I leave for Spring Training tomorrow morning, about which I am thoroughly stoked. I’ll be there for about 10 days, hopefully sharing with you the sights and sounds of the season. Although I’ll be at a handful of the big league games – most of which are televised while I’m there – I’m going to try and make my focus the back fields, where I should be able to get a really good look at the young talent in the Cubs’ system. I am #NotAScout, but at least I can (hopefully) give you some eyes-on impressions of various guys who have heretofore been merely names and numbers on a screen to you. I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing, but, hey, following along during my odyssey and we can learn together. (You should see lots of pictures and updates on Twitter and Facebook, as well as here at the site.)
For anyone in the area, definitely stop by if you see me mention I’m somewhere and you want to say hey, and I was thinking about a get-together at the Mesa Brass Tap after Friday’s game against the Indians. If even one person says, “Yes, I will be there, and I will show up,” then I will totally do it.
- As we talk about trying to improve baseball fandom among kids and young adults, Joe Maddon has some great ideas for expanding the footprint of the game. He suggests that each team have its players, once a month, Skype with a classroom of students (variety of ages) for just 20 minutes (Cubs.com). You could cover an entire month with your team, and each player would have to commit just 20 minutes per month – that personal connection is very likely to have a great impact on those young people. Quick math: 25 players per month x 30 students per classroom x 30 teams in baseball is 22,500 kids connected, personally, to MLB in the span of just one month. And then what impact do they have on their friends? Their families? It’s such a simple idea, but it’s really, really good.
- Maddon added that teams could introduce fantasy baseball to students – there’s a math and learning angle there – which could create lifelong, passionate fans (just look what fantasy football has done for that sport). The trick with fantasy baseball is the length and depth of commitment required, compared to fantasy football, but there are ways around that with league structures and daily games. I’m going to keep my eye on this topic, because I really am committed to helping – in whatever small way I can – improve the long-term viability of this sport through the incorporation of lots of new, young fans.
- We’re still waiting on the final, officially official word on the Phil Coke signing, but he’s been in a Cubs uniform this weekend and working out. So, barring some shocking turn, he’s on the team, trying to win a spot (as Luis detailed very nicely yesterday). Part of his decision? He sees something special coming with the Cubs, and he wants to be a part of it (CSN). Also, consistent with Luis’s piece, Maddon likes the experience Coke brings to the table (Cubs.com).
- Jason Hammel felt good yesterday, which is the most important thing (Cubs.com). He just thinks he made a stupid pitch to Nolan Arrenado (three-run homer), but it’s really hard to even worry about that stuff in the Spring. It’s good to make those mistakes now, and continue getting on the same page with your catcher.
- Javier Baez: risky fantasy pick with lots of upside. Potential to be worth nothing. Potential to be one of the most valuable fantasy players in the game. Sounds familiar. Arismendy Alcantara makes a surprise appearance in that piece, too.
- Amid the ugly legal battle following the death of Ernie Banks and the rightful accounting and distribution of his estate, the funeral home that provided the services for his funeral hadn’t been paid. They filed a claim against the estate for $35,000, but, rather than see that battle play out, the Cubs stepped in and they’re paying it (ESPN).
- Jake Arrieta came so close to three different no-hitters last year, and he’s envisioning one this season (CSN). He’s the guy you’d bet on getting one.
- Dig this:
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 7, 2015
- And dig this: