Rambling While the Cubs Home Opener Awaits

Sure, three games have been played, but the real Opening Day is the home opener.  And that, as every single person reading this site right now already knows, is today.  The bunting will adorn the brick, the players will be introduced, the rain will fall heavily, and the fans will convene in the restrooms. I mean, what more could you ask for.

On what promises to be a day filled with many temperatures and weather fronts, the Cubs will take the field against the Phillies and celebrate the 100th year of baseball at Wrigley Field. And when this happens, Ryne Sandberg will be in the Visitor’s dugout.  I guess that is a sign that it could be a rather backwards year at the Friendly Confines. Many already predicted it would be upside down, so let’s throw backwards in there as well.

And with that … let’s get to the rambling.

  • McThoyer with the best offseason signing of the year … your 2014 MVP, Emilio Bonifacio!
  • Mike Olt reaching low and showing some impressive opposite-field power clearing the 21-foot wall in right field at PNC Park. Also, I really want to see a game at PNC Park. Has anyone done so? It looks awesome.
  • 11 hits in three games accompanied by four stolen bases. That is seriously impressive. And before you say it … yes, I am aware that he will not keep it up, but it’s one heckuva way to start a season.
  • The Cubs give up seven runs in three games, and lose two of them. If this pitching holds, and some of these guys play like they are capable, this year could be slightly better than expected.
  • Also, the Pirates made the playoffs last year.
  • Yes, I am fully aware that it has only been three games. Yes, I know it is early April.  Yes, I am aware of almost anything that flies in the face of my outright optimism.
  • This week has been very solid for a few Cubs players that were signed simply to be traded in July … the aforementioned Bonifacio and then Jason Hammel. Let’s keep it up boys.
  • Prospects, Prospects, Prospects …
  • I like Tom Ricketts and what the family has done, but I seem to be in the minority.  Maybe it’s the company I keep, or my colleagues at the company I work for, but there is some severe vitriol out there.
  • Veras was also signed to be traded, so we want to work on closing out the games, not the other way around.
  • Junior Lake is quietly picking up where he left off last season with a solid 4-13 opening series. If he hits .290+, that is gravy in this whole thing. Absolute gravy.
  • Starlin is 1-13. Three years just cannot be a “flash in the pan.” The kid has talent.  Yes, again, I know it is only three games.
  • However, as the company I keep can attest to, sometimes I tend to get nervous too quickly, or overreact. I am going to be on the edge of my seat with Castro and Rizzo for the next few months, if not longer.
  • In three games, we have an outfield platoon. Not a left-field platoon, or a right-field platoon, but an entire outfield platoon. This is interesting, this is kind of crazy, and this is definitely not the “College of Coaches.” However, this did make me think of the “College of Coaches.”
  • Tweet from Rob Neyer: “The Cubs have played two games and their No. 5 starter is 0-2. This seems very Cubs.”  Way … too … true.
  • I am going to say it again because it strikes me as crazy. Ryne Sandberg, one of the Cubs Hall-Of-Famers, will be in the opposing dugout as the Manager when the 100th season of baseball begins at Wrigley Field.
  • That also seems very Cubs. And also probably planned by some smart-individual in the Major League headquarters. Or a genius.
  • I am sorry, but Brian Schlitter has an awesome last name, and I have about 17 nicknames, none of which are appropriate for this website, but I really want to come up with one collectively. So, let’s hear your Brian Schlitter nickname suggestions below.
  • As I mentioned before, I am getting the feeling that the honeymoon for the Ricketts has been over for awhile. Simply tell me below … are you a fan of Tom Ricketts, or are you not a fan of Tom Ricketts.
  • And finally, here is to the 100th Opening Day at Wrigley Field, originally Weeghman Park.  It is arguably one of the most famous sporting venues in the entire world.  It will be raining, and it will be cold, but when the Cubs are playing baseball at Wrigley Field, all is right with the world.

And to support my last bullet, I went to pick up my season tickets at Wrigley yesterday, and there was a group of men taking pictures of each other under the marquee, and doing so as a group. When they started speaking, it was clear they were not from the United States. I just thought it was too cool. The allure of Wrigley literally knows no bounds. Let’s just hope one day the winning is what matters, and not the decrepit ballpark that I absolutely adore.

And until next time …

Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!

