The Anarchist's Brunch

First day for pitchers and catchers. Perhaps the most optimistic day in the world. So let’s get optimistic….

It’s May 25th, 2017 and I am attending my first Cubs game of the year. Rather late start for me to say the least. I love April baseball, the crowds are usually thinner and the ones going are usually a little more die-hard. But given the Cubs have spent the last two years in the playoffs, the buzz is back, which means sellouts in April. ( Sold out for the season, as usual again…) Plus, last year’s playoffs really took a lot out of me. It wasn’t the gut punch that 2003 was or the stunner that the goose eggs of 2007 and 2008 were. No, the team played really, really well. But even though the Cubs have a great squad with a healthy 145 million dollar payroll, it’s not even half of what the Dodgers are paying, and that much money simply bought a team that couldn’t be beaten. Otherwise….

Anyway, I feel good about this squad, especially seeing as how they just swept the Cardinals. A lot of people thought it was wrong to trade Appel during the off-season. But I say good riddance. Guy was a pain in the ass and talked about his next contract since the day he got here. Yeah, he won a lot of games, but we endured a lot of headaches with him too and the players they got look like they’re really good. Besides, Maples is ready for the rotation. I argued this with many Cub fans, who liked how he dominated in the bullpen last year and was un-hittable in the playoffs. But it’s time, kid has too many pitches and I think he’ll be killer.

So I take my Brown-line train ride from Lincoln Square and get off at Southport like I do and head down Addison. Kinda sucks not having Wrigley materialize from the trees like it did in the past. The hotel blocks the view. But with the new traffic routes surrounding Wrigley the place is awash with people roaming the streets. It’s more like a concert than a baseball game. When I get to Addison and Clark I see the Hotel just flowing people into the street like a spigot. I try to remember the way it was. Yum Yum donuts and all but I can’t. But the hotel is so tastefully done that I have no complaints. Plus it’s sold out for the next three years. And seeing as how the Hard Rock has bought a roof top and made it a Hotel too, it obviously was the right thing to do.

I enter Wrigley and am amazed at how easy it is to move around in, despite being sold out. And while it’s not airy by any means it’s no longer a cattle call. I get to my seats. Well, they’re Tom Loxas’ seats. And once again the surrounding season ticket holders groan that it’s me sitting there instead of Tom. Tom forgave me for that incident in 2014, why can’t these people? Jeez. Besides Tom has a daughter at that age where he needs to be home and beat the snot out of any boy that approaches his house.  Tom’s seats are near the bullpen and since David Price is pitching, I want to get there early to watch him warm up. Trading Baez and all those other prospects seemed crazy at the time. And the 5 year extension at 26 mil per seemed even crazier. But two Cy Youngs and three division titles kind of make it a moot point.  Price warms up with such an ease and calmness, such a change from the intense, energetic way Shark does. But that’s what makes them the best 1-2 in the game.

Game starts. Price sets down the Padres an 6 pitches. Almora leads off with a double. Almora should probably hit in the middle of the order but he’s so darn smart, almost jeteresque, that leading him off is fine. My favorite player, Christian Villanueva, is up. I love this kid. Who knew the Dempster deal with Texas would be better than the Dempster deal with the Braves. This kid has such moxie. He’s gonna be the captain of the team. Everyone loves him. And his play has the younger generation saying he might be better than Santo.  And as I say that he shoots a liner up up the first base line. 1-0 Cubs. Castro would homer, it’s 3-0 and you feel like this game is already in the bag.

I look around Wrigley and am amazed at how similar it looks even though it really doesn’t. The Pepsi sign fits in as easily as the Toyota sign. The new 1st base line private box/patio on top of the Balcony looks like a fun time, Even the walk way from the Bleachers to Murphy’s Rooftop, once a big bone of contention, looks pretty darn cool. The hard Rock Rooftop looks a bit overdone. It’s a little showy. But it’s a good place to house the ESPN crew and all the others. At since it’s daytime we don’t have to see all that neon.

Price mows through three more innings, and I head to the bathroom. I MAKE IT TO THE BATHROOM AND BACK WITHOUT MISSING AN INNING. First time in 35 years.  I get a couple of $14.00 beers and head back to my seats. As I do I run into Kane County General Manager John Arguello, always good to see John. I try  and get John to give me some stories about working with the Cubs in the Stats department for two years. But he refuses. Besides, those two years working under Theo got him the Kane County gig and he really seems to be enjoying life. Really glad he didn’t mention how I’ve run Cubs Den into the ground.

Cubs sock together two more runs. 5-0. Villanueva…AGAIN. Price went six, Whitenack pitched the 7th, this new guy will probably pitch the 8th before Shawon Dunston jr. comes on to close. Boy Theo was right about maximizing the closer’s position. This converted outfielder’s been a wet dream. From his three second sprint to to his 101 MPH fastball.

