Opening Day Lineup

All right, here is the projected Opening Day Lineup:

1. CF: David DeJesus
2. SS: Starlin Castro
3. 1B: Anthony Rizzo
4. LF: Alfonso Soriano
5. RF: Nate Schierholtz
6. C: Welington Castillo
7. 3B: Luis Valbuena
8. 2B: Darwin Barney
9. SP: Jeff Samardzija

I’m not sure about Darwin Barney batting in the 8th spot. I’d move him up to fifth with Nate in 8th. However, if it were up to me and don’t get me wrong, I’m not discounting Dale Sveum’s managerial decisions but I’d try and put Jorge Soler in the lineup maybe even Almora in as well. I’m a huge fan of putting in the kids. I know baseball trys to keep the prospects down for as long as possible, but in this case let them play. Chicago has nothing to prove except pulling out all the stops this year. So why not put them in?

Is everyone getting ready for the regular season? I hope all your favourite teams do well this year, but I really hope the Cubs win it all. I like Castillo. I think he’s going to be excellent this year and a true “sleeper” player this year.

Ernie Banks will be there Opening Day as well as Fergie Jenkins and Williams. It’s going to be great!!!

Our son who’s two and a half asked me the other day,”Daddy, I want to watch Cubbies with you.” So I answered,”We can watch the Cubs on tv.” and he said,” No, not TV.” and I told him that Chicago is far away but Mommy you and I will get there some day. “Ok, Daddy”

And so traditions begin. Hopes, dreams and that eternal quest for the World Series begins. I believe the Cubs have a shot at the Series. “Daddy, the Blue Jays are going to win, everybody knows that.”

—Mark

Pine Tar Syndrome

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There is an epidemic going around in baseball. I know you’ve seen it, cause I’ve seen it too. Ranging throughout the ranks from Manny Ramirez to Starlin Castro–it’s the “Pine Tarred helmet”syndrome.

Why does this happen? Apparently, it’s from their hands touching the helmets. Would you have thought that Manny Ramirez was believed to be the first player to do this?

So I did a quick search to see if there were any reasons to do this and one of the answers was that it helps put it on their gloves when they put their helmet on.

Call me naive, but I have noticed this for a long time. It bothers me because it looks sloppy. A uniform is a uniform and whether someone fights fires or plays baseball, they should treat a uniform with respect.

Some teams like the Montreal Canadians don’t allow the uniform to touch the ground out of respect for the players who wore it before.

I believe it’s time for a change. Players should wipe that tar off of their helmets when they step up to the plate.

—Mark

Final Countdown

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With just one week left until the regular season, Jeff Samardzija and the rest of the Cubs sunk the Mariners last night in a late game(I don’t know how I’m going to do it this season with those ones. It’s getting hard to watch those ones. Maybe a couple of innings)7-4. Samardzija cracked his second homer of the pre-season and Alfonso Soriano hit his fourth.

Today, the Cubs square off against the Brewers at 3:05. I’ll be home just in time for that one.

So, are the Cubs ready? Who will hit lead off? Will Marmol get traded? What about Soriano? I guess these questions will have to get answered soon enough.

This is what I would do:

Trade Marmol soon. He might start off the season with a bang, hell, he might not, but he should get traded. Get a young guy in and take their lumps.

I want Starlin Castro in the lead off. Yeah, people might think I’m crazy for saying it, but he needs plate control. This is the year he does it, learns it and becomes the future hall of famer we know he’s going to become. Take the lumps Castro. Although, DeJesus will probably bat lead-off and that’s not a bad decision, I think Dale Sveum should just go for it and be creative this season. Call up the rookies, experiment and have fun. I’m not saying don’t go out and not try to win, but pull out all the stops. Last year was excruciating most of the time, so I think being inventive can go a long way.

I’ve said it before and I’ll chirp again, Alfonso Soriano has to go too. Unless he hits at least 35 and catches some balls instead of kicking grass, the man is DH material. I like you Alfonso, but get on with the Yanks.

