A Post With No Name

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"On the first part of the journey,
I was looking at all the life.
There were plants and birds and rocks and things.
There was sand and hills and rings.
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds.
The heat was hot and the ground was dry,
But the air was full of sound."  

I can't even begin writing without laying down the absolute law that "the first thing I met was a fly with a buzz" is perhaps the greatest accomplishment in the long history of human communication the world has ever known. "A rose by any other name...?" Nah. "Four score and seven years ago...?" Eh, kinda. "It was a dark and stormy night...?" That's getting closer to this linguistic brilliance, but you have to remember it was a fly, with a buzz, on his journey. If you don't agree, well, I don't like you, either.

How's it going, Denizens? It's been awhile, hasn't it?

Like nearly all of you, I've been in lockdown. I've been protecting my own and helping those that are less fortunate. I hope you and your loved ones are safe, and that we all can get back to arguing about baseball soon enough. I didn't even plan on writing this, but like most of you, I suddenly realized I haven't even checked on baseball news or visited any of my favorite baseball sites since, well, ?. It's hard to follow baseball, or write about baseball, when there is no baseball. Our favorite game isn't of the upmost importance, but I'm also worried about the loss of community. So many of us have lost their routine. I thought about us here, and I miss you.

Dewey Bunnell wrote of a journey through an unknown dessert, aided by a lot of uncertainty and much optimism, real or otherwise. Some (or most) of it had come from questionable sources. And here we are.

Remember arguing about who should start at 2B for the Cubs coming out of camp? My money was on Nico "Suave", though most of the prospect "experts" insisted he wasn't ready because of his limited MiPB AB's and other inane issues.

Recall the luxury tax conundrum? Who knows what's going to happen, but we're still over, while our entire organizational focus for the offseason was to get below. I won't go any further, because we are all already too depressed.

In keeping with the first verse of this classic piece of Americana, I'll try to stay upbeat. Chatwood was going to establish himself, Heyward was putting up his best season yet on the North Side, and El Mago was about to lay waste to anything we previously thought to be even possible by a human being playing the sport of baseball. Ya know, just the upcoming 2020 season. I was ready, but...

"After two days in the desert sun
My skin began to turn red.
After three days in the desert fun
I was looking at a river bed.
And the story it told of a river that flowed
Made me sad to think it was dead."

We were gonna win it all, weren't we? I had my hopes high, I always do. Between keeping Bryant and the Javy maturity and the simple continuation of the core from what we accomplished in 2016, it's given.

Then this weird bug came. I was going to prove everyone wrong who said Cincy would win the NL Central because they won the offseason and the Cubs couldn't compete because they lost the offseason and because the DirtyBirds suck and so does Milwaukee but we're better because of Hendricks and Javy and Rizzo and because my source in Milwaukee says they aren't ready and neither are those dudes in any of the other towns of whoever. Period.

I imagined a season where we could win. It was tough, but I really could envision it, if everything went just right. Then this happened. Doubt began to override my optimism, and reality set in.

My skin began to turn red.

Hey, man, I'm all full of Cubbie Blue and green ivy, so let's go! It can't be that bad, I said to myself. There will be baseball because there always has been, and because I said so.

But then reality reared it's ugly head, this time for real. Javy's HR total on the 2020 season went from 136 to 74 to possibly *bleeping* 0. No Gold Gloves for Rizzo or J-Hey or Cy Young consideration for the ultimate showman Kyle Hendricks. We even had a movement on twitter to have scantily-clad cheerleaders introduce our emotionally-charged "Professor" to get him engaged in the mundane aspects of the game, but alas...

"After nine days I let the horse run free
'Cause the desert had turned to sea.
There were plants and birds and rocks and things.
There was sand and hills and rings.
The ocean is a desert with it's life underground,
And a perfect disguise above.
Under the cities lies a heart made of ground
But the humans will give no love."

I'm not even sure I want to go here, but is it avoidable? I'm not ready to let my horse run free, let alone to chase a mirage on the horizon, but what? We can't give up, yet we can't stand up. This is such an awkward situation, one we've never encountered before, and I'm not even talking about our love of baseball.

There have been mentions of partial seasons and schedules, quarantined players and sites. I love baseball as much as any of you, but I just don't see the powers that be endangering their multi-billion $ industry simply for our entertainment. I also can't expect the players to abandon their lives and accept a life of solitude to play a farce of a game so we can indulge.

I see that utopia, but I'm too pragmatic to release my vehicle. I hope to ride it again, soon.

Stay safe, my fellow Denizens. I miss you, and I miss baseball.

 

 

 

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  • I'm optimistic. I think fans will see a shortened season and the Cubs win the World Series. 'That's my story and I'm sticking to it'.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I'm with you all the way. Well, I mean, 6 feet away.

    Go Cubs!