In fact, Theo’s been right about almost everything. Whether it was letting Rizzo go to sign for LA’s huge money, replacing Svuem with Girardi after the ’15 season, everything. That’s why this team is currently 32-14. That’s why there’s a calmness to the way Cub fans cheer this year. Yeah, they’ve been going bat-spit crazy because of 2 straight playoff years. But there’s an understanding this year. Everything is clicking. Off the field, on the field. This is the year. We say it every year but this year it’s different. Cub fans just…know. Despite everyone throwing 108-109 years in our face, Cub fans just know.. it’s going to happen this year. And everyone is just taking a deep breath and experiencing it, because it’s going to be the greatest year in our Cub fans lives, and when we talk about it, we don’t want to miss a single detail.

ODDS AND SODS….

So Heavy D, Dan Voglebach has lost 40 pounds, and while that’s good, It kinda ruins the fun.

There’s an 85-90% chance that he’ll be so lousy that it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. But I really would have liked to have seen the Giambino ( Jason Giambi) in blue pinstripes as a bat off the bench. Would have been a great big brother for Rizzo. not that he needs a big brother in any way. Plus he’s fun. I hope he has a good year.

Watched the Blues lose last night and saw an ad for Cardinal baseball and I just seethed. So damn good to have baseball back.

A lot of my friends will argue that Revolver is by far the Beatles best album. I’m not among them. But “She Said” is running through my head today so Revolver is your Beatles album of the week.

I like and respect Sahadev Sharma and Brett Taylor a lot. So I hope they take this as constructive criticism and not as a slap. Somewhere in that hour and a half slosh is a really smart, interesting podcast. Somewhere…Desperately needs an edit. UP & In got away with being over 90. you guys can’t.

Why isn’t Cubs Den doing a podcast? I feel like this should be a goal this year…

I still hate the Cubs outfield this year. C’mon Brett…..

I think it would be cool if Northwestern changed the field 3 out of the five times they played at Wrigley. Right field to home, left field to home. Right field to left field. But you can’t always get what you want.

Speaking of which, the Stones at Wrigley has to happen, doesn’t it?

Baseball’s back people. Yee ha!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Love the idea of Dunston as closer. I can just see him sprinting to the mound from the bullpen in three seconds. Cub fans would just eat that up.

    Hate the idea of $14.00 beer.

    Unfortunately, the prospects of the latter are stronger than the former.

    Nice job, Felzz.

  • Ha, very well done Felzz. Those parts about the season ticket holders groaning and you running the Den into the ground cracked me up. So two more years out of the playoffs and then three straight years in the post season with the grand prize just four years away....I'm buying into that, where do I sign? BTW, congratulations on the new gig John. Hope you put a good word in for me for something in the stats department.

  • Nice read, but $14 beers? Ouch!

  • Personally, I actually don't listen to podcasts all that often and I'm not sure I've ever gotten through an entire one. When I do listen to them I tend to skip around. I much prefer to read/write/observe baseball. That doesn't necessarily mean I wouldn't do one, though, if that's something people would be interested in.

    Tom and I toyed around with the idea of doing a podcast about a year ago or so when we did some writing with Jordan Bernfield and the guys at miCubs. Not something we have immediate plans for now, but maybe we'll re-consider it. If we did, we'd definitely need you to be a part of it, Fels.

  • Fun read as always!

  • Thanks boss.

    And thanks everyone else.

    I listen to Podcasts every night as I need to listen to something to fall asleep. And it's clearly a skill. Adam Carolla, can talk for hours on end. Sports guy usually has his around an hour.

    But some of the better ones last about a half hour. Baseball prospectus has a daily podcast that's never longer than 20 minutes. ( Believe it's called Wild and outside.) It works with music too. "Diver Down" by Van halen works because it's 30 minutes. he Replacements "Tim" is the same way.... Sahadev and Brett will probably figure it out and make it more concise.

    Psyched to have baseball again.

  • In reply to felzz:

    Agreed, not everyone can talk for hours on end. I know I couldn't.

    If we were to do one, 20-30 minutes would be plenty enough for me. And Replacements "Tim" is right in my wheelhouse :)

  • I vote yes to the podcast!

  • Fun story...whatever your smokin...I want some .

  • In reply to Theodaman:

    Exactly, must be good stuff, lost in the 60's.

  • Vogelbach will be the jewel of the system this season with a 1.100 or higher OPS at Kane, then at Daytona. People will continue to speak negatively about him, even as he outperforms all other prospects with his bat. Baez will walk 9 times all year, yet nobody will say anything bad about him because he was never overweight.

    That is my prediction. I've never seen anything like the consistent criticism Vogelbach takes compared to any or all other prospects. It's surreal, actually. And now he's lost so much weight, he looks as solid as a brick wall. No respect.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    I understand the concerns with Vogelbach and why some don't have him ranked higher, but I agree some of the criticism has been exaggerated, even unfair at times.

  • There has been no bigger fan of heavy D than me. ( Although i guess he's not so heavy.) I sing his praises all the time. And i would love nothing more than to see him become the hitting jewel that he's been.

    But the criticism has stemmed from a consistent scouting report. While his hitting is something to behhold, it's his only plus. And while weight is often mentioned, it's lack of athletic ability as well. Is that all tied to weight? I doubt it. But I don't think that now that he's slimmer he's gonna become a competent defender, let alone a good one.

