The Rundown Lite: Cubs Announce Extension with 670 The Score, Home Schedule Has 47 Day Games, Budget Has ‘Room to Add Some Pitching’

Though some Cubs fans initially balked at the idea of having to turn their radio dials all the way from WGN 720 to WBBM 780 in 2015, any consternation quickly faded when they realized they’d still be hearing Pat Hughes. It’s also important to note that the change came due to the Tribune Company’s decision not to renew the broadcast rights, just like how WGN Superstation chose to stop carrying sports programming.

Things changed again the following season, with 670 The Score taking over following its loss of the White Sox rights. That partnership has lasted ever since and will continue even further into the future as the sides announced an extension of the agreement between the Cubs Radio Network and Entercom.

“Entercom and 670 The Score have been tremendous partners over the past five seasons and we look forward to our partnership continuing for years to come,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said in a statement. “The Score has produced some of the most memorable moments in Cubs history and perhaps more than in any other year, we look forward to soon hearing the familiar voices of Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer calling Cubs games on the Score.”

Kenney joined the Mully & Haugh show Friday morning to announce the deal and discuss some of the other goings-on with the organization. His answers were exactly what you’d expect, particularly when David Haugh asked what happened to the wheelbarrows of cash Kenney had previously claimed would be rolled into the team’s operational budget by Marquee.

Suffice to say, you’d have been able to daub pretty much every square of your biz-ops BINGO card from the rote response. Kenney repeated the claim that 70% of revenues come from fans and touted ownership’s maintenance of a top-tier payroll for several years, which included going over the luxury tax threshold twice, then said this winter could simply be an aberration.

As for when they’ll be able to get fans back to Wrigley Field, Kenney said the Cubs are working closely with the mayor’s office and the state of Illinois. While nothing has been determined at this point, the positive national trends and imminent approval of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are reasons for hope.

Sloan Park will be operating at 25% capacity during spring training, the schedule for which will be out at some point today, so that offers even more reason to believe Wrigley won’t be empty all year. Even with all the understandable frustration, that’s still almost enough to make me feel giddy.

If you’re interested in getting another take on the Cubs, you can tune in to 670 The Score at 1pm CT to hear me with Laurence Holmes.

Cubs News and Notes

  • I slacked on getting the news out about the 2021 schedule, but every now and then it’s nice to unplug from the hamster wheel. The Cubs will play 47 of their 81 home games during the day, including all of their Friday games, with 1:20pm CT start times.
  • That might seem like a lot, but they actually had 49 day games in 2019.
  • The Cubs will have 66 total day games, including some 3pm-ish starts on the road.
  • Their first 11 and last four home night games will start at 6:40 rather than the more traditional 7:05, mainly because kids are still in school and the days aren’t as long. That means all home night games in April and May, then four of five in September will start earlier.
  • Kenney didn’t divulge any specifics about the Cubs’ budget, but did confirm that “There’s room to add some pitching” and said he’d be surprised if they didn’t bring in someone else.
  • The list of remaining starting pitchers out there is headlined by Taijuan Walker, who some think is a perfect fit for the Cubs, and James Paxton. I’d love to see either of those two suiting up for David Ross‘s rotation, though I tend to lean toward Paxton because he offers a little variety as a hard-throwing lefty.
  • I don’t believe the Cubs and Mets are talking seriously about a Kris Bryant trade, if they’re talking at all. Seems more like the Mets want to get a steal while also unloading a pitching contract they’re not particularly keen on keeping.

MLB Notes

The Rays are close to a deal with former Houston righty Collin McHugh, who signed with the Red Sox last year but did not pitch in 2020 after his elbow acted up following a non-surgical procedure during the previous offseason.

Reliever Ken Giles has a two-year deal with the Mariners, though he won’t pitch for them in 2021 after undergoing elbow reconstruction in October. That’s a bit of a risky move for a guy on the wrong side of 30, but Tommy John surgery isn’t scary these days.

Billy Hamilton is reportedly close to a deal with the Indians, which could have something to do with the Cubs signing defensive specialist Jake Marisnick. Or perhaps the Cubs signing Marisnick cleared up the market for speedy, light-hitting center fielders.

The Mets have designated Brad Brach for assignment to make room on the roster for Jonathan Villar. As you may recall, the Cubs signed Brach prior to the 2019 season and then had to rework his agreement due to a mono diagnosis. They were hoping for continued performance of the kind he had in Atlanta following a trade out of Baltimore in 2018, but he got off to a slow start and was traded to the Mets.

Odds and Sods

The Cubs have announced a weeklong celebration called Cubs UNconventional — not to be confused with the annual event hosted by Son Ranto and Ivy Envy — that will be held in conjunction with Marquee Sports Network starting on February 21. In keeping with their “Cub Together” campaign, fans will have access to new content from both the Cubs and Marquee, unique and interactive experiences on social and lots of giveaways.

Friday Walk Up Song

Jump by Van Halen – Having the 2021 schedule out and getting the specs on spring games makes me feel nostalgic for those 80’s Cubs teams I was able to enjoy without a care about payroll or figuring out when and where to watch them. RIP, Eddie.

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