Cub Tracks bought a ticket to ride the other day. I’m waiting for transportation to be arranged but it does look doable and so I’ll get to see a Cubs game this year. My guests have never seen a Cubs game. One of my guests has never seen live professional baseball, and the other was a Giants fan for many years.
Converts! Cub Tracks continues to spread the word about the Cubs and weird fiction. Preach! Uber-talented weird artist Yves Tourigny even drew me as a priest for a card to be used in a board game. Best I’ve ever looked. And I continue to spread the Word of Maddon, because what kind of a guru would spread the Words of Guru?
The Cubs no longer attempt to carry out a quixotic quest, for they have reached the promised land, ascended to the top of the mountain, and are preparing to defend their catbird seat. It’s going to be different starting out in the pole position. Let’s hope that the team can keep the pedal to the metal when needed, ease off when necessary, and manage the mistakes effectively, young Zaphod.
Let’s harbor no illusions about this — it’s gonna be hard. Last season had a lot of ups and downs and tested fans’ (and the team’s) mettle. This year won’t be any different in that regard — I am petitioning the gods of baseball for it to have the same end result. De-peat commences in 40 days and 40 nights, Slartibartfast.
Let’s talk some baseball. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).
Life, the universe. and today in baseball history** (and a busy day it was!)
- 1931 - The Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants become the first major league teams to meet in a night game. They collect 23 hits in a 10-inning exhibition game played at Buffs Stadium in Houston.
- 1931 - The Dodgers arrive in Cuba to start a series of five inter-squad games. Brooklyn right-hander Dolf Luque, known as the Pride of Havana, will appear in the exhibitions scheduled to be played in spacious Tropical Stadium.
- 1945 - Due to wartime travel restrictions, baseball decides to cancel the All-Star game. It is the only time the Midsummer Classic will not be played since the game's inception in 1933.
- 1951 - The South Carolina House introduces a resolution urging that Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was banished from baseball because of his part in the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, be reinstated.
- 1957 - Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley trades minor league franchises with Phil Wrigley of the Cubs. Brooklyn gives up its Ft. Worth club (Texas League) in return for the Los Angeles Angels (Pacific Coast League). In a year's time, Brooklyn will be without a team and Los Angeles will be a major league city.
- 1966 - Emmett Ashford becomes the first black man to be a major league umpire when he is hired by the American League. 'Ash', known for his flashy style in the PCL, will spend five years in the bigs, working the 1967 All-Star game and the 1970 World Series, before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.
- 1968 - The first-ever collective basic agreement is signed by the players and owners. The CBA increases the minimum salary to $10,000 and introduces a formal grievance procedure.
- 1969 - Ted Williams returns to baseball full-time, signing a five-year contract to manage the Washington Senators.
- 1985 - Tim Raines is awarded a $1.2 million salary for 1985 by arbitrator John Roberts. This is the largest award to date through the process. The 25-year-old Raines hit .309 for the Expos in 1984 and led all players with 75 stolen bases.
- 1986 - Rollie Fingers loses a chance to continue his career with the Cincinnati Reds when he refuses to shave his trademark handlebar mustache to comply with club policy.
- 1989 - Reds manager Pete Rose meets with Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and Commissioner-elect Bart Giamatti to discuss his gambling habits. Major League Baseball launches a full investigation into the matter, which led to “Charlie Hustle’s” permanent ban from the game.
- 2006 - Gene Elston is selected by the National Baseball Hall of Fame to receive the Ford C. Frick Award. During his 47 years in the broadcast booth, the former Astros announcer brought a no-nonsense approach to reporting the happenings on the diamond.
The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the news:
HBO Real Sports bonus clip:
- Buster Olney: Dexter Fowler getting his WS ring, and other stories. From Olney’s facebook page.
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Baseball icon Buck O'Neil made history with Cubs. “Negro League legend became MLB's first black coach in 1962.”
- Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago): Brett Anderson eyeing No. 5 starter’s role For Cubs. “In the spotlight is the contest for the fifth starter’s job between left-handers Mike Montgomery and Anderson.”
- Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Why Brett Anderson called Cubs fans ‘f------ idiots’ and loves the idea of pitching at Wrigley Field. “All things considered, the Cubs offered the best mix of everything."
- Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Cubs Pitchers and Hitters doing live batting practice today [VIDEOS].
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Kyle Schwarber: I'm the third catcher. He’ll strap on the tools of ignorance once or twice a week during spring training.
- Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*): Kyle Schwarber embracing 3rd Catcher role. “When he goes to bed at night, he is a catcher,” Jed Hoyer said. “We are going to give him reps a couple of times a week.”
- George Castle (Chicago Baseball Museum): Schwarber comeback: One man’s determination combined with Cubs modernization. “Kyle Schwarber offers up the come-back that never ends.”
- Jesse Rogers (ESPN): Jason Heyward’s improved swing [VIDEO].
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Javier Baez brings new glove to Spring Training. Baez has a new glove in Puerto Rico's colors of red, white and blue, made for the World Baseball Classic.
- Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Addison Russell planning to become next Cubs superstar. “Ever since I was a little kid,” Russell said, “I always wanted to be on the big screen.”
- Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Kris Bryant’s Dad, Mike, talks to CI about crafting an MVP swing and how his son can get even better. Part one. Part two. Part three. Great stuff.
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Tommy La Stella happy to be back with Cubs. “If La Stella's departure had been a problem, he wouldn't be in camp now vying for a spot on the bench. He knows that.”
- Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): David Ross reveals his biggest concern for the 2017 Cubs. Team health.
- Colleen Kane (Chicago Tribune): Geovany and Giovanni Soto on sharing the same name: 'It's kind of weird' [VIDEO]. Former Cubs discuss nomenclature.
So long, and thanks for all the food for thought:
- Ina Jaffe (NPR): Can poetry keep you young? Science is still out, but the Heart says Yes. Ho ho ho. Instant poem: “There was a young man from Chicago, who couldn’t stand Dr. Zhivago...when Omar Sharif expressed disbelief, he eloped with a famous soprano.”
- Science Alert: NASA Scientists have proposed a new definition of planets, and Pluto could soon be back. Does Mickey know? Does Clyde Tombaugh?
- Neuroskeptic (Discover): The science of the Rorschach blots. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who writes these jokes, Henny “Jungmann”? Heh.
Yeah, we got bad jokes. And Vogon poetry. It’s a prefect marriage. Yeah, I got a “trillian” (sic) of them. Smell you Thursday — don’t forget your “W” towel.