On Saturday night, I went to a tennis party. It was a bunch of people at a place to play tennis. With pizza. It was actually a lot of fun, though the volume of tennis you play at a tennis party, as compared to a regular tennis outing, is considerably higher. Thus, my shoulder is bothering me today, and that is why it popped into my head this morning.
I also thought you might enjoy chiding me about spending my Saturday night at a tennis party.
- Former Chicago Cubs manager – and former Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager – Lou Piniella was on the Kap and Haugh show yesterday, discussing, among other things, Joe Maddon’s transition from Tampa Bay to Chicago. Among Piniella’s spot-on comments: “You win three or four games a row in Chicago and all of a sudden, you’re gonna win the division and win a World Series. You lose three or four or five in a row and the season’s over. The mood swings are huge.” You’re telling us, Lou. I suspect that polarity will be all the more acute this year, with the burden of “expectations” starting to creep into the fan base again. If the Cubs, for example, lose six or more of the first ten games, the questions about whether the offseason improvements were all flash will be out in force. It will be annoying, and completely ridiculous. If the Cubs, for example, win six or more of the first ten games, the World Series reservations will be booked six months in advance. It will be enjoyable, but completely ridiculous. It seems like, over the years, that no matter how much an incoming manager is warned about that mentality, he’s never quite prepared for it. With Maddon, though, he feels like a guy who will be able to adjust to it very quickly, and – eh hem – won’t let the pressure exceed the pleasure. It sounded like Piniella agreed.
- A local profile on Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella, who sounds pretty excited to be getting in with the Cubs when he is. He says the Cubs haven’t yet discussed with him their plans for where he’ll be playing, which makes sense – given the composition of the roster, it’s hard to know exactly how that’s all going to shake out. It’s conceivable that Javier Baez needs more time at AAA, and La Stella winds up starting at second base for a while. It’s conceivable that, even if Baez heads down, Arismendy Alcantara plays second, and La Stella winds up starting at third base for a while. It’s conceivable that La Stella doesn’t wind up a starter anywhere, and instead becomes a utility man who starts regularly against righties. I also think, given his limited defensive track record (he’s pretty much exclusively a second baseman by trade), the Cubs probably want to see what he can do at other positions in Spring Training before deciding precisely what his role will be. I remain excited to have a guy like La Stella on the roster, wherever he ends up. My only regret is that he’s not more of a power hitter, thus limiting our opportunities to shout, “LA STELLLAAAAAAA” during games.
- Remember the MLB Fan Cave? The hub of mostly social media activity in New York where fans watched every MLB game in a give season? Well, it’s kaput. The decision sounds less about any failings of the Fan Cave (I thought it did some good things, in terms of spreading interesting/fun content), and more about organizational changes going on at the highest levels of MLB as they rethink their promotional approach.
- BN’er Dale Pettit (aka Spriggs) is out in Arizona, and he’s been scoping out the early arrivers at Cubs camp over the past couple weeks. Because of the way the new facilities are laid out, it’s a little more difficult to confirm for certain who is in camp (until the actual workouts begin and players are spread out to all corners of the facility), but Dale says the early-arrivers include Starlin Castro, Jon Lester, Edwin Jackson (looking fit and with a new haircut, Dale says), Miguel Montero, Brian Schlitter (Dale didn’t mention a haircut for Schlitter, but hopefully he didn’t dare), Jason Motte, Jacob Turner, Eric Jokisch, Mike Olt, Matt Szczur, and Travis Wood. There are many more, but those are the guys Dale could confirm for sure. Given yesterday’s discussion of the 5th starter competition, I think it’s interesting to see how many of those guys arrived early (and before you cast aspersions on anyone who hasn’t arrived early, remember that players coming from out of the country aren’t always able to arrive early for work visa reasons). Great stuff from Dale, and we say thanks!
- Sahadev Sharma was on the Ivy Envy podcast to discuss all manner of interesting Cubs bits.
- The Cubs, the Nationals, and MLB are involved in a trademark dispute with a startup that wants to use a “W” symbol that looks similar to trademarked Ws held by each of the Cubs and Nationals (Washington Post). Trademark holders tend to be overly assertive of their rights, but you should know that’s because they have to be, lest they lose their trademarks – part of retaining your trademarks is demonstrating that you do what’s necessary to protect them.