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  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    I like te Ricketts well eNugh. He’s a fan and that is good. I think he was put in a really tight spot by the mismanagement of the previous ownership and now the rooftop owners. All the debt and interest and the lack of infrastructure improvements for decades has given him a large job of clean-up before he can really play. Ough situation which he knew going in. I just don’t think many others could have done much better. It’s like coming to your new gymnasium to play a game and having to clear off 30 feet of garbage from the floor before the game can start. But even then you have another owner of the gym (rooftops) saying that you can’t clear off part of it. I dot totally blame the rooftop owners. They made an investment and have a right to protect it. Not their fault Zella gave them a deal. Of course they accept it. Just get on with everything else and finish the bleachers last.

    • cubtex

      Do you really think Mark Cuban would be handling it the same way as Ricketts? Not a chance.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Not really. He’d bluster about it and threaten more in the press, but in the end i dont think there’s a whole lot more he could do to move things along. And he’s rich but so are the Rickett’s. There is just only so much money to spend at a time and Cuban gets that. He built up the Mavs before he brought in all the players.

      • Denver Mike

        Zell was imposing the same restrictions on the purchase on all of the candidates, Cuban included. When he saw how difficult it would be to run a successful franchise with those restrictions, he bowed out. So the answer to your question that you have asked many times is yes, yes he would be handling it the same way because he would be in the same position. This is why he is not the owner because he didn’t want to deal with the hurdles that had to be overcome. Ricketts was willing to fight through these hurdles, and still is fighting through them. Saying that any other owner would not have had the same problems is ignoring the facts that have been outlined in dozens of articles over the last 3 years.

    • John_CC

      Being a fan is not good enough. He is the owner of a small empire, so I’m glad he like his team, but this latest news has sullied my impression of him. I have been neutral, but now I can’t help but wonder.

      To NOT have a Plan B…wtf?

      Seriously, he said they do not have a Plan B. This is really quite strange. But also makes sense as to why the dingus that helped get the franchise into this awful situation is still his right hand man. I am speaking of Mr. Kenney of course.

      I am not forgiving Zell and yes, he is an evil bad man. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Ricketts Group is not dealing well with the rooftop situation. In fact, it could be argued at this point that they are doing quite poorly.

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  • gary3411

    Carlos Marmol is throwing 96? and getting people out? how fitting

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  • GaryLeeT

    The Ricketts family exposes way too much of the business side of things for my liking. I know it is one, but they do public things like use it as a crutch to explain a lack of progress, and seeing that much of it, takes a little of the joy out of rooting for a team that is playing a kids game.

    • Denver Mike

      But the same people that ignore the business side are the ones complaining “why can’t we win NOW!!!” If you were the owner hearing continual complaining from a fan base that doesn’t understand the challenges, wouldn’t you try to educate them a little?

      Jeez, I’m not even the owner and I get so tired of the complaining on here that I try to educate the masses …. unsuccessfully I might add :)

      • GaryLeeT

        I am tired of the complaining about the complaining, but that is their right. I am all about free speech, and just because someone doesn’t see it my way, doesn’t always mean they “need to be educated” or that they need to just shut the hell up.

        • Denver Mike

          I think you missed the point, if people gave more credence to the troubles on the business side, then they would have less to complain about. You have already stated you would rather focus on the game and not the business, which you are entitled to, but it sort of makes your complaining less relevant in my eyes.

  • Eugene Debs

    Ricketts is a snake oil salesman.

    • Denver Mike

      Most that have reached that level of wealth are.

      • Scott McMeekan

        Mike, sorry but this is an inflammatory and inaccurate statement. And it’s EXACTLY what is wrong with our country. When you start assuming anyone who is successful did it by cheating and stealing from people…it’s a sad day in the Republic.

        • Denver Mike

          Keep in mind the original comment was just as inflammatory and inaccurate. My response was simply a sarcastic retort to an absurd and baseless statement.

  • Tony_H

    I saw a game at PNC Park in 2006. It is a beautiful park. It was July and their wasn’t even 15,000 fans at the game on a weekday night, so I am actually happy that Pittsburgh has a team that the fans are starting to support. That park should be filled every night.

    If I had a chance to get their again, I would do it. I was actually staying at the Hyatt just across the street and the area is pretty nice. I walked across the Roberto Clemente bridge and that area was nice as well.
    I had been to Pittsburgh area many times before and was never impressed, but had never been to downtown. Of course what was cool, was we were doing a show at Heinz Field in the luxury box level.