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    What a great opening for this column! I just see a horse running alone, and now seeing the news with all the animals taking over the streets, penguins and pumas just walking around, thank you.
    I miss the conversations here more than I actually miss the games, although that will change when they will start. I feel for all those who can't go to work and hope everyone is safe and staying home as much as possible.
    The Cubs will play again. Thanks for a new column BP. btw, I have had a short beard for at least 40 years but haven't trimmed it for 4 or 5 weeks now. Not quite ZZ Top or Duck Dynasty, but it's growing.
    Take care everyone. Let's keep talking.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I actually shaved off most of my beard this last week - and am now sporting a short Van-Dyke. Have had to go into work a few times this last week (I'm not a medical Dr btw) - and in order to make sure that the mask (now required ppe when in the labs) was fitting correctly had to get rid of the stuff on the sides.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    That's exactly why I wrote it, Jonathan. I was up late, and admittedly socialising with the aforementioned fly, but I just felt that so many people feel so disconnected. We need some sort of comfort, and even if there isn't baseball, we don't need everything to go away. We can still communicate.

    Keep in mind that this situation has many terrible layers. So many of our fellow citizens are in dire straits, whether financially or socially or both. Help when you can, and however you can. Get creative in your generosity.

  • You stay safe yourself Mike. Eventually - there will again be baseball - but until that date in the future - whenever it ends up being - you-all stay safe as well.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Thanks, drkazmd65. You too, my friend.

    A few words of wisdom in these trying times, courtesy of songwriter Robert Hunter, that actually seem more pertinent than ever:

    "I know the rent is in arrears, the dog has not been fed in years.
    It's even worse than it appears, but it's alright.
    Cow is giving kerosene, kid can't read at seventeen.
    The words he knows are all obscene, but it's alright.

    I will get by..."

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    I wish I could see how everyone looks, and how long the beards are getting. I guess we'll see a lot of people's real hair color too. I'm all grey, no dyeing here.
    We need to keep safe and pass on any help we can. Baseball is really secondary to our health and I feel for all those who are suffering--watching a game pales in importance to the reality of life.
    I have no lyrics, just the friendship of all here.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I live a life of minimalism, and have cut my own hair for 30 years. Grab a pair of scissors and a razor, and have confidence in yourself!

    One thing I am enjoying is watching the talking heads on TV. They are looking different at home as opposed to coming on camera after two hours in the stylist's chair. They look like real people, or should I say (shudder) us.

    I've always felt a spiritual connection to the original badass who fronted AC/DC, Bon Scott. He left us too early, but he assures me he left out one line in in this iconic tune:

    "Let there be sound.
    There was sound.
    Let there be light.
    There was light.
    Let there be drums.
    There was drums.
    Let there be guitar.
    There was guitar.
    Oh, Let there be rock!"

    We'll get through this, and:

    "Let there be baseball."

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    "In the beginning...
    Back in nineteen fifty-five.
    Man didn't know about a rock 'n' roll show,
    And all that jive.
    The white man had the smoltz.
    The black man had the blues.
    No one knew what they was gonna do,
    But Tchaikovsky had the news.
    He said... ":

    Here's one of the better videos I've found. No makeup, no choreographers, minimal soundboard, just, well...

    Let there be rock!:

    https://youtu.be/s3nEAmt5AZ8

  • On this April 25th, I'd like to extend a very happy birthday wish to the original "Papa Bear", Mr. John Arguello. You're the reason we are all here. It's been said that a person never truly dies until all those they have impacted have forgotten. If that's the case, John's going to be around for a long time.

    Happy birthday, John.

    "Goo Goo G'joob".

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    In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    I didn’t realize it was his birthday. He really has impacted my life with my discovery of Cubs Den. Thank you John. A salute to you.

  • I read that Steve Dalkowski passed away from COVID-19.

    If you've never heard of him, he's the inspiration for Nuke LaLoosh and one of the more interesting characters in baseball history.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    I saw that news, and it sucked. I've had a fascination with Dalkowski since the late 70's. Possibly the hardest thrower in baseball history, just couldn't find the strike zone. And as you say, quite the character, for better or for worse.

    Here's a great piece on Mr. Dalkowski, full of legendary names and references, from Joe Posnanski:

    https://sportsworld.nbcsports.com/fixing-steve-dalkowski/

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    I also loved to see Ryne Duren and when I was growing up in the 50's I was a big Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford fan and Duren was on those teams. He really didn't know where it was going, but I do think Dalkowski's control was much worse.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    When you see Dalkowski's stats. it's hard to believe they're real.

