Like I said this morning, the farewells piled up on me and I’m still kinda setting my head straight about me. Even more broadly – the Len Kasper departure is just the latest bit – I feel like the sentiment shift among Cubs fans is accelerating even more rapidly toward frustration and despondency, and I’m not so sure the people in charge realize it. The fun of Cubs fandom has noticeably shifted the last few years, and not solely because of the team’s on-field failings. Those things naturally ebb and flow over the years, but it’s hard to imagine the Cubs are gaining any new fans right now.
• I didn’t want Albert Almora to go completely unmentioned just because his non-tender was expected and because his impact on the team had faded. The first draft pick of the Theo Epstein era, Almora obviously never developed offensively in the way the Cubs envisioned, and his stagnation/regression at the big league level is as much an indictment of the Cubs’ problems on that front as it is of his own baseball ability – it can be both things. There was a big league player in there, but he and the Cubs just couldn’t get it out. Maybe some other team will be able to do it.
• In the meantime, one particular shout of love for the greatest and most important tag-up in Chicago Cubs history:
Much love to Albert Almora in whatever comes next, and thank you for the greatest tag-up in Chicago Cubs history. pic.twitter.com/hINTPenSuR
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 4, 2020
• More love for Jon Lester, whose connection to the Cubs and Chicago ran deeper than a lot of folks realized as it was happening:
Jon Lester explains why he bought Cubs fans 4,838 Miller Lites and always kept Champagne on hand in the Wrigley Field clubhouse. A behind-the-scenes look at the free agent who changed everything for the Cubs and still hopes to return next season: https://t.co/XpTF3y4BYh
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) December 3, 2020
• I love learning about the things Lester did behind the scenes for his teammates. Great read.
• Bonus, Lester has a take on the state of baseball’s operations in the pandemic, and the impact of fans/no fans:
“I don’t know if we’re going to be at full capacity,” Lester said. “But if you come in and you tell these owners, ‘Hey, we’re going to be at this,’ then they can plan on (that). I would assume for a Ricketts, where it’s pretty much a given that if you’re allowed 50 percent of the fans, there’s going to be 50 percent of the fans, then he can plan that out and say, ‘OK, here’s the budget.’ I’m only using that as an example because I know (Tom). If we can figure that out, then the (dominos) will start falling.
“The bigger teams will start spending. The smaller teams will start trying to get the guys that they want to get. I was very surprised to see the moves already with some of these signings, but happy at the same time because they were pretty good deals. Going forward, if we can all get this locked in, I think baseball did a great job with the testing and the protocols and making sure this season actually went down. It was pretty impressive, so I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
• The Len Kasper move to White Sox radio is officially official, and he’ll also be calling some White Sox games on NBCSC:
— Larry Hawley (@HawleySports) December 4, 2020
• Don’t discount the possibility that Len Kasper truly and deeply wanted part of his career to be spent on the radio, and there was suddenly an opportunity to do it in the same city where he’s lived for 16 years:
Len Kasper loves radio. Always has. I’ve been with him during playoff games, when he was dying to be part of the action any way he could. I hope he gets to call lots of them for years to come. Very happy for a pure baseball fan, a good friend, and a great professional.
• Absolutely could be as simple as this, and you want good things for Len, if he just wants to do radio next in his career. Go forth and God bless and all that. Since it comes just one year into his time at Marquee, however, you will always wonder if there was more to the story. Oh, and as I’m typing this Bullet, Kasper’s statement comes out, which again, strongly pushes the idea that he wanted a radio gig at this stage in his career:
White Sox officially announce Len Kasper is joining the radio announcing team, that he will call 20-25 games on TV for NBC Sports Chicago, and collaborate on some multimedia projects with Jason Benetti. pic.twitter.com/s6d32HwrTa
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) December 4, 2020
• Kyle Schwarber’s goodbye:
Chicago 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/k1vH64YwZl
— Kyle Schwarber (@kschwarb12) December 3, 2020
• All NL front office’s kinda have to operate like this, so maybe it’s not a signal … but also maybe it’s a signal:
Nothing has been settled, but Farhan Zaidi said the Giants are planning as if there won't be a DH in 2021. "At least for one year we may be back to old style National League baseball."
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) December 4, 2020
• The DH in 2020 was part of a specially-negotiated side deal between the players and owners, and is not part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which otherwise still dictates things for 2021. So, unless there’s another side deal – lots of things are no doubt being negotiated right now – the NL not having the DH is just the status quo fact.
• Ugly sweaters, projectors, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad