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Friday Roundup: The “Still Alive” Edition

I'm not even angry. I'm being so sincere right now.

I’m not even angry. I’m being so sincere right now.

Yep. This site is not quite dead yet. So, here’s the deal. I’m getting back into live comedy, and that’s been consuming quite a bit of my time lately. I’m trying not to neglect this beautiful disaster of a blog, but life is a whirlwind right now. If you want to see me make dick jokes in real time, I’m going to be performing in my first show next Friday night at 10:00 p.m. at The Comedy Shrine in Aurora (behind the Fox Valley Mall). It’s called “World War Improv”, it’s going to pit two teams of comics against one another, and it’s going to be funny.

Your tips are as appreciated as a perfect get, a “yes and”, and a gift. SEE HOW I KNOW THE LINGO???

The Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time: SS Ricky Gutierrez

This picture must be 'shopped. He never once hung on to a bat all the way through a swing.

This picture must be ‘shopped. He never once hung on to a bat all the way through a swing.

A passing comment on Twitter has led to my next pet project.  I’ve compiled a 25-man roster of the best bad Cubs of my time.  Let me clarify a few things right off the bat.  I looked at stats, but I really don’t care about your stats-based argument.  This is supposed to be fun.  Calm down.  As you’ll see as the roster develops, personality wasn’t as big a factor as it was for the Bottom 126.  However, watching a bad player play well as a Cub made generally made him pretty likeable.  I’m starting with the bullpen, then I’ll do the bench, then the starting pitchers, and finally the starting eight.  HERE is the roster so far.

Only four more positions are left on the Best Bad Cubs Team of- HOLY SHIT, LOOK OUT! MAN, YOU ALMOST GOT NAILED BY THAT BAT AS IT HELICOPTERED THROUGH THE AIR! Anyhow, we only have the outfield and shortstop left to go, and if you- OH MY GOD HERE COMES ANOTHER I THINK THAT’S STRIKE TWO! Whew! That one just missed you. As I was saying, I’m almost done with the list of Best Bad Cubs and- HE ALMOST HIT THAT OLD LADY IN THE FRONT ROW! HER 95 YEARS ALL JUST FLASHED BEFORE HER EYES! Our final infielder was accidentally one of the most dangerous men in baseball. If you attended a game at Wrigley Field in 2000 or 2001, you were as likely to walk home with a souvenir bat as a souvenir ball. You see, Best Bad Cub shortstop Ricky Gutierrez had pine tar issues that- JESUS HE’S LIKE A TODDLER PLAYING WIFFLE BALL! THAT GUY IS DEAD!

Gutierrez was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles with the 28th overall pick in a not-exactly loaded 1988 amateur draft. Andy Benes was the number one pick, and the Cubs took Ty Griffin one slot before the White Sox selected Robin Ventura. No matter. The Cubs have NEVER needed a third baseman.

Gutierrez was a VERY light-hitting shortstop in the minors, so it wasn’t unexpected when the Orioles sent him to the San Diego Padres in 1992 along with Erik Schullstrom for Craig Lefferts. In his first full year with the Padres, Gutierrez debuted at the age of 22. On April 13, 1993, the Pittsburgh Pirates were visiting Jack Murphy Stadium. Gutierrez got a late-inning at-bat when he pinch hit for Darrell Sherman and then went out to…right field? Gutierrez struck out in his first and only at-bat that game.

Somehow, Gutierrez got quite a bit of playing time in 1993. In 495 plate appearances, he posted a .251/.334/.331 line as the Padres’ starting shortstop. Because many sportswriters are petty and stupid, Gutierrez got a Rookie of the Year vote, barely losing out to Mike Piazza by 139 vote points. For no reason other than to poke you in the eye, that was the year Dusty Baker won the NL Manager of the Year Award. It was also the year that Barry Bonds’ head started growing again.

Gutierrez had an unspectacular OPS in one season plus one strike-shortened season with the Padres. After the 1994 season, the Padres and Houston Astros exchanged all of their players. The Padres sent Gutierrez along with Derek Bell, Doug Brocail, Pedro Martinez (not that one), Phil Plantier, and Craig Shipley to Houston for Sean Fesh, Ken Caminiti, Andujar Cedeno, Steve Finley, Roberto Petagine, and Brian Williams. The Padres had finished 47-70 in 1994, so it probably wasn’t a bad idea for them to turn over as much of their roster as possible.

For the next five seasons, Gutierrez put up exactly the kind of numbers the Astros had any right to expect him to produce. He hit .266/.337/.340 with seven home runs (IN FIVE YEARS) and 132 RBIs. The Astros let him walk after the 1999 season, and the Cubs signed him to replace Jose Hernandez, who had been traded in 1999 to the Atlanta Braves for Micah Bowie and Ruben Quevedo. SIIIIIIIGH.

Something clicked for Gutierrez in Chicago. In two seasons at shortstop on the North Side, Gutierrez hit an absurd-for-Ricky-Gutierrez .284/.359/.401. He drove in 56 runs in his first season with the Cubs than followed that up with 66 RBIs in 2001. In fact, Gutierrez became the answer to the popular trivia question, “Who had the second-most RBIs on the 2001 Chicago Cubs?” I didn’t watch enough of the Astros to know if this was exclusively a Chicago thing, but in his time with the Cubs, Gutierrez was as likely to kill you as win a game for you. He was completely unable to hold his bat all the way through a full swing, and many a Cub fan narrowly avoided many a concussion as Gutierrez chucked bat after bat into the stands. He was also more likely to bunt than hit a home run (thanks, Don Baylor). He led the league in sacrifice bunts in both his seasons with the Cubs, even though he never laid down more than four successful bunts a season either before or after. But on an awful Cub team in 2000 and an awful-but-surprisingly-contending Cub team in 2001, Gutierrez was one of the most productive hitters.

Prior to the 2002 season, however, the Cubs traded for Alex Gonzalez and let Gutierrez walk away. In the last three years of his career, Gutierrez caught on with the Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, and Boston Red Sox. He wasn’t good in those places. In parts of twelve MLB seasons, Gutierrez hit .266/.338/.350. He was one of the few bad players who was far more productive as a Cub than he was anywhere else. He’s the epitome of a Best Bad Cubs player.

Greatest Cub Moment: August 7, 2001. Gutierrez probably had better offensive days with the Cubs in his time in Chicago. However, I was at this game. This game was goddamn great. This was the game where Mongo got ejected by Angel Hernandez for threatening to kick his ass in a parking lot. And this was also the game that had probably the longest baseball play I have ever seen. The Cubs and Rockies were tied 4-4 with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning. Joe Girardi came to the plate with Gutierrez (who was 3-4 on the day) on second base. Girardi singled, Gutierrez slipped coming around third base and retreated back to third, Girardi got caught in a rundown between first and second, the Rockies chucked the ball all around the field, and after Girardi was tagged out, Gutierrez made a mad dash for home, scoring the winning run in a 5-4 Cub victory. Well, shit, here’s the whole thing (including Angel Hernandez acting like a cunt). If you can stomach Chip Caray, stick around until the end, when he utterly fucks up calling the game-winning run. Hernandez doesn’t even flinch before signaling Gutierrez “safe,” (though what was the out signal AFTER the play?) yet Chip ruins it.

Worst Moment as a Human: FUCKING KEVIN ORIE.

The Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time: 3B Mark Bellhorn

"MVP" meant something different a decade ago.

“MVP” meant something different a decade ago.

A passing comment on Twitter has led to my next pet project.  I’ve compiled a 25-man roster of the best bad Cubs of my time.  Let me clarify a few things right off the bat.  I looked at stats, but I really don’t care about your stats-based argument.  This is supposed to be fun.  Calm down.  As you’ll see as the roster develops, personality wasn’t as big a factor as it was for the Bottom 126.  However, watching a bad player play well as a Cub made generally made him pretty likeable.  I’m starting with the bullpen, then I’ll do the bench, then the starting pitchers, and finally the starting eight.  HERE is the roster so far.

In the late ’90s to about the mid-2000s, there were a weird number of players that the Cubs and Boston Red Sox swapped back and forth as they both sought to avoid 100 titleless years. Jimmy Anderson, Shane Andrews, Terry Adams, Rod Beck, Damon Buford, Frank Castillo, Matt Clement, Jeff Fassero, Cliff Floyd, Chad Fox, Gary Gaetti, Nomar Garciaparra, Geremi Gonzalez, Tom Gordon, Mark Guthrie, Ricky Gutierrez, Chris Haney, Bob Howry, Damian Jackson, Sandy Martinez, Wade Miller, Bill Mueller, Troy O’Leary, Darren Lewis, Ron Mahay, Pat Mahomes, Orlando Merced, Kent Mercker, Mike Remlinger, Rey Sanchez, Matt Stairs, Chris Stynes, Julian Tavarez, Jermaine Van Buren, Todd Walker, and Scott Williamson all played for both historically horrible franchises around that time. The swapping worked for the Red Sox. Not so much for the Cubs. The starting third baseman on the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time was one of those guys. Many Cubs fans blamed Dusty Baker for mismanaging Mark Bellhorn and not handing him the starting third base position during the 2003 season. I’m all for blaming Dusty Baker for everything. But I don’t think this one was on him. Bellhorn was awesome for exactly one season. Fortunately, that season happened when he was with the Cubs. Unfortunately, it happened in 2002, when they were absolutely terrible. Nevertheless, Bellhorn’s Cub career was enough to earn him a spot on this team.