  • Tony_H

    Anyone who would have bought the Cubs from Sam Zell would have had to deal with the issues he required. I believe he is doing everything he can to rebuild this franchise, that was completely neglected in both the facilities and the player development area for decades.

    The FO was rebuilt from one of the smallest and archaic to cutting edge and fully staffed.

    There is a beautiful new facility in Mesa, Cubs Park that is one of the best, if not the best ST facility in baseball. And just because the deal was done where Mesa paid for it, doesn’t change the fact that Ricketts got it done. When the White Sox and other teams had parks basically built for them for nothing, did anyone use that as a negative to the team for getting it done?

    There is a state of the art facility in the Dominican. This was an area that was completely neglected, that Ricketts didn’t know was to this poor of a level, and decided to build a new facility as soon as he saw the poor conditions. Now, in this day of limited IFA spending, having a facility that is the envy of the area, can make all the difference in signing the best players.

    The minor league system has been completely overhauled and now all teams are teaching the Cubs Way at every level, not a different system at every level. The farm is starting to produce players to the major league team and should continue to do so every year.

    2 things have made the hatred come out. If Wrigley was already a year or 2 into the 5 year rebuild, no one would be complaining about Wrigley. And if the FO had bought a few FA’s to help this team get to 75-80 wins the last 2 years, these same fans would be content as that is what too many strive for, just competitive enough team to look close. But if they had done that, we would not have Albert Almora and Kris Bryant, let alone Pierce Johnson and Paul Blackburn.

    The real hatred from fans that blame Ricketts, should be redirected to Sam Zell.

    • Bryan

      And you forgot to add that the Cubs have what, the 3rd highest ticket prices in all of baseball, and yet here we’ll see another likely last place outcome for 2014. I don’t think Sam Zell is determining today’s cost of visiting Wrigley. And in regards to the minor league system, as many have pointed out here, it doesn’t take a genius to build a better farm when you consistently pick in the top 5.

      • Tony_H

        The top 5 pick is just 2 players. Take them out and the Cubs still have top ranked farm system, likely still in the Top 5.

        I really don’t care what the ticket prices are at. If they don’t get bought, they should stay the same or go down, if they get bought, they should stay the same or go up. Basic economics. You think the ticket price is fair, buy them, if you don’t, don’t buy them. That is everyone’s choice.

        • cubtex

          Are you sure you don’t work for the Cubs? :)

          • Tony_H

            The FO expansion was vast!

      • Denver Mike

        On the bright side, since the MLB team is so terrible you shouldn’t need to worry about ticket prices, don’t go.

    • GaryLeeT

      Jose Fernandez was picked at #14.

      • Tony_H

        So if any player was good that was taken later in the 1st round, it means the Cubs screwed things up?

        • GaryLeeT

          It means if the, FO is worth their weight in salt, then they could “go for it” every year, and still restock the system.

          • Tony_H

            There is far more to it nowadays then that. The Cubs would not have had the quality or the quantity of players for their system without the higher draft fund and IFA fund.

          • GaryLeeT

            And it wouldn’t matter as much, if they had added FA’s along the way. Like A.Sanchez, Darvish, Tanaka, Crisp, Bourne, Cruz……….

          • Tony_H

            They tried for Sanchez, Darvish and Tanaka, but you seem to always forget the player gets to choose their team as well. And no they shouldn’t have offered even more money and blown away their offers…oh wait they did what you always say they should do with Sanchez and he went back to the Tigers and they matched it. Crisp, Bourn (and his bad hammy), and Cruz, no thanks. Crisp is funny as most on here thought that would have been a bad signing at the time.

          • cubtex

            How about Soler and his bad hammy? That might be the worst 30 mil investment in the history of the Cubs.

          • Tony_H

            Soler’s game is not based on speed. He will recover and even if he loses a step running, he will still be a power bat.

            I think it is far, far too early to say what Soler’s value to the team will be at the end of his contract versus the cost. He only needs a couple of years of being a starting OF to make that contract a bargain.

          • cubtex

            I agree it is way too early but I don’t have a good feeling about that guy.What do you mean starting for a couple of years would make the 30 mil contract a bargain? 15 mil per year? Doesn’t that depend on his stats. If he performs worse than a Schierholtz……how is that a bargain if Schierholtz is making 5 mil per?

