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A new podcast, a new rumor, and a new Lukewarm Stove, all coming today.

  • The Chicago White Sox are trying to take over the city of Chicago, Pod People-style. That is to say, they are trying to befriend and invade the children of the city, forcing them to grow up as Sox fans, rather than Cubs fans. How? From the Tribune: “Oak Park Youth Baseball & Softball, with similar organizations in Elmhurst, Downers Grove and Elmwood Park, has partnered with the Chicago White Sox for the upcoming season. The pro team will provide young ballplayers with jerseys and caps that are variations of White Sox uniforms, and each youth team’s name will include at least the word ‘Sox.’” Devious.
  • Interestingly, the sponsorship and the “Sox” requirement might actually be backfiring on the White Sox. Again, from the Tribune: “Gone are the uniforms of the Padres and Cardinals – and even the Cubs – that adorned Oak Park T-ball players for decades. And while some Cubs-loyal parents snarl at the very thought of an all-White Sox league, most are simply mourning the loss of each team’s legacy and wondering how on earth people will tell the more than 120 different teams apart. ‘Baseball and softball has always been a big part of Oak Park culture,’ said Vic Vanek, 45, who has two sons in the league. ‘But this idea, to me – the best word I can come up with is goofy. You want your teams to have some identity. ‘Hey, I’m a Cardinal.’ ‘Hey, I’m a Pirate.’ ‘Hey, I’m a Royal, and these are my guys with me.’ Bill Sullivan, president of the Oak Park youth league, said details of the team names are still being worked out, but he expects some will carry names like ‘White Sox Yellow’ or ‘White Sox Red.’ The teams that long carried the names of local sponsors will continue to do so, but instead of Cardell’s Crushers it will be Cardell’s Crushers Sox.” Read the whole article for more on the White Sox/Cubs beef part of the story. It’s very Soxenfreude.
  • The Cubs, for their part, sponsor a couple leagues in Chicago, but they do not force the players to use the Cubs’ name or colors.
  • The MLBullets at BCB look at a variety of random stuff, but here’s my favorite: “A huge chunk of fans – a majority? – remain staunchly opposed to electronic means being employed to call balls and strikes. Despite the technology existing, which would allow us to know for certain whether that Greg Maddux comebacker really did clip the outer edge of the plate, we refuse to use it. That may sound like a judgmental statement, but it isn’t – I’m not so sure I want to use that technology either. However, studies in this area are going to force us to confront the issue. For example, FanGraphs performs a study on the strike zone, and how it shifts dramatically based on the count. Specifically, the difference in the strike zone, over the course of a season’s worth of data, on 0-2 counts and 3-0 counts is extreme. Check out the article for a visual that might make you rethink your position on electronically-called balls and strikes. Still, I struggle with the issue. There’s something fun and intimately “baseball” about the argument that follows a close ball or strike call. Sometimes it’s brutal, because the umpobviously screwed your team, but those moments all even out in the end, right? I just think I’d miss that feeling – the ups and the downs – associated with the ump jutting his arm out to the right, signaling the end of an at bat. I can’t rightly redirect my anger at a computer, can I?”
  • Patrick Mooney at CSNChicago talks a bit more about how the Anibal Sanchez situation shook out, and just how stealth the Cubs were in their pursuit (until the end):

  • Peter

    That is the greatest picture you have eve used for any post ever.

  • Coal

    That picture made me shoot coffee out of my nose. Nicely done. Great start to the day!

  • Rodney

    I played in a White Sox Fall League in high school and every team was the White Sox. They’ve been doing this for years… really stupid.

  • CubFan Paul

    If the government can go all patriot act on our emails and phone, then the strike zone should be electronically surveilled too. Sign me up.

    With wireless coms the Umps can be told within a second if it’s ball or strike.

    • P hertz

      All controlled by drones circling the stadium…

      • CubFan Paul

        No, it’ll be controlled by the extra Ump that sits up in the booth or by MLB from a remote location. We have the technology, we can rebuild it. Stronger. Faster. Better than it was before.

        • Wilbur

          Certainly would make the whole “arguing balls and strikes” reference passe … or at least change it to “he’s arguing pixels and bandwidth!”

    • Spriggs

      They should also computerize all the announcers. Build a small army of robots and program them to say the perfect thing for every possible situation. No more mistakes or mispronounciations. No one ever gets offended or upset because of the jerks in the booth. No more missed games due to illness or to watch your son play minor league ball.

      • Hee Seop Chode

        Why stop with the announcers and umps?

