The Rundown: Keeping Busy Without Baseball, Shortened Season Could Help Cubs and Hurt Cards, MiLB Players Need Assistance

I’m trying to remember what I did during baseball’s last extended break, a 232-day vacation from major league action that started August 12, 1994 and lasted until March 31 the following year. I spent a lot of time at North Avenue Beach in Chicago, hosted a number of parties and barbecues, and attended attended my fair share of concerts.

Heck, I was so bored during that time I even traveled to another city to see the band Genesis, even though I was never that big a fan.

None of those options are available now because of government restrictions on social gatherings and also because I have basically isolated myself in my own home. So far, I’ve made it through the first week watching the Ken Burns documentary series Baseball and catching up on Oscar-winning movies from the past three years that I’ve yet to see. Oh, I also wiped down all of my cabinets and ironed a few shirts. I’m not sure that will be enough to keep me from jonesing for real baseball games long term, however.

Let’s face it, mundane life is no substitute for the excitement of a Cubs game, even if they happen to be playing the Marlins. Being stuck in the house only magnifies the pain and depression. It’s as if seasonal affective disorder has been extended indefinitely, and though we can all choose to go outside and walk around or ride our bikes, being deprived of meeting friends socially is a real shit sandwich.

We all want the world to be healthy again, but we still miss baseball. More than that, I think most of us are really struggling with the uncertainty that the global pandemic has created. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by and reading. If this is what passes for community and fellowship these days, Cubs Insider isn’t a bad place to hang with online friends and family.

This Can’t Be Real, Can It?

I really wish this had been debunked but it hasn’t, and I’ve lost a great deal of respect for Bryce Harper.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Many fans think it’s odd seeing some former Cubs playing for new teams. Which ex-Cub were you most disappointed to see in another team’s uniform? Let’s remove Greg Maddux from this exercise since he would be almost everybody’s choice. With that in mind, I’ll choose Kerry Wood.
  • Kyle Ryan‘s versatility should make him a key component of Chicago’s bullpen.
  • Rachel Folden, the team’s lead hitting lab tech and first female coach, is waiting out the break from baseball with the same anxiety as most everyone else.
  • Though the Cubs’ chances of making the playoffs decrease with a shortened season, the odds that they’ll win the World Series actually increases. Cubs Insider EIC Evan Altman provides the math.
  • Shortened seasons haven’t been kind to the Cardinals.
  • Your Statcast Play of the Day: Watch Yu Darvish make a fool of Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter.
  • Today’s featured former Cubs player of the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer era is Brian Bogusevic. The utility outfielder signed as a free agent in November 2012, and played one season with the Cubs before being traded for Justin Ruggiano. Before coming to the Cubs, Bogusevic hit a walk-off grand slam off of Carlos Marmol on August 16, 2011, giving the Astros a 6-5 win over the Cubs.
  • Per MLB Trade Rumors, Jason Heyward and Orioles slugger Chris Davis have the two worst contracts in all of baseball.
  • Here’s something cool: The other day, a few of us commented on watching the games on WGN when we were kids, which was the first Cubs experience for many fans. But taking it a step further, what made you a die-hard? Was it a specific game, or player, or maybe just your first visit to Wrigley Field? Meeting Fergie Jenkins in the stands behind the Cubs dugout after attending a game with my father did it for me.
  • Speaking of which, have you seen the Cubs YouTube series that chronicles the team’s 1969 season? It’s definitely worth a mini-binge.

Odds & Sods

A couple of notes from the Accounting Department:

  1. I am postponing the event scheduled for 4/18 at Nisei Lounge for obvious reasons. Once we have a more normalized world and social gatherings aren’t a potential death threat to the sick and elderly, we’ll meet and raise a shot (to my old liver) and a beer (to my new one). I’ll post details here once they are available.
  2. A cool charitable organization called 26 Shirts has made a really tight t-shirt that they are selling on my behalf. I know you will want one, so I have already donated my proceeds from the 72 shirts (or more) they hope to sell. Please consider buying one for yourself and a friend. They are only available through March 29.

MLB News & Notes

Could MLB cancel the entire season? Some reports have indicated that maintaining social distancing for 18 months until a vaccine is readily available is the only way to completely stop COVID-19. In the meantime, as the CDC keeps pushing for more isolation, baseball will be forced to continually push back the start of its season.

All 30 MLB teams have pledged $1 million each to take care of ballpark employees during the game’s forced hiatus.

A second Yankees minor league player has tested positive for COVID-19.

Thanks to the novel coronavirus, MLB is adjusting to its “new normal.”

Astros starter Justin Verlander underwent groin surgery yesterday and will be sidelined for six weeks.

Mookie Betts is no longer the lone pariah in New England.

The Phillies and catcher J.T. Realmuto have suspended contract extension talks.

Here are six creative ways that baseball can make the best of a tough situation.

Extra Innings

This warms my heart.

They Said It

  • “I think there’ll be a season. Hopefully. If there’s not, then obviously our world’s not in a good spot, but this is bigger than baseball.” – Anthony Rizzo
  • “I was talking to another Cubs coach and it’s like we’re in mourning. We love baseball, but this really does put things in perspective. When it comes to keeping people from spreading the virus to their grandparents and other older people and those with compromised immune systems, shutting things down is the right thing. I’m really proud [by] how much the United States is being proactive.” – Rachel Folden

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones

  • What went wrong? How about the opening verse? “Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields / Sold in the market down in New Orleans / Scarred old slaver knows he’s doing alright / Hear him whip the women just around midnight.” It doesn’t get much better after that, either.
  • How does it play today? Even Mick Jagger knows these lyrics aged incredibly poorly; he’s changed the words since the mid-80’s for the band’s live performances. Beyond the song’s opening lyrics, the rest of the song is ripe with racism, misogyny and outright references to raping slaves. There is no way in hell the Stones could release this song today.
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