The Rundown: Trying to Understand Anti-Fans, Scouting Dexter Fowler, and SXSW
Top Of The First
Chicago was certainly politically charged over the weekend. So much was happening on Friday it actually made my head spin. There is a mentality that exists at times that dictates “anybody but your guy” and I never really understood that thought process. Then again, I was brought up by parents who believed that voting was a duty and a privilege and that each vote was to be considered private. I understand the protests but I just don’t understand the “anybody but your guy” attitude. Our most powerful individual form of protest is our individual vote, or at least I’d like to believe that to be true, naive as it may be.
I take the blue line and the red line to and from work and I saw a lot of angry protesters Friday night. I was somewhat unnerved.
The Chicago Baseball Anti-Bias
For most baseball fans in Chicago, there is a remarkable divide which I find interesting since the city’s two baseball teams play in separate leagues. Of course there are Cubs fans and White Sox fans and in most cases, if you are Cubs fan you are an anti-White Sox fan and if you are a White Sox fan you are an anti-Cubs fan.
The divide used to be incredibly territorial but the suburban boom of the 1960s and 1970s made for a less provincial rivalry. I am originally from the North Side but spent most of my formative years in the South Suburbs as a Cubs fan. It was tough, but not life threatening, except for the occasional after school beat down and confiscation of my lunch money on days I wore my Cubs hat to school.
I just don’t get that type of fandom. I would never waste energy rooting for a hometown team to lose. Suffice to say, as a Cubs fan, I don’t root for the White Sox to lose unless they are playing the Cubs or the Yankees. I am sure a similar anti-bias exists in New York between Yankees and Mets fans and possibly in California where Dodgers and Angels fans might clash and A’s and Giants fans may have their own turf wars. I have been to California on numerous occasions and most fans are too casually laid back to care about anybody but the Dodgers and Giants.
Oh yeah, why am I a Yankees fan? My father wanted to name me Mickey (and I go by Mickey to some of my friends) because his favorite player was Mickey Mantle. So The Mick is my favorite player of all time as well and I am a secondary Yankees fan. In fact, my birthday is in three weeks and I am treating myself to a throwback number 7 Yankees jersey to hang in my closet, right between my Ernie Banks and Ron Santo jerseys.
Anyway, the prevailing attitude that “I don’t care if my team wins as long as your team loses” always seemed incredibly stupid to me. In a perfect world I would want the Cubs and the White Sox playing in the World Series as often as humanly possible. It has happened once in 113 years of interleague championship baseball and that’s a shame. I say Go-Go White Sox, I hope to see you in meaningful October games against the Cubs this year. I couldn’t think of a more exciting World Series than that.
No Love For St. Louis Though
Having said all that, I just can’t stomach the St. Louis Cardinals. I do like their team logo, but that’s about as far as it goes. I don’t even refer to Stan Musial one of the all-time greats. I can spend days researching players from Musial’s era — Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Yogi Berra, etc — and stand in awe of their accomplishments, but Musial always felt like an afterthought to me. I admit I am horribly short-selling The Man — he won 3 MVPs, hit 475 home runs, finished with a career BA of .331 and the Cardinals won three championships during his tenure — but he was a St. Louis Cardinal.
In full disclosure, most of my general dislike stems from the fact that the Cardinals have been remarkably consistent through almost every decade of their existence, beating up on the Cubs every step of the way. Up until 1926 they were a sub-.500 team year after year. In the 1920’s the Birds hired Branch Rickey, who instituted a model that still exists to this day, and St. Louis has been a major league baseball factory since.
I have family from St. Louis. They are Cardinals fans. I love them a great deal but I just pretend that baseball does’t even exist when I see them. No matter how good the Cubs may be this season or over the next few years, there is but one truth: The St. Louis Cardinals have 15 pennants and 11 World Championships since 1926. In that same span, the Cubs have 5 pennants, none since 1945, and zero World Championships. I loathe you, St. Louis. Envy and jealousy are deadly sins.
Scouting The Cubs – Dexter Fowler
For a guy who has achieved career stability and remarkable consistency, it seems odd that Fowler is forced to prove himself year after year. With Fowler you get an OBP that is generally 100 points above his BA. If he hits .250, he gets on base 35% of the time. If he hits .275, he gets on base 38% of the time. We know that. We also know that he is a below-average fielder but he has improved slightly each year.
Last year represented career highs for Fowler in most counting statistics (HR, RBI, Runs Scored, Stolen Bases) but that was simply a factor of plate appearances. Based on 2016 projections, again, Fowler will be a model of consistency, but with fewer at-bats. Provided he stays relatively injury-free, that is.
With the Cubs’ crowded outfield I do not expect Fowler to get 600+ plate appearances this season, so he will most likely show some statistical regression overall. Joe Maddon would probably like to get Fowler 500 AB’s or so, which means we can expect a higher BA thanks to platoon splits but fewer home runs and stolen bases. Optimistically, I’d expect something like 13/45/.272/.370/.779 with 15 SB from the Cubs centerfielder. Anything above that is profit.
5 – 6 – 4 – 3
Well this is interesting. Brew Crew Ball reimagines Milwaukee Brewers players as Disney princesses. Must Read.
Reds Reporter looks at the top college prospects and reports on bunting drills from the Cincinnati Reds camp. The Reds have the #2 overall pick this June.
The Pittsburgh Pirates signed David Freese, who could be one of the best bargains of 2016. Bucs Dugout breaks it down.
Viva El Birdos lays out projections for the Cardinals platoon and bench player.
A rental shortstop such as Erick Aybar, Ruben Tejada, or Nick Ahmed would be a bad move for the Cardinals. Redbird Rants explains why.
Fact, Fiction, Truth, Or Rumor
Pete Rose sent Donald Trump an autographed baseball that unabashedly declares the Hit King’s support for the outspoken Republican presidential candidate. I wonder if Pete realizes that The Donald cannot grant him baseball amnesty.
I guess in the wake of the Goose Gossage implosion the Los Angeles Times felt a need to enlighten casual baseball fans on a few sabermetric terms and definitions by using a multiple choice quiz of sorts. The final quiz question asks which Angels pitcher is most likely to improve. The answer? Monte Morin, who is not even on the Angels roster nor listed as one of the options.
Dexter Fowler is insistent that he and the Orioles “were never really close” on a contract. I no longer see the need for this to be an issue.
The Blue Jays have seven fringe players that are out of options, including young SP Aaron Sanchez and OF Junior Lake. Trades before Opening Day seem likely.
The first round of the MLB Rule 4 Draft has finally been decided. Don’t look for the Cubs, their first pick is at the end of the third round.
Bottom Of The Ninth
A Twitter follower asked me why I do not do game recaps. I suppose it is a valid question. The obvious answer is that I don’t see the games very often and my notes would consist of piecing together information from existing articles. The underlying reason is that there are too many recaps already, and I don’t think I could conceivably provide anything that would be remotely enlightening.
Another follower asked me if I would do a Q&A column. I don’t suppose I have nearly enough readers to warrant that exercise, but if you have a question, would like analysis of a Cubs or non-Cubs player or minor leaguer, or if you want to talk music, just leave a comment on my articles or ping me on Twitter.
In fact, for music lovers, I will be at SXSW Wednesday through Saturday. If you think there is a band or performer I should see, please let me know.