        • Spriggs

          Right. But next we should take out the inefficient ticket taker at the turnstiles. Feed your ticket to a machine. Have it say something funny like, “The Chicago Cubs thank you. Go Cubs! cardinals suck”. No more fumbling, bumbling jerk ripping up your ticket or scanning it 7 or 8 times before it beeps back. Feed the machine and the line moves quicker.

          The players could be next. Who wants to see errors? Take the human mistakes out! Eliminate beanballs – far too dangerous… Heck with helmuts and padded caps — robots and electronics could fix all that crap.

          • hansman1982

            pfft, eliminate beanballs? I say mandate 1 beanball war a game. First team to put a baseball THROUGH the opposing team’s robot gets 10 extra runs – NO MORE LOW SCORING AFFAIRS!!!

      • RoughRiider

        Why not players. My left armed robot pitcher is better than your right hitting robot batter!!!. Why not fans to make it look like there are more fans at the game.

        The Bears would go for the robots in the stands. They would be programmed to never get upset and boo the team.

        • RoughRiider

          I really miss the edit button. After all, I’m not a robot.

        • Spriggs

          The fans could even be programmed to buy souvenirs, programs, lots of food, and many, many beers – and still not boo.

      • Wilbur

        Wasn’t Harry a robot?

        • Cubbie Blues

          If so, I think the algorithms got a virus towards the end.

        • Spriggs

          No but that’s a sweet idea. Maybe each team could have a robot programmed to be just like that team’s all time favorite announcer. Looks, speech, attitude — everything except mistakes. NO MISTAKES ALLOWED. MLB could set up online surveys for each team to determine the model for their announcing robot.

          • Cubbie Blues

            everything except mistakes. NO MISTAKES ALLOWED.

            I wouldn’t mind programming Hawk Harrelson’s then. I wouldn’t even have to install a voice box if all errors had to be taken out.

            • Spriggs

              Could they make one that ugly?

              • Cubbie Blues

                You’d be surprised how ugly some of the things are that come off of my 3D printer.

  • P hertz

    The Chicago Green Sox…1912 USBL!

    • pete

      The next obvious step is that all teams will be called the “Brown Shirts” in the not-too-distyant future.

  • XavierGunz

    Whether its now or 10 years ago. Why would all the teams want to be called White Sox or one team in general. I am a Cubs fan and think its silly, not because im a Cub fan or anything but I wouldnt want my son/daughter on a league where all the teams have the same name or w the same word in it. Its dumb id rather be on a league like the actual league where one team is the Cards, Sox, Cubs Yankees etc. Its plain stupid.

    • hansman1982

      That was always the fun part of little league – seeing what “team” you were on and then figuring out what player you were from that team…sadly, I was never anyone good.

  • https://www.facebook.com/chris.siuty Chris84

    When I was a kid, back in the mythical 1980′s my grade school was “partnered” with the White Sox (even though I live on the northwest side) and if you had perfect attendance, you got free Sox tickets. I was a sick little kid, so I never got them, but ya know, no big loss.

    • cubchymyst

      I remember those days, I got the free tickets a couple times. The seats were up in the nose bleeds and I remembering being in the upper deck when it had that drastic slope to it. Enjoyed going to the games and they almost had me as a White Sox fan by doing that, but in the end realized the Cubs are the better team for me to root for (plus with my parents being from Cleveland the Sox were not really accepted in the house).

      • https://www.facebook.com/chris.siuty Chris84

        My godfather is a Sox fan and he used to take me to games. I was always excited, because I liked old Comiskey Park, but I was more interested in people watching than what was going on on the field. There was never a dull moment in the stands.

        • Cubbie Blues

          I question the decision making of your parents.

          • https://www.facebook.com/chris.siuty Chris84

            True story: The only reason he’s a Sox fan is because tickets to Sox games are cheaper and there’s parking. My aunt is a Cubs fan, so at least half of that side of the family got it right.

  • Tom B

    I live in Downers Grove and coach my son’s baseball team and was told this may happen by the league organizers a few weeks ago. I lost my mind! Half of my team refuses to play if they wear sox gear. My son refuses to play (love him!).

    It really alienates the non sox fans and it makes it a circus of negativity from those both pro and con. If the Cubs were to do this it would cause the same issue. I doubt having the team force the league to wear their uniform will create a larger fan base. I think it will make the sox fans happy and will make Cubs fans dislike the sox even more.

  • Frank

    The only way that the White Sox could ever take over Chicago is to relocate to a more convenient location, and perhaps win more consistently, which neither Chicago team has managed to do over our lifetimes.

