The happenings of the Chicago Cubs

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I read the other day, while at work and on the company’s time, that Joe Girardi, Northern Illinois native, had pulled his name out of the running to manage the dugout for the Cincinnati Reds. The crystal ball of the sports world said the former Yankees manager would like to hold out for a Chicago gig, one that serves deep dish pizza and Al’s Italian Beef, and excellent young clubs that can compete at the top of the league for some time. Loaded with youngsters, the White Sox and Cubs would be the apple of any manager’s eye, as the young baseball player tends to play with excitement, draws the attention of baseball enthusiasts, and by obvious calculation propels the manager to the top of the managerial ranks.

Accusations have been made and Joe Maddon is sitting on a hot seat in his Northside dugout. The Cubs, by when they lost their last game, have regressed. They played for the National League’s pennant for three straight years, before losing to the upstart Milwaukee Brewers in a Wild Card game. A pushy team led by Christian Yelich, the much despised Ryan Braun, and the scariest reliever in baseball, Josh Hader. Yelich, who resembles Pete Davidson like a long-lost brother, hits baseballs and gets on base with a magic reserved for the likes of Barry Bonds. With a significantly smaller head than the home run king, Yelich drew walks like Bob Ross painted trees: beautifully and often. A keen eye allowed the lefty to reach base at an astonishing level: the rate was approximately 45 percent. Now, looking at the trials and tribulations of my daily life, I am riddled with anxiety at trying to point to things I am successful at 45 percent of the time. Getting to work on time: less than 45 percent of the time. Flossing my teeth: less than 45 percent of the time. Picking up Brody’s poop with a Lancaster County supplied poop bag: much less than 45 percent of the time. Not eating Pop-Tarts: less than 45 percent of the time. But Christian Yelich is able to face major league pitching, which, from a hand & eye’s stance, is quite arduous, and reach base at a higher percentage than the approval rating of The President of the United States of America. Maybe Christian Yelich should be president.

Joe Maddon should keep his job. I would not recommend firing him, and I’ve been an armchair general manager for quite some time now. I’ve personally lead many teams to World Series titles on the Sega Genesis, the Super Nintendo, the 8-bit Nintendo, and the XBox. I’m not trying to grandstand here, but I am a four-system champion. And Joe Maddon has been through some good stuff, and some bad stuff, with this Cubs team. He is the best person for the job right now and has always been the best person for the job since he took up coaching the Chicago Cubs. The results speak for themselves: one World Series win and three-straight NLCS appearances, notwithstanding this season. Baseball is the hardest sport to win a title in. The damn thing is so volatile. Doing it once in 4 years is stellar in my book.

Nobody should hold their breath for a Cubs’ managerial opening. Or a White Sox opening. Ricky Renteria is the best for the Southside gig, too.

The Cubs have decided to keep Pedro Strop around, him and his tilted hat. He came over in the Jake Arrieta deal, in which Scott Feldman was the center piece. No relation to Corey Feldman, in case you might have thought Scott was related to the kid who played in one of the best vampire movies that has ever been made. What a trade! The Orioles were in a playoff race, I believe, and needed pitching. It’s just funny they got rid of Jake and Pedro to do it, because those guys can pitch. A look back at a Bleacher Report article, dated July 2, 2013, states that Pedro “has been a mess,” and has “struggled.” Back in 2013, Pedro had an era higher than a touchdown, with the extra point, as an Oriole. Maybe the food was terrible over there, because when he came to Chicago, he immediately lowered his ERA to 2.83, and has kept it there each subsequent season with the Cubs. Six years on the Northside has produced a 2.63 ERA over 331.1 innings. Chicago has great pizza, Italian beef, and a thing called a Pizza Pot Pie, which is tasty enough to lower anyone’s earned run average. His numbers for 2018 were simply superb, like Grey Poupon: 2.26 ERA, 59.2 innings pitched and a sub-one WHIP. He finished in 8th place in Win Probability Added for all relievers in baseball, which is pretty rad given he missed time due to a hamstring thing, and also wasn’t closing for the Cubs ‘till later in the year when Big Brandon Morrow hurt himself. Brandon first hurt himself while taking his pants off, then while throwing 99 miles an hour. He fessed up to the media about the pants-related injury after a week or so of keeping that to himself. It’s wild to see a professional athlete have things happen to him that happen to normal people who aren’t in peak physical condition. Like the time I cut the tip of my thumb off with a box cutter while trying to pry open a jump drive, or the time I slipped and fell on the ice while carrying in groceries. He was probably wearing skinny jeans, since that’s the style. I could see those being a pain to peel off.

