The Rundown: Welcome to Dog Days of Winter, Reportedly No Strop Return, MLB Will Test Computer Zone This Spring

Are you as anxious as I am for spring training to start? Finding Cubs and general baseball new news to write about has become absolute drudgery. If a “dog days” of the offseason exists, we’re in it right now. It’s almost as if time is suspended between the end of Cubs Convention and the moment the team’s  equipment managers empty those first bags of balls and bats.

If you’re counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report then you know we are just 19 days away, and if you’re looking for ways to keep yourself occupied (rather than refreshing the pages of your favorite news and rumors sites), allow me to help you out.

  1. Eat some delicious food – Restaurant Week starts tomorrow in Chicago, and the event is an annual favorite of mine. The fixed-price event brings together more than 400 city and suburban restaurants representing a wide array of cuisines, and includes multi-course brunches for $24, lunches for $36, and dinners for $48.
  2. Have some dessert – Today is National Pie Day.
  3. Volunteer – Homeless shelters and food kitchens could use your help. It’s your chance to be a true superhero.
  4. Go see a concert or two. Buddy Guy will perform this evening at Legend’s, always a great time with lots of surprise guest musicians. You probably won’t see Mick Jagger or Keith Richards, but you’re bound to see some A-list talent performing with Guy. Other must-see shows this weekend include the Tedeschi-Trucks Band at Chicago Theater tomorrow and Saturday, Keller Williams at Park West tomorrow night, and the Waco Brothers at Fitzgerald’s.
  5. Follow the impeachment hearings – Am I the only one who has lost all faith in politicians of any party? What a mess our government has been lately, and sadly, from a global viewpoint, there are really no winners no matter the outcome.
  6. Take a vacation – Why would you want to stay in the Midwest right now anyway? This is historically the coldest week of the winter, though temperatures are expected to be kindly mild through the start of February.
  7. Football is still a thing – If you are into the Pro Bowl, which I haven’t watched since the 1970s, that’s on tap this weekend. Next Sunday the Chiefs and 49ers will play in the Super Bowl. If you’re a Bears fan counting down the days to the NFL Draft, the team’s first round pick belongs to the Raiders. Sorry.
  8. Do something for your significant other – Everybody celebrates Valentine’s Day, but you can spark some spontaneity by doing the traditional Hallmark Holiday a few weeks early. It’s a great way to score some points for those times you become overly obsessed with baseball (and more than slightly neglectful).
  9. Fantasy baseball strategyPositional and prospect lists are being released every day. Start boning up on your own potential roster moves.
  10. Do nothing – We all need a little rest and relaxation at times.

As for me, I’ll stay on top of the latest baseball news on your behalf. And heck, there’s always that Twitter refresh button if you need a quick fix.

Cubs News & Notes

Thursday Stove

The Mets have a new manager, promoting their AA manager Luis Rojas to the bigs yesterday, replacing Carlos Beltrán. The Red Sox and Astros continue their searches.

Mets’ broadcaster Keith Hernandez was “floored” by the decision to hire Rojas.

Larry Walker will be the first player enshrined into the Hall of Fame to wear a Rockies cap.

Derek Jeter blames the obsession with instant gratification on the lack of African Americans in baseball today. The shortstop juxtaposed the path to the NFL and NBA with MLB, noting that the route to playing in competing big leagues is much faster.

Major League Baseball plans to test computer plate umpires during spring training but will not use the system for decisions in any exhibition games.

Rob Manfred said there are no plans to strip the Astros and Red Sox of their titles.

Extra Innings

I laughed when someone told me that Jeter is only in the Hall of Fame because of the flip play. I need to stop taking that kind of bait sometimes to preserve my sanity.

They Said It

  • “I’m going to be honest and self-critical. If we had done our jobs a lot better the last couple years, those same obstacles might be there, but they wouldn’t be as pressing. We would have a little bit more flexibility. Any outside factor, like how you position yourself relative to the tax or budgets, is important, but there’s always a way to anticipate that and do your jobs in such a manner that you can get around it.” – Theo Epstein
  • “[David Ross] is fun to work with, he’s hungry to win, he can hold people accountable and smile at the same time, which is an unbelievable skill set that I don’t have. People feel it when I come down on them. They feel love when he comes down on them. He just has that [relatability] that very few people do, and that’s incredibly impressive to me.” – Andy Green

Thursday Walk Up Song

It Hurts So Bad by Susan Tedeschi. Go see Tedeschi and her husband Derek Trucks this weekend if you have the means. I guarantee you will thank me. Here’s a fantastic bonus video for you.

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