          • Tony_H

            He signed a 9 year contract. He will be on the 25 man roster in 2016 then through 2020 (assuming not traded or cut). That is 5 years. At 5 years he would need to provide an AVG of just 1 WAR per year to be a break even. At 2 WAR per year he would provide a surplus value of almost $20-$30M…surplus.

            If he makes the majors and stays through 2020, his contract will be a bargain.

          • cubtex

            You and your WAR :) A 30 mil investment in a player should get you an above average starter for several years. If he isn’t….it is a BUST. Theo has wasted 100’s of millions as a gm with poor contracts and decisions. This would be another in a long line of those bad signings.

          • Tony_H

            $30M buys 1 year of the elite
            1.5 years of the best of the best
            2 years of above average
            3 years of regular starter
            5-6 years of a good bench player.

            Sorry, have to run, my executive secretary is telling me my executive board meeting is set in the executive board room and that I need to make sure I grab my executive golf bag out of my executive closet before I leave for the executive retreat at the Country Club.

          • cubtex

            have fun! got a tee time myself for later today

          • Bryan

            It’s a good thing you’re not sarcastic.

          • Tony_H

            Who says I was being sarcastic?

            Enjoy your executive lunch.

          • Eugene Debs

            Soler is going to be a bust.

          • BigJonLilJon

            Starting to wonder… Am worried about the constant injury issues. If he’d stay healthy for a year and polish, would be a start. he’s young enough and has time, but if he can’t stay healthy to polish his craft, he could turn out to be a 30 million dollar bust.

          • Tony_H

            He could end up being a bust. But I don’t think we can say that now. He can stay in the minors through the 2015 season, then will have to be on the major league roster in 2016. Except that if he is still needing more time, it is unlikely anyone would claim him if they tried to pass him through waivers.

          • Eugene Debs

            Of course we have to give it time. He’s still very young.

            But, I’m just predicting with a fair amount of confidence that we will not be pleased with what we get from Soler. I hope I am wrong.

          • Denver Mike

            EVERY GM that has been in this game more than a couple years has wasted 100s of millions of dollars with poor contracts and decisions, so that means nothing.

          • cubtex

            Andrew Friedman? EVERY is not an accurate word. MOST big market GM’s but the Cubs aren’t acting so every bad deal is amplified

          • Denver Mike

            I’ll try to find a few examples to support my point, but I found these two sentences back to back in an article I found, and thought of you immediately, haha.

            “But what’s not common is how successful Friedman has been with his trades.

            Using the statistic Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, it’s now possible to summarize a player’s total offensive, defensive and pitching contributions to a ballclub in one simple stat.”

            :)

          • GaryLeeT

            “you seem to always forget the player gets to choose their team as well”

            How could I forget? I am reminded why players won’t come here every time I have looked at the standings for the last 3 years.
            Not getting players to come here, is yet another reason not to tank the team for high draft picks.

          • Tony_H

            They knew that would be a part of it. But tell me if you are a Tanaka, Anibal Sanchez, Darvish type and the Cubs have an infield of Rizzo, Alcantara Castro Olt and an OF of Baez, Almora and Bryant, and they are even close to the level that is projected for these guys, don’t you think they might see the Cubs as a team to sign a 4, 5, or even 6 year contract?

          • GaryLeeT

            I think most players live in the here and now, because they don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Look, we both know that if Theo was given all the player payroll resources he wanted, this team would look different by now.

          • cubtex

            look at how the Nats had to attract a FA while tanking. Jason Werth was a huge overpay. That is what the Cubs will have to do.

    • Bryan

      Tony…I’m not at all trying to be sarcastic, but may I ask “what is the Cubs Way” that you reference…and how is that different than any other MLB franchise intent? And based on what insider information are you claiming that this supposed “Cubs Way” is being guaranteed to be delivered consistently at each level? I’m just curious.

      • Tony_H

        Hard to believe you don’t now this….

        http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2011/10/cubsnewsrumors_5.php

        http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2012/02/cubsspringtrain.php#.Uz7HhPldXwk

        Other teams have followed what started as the Red Sox way, the Cardinals have it as well. Teams need to decide how to do things and teach things and there is a manual that explains everything that every player, coach and FO personal is given.

        This is common knowledge.

        • Bryan

          Thanks for sharing. I’m sorry but I have an executive day job, and don’t maintain time to access (nor remember) every article out there. Sorry I wasn’t up on what your common knowledge.

