Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training for the Cubs in 23 days on February 18. That’s five days later than last year, which is totally lame, in part because February 13 is my daughter’s first birthday. That would have been the cat’s pajamas.
- I’m told Bryan LaHair shows up on BP’s recent list of offseason risers, which is swell. LaHair had a solid offseason while playing in the Venezuelan Winter League, and will start the year at first base for the Cubs. He’ll finally get a real shot to “make it,” something rarely met with success by guys in their late 20s – but it does happen, as is discussed in this Message Board thread. Because I’m excited about the future at first base for the Cubs, and because LaHair and Anthony Rizzo both tearing things up would be a good problem to have, I’m ready to throw the entire weight of my support behind LaHair. I hope he absolutely destroys the ball this year.
- Former Cub Daryle Ward – who hasn’t played in the bigs since 2008 – tested positive for a banned amphetamine, and has been suspended 50-games. Maybe after that, he can be a bounce-back candidate?
- Speaking of bounce-backs, 39-year-old free agent Raul Ibanez is hoping to come back next year, and feels like he’s in great shape to do so thanks to a three-day hitting instruction session from the Cubs’ hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo. “I know 2012 is going to be way better than 2011,” Ibanez told Ken Rosenthal. “I didn’t know quite how I was going to do it. But I knew I was going to do it. Now I expect that  is going to be great. That’s the different level I went to. I haven’t felt this good since I left for spring training in ’09 — the last time I worked with Rudy.” Hey, Rudy – save some for the boys in blue, eh?
- Local ad agencies are upset that the Cubs took their advertising business to a New York firm (a decision made by Business President Crane Kenney and Marketing Chief Wally Hayward). I’m a proponent of supporting local folks, but I’m also a proponent of getting the best services, wherever you can find them. The product of the ad switch is the new “Baseball is Better” campaign, which, I suppose is fine. But I don’t think the Cubs are working with Don Draper. In any event, the Cubs will continue to do some of their work with local ad agencies, so it’s not as if the entirety of their business has moved to New York.
- This is totally meta, but if you’re ever wondering why I report news and rumors in the way that I do – i.e., cautiously and with caveats aplenty – this account of the erroneous early reports of Joe Paterno’s death pretty much sums it up. That’s from Brian Cook at MGoBlog, the best blog on the Internet (Michigan sports, if you’d care to know). Among many money shots in the article: “We’ve seen this happen before when a newspaper intern replicates an internet rumor on one of the dingy blogs shuffled off into the corner of large metro papers: as soon as a rumor gets paired with header graphics associated with a real newspaper, everyone else is confirming it via ‘sources.’ In this instance, CBS’s screwup was compounded because they didn’t even provide a link to the primary source.” Yet another reason to always link. It’s not just about doing the right thing and sharing the love, it’s also about covering your ass.
- We had an ugly example of a fast-moving oopsie just a couple days ago, when Yahoo’s Tim Brown, the man who legitimately broke the Albert Pujols signing, totally gaffed just minutes before breaking Prince Fielder to the Tigers. A fake Jon Heyman account tweeted that Fielder had signed with the Nats (many of us were duped into re-tweeting the faker), but Brown took a … different route:
- In case it’s unclear, or if you’re not a Twitter’er, the gist there is that Brown, seeing the fake Heyman tweet exploding everywhere, appears to confirm the info in the “Heyman” tweet, as though he’s checked with a source. Clearly, however, he hasn’t. Because soon thereafter, he corrects himself, and then breaks the big news (to his credit, Brown has not removed the tweets, and I’m not calling this anything more than a relatively harmless mistake). It’s a testament to how easy it is to momentarily goof in the fast-moving Internet age, and why it’s so important – especially for non-national guys like me – to report rumors cautiously (Brown can rest on his otherwise-established credibility in the face of a mistake like this; if I did it, I’d be burned for a very long time in many folks’ eyes). It’s also why I tend not to “confirm” things after it’s been widely reported by reputable sources – (1) you don’t need me to do that, and (2) it’s a practice that leaves too much room for shenanigans. I’m very pleased that our local Chicago media doesn’t really do it.