Play Ball!
–Mark

Snowed In Spring

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I don’t know about you guys, but it’s the first day of spring and there’s snow everywhere! “Everytime I try to get out, They keep sucking me back in!”

Since my last post where the Rangers trounced the Cubs, Yesterday the Cubs came roaring back with a 5-4 win. It was the big bats this time that settled the score. Darwin Barney hit one outta there as well as Alfonso Soriano. Oh yeah, have I not mentioned the great, “Duke” Wellington Castillo scored a crucial run.

Things are winding down as the regular season is all but two weeks away. This is pretty much as close the the opening Day Lineup as we’ll see. Nobody is predicting a World Series or even 70 wins by these guys, but I have a bet goin g with someone that the Cubs will win 75-80 games this season. Hell, look at the Ottawa Senators, nobody predicted they’d be doing as well as they are. Plus, they’ve lost three of their top players and still find ways of winning.

Now, we’re not talking about hockey here. Everybody is well aware of the long baseball season ahead and I think that the Cubs young bats could prevail with notching up some wins.
–Mark

Out of Rangers

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Yesterday was a great St. Patrick’s Day. We went up to see my folks and spent a great time there. Then when we came home and I flipped on the ol’tube(I guess they can’t call it that anymore)there wasn’t one, but two Cubs games on! Oh the stress of having to choose!

I didn’t get a chance to watch them all the way through but I did see a good chunk of the Rangers/Cubs match up!

The Cubs kept it close, eventually dropping an 8-5 decision to the Texas powerhouse. Who says that Spring Training can’t be exciting? After an amazing supper of steak and potatos, I caught the 9th inning when the Cubs tried a rally of a comeback to have the bases loaded, two out-now that’s a game!

Nate Sheirholtz got a home run and so did Tim Saunders making it their 2nd and 1st Home Runs this spring.

You know, since we got our Apple Tv, yesterday was the first time I actually had the chance to sit down and watch the Cubs on our screen and it looked great!!! Highly recomend for those who don’t own one.

The Cubs travel to Peoria to square off against the Padres today. The start of the season is only two weeks away!!!

—Mark

What A Mess!

Here’s an interesting article by Rick Reilly from ESPN:

Wrigley Field loses about $30 million a year because it isn’t allowed to put advertising along its outer walls like other stadiums because it might block rooftop watchers outside the ballpark.

For the 97th straight year, the Chicago Cubs will attempt baseball this season in Wrigley Field. It’s historic, magical and covered in vegetation. Then again, so is Machu Picchu and nobody’s trying to win baseball games there.

I love Wrigley Field. But I’m not a Cubs fan. If I were a Cubs fan, I would despise Wrigley. I’d want Wrigley laid flatter than Wrigley gum.

There’s a reason the Cubs have never won a World Series at Wrigley. There’s a reason they’re 0-for-the-last-67 pennant races at Wrigley. The reason IS Wrigley.

Wrigley isn’t just the old family dog that needs to be put down. It’s an old family dog that probably costs the Cubs about $73 million a year. That’s three Prince Fielders!

Where do I get $73 million? Start from the outside-in — with the money-sucking rooftop mini-stadiums that metastasize outside the ballpark.

The owners of these annoying watchtowers sell tickets as though they were the Cubs themselves. They even sell season tickets! The city continues to protect these leeches, who pass themselves off as mom and pop entrepreneurs, but actually rake in an estimated $24 million a year, according to the club.

Of that, the Cubs get a paltry 17 percent, or $4 million a year. Any fair deal would give them at least half. (There’s $8 million they don’t get.)

Inside, the Cubs are prohibited from putting up advertising signs that could make them up to $30 million more a year (that would be $38 million) because the signs would block the views of the precious rooftop oglers and the city can’t have that.

You talk about a business being in your business. Can you imagine this happening to any other business?

Hey, H&R Block! We’re not going to pay you for your tax advice, but we ARE going to pocket the cash people give us to sit outside your window and listen to it!