    I think he's awesome. And it's not like he's gonna be doing Subway ads. He's still a big boy. But even his biggest fans, which include John Arguello and myself, know he has a LONG way to go....

  • Wrong thread, but I'd like to throw out my "breakout" candidates or guys to watch. For the position players, Soler, Almora, Amaya, and Martin. And for pitchers, Vizcaino, Underwood, and Carlos Rodriguez..

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    I think B Jackson, Lake, Ha and Watkins are going to have breakout years. And for pitchers Vizcaino, Cabrera, Maples and Panaguia.

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    Nice choices. I especially like the first 6. I'm not as high on Rodriguez as some are. At least not yet.

  • felzz, nice breakfast selection, I enjoyed the look into the future. I usually don't listen to podcasts, but I'll be taking a 6 hour drive down to LA (my new home) in a few hours so I downloaded a couple and have split them to fit on cds and burned them so I'll be able to listen to Cubs taks for maybe half my ride. Once Wrigley gets redone, you will be able to do quick trips away from your seat as you described, when I'm at AT&T I can get a craft beer at one stand and garlic fries at another and only miss a few pitches. $14 dollar beers will keep the lines short and the drunks few.

  • SUBJECT: House Cleaning
    TIME: Mid July 2013 - All Star Break
    CUBS RECORD: 41-52
    LOCATION: Denver

    Theo Epstein & Jed Hoyer just discussed trades with various GM's at the All Star game. The Cubs had only one winning month, and are hearing fans chants to bring up the Rookies. Both Theo and Jed spend a night together at "Garden of the Gods" in Colorado Springs to find spiritual inspiration on the plans they will make in the coming days. Theo is focusing on trading his veterans once again. Both Theo & Jed looks over their list of players and what to expect in return.......

    Baker = Orioles (1) AA player + (1) A player
    Camp = Nationals (1) A player
    Feldman = Braves (2) AA players
    Garza = Rangers (2) AA players + (1) A player
    Marmol = Tigers (1) AA player
    Russell = Dodgers (2) AA players + (1) A player
    T. Wood = Nationals (2) AA players
    Barney = Tigers (2) AA players
    Stewart = Dodgers (2) A players
    DeJesus = Rays (2) AA players
    Schierholtz = Braves (1) A player
    Soriano + Cash = Orioles (2) AA player
    Harriston = Blue Jays (2) AA players

    Call ups......Lake, Watkins, Jackson, Vitters, Whitenack, McNutt, Cabrera, Golden, Vizcaino, Dolis, Szczur

    But this is a DREAM........because I know the Cubs will have 88-90 wins and be in the playoffs this year.

  • John, with all the changes and additions to the Cubs front office, do you happen to have a hierarchy to break down who reports to who? I've always been amazed prior to the Theo regime at how thin the front office staff was and how behind the times they were. They always seemed to be lacking in preparation as compared to their better opponents. But now that they have completely restructured, it would be neat to see a chart, especially one containing some information on the background of each person now in place and charged with "getting this thing done". They have a seemingly very thorough listing on cubs.com but I'm wondering who exactly reports to who in the front office, player development and scouting.

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    I don't have an official organizational chart, so anything I would write would involve at least some guesswork.

    I will say that the front office is a very fluid one and that I don't think it's a strict top to bottom hierarchy. I think some tasks are divided more by individual strengths and specialties.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks....I've heard Jed and Theo talk about how they tend to split up duties that way, with discussions with other clubs being handled based upon who has the stronger working relationships with the other teams. They seem quite detail oriented so I'd be surprised if one didn't exist, but getting a hold of one might prove nearly as difficult as getting a copy of the "Cubs Way" manual.

  • considering that rizzo is going to sign an extension buying out 2 of his free agent years with an option for the third, idk how he bolts for l.a., however trading for price does bring up an interesting subject.

    i really want the cubs to have a lefty who can be a 1, 2 or 3 in a good rotation. ideally that would either be kershaw or price. while i think that the dodgers are gonna offer kershaw 1/6th of their t.v. money im not sure that an extension gets done. this is me being an optimistic cubs fan, but an extension with arguably the best left handed pitcher in baseball who will be 27 when he reaches free agency has not gotten done, and my question is what the eff are they waiting for.

    i think kershaw might be the one waiting because the dodgers, while having a very high priced payroll, have a ton of question marks and its completely possible that they miss the playoffs and are out of the race by september. they have so many question marks with long term deals that could screw up the teams future. even kemp isnt a sure thing and could be one injury away from being a waste of 180 mil.

    so maybe kershaw is willing to wait it out until free agency and at that point the cubs, rangers and yankees can fight it out for his services. at that point it is very possible that the cubs will have the most to offer, and not just in terms of money. we can sell him on being the final piece of the puzzle, the new face of a franchise about to breakout for greatness, the day games, the night games, the renevations, the farm system that will still be pumping out high level prospects at that time.

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