The Days of Santo
The easier thing would be to just get up tomorrow, slap on the chinos and a polo and shuffle off to work, as usual. Instead I’ll be up an hour earlier, donning shorts and a t-shirt apropos of the occasion and motoring solo to Chicago for, yeah, Ron Santo Day III (or is it IV? Yes, it’s IV).
When the Cubs announced it I reflexively got online and grabbed a ticket, albeit an upper deck reserved one in the interests of cost control. I’ll be driving straight back after the game for the same reason. The road/ballpark ratio comes out about 10/3; not good. I damn well better be one of the first 10,000 through the turnstiles. If I don’t come home with one of the replica HOF plaques I’m gonna feel foolish. Actually, I will anyway and why not?
See, I’m 58 going on 12. I figure since I was there on 9/28/03 when #10 was retired and on 8/10 last year when the statue was unveiled my attendance tomorrow is effectively mandatory. Never mind that I couldn’t make it on 8/28/71, Ron Santo Day I. I’m sure I was listening in. I was 17 going on 18 then. My parents probably wouldn’t let me have the car.
If I ever knew that Santo was the first player to invoke the 10/5 rule to veto a trade I’d forgotten. He didn’t want to go to the west coast and eventually got himself traded across town for Steve Stone, among others. Ironic, huh, in light of current events?
When Santo was in the lineup or the booth I listened to the Cubs on the radio a lot. Now I hardly do at all. There are several factors. The Cubs aren’t very good right now, but that’s more rule than exception when you have the panoramic perspective my (chronological) age affords. Keith Moreland doesn’t tell me much, but Santo wasn’t exactly a sabermetrician. Really, I think the underlying reason I don’t listen as much now is because I’m pissed at Pat Hughes. I used to get a kick out of his tuna sandwich/slap a twenty/ugly sweater shtick when Santo was there to chuckle at it. But things have changed.
When Santo died in late 2010 I got the news on the morning of my second book release. STUBS includes a couple of Santo-related vignettes, one of which I read at the release that evening. When Opening Day 2011 rolled around I sent a copy to Hughes, c/o Wrigley Field, hoping, selfishly, that he might mention it on the air and Cub fans everywhere would start clamoring for STUBS. In the first broadcast of the year I heard him recite some boilerplate BS about how many books get sent to them in the booth and how they can’t possibly acknowledge them all.
We’re not talking about e-mails and birthday reminders here, we’re talking about an actual book I wrote and gave you a gratis copy of. You don’t have to bother to read it, not even the bookmarked excerpts about your late sidekick, and I’m not looking for a 7th inning promo gig a la John Grisham, but if you can’t manage a brief mention of it maybe you could at least reciprocate by sending back a copy of your own book which rushed into print later that season. Any thought of that probably got lost in the shuffle of promoting that book on the air along with your Ron Santo “Voices of the Game” CD.
Now that the juice is squeezed from those sour grapes I can make them into raisins and sprinkle them on my bran flakes in the morning. Maybe I’ll even listen to the “Al Fonseca” interview from the Santo CD on the road. My son gave it to me for Christmas and it always makes me laugh.
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.