There are dozens…no, probably hundreds of people who take the time to write, at least occasionally, online about the Chicago Cubs. Some of them are entertaining, some aren’t, some are pretty good and some are terrible. But for some reason, one stands above us all when it comes to spewing opinionated nonsense about our favorite baseball team. It’s not just opinionated. Hell, anybody worth reading has an opinion, it’s especially sanctimonious opinionated nonsense in this case.
Over the years, I have taken the time to take this person to task when he’s been especially daft. If I did it every time he wrote something dumb, it would be my full-time job. Nowadays when he’s really asking for it, people on Twitter send up the Al signal, and I feel compelled to drop what I’m doing and respond.
No regular season game gets more overanalyzed than the first one. It’s only natural, we have nothing else to compare it to. On Wednesday, the Cubs will play again, and we’ll have yesterday’s game to compare it to (spoiler alert: it probably won’t end well, either), then Thursday, and on and on. But opening day exists in a vacuum at least for 48 hours or so.
The darker, dumber corners of the Interwebs reacted with much shock at the news that the Cubs sent prized prospect Javier Baez to minor league camp last week. To the unwashed and unenlightened this was simply the Cubs sending their best player to the minor leagues because they were too cheap to let him start his free agent clock a year early. To them, this is baseball treason, and this egregious thumb in the eye of WINNING shall not stand.
Our next installment in a spring-long first-person account of the Cubs season by the greatest Cub of them all, Luis Valbuena. How long into the season this goes…well, only God, Emilio Bonifacio and Rick(y) Renteria know for sure.
The worst part of spring training is actually two things. First, it’s the stuff we do from about the third day we’re in camp until the spring games start. It’s just boring. You’re basically doing the same stuff. For me, it’s some batting practice and then bunt coverage. A lot of bunt coverage. It’s not as bad as when Matt Garza was here, though. Because you had to chase the ball into the outfield every time he threw it.
One of the things the Cubs are clearly interested in is finding versatile players. I play second, short and third, and I’m sure I could play outfield if they needed me to. Pretty challenging: stand in the grass and chase really high pop ups all day. Repeat. Every day.
But now we also have Emilio Bonifacio and he plays second, short and third and the outfield. And we have Ryan Roberts and plays second and third, and can play short in a pinch. Two of us will make the team, and since one of us has a guaranteed contract, and another one of us looks like he might not just make the team, but steal second base away from Darwin Barney…well, Des Moines needs tattoos, too, Ryan.
So the Cubs are billing this 2014 season the “Party of the Century.” Oh, boy.
They released the promo schedule today. Keep in mind it’s Wrigley’s 100th anniversary, so some of the giveaways are not entirely Cubs focused. For instance in July they have a promotion where you get a bobblehead version of the Dave Matthews Band tour bus and it releases liquified feces off a bridge onto your bookshelf every 30 days. So there’s that.
But let’s look at what they’re giving away. Every homestand celebrates a different decade.
So sure, we got scooped last week by the dreamy Patrick Mooney, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going forward with it. Today starts what is definitely a spring-long first-person account of the Cubs season by the greatest Cub of them all, Luis Valbuena. How long into the season this goes…well, only God, Emilio Bonifacio and Rick(y) Renteria know for sure.
So, spring training started last week. I counted and this is my eleventh one. I’ve had them in Tempe (Mariners), Winter Haven, Florida (Cleveland), Goodyear, Arizona (also Cleveland), Dunedin, Florida (Blue Jays) and Mesa (Cubs). The new park is pretty cool, but the best part is that we didn’t bother to tell Donnie Murphy that we had a new ballpark. He played catch with a chain link fence at Hohokam for twenty minutes last Monday until he figured out he was in the wrong place.
I’m really looking forward to this season. Coming to the Cubs two years ago was the best thing that’s happened in my career. They got me off waivers from the Blue Jays and I spent some time in Iowa in 2012, and then they realized that Ian Stewart sucked, they blamed it on his wrist and I’ve basically been the third baseman ever since. They’re going to pay me two million dollars this year. Two million. No way, I’d make that kind of money on a real team.