Make sure you grab yesterday’s fresh episode of the BN Podcast for your weekend listening pleasure.
- Chicago Cubs single game tickets go on sale today at 10am CT. I’d say it’s a fair bet that demand will be down this year compared to a few years ago, so you’ll probably be able to grab whatever games you want today. I guess that’s the silver lining of a crappy run of seasons. Here’s the promotional schedule, in case you wanted to make sure you get some swag at your game.
- Anthony Rizzo is already a World Baseball Classic hero. Thanks to his two-run, go-ahead double in the 9th inning off of Sergio Romo, Rizzo’s Italy team upset Mexico in their first WBC match-up. (How do you say “RizzOMG” in Italian?) You don’t necessarily want to see Rizzo away from camp longer than necessary … but, I mean, come on. How can you not cheer for them? I’ll probably pull for Team Italy over Team USA, whom they play tomorrow …
- So, have the Cubs signed Cuban pitching prospect Armando Rivero or not? As of yesterday, I could go only as far as to say that the Cubs may have signed him (based on the fact that he was set to arrive and participate in minor league Spring Training). Phil Rogers says yes, the Cubs have signed him after a “lower-level bidding war.” Carrie Muskat says no, the deal isn’t finalized. It doesn’t sound like it won’t happen, though, given that he’s in Arizona (having received his necessary clearance from the United States and MLB). Perhaps we’re just waiting on a physical, which is finally being conducted now that he’s in the States. Once he starts participating in camp, we’ll hear more about him, and how excited we should be. He’s been mostly a mystery among scouting circles until now.
- Scott Baker threw two innings of a simulated game yesterday, and is on schedule to pitch in a minor league game next week. If that goes well, he’ll make his Cactus League debut in his next outing.
- In an unrelated piece about Cubs management holding out hope for competitiveness this year, Jed Hoyer says this about the difference between being in Boston and in Chicago: “The fan base and how much they care is very similar. The big difference in Boston is there had been so many close calls [between championships in 1918 and 2004]. There haven’t been that many close calls with the Cubs. The Cubs haven’t even been in a World Series since 1945. The Cubs haven’t enjoyed a run of successes only to be disappointed.” I know what he’s saying, and he’s not wrong. But, for us, the “close calls” have been about getting to the World Series, rather than winning it. I’m not sure it doesn’t hurt just as much.
- Quote machine Carlos Villanueva on the value of swing pitchers: “Our value is definitely under appreciated, if you ask me. If I was ever managing, I would want at least two guys who can do what I’ve done. It’s not an easy job …. There’s no market for it. When you go to arbitration with somebody, you hear you’re not good enough to start, you’re not good enough to close and it obviously drives the value down. But you ask a manager or a pitching coach or the guys who play behind you, if your starter doesn’t have it that day, and it’s a two-run game and you can bring that guy in the third inning and can hold it there, that’s a beautiful thing.”
- A group of athletes, notably including Ernie Banks, have signed onto a letter backing a gay marriage bill in Illinois. I know nothing of Mr. Cub’s politics (and if you turn this into a political discussion, so help me …), but it is interesting to see he’s gotten involved in this issue.
- BUNT TOURNAMENT! It’s down to the Elite Eight (almost), with David DeJesus vs. Logan Watkins, Michael Brenly vs. Edwin Maysonet, Edwin Jackson vs. the winner of Hisanori Takahashi and strength coach Tim Buss, and Blake Parker vs. video staffer Nate Halm as the remaining match-ups.
- Big League Stew’s Dave Brown sums up the chorus of jokes we’re hearing a day after the Cubs announced their 2013 “Committed” marketing campaign. In short, folks can’t seem to believe the Cubs didn’t properly consider that other meaning of the word “committed,” and the Cubs therefore deserve ridicule for their carelessness. Considering the absurd number of – and quality of – super smart people working for the Cubs these days, I find it impossible to believe that not one of them thought, “hey, you know, ‘committed’ means something else, too.” Of course they realized it. Of course they knew they’d face a thin wave of the same joke being told again and again … for a week or so. They decided, for better or worse, that the campaign was valuable enough regardless of the jokes. The truth is, there isn’t a campaign you can create that the Modern Internet cannot cleverly indict. Folks wonder why the Cubs keep coming up with slogans that are easy to make fun of? It’s because all slogans are easy to make fun of. Especially when you pool the collected cynicism of the masses (if only we used our powers for good). So, I’m not going to rip the campaign. These things tend to fall into two categories: terrible, and not terrible. They’re rarely “good.” This campaign is decidedly “not terrible,” especially when you consider that folks seem only to be able to rip the slogan word, rather than the entire fan-focused campaign. So I think the Cubs did about as well as they could. And I challenge you to come up with a campaign that I/we cannot ridicule. Seriously: offer up some ideas in the comments, and we can ridicule them. It will be fun.