best slide of this year, but perhaps the greatest slide in history.

Photo of the Year: Or at least, photo-of-the-year-that-looks-like-it-would-be-a-painting.

Photo of the post-season: Does anyone in this picture really have a clue what they are doing with their hands?


Weirdest Photo of the Year: Xavier Nady is not the man you think he is.

Feel-good moment of the year: Dallas Braden’s perfect game on Mother’s Day had to be 2010’s warmest, fuzziest event.

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Look for 2010 MLB Year in Superlatives: Part Two coming up later this week!