The Rundown: Players Celebrating Baseball’s Return, Former MVPs Lead Efforts to Rename Trophies, Happy Bobby Bonilla Day
It seems almost unfathomable to believe, but baseball is back, Cubs players are headed to Chicago and it looks like nobody is more excited than Kris Bryant.
We’ve certainly weathered our fair share of bad news in 2020, so perhaps baseball will provide a bit of a diversion from a world that has been nothing short of a firestorm since the end of winter. I keep saying that it feels like time has stood still for nearly four months, and though this weekend brings what has now become a controversial anniversary of the birth of this country, it certainly doesn’t feel like we are into our third week of summer. Rebranding the three weeks before the start of the 2020 season as “Summer Camp” doesn’t change that.
I don’t think baseball will move us forward as a nation in the way that many are hoping. In fact, we should be crossing our fingers that increases in COVID-19 cases don’t shut it all down before it begins. Still, the national pastime has returned, even if we’ve forgotten some of the game’s intricacies due to the long layoff. Of course there are a number of new rules changes to navigate, too, so let’s just embrace the game’s new beginning for now, come what may.
Cubs News & Notes
- Clubhouse protocols and access to players and coaching staff for interviews pre- and post-game will change considerably as the team kicks off its training camp and the start of the season.
- Right fielder Jason Heyward is donating $100,000 to the University of Chicago through the Heyward Family Fund. The donation will be used to reduce hardships experienced by healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic, and increase contact tracing efforts on the South Side.
- Despite being designated as high risk because of a previous battle with cancer, Anthony Rizzo intends to play ball this season.
- Rizzo will bat second in the order behind Bryant for most of the season. He may see some time at DH to reduce the strain on his back, an ailment that has been problematic the last few seasons.
- Two Tier 1 staff members have tested positive for coronavirus and won’t join the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday for the beginning of camp. The individuals cannot be named due to HIPAA privacy laws. The Tier 1 group consists of players, managers, coaches and on-field and medical personnel. Tier 2 staff includes front-office officials.
- New manager David Ross indicated that Kyle Schwarber is not opposed to taking turns as the team’s DH. Ross will likely mix it up this season, and has a number of choices to slot as the team’s extra hitter.
- As history proves, the Cubs cannot afford a slow start this year.
- Ross returned to the Cubs because he believes more jewelry is in the team’s immediate future.
- This could be the last dance for the team’s core players, and that’s just one of many reasons to be excited about the upcoming season.
- The trade deadline could play an important part in the Cubs’ path to a postseason berth.
- If the Field of Dreams Game goes on as scheduled in August, the White Sox might face the Cubs or the Cardinals.
- Cubs pitching prospect Ethan Roberts is showing some eye-popping spin rates and increased velocity.
- Could this season be the beginning of the end of Theo Epstein’s tenure with the organization?
Find Your Inner Hero
If you are willing to put in the effort and expense to build a replica of Wrigley Field in your backyard, including the iconic center field scoreboard, you qualify as a hero in my book. Your Wiffle Ball backyard game will never match the tournaments held at this Palatine field of dreams.
Apropos of Nothing
I have a friend whose nephew is a catching prospect for the Cubs, and the young man will be playing an eight-week schedule with the Frontier League Joliet Slammers this summer. He is looking for a sponsor home for the duration of the season, so if you are interested, find me on Twitter or Facebook and I will give you the details.
The Slammers will participate in the City of Champions Cup at DuPage Medical Group Field in Joliet beginning July 16.
Odds & Sods
It never gets old, so Happy Bobby Bonilla Day! I wonder how much the Mets front office likes cutting that annual check. It’s nice to see at least one player sticking it to the man.
Happy Bobby Bonilla Day!
Today, the New York Mets will pay Bonilla $1,193,248.20, and will continue to do so thru 2035 pic.twitter.com/xUyxT3xij4
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) July 1, 2020
MLB News & Notes
Though certainly not a surprise, the Minor League Baseball season has been officially cancelled.
We have our first official trade of MLB 2.0 as the Padres have acquired Athletics prospect Jorge Mateo. San Diego will send a PTBNL or cash to Oakland to complete the transaction.
The Dodgers and Angels are considering starting home games at earlier times this season to cultivate a younger generation of fans. That makes a heck of a lot of sense considering stadiums may be empty to start the season. Hopefully the rest of baseball will follow suit.
Believe it or not, some free agents, including outfielder Yasiel Puig, are still looking to sign somewhere.
We are in the midst of the golden age of baseball for Latin American ballplayers. The 2015 international signing class underscored this point by making headlines in 2019. World Series champion Juan Soto, American League Rookie of the Year Yordan Álvarez and preseason No. 1 overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. all signed in 2015, as did former White Sox prospect and current Padres shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr.
There is growing sentiment to remove the name of first baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis from the league MVP trophies. Landis, a known racist who was instrumental in keeping black players out of the league while holding office, represents the game’s most shameful era. Few fans realize Landis’ name is titled as part of the official award. Most people just call it the MVP trophy. Retired Reds shortstop Barry Larkin is leading the effort.
Today is Canada Day, so celebrate as you will. Though not related, Blue Jays pitching prospect Phil Aumont has decided to forego a career in baseball to be a farmer instead.
After COVID-19 threw this pitcher a curveball, he decided it was time for a career change. He's taken up farming instead. https://t.co/TailLL6duY
— CBC News (@CBCNews) July 1, 2020
Sliding Into Home
I lost about a quarter-inch of tissue in my right shoulder, which is a lot more than you think it is, and I am still dealing with overall organ inflammation, but the procedure I had on Monday afternoon could have been much worse. I’m trying to learn on the fly how to do many things left-handed, but that’s just a temporary setback. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and positive thoughts.
Also, big thanks to reader and Cubs fan Cindy R. for sending me some CDs to aid in my recovery. The highlight is the soundtrack to Eddie & The Cruisers, and I am now on a fervent mission to find that DVD, too. Way to toss that meatball right into my wheelhouse, Cindy. I cannot thank you enough.
Finally, thank you to those who continue to contribute to my GoFundMe. Every little bit helps, and you probably have no idea how much right now.
Out of Left Field
It’s the meds, I swear.
What are y’all doin’ for the 4th? Due to a rise in the ‘Rona I’m gonna lock myself in a closet and light a brick of firecrackers. #socialdistancing #coronalife pic.twitter.com/h4Md30kHlP
— Michael Canter (@MEdwardCanter) June 30, 2020
They Said It
- “What we’re asking the players to do is extremely difficult. I don’t want to make light of how hard this environment is going to be for those guys.” – David Ross
- “There have obviously been far bigger concerns in the world than baseball, but at the same time this is what we do for a living and we haven’t been able to do that for a while. We’re just excited about it. There are going to be challenges ahead of us, I don’t think there’s any question about that. I certainly hope nothing derails it.” – Jed Hoyer
Wednesday Walk Up Song
The Fever by Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band (live) – I had some crazy dreams while medicated on Monday, including one where I was a reporter for MLB, working the Yankees beat.