It’s the beginning of a new week, but I reckon it doesn’t feel that way to many folks who may not have work today or tomorrow. I’ll have my thoughts on the holiday later today, but, until then, Bullets …

  • Former Cub and long-time Red Ryan Freel died on Saturday from an apparent suicide at age 36. He had a number of concussions throughout his career, and there will now be the speculation about the connection between his death and the concussions. It’s a sad story among many sad stories.
  • A profile on Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson and an early look at the 2013 Draft.
  • The MLBullets at BCB look at the Nick Swisher signing, which suggests a team trying to rebuilt and improve for the near-term simultaneously. Dual tracks or twin fronts or something like that.
  • And now for the part of the story where a friend or family member shows you some slides from a vacation they took, but which you could not possibly be less interested in …

As I mentioned, we went to the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum this weekend, which was totally awesome if you’re a baseball nerd. The idea that virtually every bat used in MLB and in the minors in a given year is made there in that one facility is just crazy to me. You weren’t allowed to take any pictures in the factory part, though, for industry competitiveness reasons, so you won’t see any from in there. But don’t you worry! I still got some great shots for you!

Here’s me out front, trying to do the that-guy-is-holding-the-thing-up-oh-wait-it’s-just-a-camera-trick-except-we-failed-at-it thing:

When you walk in to the building, you’re greeted with a wall of all of the signatures for bats they’ve collected over the years, and one of them jumped out at me:

Right next to Ron Tingley, which may be among the best baseball names ever. What I want to know: in 1982, when they were both in the National League, did Ron Tingley ever face Dick Tidrow? And, if so, did the universe collapse in on itself briefly?

The museum part features a bunch of bat history, and game-used bats, and some great players who’ve been honored:

They had a few of the actual, ready-to-be shipped bats available to view and hold, and I swear to you, this was the first, totally random bat that I pulled:

So, if Starlin hits a walk-off homer to clinch a playoff spot in September, you’ll know it was with this bat, and it was because I imbued it with my awesomeness.

They’ve also got a batting cage there, and I was pleased to see that, in pictorial form, my stance doesn’t look so outrageously bad:

I got to use a wood bat for the first time that I can recall – and it’s freaking hard. Those bats are heavy. And whose model did I use? Babe Ruth? Ted Williams? Ernie Banks? Nope:

You may not quite be able to see, but among the ten or so choices of Hall of Famers and superstars of today was … Ryan Theriot. Boo-yah. Unsurprisingly, I hit a whole lot of weak grounders to short and a couple bloop singles.

All in all, a totally excellent visit if you’re in the Louisville area. And I got a personalized Chicago Cubs bat on the way out, complete with our soon-to-be-son’s name (arriving late February/early March). Pretty excited to give him that.

  • Kyle

    Why would be be waiting all the way until September to clinch a playoff spot? Have you *seen* Schierholtz’s platoon split?

  • Ben (BG2383)

    Sounds fun, I hope you have happy holidays!

  • D- Rich

    Sad about Ryan Freel…so many variables..Not just concussions, but also damage to cervical spine. Plus when you add multi medications, can cause these suicide episodes.

    Multi – factoral…of course…I am saddened by this..

  • Oswego Chris

    Speaking of the Louisville museum, if you ever go there….and have any…older…baseball fans that you need to buy gifts for…you can have a baseball bat cane made with their names and favorite teams engraved

    My grandmother(93) and my uncle (78) …..loved them….bragging about them for years

  • Fishin Phil

    That big bat in the first picture, that was Soriano’s before he downsized last year, wasn’t it?

    Merry Christmas to you and your family Brett.

    • King Jeff

      Nice, I was thinking of a Soriano-bat-joke when I saw that picture too. Merry Christmas to all, doubt I’ll be on much the next few days.

  • Drew

    Great Family Memory going to the L.S. Museum. My kids all got personalized bats, the bat making tour was FAN-tastic. Oh yea, the batting cages, well let’s just say they reinforced why I was only the team manager (ie: waterboy) when our High School team won the State Championship.

  • Hansman1982

    Oh great. Now castro’s gonna fail epic.

    • cas-castro

      I don’t know but I’m hoping Brett scrubbed his hands after using the Theriot bat.

  • cas-castro

    Merry Christmas everyone. Awesome pics, Brett. That’s definitely a must see destination when my kids get older. It will be difficult since we have twins on the way. I’ll shoot for 2018.

  • ssckelley

    Freel leaves behind a wife and 3 young daughters. Wow! Right before Christmas!

    • JBarnes

      I got into this arguement with someone on the Cubs message board…some that commit suicide aren’t making a “decision.” In his mind he could have thought what he was doing was better for his family, you just don’t know. The human brain is the most powerful thing on earth, it can’t always be controlled.

      • walterj

        very true

  • Cubbie Blues

    Merry Chrismas all. I probably won’t be doing much commenting much over the next week since ill have all the kiddos.

