Joe Maddon, the manager of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, has been in his hometown of Hazelton, Pennsylvania this weekend.
Maddon helped break ground on the new playground at the community center. After answering other questions Friday, Maddon hosted a fundraiser for his Hazelton Integration Project at the Valley Country Club.
Bill Murray, Tim Kurkjian, Peter Gammons, Ed Randall, Tim Witherspoon and Ken Rosenthal were among those that attended the event. And Lindsay Berra, Yogi’s granddaughter, participated for the third straight year and covered it for MLB.com.
Berra reported, “The event sold out moments after Maddon and the Cubs won The World Series on Nov. 2.”
“If people want to come here and talk about the World Series, that’s great, and then we can educate them about what we’re doing here,” Maddon said. “Whatever it takes to get the message out. Winning the World Series is wonderful. I love the game. But this is real life. Our kids are spectacular … and I promise they can all conjugate a verb better than most of us.”
“When I grew up here in Hazleton, it was primarily a European immigrant community,” Maddon said. “We had one black kid, and other than that, there were no minorities. In the mid-2000s, we had a large influx of Hispanics and there became a tremendous disconnect in the community, and we decided we needed to do something about it.”
“When you have a community center, you bring the kids in, and our thought was that the parents have to follow,” Maddon said. “The kids have no preconceived notions. The kids don’t care what color the other kid is or what language he speaks, as long as they can communicate somehow. The parents are the ones with the built-in prejudices and concerns. It’s working extremely well culturally, athletically and academically, and we will continue to grow and get better.”
“It’s all about creating a positive environment for kids to grow up in,” Maddon said. “When I grew up, Hazleton was the best place in the world to grow up, and then it was not. My goal is that kids growing up here will come back 10 years from now and be able to say, ‘Man, that was the best place in the world to grow up.'”
Joe Maddon was honored Saturday by his hometown for what he has done for the community over the years and for the Cubs winning The World Series according to a report from Paul Hagen.
The full weekend of events ends Sunday with Maddon’s annual ‘Thanksmas.’
The Cubs and The Luxury Tax
For the first time ever, the Cubs received a bill and will have to pay the Taxman, well at least Major League Baseball.
The Dodgers ($31.8 million), Yankees ($27.4 million), Red Sox ($4.5 million), Tigers ($4 million), Giants ($3.4 million) and Cubs ($2.96 million) are the six teams that are paying the Luxury Tax this season. The Cubs have until Jan. 21, 2017 to send their check in to the Commissioner’s Office.
This is the 14th straight year the Yankees have paid the Luxury Tax. According to the report from ESPN, the Yankees have now paid $325 million in taxes over the last 14 years.
According to Maury Brown, the Cubs Luxury Tax payroll was $205,917,980. The Cubs payroll has increased 85% since 2014.
From ESPN: “Luxury tax payrolls are based on the average annual values of contracts and earned 2016 bonuses, and regular payrolls include 2016 salaries, earned bonuses and prorated shares of signing bonuses. Tax money is used to fund player benefits and MLB’s Industry Growth Fund. Starting next year, part of the money also will be used to fund player individual retirement accounts and part will be given to teams not over the tax threshold. Teams pay on the amount they are over the tax threshold. The tax rate starts at 17.5 percent for first-time offenders, then climbs to 30 percent, 40 percent and 50 percent in subsequent years, resetting when a club drops below the threshold for a season.”
The Cubs had the fifth highest payroll in the big leagues at $182 million, the most ever by a Cubs’ team for a single season. The Dodgers ($255 million), Yankees ($224.5 million), Red Sox ($200.6 million), Tigers ($199 million), Cubs ($182 million), Giants ($181 million) and Angels ($173 million) were the seven highest payrolls for the 2016 season. The Brewers ($65.5 million) and Rays ($67 million) had the two smallest payrolls in baseball.
David Ross appears to really be enjoying retirement. Ross is featured on the cover of ESPN The Magazine with Simone Biles and J.R. Smith.
Ross made the cover of the magazine’s last issue of the year, which is scheduled to be released Dec. 23. Ross sat down with Sarah Spain after the photo shoot … click here for the interview and video. The Cubs winning The World Series is part of the craziest sports year ever according to the World Wide Leader.
Comcast SportsNet reported one of the photos of Ross is of him posing with a goat.
The Tigers have reportedly signed OF Juan Perez to a minor league contract. Perez spent last season with Triple-A Iowa after signing a minor league contract with the Cubs. Perez will be in big league camp with the Tigers this spring.
The Cubs signed Perez for outfield depth last off-season while Dexter Fowler was still on the market. Fowler’s return pointed to Perez staying in Triple-A for the season and that’s exactly what happened.
Juan Perez batted .248/.308/.349 with 15 doubles, two triples and six home runs for a .656 OPS in 108 games.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Cubs’ off-season has been about smart moves, not big ones according to ESPN Chicago.
• The Rays are open to rebuild but stay focused on improving current squad according to Marc Topkin. The Rays continue to talk to teams about Drew Smyly, who is a realistic possibility to be traded, and Alex Cobb. A deal for Cobb is less likely according to Topkin.
• According to Jon Heyman, the Orioles could still have a spot on their roster for Matt Wieters even with the addition of Welington Castillo. The Orioles “love” Wieters according to Heyman and Dan Duquette has a very good track record with deals late in the off-season.
• Interest in RHP Daniel Hudson and RHP Sergio Romo is heating up according to Jon Heyman in the wake of the recent signings of LHP Mike Dunn (Rockies) and RHP Brad Ziegler (Marlins).
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs signed free agent Scott Barnes
2013 – Cubs signed free agent John Baker
2013 – Cubs signed free agent Tommy Hottovy
2013 – Cubs signed free agent Ryan Kalish
2009 – Cubs acquired Carlos Silva and cash from the Mariners for Milton Bradley
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Andres Blanco
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Todd Hollandsworth
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Jalal Leach
2000 – Cubs signed free agent Jason Bere
1997 – Cubs signed free agent Micah Franklin
1992 – Cubs signed free agent Tommy Shields
1992 – Cubs signed free agent Willie Wilson to a two-year contract
1992 – Cubs granted free agency to Doug Dascenzo, Doug Strange, Jerome Walton and Ken Patterson
1990 – Cubs released Bill Long
1987 – Rex Brothers, born