SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — You wouldn’t have guessed that any of what’s happened in spring training this year back in 2016, when Tommy La Stella refused to report to Triple-A Iowa when demoted in August, instead going back to his New Jersey home for several weeks. Whatever happened that year between team and player has clearly been repaired. TLS had a very good year off the bench in 2017, and this spring he and Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been trading pranks.
It began with La Stella parking in the space in the Cubs’ employee lot that was reserved for Theo Epstein.
Management retaliated for that one this way:
Here's La Stella. #Cubs pic.twitter.com/0xEbcRunUr— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 5, 2018
They took all his uniforms away for a pregame practice at the Sloan Park complex and made him work out in a polo shirt and chinos. (Honestly, it would have been funnier if they’d gotten permission from MLB and the Rockies, that day’s opponent, for him to wear those during the game.)
That might have been the end of it, except for this:
That was four days after the polo-and-chino workout, a giant kids’ bounce house placed in the parking lot — exactly where Theo and Jed park.
Apparently, Jed Hoyer’s kids enjoyed it:
#Cubs Hoyer's kids took advantage of the bounce house in the parking lot. La Stella did fess up that he put it there— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 9, 2018
That might have been the end of this, and it did seem all in good fun, something the team certainly seems to be having this spring. That’s a very good thing, keeping the guys loose and fostering a team atmosphere.
But it wasn’t the end, oh, no. Theo & Jed decided to escalate Friday during the game at Sloan Park:
Don't mess with the brass. pic.twitter.com/vCzHwXG8AZ— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 24, 2018
That video played after the top of the third inning on the video board at Sloan, in front of a sellout crowd of 15,831. Many thousands more viewed it after the Cubs sent it out on their official Twitter account. (And no, La Stella isn’t going to be playing at Iowa this year. He’s a very valuable member of the Cubs bench and one of the better pinch hitters in the National League.)
The only question that remains, as noted by BCB reader erikvo in the comments to Friday’s game recap:
Does he give up...or does he top it?
I can’t imagine what would top that video... but TLS has been pretty creative already. As always, we await developments.