If all this seems insane to you, you should talk to Bruce Springsteen. In the middle of a recent concert at Wrigley, he stopped, turned toward the rooftops and said, with a smirk, “Everybody up on the roof! Who’d you pay?”

You say, “Well, the Cubs aren’t really a business. They’re a city treasure, a kind of living museum.”

Fine, if they’re a city treasure, then the city should help support them, the way it did for this summer’s 30th anniversary of the Chicago Blues Festival, which received a $15,000 grant.

The Cubs pay 12 percent city “amusement” tax on every ticket (about $17 million a year — we’re up to $55 million), and yet the city doesn’t give them a dime. Very unamusing.

Tom Ricketts needs to run Wrigley Field like a business, not a historic landmark, if the Cubs ever want to win a pennant.

There’s more. You can open the doors of your business pretty much whenever you want, but the Cubs can’t. They’re allowed to play only 30 night games a year. And they can’t even pick the nights. When owner Tom Ricketts inquired if they might play a few Saturday night games this season, the local restaurants fumed, “It’ll kill our dinner business!”

Got it. Everybody gets to compete for customers except the Cubs.

Any idea how much more the Cubs could get for a TV package with 55 night games, which is what many teams play and when most fans watch? Me neither, but let’s guess $5 million. (We’re up to $60 million.)

God forbid they’d want to put up a decent video replay board, which is ad gold for most teams and, by the way, a place where Cubs fans could actually tell the score of the game without having to do the inning-by-inning math themselves, as they do now on the old hand-lettered relic in center. ($7 million? Total so far: $67 million.)

Plus, can you imagine the frogs that would rain down if they tried to sell the name of the stadium? They could never do what the White Sox did, which is to sell Comiskey to U.S. Cellular for $68 million over 20 years. The Cubs could probably get $100 million. There’s another $5 million a year. (That’s $72 million.)

And forget about how long it takes you to get up and get a hot dog at Wrigley (two innings sometimes), or get to the restroom and back (often three). Hell, by the third inning, the Cubs are on their third reliever. No wonder so many people sneak food in. What’s that total in lost concessions? A million? (We’re at $73 million.)

And that’s just the money they don’t get. Imagine the players they don’t get — because of their weird start times, their rotting training facilities, their wimpy weight room, their nonexistent in-game batting cage, their backachingly small clubhouse and their 104-year ringless streak.

Can you imagine what a genius like Cubs GM Theo Epstein could do with another $73 million a year? He’d be Theo, Unchained. He’d have the fourth-highest payroll in MLB instead of the 15th (2012). One of the biggest draws in sports shouldn’t be 15th in anything.

The Red Sox finally stopped treating their little neighborhood park like it was a Faberge egg. They started putting up signs everywhere at Fenway, maxed out revenue anywhere they could, and won two of the past 9 World Series. You hear Boston fans complaining?

And yet Ricketts doesn’t want to raze Wrigley. He was practically raised on Wrigley. He lives close enough that he takes the “L” to most games. And because he loves it, he has offered to pour $500 million of the family’s money into renovating Wrigley — $300 million for fixing the joint and the rest into a proposed hotel/fitness club across the street.

And what does Ricketts want for plowing no government cheese into the Wrigley rat trap? Not a dime. He just wants the city to relax some of the restrictions that make the Cubs a kind of crippled Carnival cruise ship with foul poles. And STILL aldermen such as Thomas Tunney are gumming it all up. Tunney wants more parking, more cops and to extend the sleazy rooftops deal, all of which he doesn’t want to pay for. “You’re talking about one of the richest families in America,” Tunney told reporters the other day.

Not at this rate.

Epstein really didn’t want any part of this column, but he did email to say, “We’re focused on doing everything we can with what we have available to us now to make the baseball operation as healthy and successful as possible.”

Too bad there’s so little available.

It’s simple, Chicago. You can either have your creaky, quaint, vine-covered crypt, or you can win. But you can’t have both.

Do the math. You’re used to it.

—Ok, He might have a point but I think Wrigley Field is one of the last few treasures in the sports world and perhaps, it is time for a change, what do you think?

—Mark