Fowler Creates More Options, Added Flexbility For Maddon

It was a confusing sequence of events on Thursday, Febuart 25th, 2016.

Kicking it off was the announcement of outfielder Chris Coghlan being traded to Oakland for RHP Aaron Brooks, a seemingly odd move given Coghlan’s value and Brooks’ small career sample size of just 15 games, with unimpressive numbers. This was a head scratcher. Why would the Cubs ship out a key depth guy for an unproven arm they don’t really need? An astute coworker of mine raised an eyebrow at the situation, claiming there had to be more to this deal.

There was. Ten minutes later, it was announced that Dexter Fowler was back.

Welcome back, Dex!

Now this was a heretofore unfathomable situation that has unfolded. Many Cubs fans, writers and insiders, myself included, had speculated that Jorge Soler could be traded, likely to Cleveland or Tampa Bay, and that maybe Fowler would come back since he had yet to sign elsewhere after rejecting the initial qualifying offer back in November. An entire offseason later and Soler was still a Cub, plus Fowler finally had a multi-year deal on the table in Baltimore. No scenario was possible to have both Fowler and Soler on the same roster again, especially after picking up Jason Heyward, right? Wrong. With Coghlan moved to Oakland, and the Fowler deal with the Orioles incomplete, Theo Epstein, the puzzlemaster extraordinaire that he is, inked Fowler and opened up a world of possibilities for manager Joe Maddon.

Such possibilities include the ability to have Fowler, valuable as a switch-hitting leadoff man with power, start in CF, thus moving Jason Heyward to right, his natural position. Soler, in turn, can platoon in LF with Kyle Schwarber. The genius of that move, is that none of the big bats are sacrificed in the lineup, and there will always be one or more power guys to come off the bench. This also takes some defensive pressure off of Schwarber, and gives Maddon a myriad of lineup options against either left or right-handed opposing starting pitchers. In short, it’s a perfect scenario. On paper, anyway.

As we get the 2016 season underway, this is the most versatile, deep, talented, and potent roster the Cubs have had in many, many years. With division foes St. Louis and Pittsburgh to contend with, a bloodbath in the NL Central will surely ensue. But one thing is for sure: There can be no more excuses for the Cubs. Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s vision is right now.

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A Window To the Past

“It’s always a hot time in Brooklyn when the Giants come over.”

– Red Barber

By now you’ve likely noticed that I’ve theorized more than once how baseball is a spooky game and has a very haunted history. One of the aspects of this theory that literally manifests itself, is in the sounds of the game. It has been said that the soundtrack to America, is baseball on the radio. Taking a cue from this, I did some poking around and, thanks to YouTube, many old radio broadcasts are available to listen to, including old baseball games. Such records are a window into the treasured past.

One of my favorite examples of this wonderful audible history, is a classic National League rivalry matchup between the Giants and Dodgers, when they were both still in New York, on April 22, 1950. The very first thing you hear is Ebbets Field PA announcer Tex Rickards’ booming voice announcing the batting orders before legendary radio broadcaster Red Barber takes over. The ensuing broadcast is a great snapshot of our pastime, and a wonderful, if not haunting example of the deep, rich history of the game in an important, meaningful moment.

Take a trip back to 1950, and a time when baseball was life in America.

Brookyn Dodgers vs. New York Giants, April 22, 1950. 

Brooklyn Dodgers long time PA anouncer Tex Rickards

 

Is This Heaven?

“There are only two seasons: Winter and baseball.”

-Bill Veeck

 

Embark with me on a quick journey to paradise…

Imagine winter’s steely cold veil being rolled back to reveal clear skies of the prettiest electric blue on a warm spring afternoon, with perfectly manicured grass toting gorgeus shades of emerald and shamrock, while the strong and indisputable scents of popcorn, hot dogs, fresh roasted peanuts and ice cold beer tantalize your senses. Classic, peppy organ music and a sometimes overly excited announcer boom from seemingly out of nowhere to direct and dictate the action you’re witnessing. You sit back and become enveloped in a tranquil, yet excited relaxation as you cheer on your heroes in the most graceful chess match ever played, and it becomes infinitely clear why it’s called our national pastime.

That paradise is real.

And in just a few short days, we will see it.

The 2016 baseball season is about to begin.

 

 

Happy Birthday George!

Wishing a Happy 121st to the greatest of them all, George Herman “Babe” Ruth! (Feb 6, 1895-Aug 16, 1948)

Ruth crushing one of his 714 career home runs

Little needs to be said about this titan of the game. From his early career as an ace pitcher in Boston to his fame as the Sultan of Swat in New York, to this day, 68 years after his death at the age of 53, the Babe still remains an iconic and righteously glorified figure of our national pastime.

He was, and is, the biggest star of the game. When people think of baseball, even to those who aren’t fans of the game, the name Babe Ruth is often the first thing that comes to mind. Now THAT is leaving a legacy!

One of my favorite photos. Babe chatting with Shoeless Joe Jackson, whom he said he copied his swing from. To be a fly on the wall during this conversation…

Cheers champ!

 

 

 

Ode to Overall

Wishing a happy 135th birthday today to Orval Overall, the Cubs hurler who tossed a brilliant complete game, 3-hit shutout in Game 5 of the 1908 World Series, delivering the last Cubs championship.

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To add some sparkle to that Game 5 gem, Overall became the first and only pitcher in Major League history to strike out four batters in one inning in a postseason game. That feat was not again achieved until Anibel Sanchez of the Detroit Tigers did so in 2013.