But I’m happy to have Pedro back. In every year with the Cubs he has kept a sub-3 earned run average, and he’s second all-time out of all Cubbie relievers with 100 or more innings pitched in earned run average. First is Bruce Sutter. Bruce was one of the first dudes to use the split fingered fastball. He also won the NL Cy Young in 1979 with the Cubs, as a reliever. He never started a game in his career. Neither has Pedro. Pedro is a good mentor, too. A determined and relentless pitcher with a confident and charismatic mound presence. I like that.

Cole Hamels has had his $20 million option picked up by Theo & Co. I don’t love the move. The Cubs have lefties in Jonny Lester and Jose Quintana, and they should do just fine. I would’ve liked to see the Cubs work the market, look at under the radar guys. The Cubs have money though, so what do they care, really? I mean, if they don’t mind going over baseballs competitive tax, then so be it. But if this closes the vault, then I have a problem with the move. If the Cubs coaching staff does their job, then they have enough pitching. Kyle Hendricks, former ERA champ. Jon Lester, The Undertaker of MLB. Jose Quintana, who has one of the most consistent backs of a baseball card ever. And Yu Darvish, who throws quite an elusive baseball when his head is right. Those four names have the tools to do some damage. It’s up to the coaches and the front office to make the most of this.

Adding Cole Hamels doesn’t fix a problem. I’d much rather see that $20 million bucks thrown at relievers and bats and champagne celebrations. My first thought is Bryce Harper. I think Bryce Harper is the biggest star in all of baseball and I like when stars play for the Cubs. Sammy Sosa was so captivating, I’d love for that to happen at Wrigley Field again. I like Rizzo and Kris and Javy, but none of those guys carry that drop everything and watch this at-bat like a Bryce Harper at-bat. There are very few guys in baseball that have that power over me. Besides Bryce, I’d say Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton are the only other two that would have me locking a child in a closet so I could have a minute with the TV. Seems too prudent a move not to go hard on Bryce. Rumblings around the club hint at financial concern over the luxury tax, but that’s not something I’m on board with. Bury me with rings and take my money; that would be me if I was running the show. Baseball worries me with all these tightwads. MLB makes enough dough, they empower their owners to make enough dough, and they can spend more. They can. I’m always on the side of the player, the fan, and spending money. Increased return on capital, earnings, revenue, broad-based growth and the happenings of the financial statement take the top spot these days. Capitalism beats champagne. Beating the luxury tax beats beating the rival. All-time record profitability is greater than all-time record pennants. I hope the Cubs don’t prioritize money over winning. They simply don’t need Cole Hamels. They need Bryce Harper, baseball’s greatest superstar going today. Could you imagine him on the most captivating franchise in all of baseball? All eyes are on Theo and the Cubs. What a move it would be. I mean, you’re reading this and telling me I’m an idiot and that’s a lot of money and that would cripple the Cubs. Well, I want the biggest superstar in all of baseball on the most popular team in all of baseball. It would be so fun to watch, just like Sammy was.

Bryce would create a lot of money for the Cubs, so don’t forget that.

Remember how wild the Northside was with Sammy Sosa? Pure pandemonium! And the Cubs didn’t win any World Series titles with Sammy, and it was still bonkers. It should be noted that Bryce would not keep the Cubs from winning again, and he wouldn’t cripple a winning product on the field. Those days are gone. The Lovable Losers. 90-loss seasons. There’s always next year is a thing of the past. Bryce Harper would be the best product on the field at Wrigley.

Note: winning a World Series is one big crapshoot anyway, a drunken one at that, needing the luck of Nick Papagiorgio and a drugged-out Alan from The Hangover. Bryce would be okay in Cubbie Blue and plenty of W’s would fly.

The Cubs losing doesn’t scare me. I’m not upset about this season, or last, or actually, any one season before 2016. Well, 2008 pissed me off when the Dodgers swept the Cubs out of the NLDS. Other than that, I’ve been a happy Cubs fan, losing and all. That should come as no surprise to any Cubs fan, really. Cubs baseball is so much more than winning. Maybe I’m just saying that because there is no other way to be a Cubs fan. Losing sort of comes with the thing. I don’t know how, or why. Many teams lose a ton without the fandom that the Cubs garner from their followers. The culture behind the Cubs is so much more; this thing isn’t contingent upon the win, it’s mostly in one’s ability to enjoy a beer with the person next to you. So, I’m not at all in the slightest frustrated with the way the Cubs are growing up. Would I have liked a World Series trip in 2018? That’s a clown question, bro. 2016 was absolutely incredible. I was out of my body when Kris Bryant slipped and threw a baseball to Anthony Rizzo. But losing in 2018 made me happy, too. In a sense, it delivered a feeling I hadn’t had since 2015, and before that 2008, and before that 2003. The feeling of losing amid high expectations. The torture. The agony. It feels great. The fight is back. There has been death. Now there is rebirth. Atonement is on deck.

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