    But, when you can throw 115 mph, you'll get a few more chances than everyone else because management knew that if he ever got any semblance of command, it was game over for anyone facing him.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I don't think it was in the article I just linked (found it: from SI https://vault.si.com/vault/1970/10/12/the-wildest-fastball-ever), but one of my favorite Dalkowski tales came from Ted Williams. Williams, probably the greatest hitter in baseball history and a man with the courage to postpone his career to fly fighter jets in WW2 and Korea, once saw a young Dalkowski and was unimpressed with his reputation. He stepped in the batter's box to teach the young lad a lesson in respect, took one pitch, and stepped away saying "Ah, h**l no". From the Sports Illustrated article:

    "The catcher held the ball for a few seconds a few inches under Williams' chin. Williams looked back at it, then at Dalkowski, squinting at him from the mound, and then he dropped his bat and stepped out of the cage ... [Williams] told [reporters] he had not seen the pitch, that Steve Dalkowski was the fastest pitcher he ever faced and that he would be damned if he would ever face him again if he could help it."

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    In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    That's a telling story because Williams was reported to have the best eyes in the majors, catching the ball as it left the pitchers hand and saw the rotation clearly. Wow.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Absolutely. That eyesight and hand-eye coordination is what made him such a great fighter pilot back in the days when the pilot controlled the plane and the guns. He also had the spacial awareness of Devin Hester while returning a kickoff. :)

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    In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    I am amazed when I look at his stats and realize that he missed 3 full years of play from 1942-45 and then in 1952 and 53 he played a total of 43 games. He still hit 525 HR and had 1839 RBI. HIs OBP for his career was a all time high of .482. He last played in 1960, and being born in 1950 I have a very vague memory of seeing him. One of the all time greats as a player, and then giving up 5 years of his baseball career by going to war too.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Too many people just look at the total numbers, and don't know the stories. I think most fans recognize Babe Ruth as the greatest hitter of all time, but a case can be made for Teddy Ballgame. You mentioned the lost seasons, and the OBP. The Babe had a higher slugging %, so that's kind of a wash. In my opinion, Williams was a better pure hitter, but Ruth was more electric.

    In fairness, Teddy lost almost five full seasons to his voluntarily military service, but the Babe lost nearly five seasons of offensive numbers while being one of the best pitchers of his era. He probably would have gone past 800 bombs if he hadn't been so effective on the mound.

    All that being said, I still think Mickey Mantle is the best pure talent to ever play the game, but again, lost potential and stories.

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    In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    You're right about Babe Ruth. The reason I think he was the greatest ballplayer ever was because of his pitching. In my opinion (IMHO) he would have been a HOF pitcher if he had never played in the field.
    What would Mickey have done if he hadn't injured himself in the 1951 WS. He damaged his right knee and was never himself again, and what he did with all that and the infantile paralysis he had as a child and then Osteomyelitis in HS. He reminds me of Forrest Gump in how he overcame all the injuries and infirmities.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Another Ted Williams fact... he could read a license plate number from 100 yards away. You know if he couldn't see Dalkowski's fastball, it had to be coming at an absurd rate of speed.

    Another wacky Dalkowski stat... he gave up more runs in his career than hits. 666 runs, 664 hits.

    So kids... learn to throw 115 mph and you too can get the opportunity to walk 262 batters in a single season!

  • Does anyone know if the players are still being paid now? I assume yes but, what happens if the season is cancelled? They get their service time for this year but it being reported now a possibility that baseball comes back for 100 games but without fans at the park.....how would the owners ever agree to that with that massive loss of revenue? I wonder how many have insurance for “act of God” business interruption, if any do?
    Also would be interesting to see how the players would perform without fans present. It would have to be a big buzzkill.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Well, the players and owners would have share in the revenue losses. Televised games would still make some money, but mostly fans would half to follow distance spacing and limited number in the park like Wal-Mart.

    There will be games. I suspect that there is much going on right now behind the scenes. There is little way that a young professional athlete will be not survive the virus. Many will not even realize that they have it.

    America is a 'can do' country, or we use to be. I don't see the majority of citizens curling up in the fetal position at home. Many can't feed their children, pay their mortgage or rent, and are losing their 401k' s. This virus Is serious for older folks with preexisting health conditions and we will need to protect them, but I doubt that those older people want regular folks to lose everything. Include available food, their homes and in some cases their lives. I say this as a vulnerable 76 year old.

    Baseball as the national Palestine needs to do its part to get this society up and going as soon as possible.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Nation pastime.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I thought we were getting a little political here. I can't tell you the number of letters my fingers hit and then realize what I've done.
    We will get through this. I'll be 70 this year (I can't believe that) but feel fine and am in that higher risk group too, but try to keep an optimistic lookout, and realize also that I live in a suburb and can go and walk outside and am not in a small apartment with a number of people and wonder where the money for my next meal is coming from. We are resilient and will look back on this as an awful spring/summer, etc that we did get through.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Admittedly, I haven't been following the minute details of everything happening in baseball. There are more important things happening. I assume they get paid, MLB contracts are fully guaranteed, and there could be some type of insurance. I wouldn't want to be in the middle of that mess. Lots of very bad things happening within this current power struggle.

  • Sounds like spring training by june 1st and regular season by 4th of july. I guess that would give us 90 to 100 regular season games.

    Fingers crossed.

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