          • Tony_H

            Not trying to be sarcastic, but this is really something that has been talked about a lot. Even casual fans I know have seemed to know about it.

  • xaxinho

    I lived 20 years in front of Maracanã stadium. I think I could figure how special Weigley Field is, when I watched the series against Dodgers in 2012 (Travis Wood debut). All the atmosphere, the classic spirit and the history that this ballpark has is really incredible.
    Let´s play ball and beat the phillies.

  • cubtex

    Theo was on mlb radio this morning. Nothing new to report. Same stuff over and over again.

    • GaryLeeT

      I didn’t hear it but I am sure it included.
      “The Cub fans are being really patient, because they can see that we are trying to build something really special here”
      They always frame it that way so if you don’t like what they have done you are just being a myopic idiot fan.

  • J Daniel

    PNC is a GREAT park. Did it on a baseball trip in which we went to Philly, Baltimore, Nationals, Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox. AWESOME and suggest it to all.

  • John_CC

    Of course 100 years of Wrigley and 100+ years of losers narrative is hitting the national media today. I am so sick of this narrative! This morning on NPR’s Morning Edition – a program I enjoy mostly because of the diverse berth and depth of their stories – had a segment on Wrigley and the Cubs. I wasn’t too focused as I was also working on getting my kid to eat her breakfast, put on her socks, brush her teeth so we could make the bus, but I digress.

    The part I heard that really pissed me off was the fans that were being interviewed. It was all the talk of how Wrigley is a mystical place, hollowed ground, the feeling of walking up out of the dark concourse and into the green – which is a feeling I will always cherish, no doubt. A lot of this narrative is about how much Wrigley is responsible, or at least instrumental, to so many Cubs fans actually being Cubs fans. It’s as much about the place as the crappy team on the hollowed grounds. This is really bizarre when you start to actually think about it. And it is also very telling of at least one reason, why the 100th Anniversary of Wrigley isn’t the oldest historical mark for the franchise. Of course it is the 105 year Championship drought, not even close by decades to the next best, er worst, such streak.

    I’ve gotten off topic again, back to the part that really pissed me off, the fans talking about all this enchantment of Wrigley etc. ….

    One guess where the interview was taking place? Yep, Murphy’s Bleacher Bar. The irony richer than all the Cubs losing seasons combined!

    OK, sorry. I just had to rant and ramble a little myself.

    Now back to Opening Day, which I am excited about. Go Wood!

    • cubtex

      Today is about celebrating 100 years of Wrigley Field. I have fond memories of taking the Skokie Swift or driving to games looking for parking along the side streets and going to games as a teenager. It is a special place and that shouldn’t be ignored. That should be the focus of many of the stories today.

  • Scott McMeekan

    You know I’m reminded as I read through the daily cubtex/Tony debate that regardless of whether Theo and Ricketts are milking the fans and spitting in their faces, or if they are the Second Coming of George Steinbrenner, or any of the other ridiculous hyperbole….this is a GAME. I’ll paraphrase Allen Iverson: ‘a GAME? We talking about a GAME, man. A GAME.’

    Seriously, it is beyond comprehension to me that people can spew such sarcasm and ill-will. Sure the situation is a hot-mess right now, but I can see what they’re trying to do, and I think they’ve been very transparent about it. I don’t like all of their moves, but then who would?

    And if you are kvetching about ticket prices and whatnot, then DON’T GO TO THE GAME. For crying out loud man.

    I’m not saying we all have to hold hands and sing Kumbaya, but it really does get old seeing the vitriol.

    Shout out to Bryan for a great Ramblings post today. And as always, thanks Neil for being able to put up with this far better than I could!

    • Denver Mike

      I couldn’t agree more, and love the Iverson reference. Best press conference of all time.

  • Gary Dilbaitis

    I am definitely a Ricketts fan. I am a 67 year old Cub fan who is happy to see owners who are doing it “right” for the first time since I was born (1945)!

  • Tony_H

    Nice ad for the rooftops….not exactly where I would want to be on a day like today.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    everyone who keeps talking about Soler possibly being a 30 million dollar bustwould you rather have pujols 30 million at age 42 or take a gamble on Soler being star for several years for the same price.

  • Loren Chapman

    Not a fan of Tom Ricketts. Not a fan of any teabagger.