Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

anthony rizzo happy celebrationWe’ve got a new podcast coming for you later this morning, so you can look forward to that. Until then, Bullets …

  • The Tribune continues its year in review around the city’s sports teams, and this time it’s the MVPs. For the Cubs, the winner is a surprise: it’s Anthony Rizzo. From the Tribune: “It’s impossible to have an MVP on a 101-loss team, but Rizzo was the Cubs’ most valuable employee after a late June call-up. The Cubs veterans made Rizzo sing ‘Lean on Me’ on the team bus to the Atlanta airport after a game on his first road trip with the team, an appropriate choice considering the organization leaned on Rizzo to provide fans with hope for the future during a dismal season. Rizzo provided it, hitting .285 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs in 87 games after his call-up. Now the marketing department is leaning on Rizzo to help sell 2013 tickets.” I think it’s pretty hard not to give the MVP to Alfonso Soriano or Jeff Samardzija, but Rizzo certainly was good in the second half. Thoughts on the Cubs’ 2012 MVP? Has the distance from the season made you rethink things?
  • Speaking of Rizzo, here’s a profile on the young star that’ll remind you just how awesome he is in ways that have nothing to do with baseball.

  • Carrie Muskat looks back at the 2012 season, and recalls five memorable things. A particularly great one? “Kerry Wood’s Exit –¬†Wood began his career with the Cubs in 1998, and in 2012, was expected to provide a veteran presence in the bullpen. But his arm, weary after 14 seasons, didn’t recover well after outings. Wood, 35, wanted to make one more appearance, and did so in the eighth inning on May 18 when he struck out the White Sox’s Dayan Viciedo, and then walked off the field. His son, Justin, was there to greet him, running out of the dugout. It was a special moment.”
  • Jayson Stark does his annual “Strange But True” baseball column, noting some of the crazier things about the 2012 MLB season. The Cubs come in for two mentions: (1) Their almost homerless April from the outfield, and (2) Shawn Camp’s seven-hitters-faced-seven-hits-recorded appearance against the Pirates late in the year.
  • A twin set of wacky things from the column actually happened at a Reds/Rockies game that I attended: “Speaking of five-spots, in a May 27 game in Cincinnati, Reds starter Mat Latos served up five home runs, gave up no other hits and won. The other starter, Jamie Moyer, gave up four homers and lost. And there were only two singles all day (one of them an infield hit), making this the first nine-homer, two-single game in the live ball era.” One of those homers was this one: “Todd Frazier lost the grip on his bat in midswing and still hit a home run – even though he wasn’t holding the bat in his hands at the moment he hit it.” We could tell something crazy had happened, even from the stands. Of course, perhaps the craziest part was the fact that the homer came off of Jamie Moyer, whom you wouldn’t think could throw hard enough to generate that kind of homer. It was Moyer’s last start of the season, and maybe his career.

  • FanGraphs interviewed Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers, who revealed that the concept of park factors was brought to him back in the mid-90s by a young member of the Padres’ front office named Theo Epstein.

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