For just one night let’s not be co-workers. Let’s be co-people. -- Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, from "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy"
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Will Ferrell wound up being co-workers, and likely "co-people," with several dozen major-league players Thursday afternoon as he helicoptered between five Cactus League ballparks and played for 10 big-league teams. It was all for laughs and to raise money for cancer charities, a good cause, and in a way I regret skipping this one because it would be fun to have a scorecard on which I had written Ferrell's name -- for both the Cubs and Angels.
This is one story of the Cubs' 10-9 loss to the Angels, but the bigger story for us as Cubs fans was another awesome display of power from two players who both have a shot at the Rookie of the Year award. Kris Bryant smashed a long home run to the left-field berm in the third inning and then Jorge Soler homered to almost the same spot in the fourth. Having been to Tempe Diablo Stadium before, I can tell you that Bryant's was a colossal home run. Len Kasper estimated its length:
With Will Ferrell playing CF for LAA, Kris Bryant cranks a 6,000-foot 2-run HR to left center.— Len Kasper (@LenKasper) March 12, 2015
Well, maybe not 6,000 feet... but man, that guy can hit. We are going to see lots and lots and lots of these over the next few years. Bryant hit another homer in the sixth, his fourth of the spring. That leads all major league players. Only one other player even has three (Alex Rios).
Through the Ferrell sideshow, Jason Hammel threw a relatively good three innings, although he got touched up for three runs. Felix Doubront? Not so much. He gave up a homer to Drew Butera and eventually was tagged for a five-run inning that tied the game 8-8. Doubront is rapidly pitching his way off this roster.
As I've said before, I'm not a big Ferrell fan but he was funny as third-base coach, literally showing signs -- big cardboard ones -- to Cubs hitters and at one point calling over Addison Russell and giving him an animated pep talk. Players on both teams appeared to enjoy it and were laughing at Ferrell's antics. And give the guy credit for playing the game in the field -- on a single by Welington Castillo, Ferrell approached the ball quickly, played it well and hit his cutoff man. You can't ask for much more than that. As I said, it's a worthwhile event for charity and it's certainly getting a lot of attention for baseball, and that is always a good thing.
One last Ferrell thing: the signs he held up had no impact on at least one Cubs player:
The Angels broadcast crew was pretty bad. The play-by-play guy -- I think his name is Terry Smith -- kept pronouncing Mike Olt's name as "Ault." He did this even when his partner, Jose Mota, pronounced it correctly. And at one point Smith said "the Cubs have finished last in their division five straight years." Uh, no. The Cubs have finished fifth five straight years, but only the last two of those were last-place finishes. Shouldn't a major-league PBP man know that the N.L. Central had six teams until two years ago -- and if he didn't, he could look it up. Modern TV booths are equipped with laptops and iPads and internet connectivity and I know that Len Kasper, for one, uses these all the time to look things up.
The Ferrell appearance apparently broke Gameday. It got stuck after the fourth inning and neither it nor MLB.com's boxscore updated after that.
Tomorrow, the Cubs send half their squad to Las Vegas to play the Athletics; the other half faces the Indians in Mesa. Tsuyoshi Wada is expected to go for the Cubs and T.J. House for the Indians in Mesa. In Las Vegas, Jake Arrieta will face Oakland's Drew Pomeranz.
For now, I'm off to Glendale for the hockey game tonight. Go Blackhawks!