Thoughts and tears.
#10. Third Base-MAN. Love of Wrigley Field. Putting his favorite charity, JDRF and Juvenile Diabetes on the map to show that athletes can deal with the disease. Ron's partner, Pat Hughes (Ron's been in the booth since 1990). Brant Brown, that gut wrenching, "oh-no" overlapping Pat's "he dropped the ball". Aw, Jeez. Entrepreneur and Restauranteur. Ron Santo Pizza. Acapulco Taco Pie. Williams-Santo-Banks. Rebel pal Randy and the real highlight of fantasy camps. Roomie Glen Beckert. Flaming Gamer, Pat: "there's smoke billowing out of the top of his head" (audio link). The classic Jack Brickhouse call was music to my ears: "back, back, back, Hey-Hey, a homer by Santo." Harry Caray asking Ron, "when you go to bed at night with your lovely wife do you wear your toupee?" Cub captain. Leo Durocher. Don Young. Belly flop slides into second base. Clicking Heels. Pat Hughes broadcast introduction: "Along with nine time All-Star, five time Gold Glove winner and Cub Legend..."
Ronnie's gone. He slipped into a coma Wednesday and passed away in the early hours of the morning on Friday reportedly due to complications of bladder cancer.
Paul Sullivan has one of the earlier confirmations online but I've listened to WGN radio interviews with David Kaplan and Spike O'Dell reminiscing. Overnight host on WSCR, Les Grobstein clearly struggled with his sadness when he heard the news.
In one of the greatest tributes a son can give his dad, Jeff Santo's movie "This Old Cub" gave us the insight as to just what made Ron tick. Ron Santo was what loving the Cubs is all about.
Thank you to Ron. We are honored that you shared so much of yourself with us.
UPDATE: Rob's thoughts after the jump, just trying to keep all this in one place.
I never met the man, but I felt like he was a dear friend.
He was a Cub - true and true - player, broadcaster, fan. He lived the life that thousands of us dream of as children.
I didn't grow up watching him play, but I know I would have enjoyed it. Every rain-delay highlight, every Hall of Fame clip montage was a window into what should have been a Hall of Fame career.
We spilled lots of digital ink defending Santo's Hall of Fame case (well reader dcf did). I'm not sure the Hall of Fame deserves him now. It would almost feel like a cruel joke now. His words the day his number was retired, "This is my Hall of Fame" were pitch perfect.
The call - oh the call - funny, sad, relatable; the voice of thousands of Cubs fans funneled through his microphone.
His struggles with diabetes, his spirit and humor about his predicament were always inspiring to me.
I encourage everyone to read through the comments of this post and Arizona Phil's below. It's a celebration of his life and his accomplishments and most importantly, the memories he gave us watching the Cubs.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.