    Remember 2005 when Old Orchard and Northbrook Court were overrun by kids in Konerko and Buehrle jerseys? And two years later they were replaced by Zambrano and Soriano? Chicago baseball fans are mostly fickle. When the White Sox contend and the Cubs don’t, the White Sox temporarily take over. When the Cubs show signs of life, they come back.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    I would rephrase the electronic argument. If you invented a sport today, then why in the world wouldn’t you use electronic refereeing? “Tradition” is a lousy excuse for not doing it: most “traditional” ways of doing things are bad ways of doing things, after all. (Baseball offers a lot of great examples here.)

    • ottoCub

      Doc – I don’t think Brett is making a “tradition” argument. He’s making an argument that that uses the words “fun” and “intimately” and “feeling”, which seems to indicate that there is a key emotional element to humans making ball and strike calls.

      I agree with this argument, and would add that sports are inherently human activities. Sports are based on human interaction, including both physical interaction (competition) and social interaction. The evaluators or referees play a key role in this interaction, as mediators and participants. It is important to emphasize that umpires and participants in the interactive nature of sport, as are the fans. All interaction is subjective, so it makes no sense to try to remove the subjectivity from refereeing, just as it would make no sense to try to remove the subjectivity from the playing or watching of sports. .

      I do not agree with your assertion that a new sport invented today would be best to use electronic refereeing. I only think this is true if the new sport is an electronic sport (for example, video games or fantasy sports, which use an electronic medium). Baseball, and other sports, take place in a physical / social medium, and should continue to be based on subjective, emotional interactions. Otherwise, they will not have the same emotional affect on the players, and the fans.

      Sports take place in a physical/emotional medium

      • ottoCub

        (please ignore that last line ^ it is a copy/paste error)

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I wasn’t accusing Brett of making that argument, although I should have mentioned that. However, “tradition” seems to be the most common fall-back argument. Sports should be between two contestants: we always used a referee of some sort or another because that’s all we could do. Their human errors adulterate the sport: it’s now between two contestants and some subjective or even biased error. (Think a Tom Glavine “strike” 2 feet outside of the actual strike zone….) We don’t need that anymore, so why retain it?

        • ottoCub

          Doc- I don’t like the “tradition” argument either, because frankly, it’s not an argument (and I’m not a traditionalist). But I do think that sports is more than an activity “between two contestants”. It also involves referees, coaches, etc as active participants. Professional sports is also an interaction between these participants and the fans. Fans watch sports for the pure competition, but also for emotional reasons. We like to see the participants strive for perfection. We love (hate) it when they succeed, and we love (hate) it when they fail. We watch sports because of how they make us feel, and the emotion comes from the narrative competition, success, failure, mistakes, surprises, etc. Referees and umpires (and coaches, etc) are participants in the game. Their actions are part of the narrative and emotion of the game.

      • Wilbur

        Otto,

        Understand your point of view. I used to make the same observation about the NFL and the replay, then I just quit noticing. Got used to it, and while it is at times cumbersome it produces a better game.

        What players and managers always argue for is consistency in the strike zone, can’t think of any better way to deal with that issue. So my two cents would be fire up the computer and let Hal take control.

    • Hee Seop Chode

      …..says the robot.

    • cubchymyst

      Enjoying playing blernsball :)

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    Bah, Humbug, Bad White Sox

    • hansman1982

      [img]http://i.qkme.me/3qkss9.jpg[/img]

  • http://bleachernation.com frank hutch

    jim bowden is a complete idiot

  • StevenF

    I claim to be a baseball purist, HOWEVER, I am completely in favor of an electronic strike zone. I cannot undestand nor entertain any argument otherwise. A simple earbud would give the umpire every opportunity to animate calls of balls and strikes in the same way we’ve all come to know and love. The only difference is that we will know with 100% certainty that he got the call right!! And isn’t that what we all want?

    • hansman1982

      Plus an electronic strike zone might help to shrink the Ump’s “Ego Zone”.

  • StevenF

    I feel that a shorter post is more likely to be read than a long ramble. I could not agree more with DocPeterWimsey. He summarized in one sentence, what I could spend many paragraphs on: “If you invented a sport today, then why in the world wouldn’t you use electronic refereeing?” Please take into account today’s video game age, and couple that with the love of baseball.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Folks,

    I am a Elmhurst resident and let me tell you that our community is probably 80% Cubs fans and 19% sox fans, and 1% other. Your fandom is what ever your family (mom/dad) is a fan of, generally. I am only 20 but if I were my parents when I was playing little league, would not allow my child to try be brain washed by those southside trashbags trying to steal or change kids favorite teams.

  • Segal27

    I feel really bad for those kids who are Cubs fans and have to put on White Sox jerseys. In my youth league i was drafted to the White Sox twice in a row and it sucked, its a terrible feeling having that symbol on my chest instead of a Cubs one.

