The Rundown: Survey Results, Rizzo Ties Knot, Cubs Front Office Remains in Stealth Mode, Nationals May Still Be in on Harper

Good morning, everybody, and happy New Year’s Eve. The end of the year marks the end of the holiday season and hopefully the hot stove will find a way to reignite itself. The two biggest free agents remain unsigned and all told there are 194 players with at least some big league experience who are still looking for jobs.

Cubs fans continue to speculate on whether or not the team will sign Bryce Harper. So far, the Cubs’ only major move was to pick up Cole Hamels’ 2019 option. They’ve traded Drew Smyly and Tommy La Stella and have signed Daniel Descalso and Kendall Graveman, the latter of whom is unlikely to play in 2019.

The Cubs have four remaining free agents who have yet to sign with anybody else, including Justin Wilson.

Cubs News & Notes

Monday Stove

The Nationals shouldn’t be counted out in the Harper sweepstakes. The Dodgers, Cubs, White Sox, and Phillies remain the strongest possibilities to sign the all-star right fielder.

The Braves are keeping tabs on closer Craig Kimbrel.

The Blue Jays acquired left-hander Clayton Richard from the Padres for minor league outfielder Connor Panas and cash considerations. The teams announced the deal last night. Toronto’s rotation for 2019 is now expected to be Richard, Marcus StromanAaron SanchezRyan Borucki and the recently signed Matt Shoemaker.

Dodgers’ President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman isn’t convinced that Clayton Kershaw needs to rediscover his fastball velocity in order to be successful going forward.

With the deadline for free agent Yusei Kikuchi to agree to contract terms just three days away, the rumor mill is eerily silent.

Survey Results

Congratulations @Jc_1978, you win the Amazon $25 gift card for taking my survey. Just tell me where to send it! We had 80 total responses, so thank you to everyone who took the time to participate. I truly appreciate the effort and the insight. I started in journalism writing album notes and concert reviews, which is why I like to keep a bit of musical influence to my posts. Sports and music are my true passions when it comes to writing. That should be expected. My job in the “real world” is writing policies and procedures. Yeah, I’m that guy. Here is a breakdown of the responses.

How often do you read The Rundown?

  1. Every Day 53.5%
  2. A few times per week 39.7%

What is your favorite section?

  1. Cubs News & Notes 60%
  2. Daily Stove 19%
  3. Mike’s Editorial 13%
  4. Walk Up Song of the Day 8%

There are better Rundown-type articles at other sites?

  1. Disagree 65%
  2. Agree 25%
  3. Strongly Disagree 10%

When did you first start reading my column?

  1. Within the last year 72%
  2. Within the last few months 19%
  3. Within the past few weeks 5%
  4. This is my first time here 4%

I find the average length of this column to be:

  1. Not long enough 75%
  2. Too wordy 25%

Other than this column, where do you generally go to get Cubs news & rumors? (Check all that apply)

  1. Dedicated team blog sites 92%
  2. MLBTR 42%
  3. Traditional sports outlets (ESPN, CBS, etc.) 41%
  4. Local sports outlets (Tribune, Sun-Times, etc.) 39%

Which is your favorite Cubs blog?

  1. Cubs Insider 55.2%
  2. Bleacher Nation 36.2%
  3. Cubs Den 6.9%
  4. Bleed Cubbie Blue 1.7%

Are you a current subscriber to Cubs Insider?

  1. No 80%
  2. Yes 20%

Best comments:

  • “It’s good how it is. Not too wordy but not too short either. Also, I’ve followed BN for a few years so they are my go-to but I’ve been impressed with the content at CI. Informative and balanced content without being overly homer, I appreciate that.” – Thank you. Sometimes it is difficult to find content to fill a daily column. So I appreciate recognition of the effort involved. Nice to be compared favorably to the standard-bearer!
  • “I look at Cubs Insider every day but don’t pay attention to so-called columns, e.g. The Rundown. I just read what I’m interested in. What I’d like to see is your taking stock of your speculative predictions every four to six months. You guys sometimes flight fanciful ideas that have no basis in reality and never hold yourselves accountable.” – Duly noted. Personally I do not have any professional insight, and nowhere near the baseball contacts that Evan, Tom and Jon have. So “speculative” is a perfect description of my predictions, and I guess that’s why I tend not to follow up. For instance, I don’t think the Cubs will sign Harper. If they do, I’d probably delve more into the actual news than my incorrect prediction.
  • “Possibly remove walk up song and some of the national headlines. I prefer to focus on what Theo and Jed are doing and what current Cubs are doing in the off-season.” – It’s buried at the bottom of the column each day so that it can be easily skipped. For me, it is just a way to combine two passions. As far as national headlines, I am the only writer here with a column that is not 100% Cubs-related.
  • “Keep up the great work! Don’t let The Athletic sign you! ;)” – Thanks. I am only in year two here, so I am not yet eligible for arbitration, let alone free agency, unless Evan and Jon DFA me. You guys aren’t cutting me, are you?

Extra Innings

More cool Cubs nostalgia from Flagstaff Films. Those 1939 uniforms are so boss.

Monday Walk Up Song

Fight the Power by Public Enemy. Many say it is the most polarizing song of the 20th century. The video is number one on my top twenty list. Some of the many samples on this track include Pump Me Up by Trouble Funk and Funky Drummer by James Brown, which gets a mention in the lyrics.

It was named the best single of 1989 by The Village Voice in their Pazz & Jop critics’ poll. Fight the Power has become Public Enemy’s best-known song and has received accolades as one of the greatest songs of all time by critics and publications. In 2001, the song was ranked number 288 in the Top Songs of the Century (1901-2000) list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Aside from its powerful lyrics, the song is a genuine technical wonder. In an interview with Keyboard magazine, Chuck D explained: “We approach every record like it was a painting. Sometimes, on the sound sheet, we have to have a separate sheet just to list the samples for each track. Fight the Power has, like, 17 samples in the first 10 seconds. For example, there’s three different drum loops that make one big drum loop: One is a standard Funkadelic thing, another is a Sly thing, and I think the third one is the Jacksons. Then we took some sounds from a beat box. The opening lick is the end of a Trouble Funk record, processed with doubling and reverb. And the chorus is music going backwards.”

An interesting fact: Chuck D and Flavor Flav’s real names are Carlton Douglas Ridenhour and William Jonathan Drayton, Jr., respectively. Chuck’s first stage name was Chuckie D., and the band name came from a song he rapped on (created by their producer, Hank Shocklee), called Public Enemy No. 1.

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