Rankings Coming, the Fowler Moment, Sad Media News, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Rankings Coming, the Fowler Moment, Sad Media News, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

That was kind of an awful Super Bowl, eh? It was just so one-sided from the jump, and none of the excitement you’d expect from Patrick Mahomes brought the Chiefs roaring back (he did his best, but he didn’t get much help from his receivers or his defense). So Tom Brady gets number seven, and everyone does the “is he the GOAT’iest GOAT of All-GOAT?” stuff. Which is totally fine, because what he’s accomplished is absolutely crazy. I think Michael Jordan is still there in the conversation, and I wonder where Barry Bonds would’ve landed if there weren’t the obvious cloud of suspicion (his numbers are truly so beyond other players it’s nuts).

But if we expand the field to individual sports, I’m not sure anyone is going to touch Serena Williams any time soon (23(! lol) grand slam singles titles and 14(! lol) doubles titles (plus two mixed doubles titles)) in her career, which, like Brady’s, has extended far past the age when most tennis players have trailed off. Even at 39, I wouldn’t put it past her to win another this year.

•   Our rankings week is here, which means Bryan is going to be busting out his deep dive into the top Cubs prospects heading into the 2021 season (and he’s maybe got a surprise or two in store for you later in the week). I’m stoked just to read them, myself. Not only does Bryan dig in as much as he can and think deeply about how to put these lists together, he also talks to folks in the industry, folks with the Cubs, and works to get a real sense where things stand, even after a year like 2020 when we thought there wasn’t going to be much new to be gleaned. There is, actually!

•   This was an all-time moment:

•   I was there at the back fields, writing up the surprising Coghlan trade on a bench when Fowler walked out of the facilities and onto the field. Everyone there wondered if he was just saying goodbye or something (including, you could tell, most of the team). Fowler had reportedly just signed with the Orioles, so why was he here, except to say goodbye? Then we saw the hugs. They weren’t goodbye, farewell hugs. They were “OMG you’re back?!?” hugs. It was incredible.

•   Here’s the blow-by-blow of that morning at ESPN when it happened, including how Fowler, Joe Maddon, and Theo Epstein kept it secret until that moment.

•   … and then the Cubs got Coghlan back at midseason, too. Each of Fowler and Coghlan went on to be pretty darn important in that year’s run, eh?

•   Truly awful, sad news in the baseball media world:

•   The outpouring of love and respect you see out there immediately upon Gomez’s passing tells you a lot about how much he did for others. His work will be missed, but, to those who knew him, the man will be missed much more.

•   We’re still waiting on word from Ian Happ’s arbitration hearing with the Cubs (if/when it took place, and obviously the results (Happ seeks $4.1 million, the Cubs filed at $3.25 million). In the meantime, the hearings have been going on, including the Cardinals and ace Jack Flaherty on Friday ($3.9 million/$3.0 million). Notable in Flaherty’s arbitration process, as pointed out by Derrick Goold: this is the third straight year of a dispute on salary. Twice before this year, Flaherty’s first in arbitration, he would not agree to the Cardinals’ pre-arbitration offer, forcing the team to simply renew him at their own chosen price. Clearly, he is a guy who cares about moving the ball forward for other players, which is also why it’s unsurprising to see him (and a team union rep like Happ) go to arbitration. The arbitration system is designed to get pre-free-agency players a quality salary, but with a CBA negotiation looming, you can’t help but wonder if the players will seek tweaks (in my view, the best approach would be to get players to arbitration sooner, especially as the game gets younger and younger, and teams rely more heavily churning in and out pre-arbitration players (which is also why the minimum salary should be a target for the players) (and also getting to free agency earlier … yes, I think the players have a lot to target in the next CBA)).

•   Dang, this is good work, Eli:

•   Scented candles are among the Deals of the Day at Amazon, so I’m gonna have to stock up. Yeah, I said it. I really enjoy scented candles. Come at me, bro. No, but seriously, I really do like them. #ad

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.