  • JulioZuleta

    Noooo electronic umpiring ever. Umps do a great job for the most part. For the 1 or 2 borderline calls a game it might change, it’s not worth the weird feeling we’ll all have by knowing that baseball has turned in to a video game. I umped for 9 years; one of my favorite things was, after some punk argued a strike two call, I’d ring him up for strike 3 on the next pitch as long as the catcher caught it. Don’t take that feeling away from us.

    • mudge

      There’s your argument for electronic umpires right there.

  • baldtaxguy

    Wetsoff’s quote in the video is that the Tigers “did not think the Cubs had the financial wherewithall to pursue Sanchez?” That can’t be a correct quote – maybe they thought that Cubs would not pursue that type of contract at this time, but if they truly thought that the Cubs did not have the means….

    • Cubbie Blues

      Didn’t you know? Ricketts is a cheap SOB and Epstein in trying to pull the wool over our eyes so that he can tarnish his reputation. It makes perfect since. (Snark included for your enjoyment (If you didn’t enjoy it, oh well).)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I believe it’s: the Tigers did not think the Cubs *didn’t* have the financial wherewithal.

      • JR

        Well the Cubs don’t have an extremely old owner who could could care less how terrible the contracts they have look on the back half because he won’t be around to see it. Maybe thats what he was saying.

    • cubchymyst

      you got the quote wrong. It is “We didn’t think they wouldn’t have the financial wherewithal to sign a guy …”. So they knew the cubs had the financials to sign the Sanchez if they wanted to but they just didn’t think they would go after him.

  • fromthemitten

    I wish I still had my “Durham’s Diggers” hat from my old little league days… “Durham’s” was the local funeral home

  • #1lahairfan

    I’m still in middle school, and I can tell you that most kids switch teams like every year.

  • Matty V

    The White Sox mandate of every youth team having to have Sox in their name seems a bit desperate to me. It’s like the kid who knows he’s not very well liked and he schemes up ways to force people to be his friend. What those kids never realize is that you can’t force people to like you and you end up turning people off to you even more.

  • hansman1982

    If nothing else, this male-pattern balding guy at the age of 30 would love to have Patrick Mooney’s hair.

    Oh, and anyone else think that Brett could pass as Seth Green’s brother?

  • Byron Browne

    White Sox fan should be pitied, not scorned.There condition is only temporary, until the Cub start winning again.

  • LondonCub

    There seems like there is a perfectly reasonable middle-ground for the electronic argument, one that keeps the inherent “baseball-ness” of the human umpires balanced with the “stop screwing my team with shitty calls” argument behind electronics.

    Similar to the system very successfully used in both tennis and cricket (apologies for using cricket as an example…but it really does show this can work).

    Each team gets 3 challenges per game on an umpires call. If the electronics show it is obviously wrong then the call gets overturned and the team keeps their challenge. Otherwise the team challenging loses one of their challenges. Use all three and tough luck, no more challenges for you. If the call is very close, I.e within the margin of error at the edge of the zone, an “Umpires Call” decision can be used and the original call by the umpire stands.

    This won’t add much time to the game, and teams will have to use their challenges wisely as they only have three. Also, through experience with tennis and cricket (sorry again), the crowd love watching the replay on the big screen and seeing if the call will be flipped. And, it doesn’t actually undermine the umpires all that much as a lot of the time they are actually proved to have made the correct call. Also, you can start ranking umpires by number of blown calls if that kind of thing interests you.

    Anyway, that’s my British-based ramble on the subject over. Keep up the bloody good work, Brett.

    • MaxM1908

      Great name! I spend a lot of time in London working in the City. We should meet up this Spring/Summer to see if we can find somewhere to watch the games. One benefit off all the day Cubs games is that they come on in Primetime in Europe!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, London. Appreciate those thoughts from across the pond.

  • Vulcan

    There goes the White Sox causing trouble again… *grumble*

  • Carne Harris

    Ha, great picture. And who the hell wouldn’t want an infallible strike zone? I can only imagine it’s the same minority that doesn’t want instant replay. It would make the game fairer and emasculate C. B. Bucknor at the same time. Total twofer.

  • DarthHater

    I just think I’d miss that feeling – the ups and the downs – associated with the ump jutting his arm out to the right, signaling the end of an at bat.

    No problem. We can have robot umps with jutting arms. Program them to go nose-to-nose with argumentative managers, etc. I think Earl Weaver would explode if he had to argue with a robot.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

    Don’t worry, you aren’t the only cricket fan here.

    The main problem with replay there, and I think you may find a similar problem with it in baseball, is that it’s so frequently inconclusive.

  • Dougy D

    Great MLBullets

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