  • Bob

    Wow that was a nerdy vacation! But dang that would be fun! I see my wife lasting until she saw the giant bat and then I’d be on my own.

  • Todd McCombs

    and now your trip is a tax deduction. nice

    • Spriggs

      haha! Yep! Some complicated rules about that, but it definitely qualifies – at least for a partial deduction.

  • md8232

    You should have broken The riots bat over your leg ala Zambrano.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Even though Ace’s kickball skills are legendary, he makes Theriot appear to be Zambrano’s size when standing next to each other. Long story short, he doesn’t stand a chance of breaking that bat.

      • Brett

        That bat would shatter my femur into a million pieces.

  • IndyCubsFan

    Brett-did they not have complimentary Ryan Theriot mullets for your batting cage experience? lol

  • Curt

    tyvm for sharing Brett that’s a wonderful Christmas gift, to see those sight through you, but did yu really pull an Ernie banks bat out no kidding really? only fitting it should be that way. Merry Christmas to you and yours Brett , p.s. did you find hits for the cubs in some bats .

  • Bill

    Glad you had a awesome trip to the factory! I live an hour away from the Louisville Slugger and it is pretty sweet to see another Cubs fan enjoy the awesomeness!! Happy Holidays!!

  • Big Daddy

    That’s awesome, Brett. Hope everyone on here has a Merry Christmas, and thanks Brett for keeping us all in the loop on everything Cubs.

  • RoughRiider

    Strange (to me) that you’ve never used a wooden bat. I never used a metal bat until I was 32 in a Softball League. I hated the metal so much that I had my own bats made by Hillrich & Bradsby.

    • Spriggs

      I thought the same thing. I’ve only used a few metal bats in my life – at batting cages and in a couple softball leagues. I guess it’s another ****’n old man thing.

  • Danny B

    Articles like this are the reason I read your site daily, Brett. Great work and thank you for sharing your trip with us. Those are some sweet pics and you have a good stance. Ryan Theriot, though? C’mon man don’t tell me you’re still a fan of his. I don’t normally turn my back on players after they leave the team but this guy was a real dingus about it.

    • Brett

      I chose Theriot because it was hilarious that he was available among the superstars. Had to.

  • Melrosepad

    Was looking through the list of free agents and saw Josh Bell still sitting there. Any chance we look at a minor league invite to see what he can do at 3rd? Any word on if we are looking to bring back Cardenas or Chapman?

  • ETS

    Is it bad, when I saw the picture of signatures, I was expecting the signature you found interesting to be dick tidrow?

  • TWC

    Hey Ace, isn’t Christmas Eve ’08 the day that you registered the Bleacher Nation domain, with the first post coming a few days later? Happy Birthday!

    And Merry Christmas to all!

  • True(ly) Blue

    I wish folks would let up on Theriot. He has had a pretty decent major league career based almost solely on his drive, his determination and feisty attitude. Do you expect him to change his spots after he leaves? I think most Cub fans enjoyed him while he was a Cub.
    Brett, thanks for the pics and have a great Christmas. I have enjoyed this site since I discovered it. If you don’t have at least 2 articles a day I feel deprived even though I know that you should put you family obligations first.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

    • King Jeff

      I’m pretty sure that the problem most of us have with Theriot has to do with his comments when he signed with the Cardinals, when we make fun of his ability, it’s probably just to offset the sting we feel knowing that he’s got two rings since leaving the Cubs.

      • True(ly) Blue

        KJ I think that you are correct. His comments after leaving did leave a bad taste but I have always respected all out energy and “a bust your a** ” attitude. Two rings were just a fluke of timing, eh?

        • MichiganGoat

          Yes two rings is more about luck than his contributions. He’s not exactly the worse player but he’s not exactly great or good. Not to me toon TOOTBLAN exist because of him.

  • Ed Wiese

    I have been there before myself. I would love to go back!

  • Marc N.

    I didn’t even know you could visit the Louisville Slugger factory. I figured it would be in China or something. That’s awesome. Do they make things there?

    Derek Johnson, in my opinion, was a game changing hire for this organization and how they train and manage pitchers. I am excited by that one as I thought Vanderbilt was legitimately ahead of everyone else in training their pitchers. Sucks I couldn’t read that article.

  • Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Ah, if I knew you were in town, I would have invited you to our beer-tasting party last night!

  • ramy16

    Merry Christmas to all my bleacher nation family! Now a Christmas wish is to sign Michael Bourn, trade Marmol and sign Rafael Soriano!

    • nkniacc13

      Please no I want to keep the 2nd and 3rd rd picks the the cubs would lose signing Bourn and Soriano.

  • rich

    Back to you and family , hopfully they are able to make those trades !

  • Ramy16

    Thanks Rich!

  • Katie

    The pics and comments from your trip warm the the cockles of my nonexistent heart. Well done, Ace. If Tingley and Dick Tidrow did in fact face each I have no doubt that measured on the Richter scale of awesomeness. Imagine if Dick and Ron traded last names.

    Great pics and commentary as always!