There isn’t much happening at the corner of Clark and Addison this week. It’s almost as if the Cubs organization is on radio silence ahead of this weekend’s fan convention. That makes it tough to come up with topics and news bullets and I started to panic mildly after staring at an empty computer canvas for 55 minutes this morning. You almost got a story about that magnificent flow shortstop Dansby Swanson is sporting. Oh, for the days of thick, wavy hair.
I shave my head now, a cure-all for a receding hairline made popular by Michael Jordan and a plethora of balding baby boomers. Perhaps we believe on some level that people won’t recognize that we’re 75% hairless if we trim it down to the follicles, reverse mohawks be damned. What a twisted world we live in. I hope Mr. Swanson never has to look in the mirror, take out his clippers, and reduce his head to a smooth dome of nothingness. It’s a sobering experience the first time and it doesn’t get any easier with subsequent shavings.
Okay, I made it through about 200 words and if you’re still here, thank you.
Cubs Convention is back, so Tom Ricketts will be strutting on stage like he’s Mick Jagger, and I’m going to be packing a flask for the executive Q&A. If you’re wondering why, it’s because I want to play a little drinking game. I’m going to take a swig of whiskey each time Jed Hoyer, Carter Hawkins, or Jared Banner says “I think,” and two swigs if any of the three starts a sentence that way. We’ll see how long it takes security to haul my chrome dome out to the streets.
I’ve also got a roll of shiny quarters to give to the first fan that asks Ol’ Tom about Marquee Sports Network.
— Madeline Kenney (@madkenney) January 18, 2020
I’m not really going to drink like a sailor on leave, but it is fun to fantasize. The entire convention is nothing more than a fan fantasy camp, anyway. Thousands of die-hards are going to be cheering Swanson, Cody Bellinger, Jameson Taillon, and Brad Boxberger like they’re going to lead the Cubs to the 2023 World Series. Okay, maybe not Boxberger. Fans and bloggers will gush over the minor league studs projected to take Chicago by storm in the next three years. It’s going to look and feel a lot like the great Stark Expo. I’m actually hoping for nothing but AC/DC music on the intros.
Matt Mervis is Mark I Iron Man, Brennen Davis is War Machine, and Pete Crow-Armstrong is the latest prototype. You get the picture. Hoyer is Tony Stark himself. Oh, how the promises will flow. In the meantime, you’ll see me half-grinning with the same incredulity as Obadiah Stane or Justin Hammer. I’m all for rock star moments, but I’d rather see the Cubs prove it on the field. I measure success in wins and losses rather than soundbites and overly gratuitous offseason applause. Call me cynical, but I’m still waiting for the sustained success that Theo Epstein, aka Howard Stark, promised us back in 2011.
The Cubs are a lot of things, including being the only major market team to go through two tank jobs in 10 years. Let’s hope Hoyer gets this one right. I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the expo this weekend. Maybe I’ll meet my Natasha Romanoff.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs are no longer pursuing Trey Mancini and may be done adding power to the lineup.
- Call me crazy, but perhaps Hoyer should be going all-out to extend Ian Happ given this turn of events.
- Saving receipts: “We have to be a little quicker strike offense than we were,” Hoyer said at his end-of-season presser. “I like the fact that we’re making more contact. I do think there were times we [extended] at-bats, but we lacked the ability to pull away in different games. That’s something we have to be better about. We played so many close games throughout the year because we couldn’t stretch games out. That really taxes the bullpen and leads to more randomness. The best teams in baseball blow people out.”
- I sure would like to see Hoyer sign Corey Knebel, Michael Fulmer, and/or Andrew Chafin to strengthen the bullpen.
- P.J. Higgins has elected free agency following his outright assignment.
- The team’s path to success in 2023 is clear: pitching and run prevention.
- When Ricketts greets Cubs fans this weekend, it will be the first “Meet the Owners” panel since 2018. Ownership ducked fans in both 2019 and ’20 due to what they said was poor feedback on how boring the traditional Saturday morning panel, then that global pandemic led to cancellations of the entire event the last two years.
- Crow-Armstrong was named the best defensive prospect in a poll of MLB executives. Jeremiah Estrada and Daniel Palencia received votes for best potential future closer and Alexander Canario was mentioned as an underrated prospect.
- I’m not the only one struggling to come up with relevant content. Will Leitch of MLB.com decided to predict the next 10 MLB champions, and the Cubs aren’t in that group. Leitch does, however, have Chicago losing to the Yankees in the 2027 World Series. It’s a ridiculous exercise, but sadly, here we are. Wait until MLB’s next realignment throws a monkey wrench into the whole shebang.
Odds & Sods
Step up for the “real thing” Cubs fans! Somewhere John Belushi has a sad.
I wonder if Mr. Ricketts wants to buy the world a Coke?
I also wonder if the team’s vendor management bothered to take the Pepsi Challenge before making the switch.
I could go all day, actually, but I’ll stop.
Cubs and #CocaCola in perfect harmony.
Returning to the Friendly Confines this year. pic.twitter.com/JXQWAPfJYI
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 10, 2023
The Marlins will pay Cueto a guaranteed $8.5 million and the deal also includes a club option.
Let’s bring the beard back to Major League Baseball!
This social media conversation between Tucker Barnhart and Comrade Crawly is priceless. Just read the replies.
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- FanDuel announced yesterday that in an ad during the Super Bowl, Rob Gronkowski will kick a 25-yard field goal live. If he makes it, anyone who placed any bet on the game of $5 or more on FanDuel will split $10 million in free bets on the platform. Yes, let’s get more people addicted to gambling!
- Speaking of gambling, Georgia routed TCU in the CFP title game last night, covering the over by themselves.
- The ozone layer is set to be fully restored over most of the world within the next two decades, according to a new UN report. A complete restoration will occur in 2066. Which politician will take credit? Is Al Gore still around? Will he be then?
- Goldman Sachs plans to start laying off 3,200 people tomorrow, a day bankers have dubbed “David’s Demolition Day” after the firm’s CEO. The investment bank faces an expected 46% drop in profits. You know what that means, right? Higher banking fees. An ATM near my home now charges $7 for a non-affiliated cash withdrawal.
- A new study reveals that immigrants now out-innovate native-born Americans.
- These landmark albums all turn 50 in 2023, including Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd.
They Said It
- “Going into this offseason, I felt like if we could add a shortstop and by doing that move Nico (Hoerner) to second, that was a priority. Filling a hole in center field was a priority. Obviously adding talent and depth to the rotation was a priority. Those are some of the big blocks, the bones of the team we were trying to improve. And we’ve done that.” – Hoyer
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
Introducing your 2023 Chicago Cubs!