So, today is April Fools’ Day, which, in my personal life, I love quite a bit. I once convinced The Mother that I was leaving my law firm, in part, to clean the tarmac at the airport. (Joke’s on me, because a year later I left my law firm to become a blogger.) The Wife has asked me repeatedly to stop getting her. I’m pretty sure I’m about to announce on Facebook that we’re having quadruplets, and I could totally pull it off.
But when it comes to Cubs stuff and BN, I don’t much care for doing the April Fools joke thing. It has the propensity to spread too quickly, be misunderstood too readily, and annoy too easily. It’s not really worth the hurr hurr that follows. So, don’t worry: no April Fools joke coming today. There will be something humorous, but there will be no pranking.
- I meant to share this yesterday for Opening Day, but a couple years ago I wrote a long take on the Cubs, fandom, and mortality, and I think it’s fair to share it each year for folks who’ve never seen it. It’s impossible to share something like that without sounding self-congratulatory, but I’m pretty pleased with how that piece turned out. I think it’s worth your time.
- Judging on the standards set by a new approach, Jeff Samardzija was pretty much perfect yesterday. The idea for him this year is to work in the zone a bit more early, trying to create weak contact (and reduce walks and pitch count in the process). “That’s what we’re looking for,” Samardzija said of his start yesterday, per Cubs.com. “Obviously, we’re going to take a hit on [the number of] strikeouts, but that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is keeping your pitch count down and getting your offense back in the dugout. That’s what we’re going to go for this year, is attacking the zone and making smart pitches and go for the strikeout when we need it.” That last part is the real key, if you can pull it off. You never want to take away a strikeout pitcher’s ability to get strikeouts (Samardzija is among the elite in that regard). Balls in play, while nice in theory because they can result in quick outs, also often become hits. As we saw yesterday, there were a few very well-struck balls that turned into outs – that won’t always be the case. As long as Samardzija maintains the ability to wipe guys out when he needs to (his splitter wasn’t working yesterday, so it was a little more difficult), then this is the best of both worlds. He could be an absolute beast for the next three months. And then he could be gone. Happysad.
- That Cubs.com piece has more on the game, and more thoughts from the other side on Samardzija’s performance.
- Very glad to hear – not that I’m surprised – that Carlos Villanueva has the right perspective about the game-winning homer he gave up yesterday. “I was ready, and I felt fine,” Villanueva said after the game, per CSN. “I just threw a high changeup, and he took me out. You tip your hat. What else can I say?” Villanueva simply missed his spot – badly – and served up a meatball. You don’t always get punished for that mistake, but yesterday, he did. One bad pitch. The truth is, I was very glad to see Ricky Renteria willing to use Villanueva in that spot, even though he’s “the fifth starter.” He was going to have an extra day off today anyway, so you might as well put him in and let him go a few innings. That he lasted only one batter is just the breaks.
- The CSN piece also has thoughts from Anthony Rizzo on his rough day. Like Villanueva, it sounds like he’s got the right perspective.
- The Cubs were involved in the first two instant replays in baseball history yesterday, coming out on the short end each time. What matters, though, is that the umps got both calls right (and one would have been incorrect without replay). They didn’t take too long, and they didn’t disrupt the rhythm of the game too much. Early take: it’s gonna be OK.
- Jorge Soler is dealing with a sore hamstring, so he’s going to start a little behind the eight-ball this year. Hopefully he’s ready to go in just a week or so, since he’s already playing intrasquad games in Mesa (he homered yesterday, going back-to-back with 17-year-old top Dominican signee Eloy Jimenez (how cool is that?)). He’ll start the year at AA Tennessee, and it’s going to be a big year for Soler, who’s missed so much time over the past few years with injuries and defection.
- A profile on pleasant-surprise-Opening-Day-third-base-starter Mike Olt.
- The Cubs set all kinds of Cactus League attendance records this year after opening new Cubs Park – single season record, per game record, single game record (Az Central). In fact, the 12 best-attended games in Cactus League history were all this year at Cubs Park. That’s obliterating the records, dude. That should add a little extra revenue to the Cubs’ coffers. (Obligatory link to large financial piece, if you haven’t read it.)
- The Cubs remain the third priciest average ticket in baseball at $44.16 (ESPNChicago), though the price has remained flat since 2010, when the Ricketts Family took over the team. Given the relative competitiveness of the big league club during that stretch, flat prices are pretty understandable (and, contrary to what some might say, the Cubs don’t “owe” it to fans to drop prices – they “owe” it to fans to charge whatever amount will generate the most revenue to be put back into the organization. They study pricing curves to figure that stuff out).
- The Cubs will be doing decades of food and drink at Wrigley this year, and you can see the full slate of offerings over at Vine Line. There’s also a widely expanded beer offering, with a bunch of Goose Island beers.
- Apropos of nothing, a reminder: Alberto Cabrera was designated for assignment a few days ago, and that will have to be resolved within 10 days (so, by early next week). He will be traded, released, or waived (and it takes three days to clear waivers). Just keeping it on your radar.
- At least someone was having fun on Opening Day for the Cubs. (And that picture there is a good reason why you should “like” BN on Facebook.)
- Wow – I’d forgotten how massive the Bullets can get in the regular season. That is all.