If Anthony Rizzo fails to fulfill expectations, an excess of media attention will be partly to blame.
As one who ordinarily dislikes slack moments, I tend to plan things down to the second. It's a practice that often leaves little margin for error and sometimes results in small mishaps. Because as much as you try, you can't fully allow for externalities. One of those is the Chicago Transit Authority, not a sturdy peg on which to hang a daily calendar. The online tracker for the trains is very accurate, but you want to leave a buffer, because the CTA has its externalities as well.
The day of Anthony Rizzo's Cubs debut, I did not leave enough of a buffer. I know that it takes me about six minutes at a steady pace to walk to the Argyle Station, and the tracker told me I had eight minutes. Nevertheless, there it was pulling into the station just as I approached the entrance. I sprinted up the stairs only to find the doors sliding shut and an unforgiving train operator at the helm.
From Wrigley Field on Friday, Bradford bids goodbye to the Cubs' fragile former phenom, Kerry Wood.
Orson Welles used to say the key to playing a larger-than-life character was to give him plenty of advance billing before he actually appears on the stage or screen. Harry Lime becomes the most interesting character in The Third Man more than 50 minutes before Welles makes his dramatic entrance in the film. It was a little like that with Kerry Wood, whose ridiculous velocity, strapping build, and Texas background had him pegged as the heir to Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens before we ever saw him in Chicago.
Wood was the fourth pick of the 1995 draft, taken behind Darin Erstad, Ben Davis, and Jose Cruz Jr., and almost immediately there were problems. Less than a week after the Cubs drafted him, Mike McGilvray, his high school coach back in Grand Prairie, Texas, used him in both ends of a doubleheader in the state quarterfinals. Wood threw 145 pitches in the first game and 32 more in the nightcap. Grand Prairie won both games.
Which NL starters are off to a worse start than the Angels' not-yet-sluggy first baseman?
On Wednesday, I examined a half-dozen American League hitters who are off to chillier starts than even Albert Pujols in an attempt to shine a light on a handful of developing stories centered around underperforming players. Of course, none of those hitters has the track record or the job security of the Angels' newest marquee attraction; neither do seven billion other people on Earth. In other words, they're a wee bit more likely to find themselves riding the pine or worse if they continue to flounder, and at the very least, their small-sample struggles—and for this the threshold is 70 plate appearances, not long enough for any key hitter statistic to stabilize—are worth your attention.
An amazing music video featuring a World Series game between the Cubs and the A's was unearthed recently.
It was 1992. The Oakland A's, behind Tony La Russa, Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, and the Bash Brothers, were only a year removed from a three-year run in the World Series. The Cubs, meanwhile, had been to the playoffs once in eight years, and Greg Maddux was only just beginning his stretch as the greatest pitcher alive. Away from sports, Garth Brooks had friends in low places, Pearl Jam was destroying the charts, and Uncle Jesse was breaking little girls' hearts all over the world. Not to be forgotten, Chicago Cubs fan Richard Marx was dreaming of a World Series win for the North Siders.
From this early-'90s potpurri, a music video was born. No, it wasn't "Jeremy" or even that silly Beach Boys video that had Uncle Jesse up on stage drumming. Not even close.
Last month, when the NL West preview I wrote with Geoff Young got under the skin of a few readers who found our jibes directed at the Giants to be unfair, I made a half-in-jest promise on Twitter: "[A]nybody got a favorite team? I promise to hate on them unreasonably tomorrow. I will rain down bias." Persistent problems in locating myself along the space-time continuum have prevented that promise from being fulfilled, until now.
On teaching patience, a nice old lady and a hilarious inning to a near-gem.
CHICAGO—One-four-four-five-four-one. No, that's not a Tommy Tutone update, it's the game-by-game run totals for the Cubs in their first six outings of the season. They broke out with eight runs off Milwaukee ace Zack Greinke on Thursday, but questions still abound about Chicago's offense.
What are some of the big questions surrounding the AL and NL Central?
Continuing what I started with the two East divisions on Friday, I've identified one nagging question I have about each team coming out of spring training, one loose thread that I can't resist tugging upon as the season nears. Today, it's the two Central divisions.
Offering at least one reason to tune in to each potentially talent-challenged team when you're flipping through your MLB.tv options this season.
Bad teams have been much on my mind lately. Blame it on being an A's fan, blame it on marrying into a Mets family, blame it on my generally sour personality. Irrespective of the cause, I find myself less intrigued by the powerhouses or the teams in tight races for the playoffs than by the squads that will come out of the gate slow, dawdle through the dog days, and finish in a muddle of obscure Triple-A players crowding the expanded September rosters as they fight for 2013 jobs on what will likely be yet another mediocre team.
If you're a fan of one of these franchises, you'll probably watch them whatever happens. But what will the rest of you watch on the nights when your team is off, or long, lazy weekend afternoons? You can always tune in to see the Yankees and Rays face off in a game with playoff implications for the umpteenth time, but if you're like me, you get a little bored seeing the same (really good) players over and over. Let me present, then, a team-by-team list of reasons to tune into a game at which more casual fans might turn up their noses. Call it the Every Team is Special list.