President Obama had some remarks about the safety of football, which is important not for any political reasons, but instead because, when the President speaks, people tend to listen. Among his remarks, he said he would have to think long and hard before letting his son, if he had one, play football, and that the NCAA should probably start looking into doing something to protect its players who are seriously injured on the field. He also added this part, which I have to confess, is exactly right for me: “I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much.” Recently, I have been suffering the cognitive dissonance of loving football, but feeling guilty for, indirectly, contributing to these guys’ long-term health woes.
- Among the unseen changes of the new front office is the dramatic uptick in the use of data – stats, video, tendencies, spray charts, etc. And that usage isn’t limited to the front office or even the big league club. Indeed, the Cubs make a great deal more information available to their prospects in the minor leagues. From pitching prospect Dallas Beeler, per CSN: “[In 2011], I was in Peoria and Tennessee. We would go into games and look at a guy’s stats and say ‘He’s hitting this [average], or he’s hitting this [average] over the last 10 games, or this many home runs, or had this many stolen bases …. This past year, we’d have a guy – a video guy – who would come and go over [the opposing team’s] entire lineup, go through their last 10 games and would find their strengths, their weaknesses, where you should pitch them and in what counts, their stats, if they like steal early, etc. It was a lot more in-depth.” If you’ve got it, why not use it, eh? Obviously, when these guys get to the big leagues, they’re going to be dealing with a deluge of information, so it’s best to get them prepared for it now.
- Matt Garza is getting close to doing full mound sessions without any restrictions.
- Dan Vogelbach made MLB.com’s top 10 first base prospects list, but is all the way down at number eight: “When Vogelbach was an amateur, he created a good amount of buzz with his left-handed power bat. Vogelbach has [not] disappointed as a pro after the Cubs took him in the second round in 2011. He has as much raw pop as anyone in the Minors at this position and can hit the ball out to all fields. Vogelbach has an advanced approach that has allowed him to get on base and hit for average. He was very out of shape in high school, but has worked hard to slim down since signing, something he will have to continue to do as his bat propels him up the organizational ladder.” Shrug. Vogelbach is approaching fringe top 100 overall status, so you’re going to see that most services have him as the third or fourth best first base prospect, but it’s not really something to get riled up about. If he continues to rake this year, and shows some passable defensive chops, he’ll rocket up every list.
- As discussed a couple weeks ago, the fake-to-third-throw-to-first pickoff move is now officially a balk. The umpires and owners are wholly on board, and some of the players, too. For the most part, though, it sounds like the players wanted to keep the move legal. In the interest of doing whatever possible to speed up the game slightly, I am definitely pleased with the change.
- Cubs outfield Dave Sappelt got into a bit of a Twitter dust-up last evening after tweeting some unflattering things about women (it scares him to be driven by them (tweet has been deleted), and when they go shopping there’s no stopping them). Not the worst things in the world, but certainly not great things to be tweeting to the world at large. When a number of fans understandably took issue with the tweets, particularly the driving one, Sappelt didn’t really back down, instead claiming that when he said “women driving me scares the dog sh*t out of me,” he actually meant “a women driving me,” referring to his girlfriend. If true, his greatest offense is an abuse of the English language. The thing I hate most about the situation is, at some point, the Cubs might overreact and put the blanket clamps down players tweeting (or, worse, force them to tweet only innocuous, mind-numbingly uninteresting things). Even folks who had an issue with what Sappelt tweeted don’t want that. Instead, players – especially younger players – need to be reminded at every turn that they are public figures, subject to far more scrutiny than they probably expect or think is fair. With instant social media celebrity comes instant social media responsibility. Unfortunately, the latter develops much more slowly than the former. That’s where these guys need a little help from the Cubs.
- You are informed: Spreadshirt, the company that makes and sells Bleacher Nation apparel (like that beautiful blue shirt to the right), is offering a free shipping deal today through Wednesday, and there’s no minimum purchase. So if you’ve been holding off on getting something, now’s the time to do it and save a little money. Just use the coupon code FREELOVE.
- If you weren’t around this weekend, there was a ton of new content including a Jed Hoyer radio interview, a Lukewarm Stove, the Carlos Villanueva/Lendy Castillo news, and the possible age-related concerns about a Cuban prospect to which the Cubs have been attached.