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.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.