Bellhorn was selected in the second round of the 1995 amateur draft by the Oakland Athletics, ahead of Carlos Beltran. The A’s saw a switch hitter with power from both sides of the plate. Which…Carlos Beltran also was, only Beltran was much better in the field. This is the pre-Billy Beane Oakland days, so feel free to continue worshiping him as a deity. In the minors, Bellhorn walked a whole lot, struck out a hell of a lot more, and hit some home runs. He got his first cup of coffee in 1997. On June 10, the A’s were visiting the Detroit Tigers, and Bellhorn started at second base. Bellhorn singled in his first MLB at-bat and ended the day 1-4 with, miraculously, no strikeouts.

Bellhorn’s power didn’t really develop until he was twenty-five years old. That year, he hit 24 home runs in 117 games for the triple-A Sacramento River Cats. The next year, the A’s called up Bellhorn in mid-April to pinch hit and fill in around the infield. He managed to stay in Oakland for nearly the entire year before being sent back down to triple-A at the trade deadline. He kicked ass back down in the minors, hitting 12 home runs in only 43 games.

Suffice it to say, Bellhorn was up and down in four seasons with the A’s. He had only 374 plate appearances and hit .198/.296/.316. But his hot finish in the minors in 2001 was enough for the Cubs to send infielder Adam Morrissey to Oakland for Bellhorn. Were you one of the weirdos who complained about the trade? If so, you’re sad. And Cub prospects are often overrated. So don’t get your hopes up TOO much for the future. Anyhow, the Cubs had Delino DeShields at second base, but…the Cubs had Delino DeShields at second base. Bellhorn was originally brought in to spell DeShields and Bill Mueller at third base, but something happened. He hit. He hit a lot. He hit so much that Don Baylor had no choice but to bench everyone’s favorite second baseman, especially when it became abundantly clear that all Bobby Hill could do effectively was pump blood through his forearms.

Bellhorn responded that year. He hit 27 home runs and drove in 56 RBIs in 529 plate appearances. His line for a terrible 67-95 Cub team was .258/.374/.512. His OPS+ was better than any Cub that year save Sammy Sosa. As an aside, did you ever think you’d be old enough to find a Sammy Sosa reference dated? As a further aside, guess who had the fourth-highest OPS+ on that team behind Sosa, Bellhorn, and Fred McGriff? Angel Echevarria. YOU HAVE WATCHED SOME TERRIBLE CUB TEAMS. Bellhorn may have been the best bang for the buck in the 2002 season, as he made only $224K in salary that year. Also, he and Sammy Sosa almost killed each other.

Many Cub fans expected Bellhorn to repeat his performance in 2003. If you think that might have helped, had Bellhorn not been bad in 2003, the Cubs may never have landed Aramis Ramirez. Would 2002 Bellhorn have been better in the 2003 playoffs than Ramirez? The world will never know, as in June 20, Bellhorn was traded by the Cubs to the Colorado Rockies for Jose Hernandez. He, too, was awful, but he was also part of the Kenny Lofton-Ramirez trade (as was Hill).

The Rockies sent Bellhorn to the Red Sox prior to the 2004 season as part of a conditional deal. The condition was that he had to be fucking awesome in the 2004 playoffs. Bellhorn had a good regular season with the Red Sox, hitting .264/.373/.444 with 17 home runs and 82 RBIs, though he led the league in strikeouts with 177. Again, we’ll never know how Bellhorn would have fared in the 2003 playoffs with the Cubs. HOWEVER. Bellhorn become a goddamn legend in the playoffs with the Red Sox. Here you go.

ALCS GAME 6

ALCS GAME 7

WORLD SERIES GAME 1

Also, I can’t stand the Red Sox, but I love Francona. And MLB umps have sucked for at least 10 years.

Bellhorn regressed again in 2005, and the Red Sox released their hero in August of that year. The New York Yankees signed him 11 days later, because the Yankees truly believe in the “If you can’t beat him, sign him” way of doing business. Bellhorn was unremarkable toward the end of his career, bouncing around in free agency from the Yankees to the San Diego Padres, to the Cincinnati Reds, to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and finally back to the Rockies.

Bellhorn finished his ten-year career with a .230/.341/.394 batting line. In his year and a half with the Cubs, he hit a terrific .247/.366/.466 with 29 home runs, 78 RBIs, and 105 walks. And that’s why he beat out the “also receiving consideration” guys: Luis Salazar, Steve Buechele, Ron Coomer, Cody Ransom, Gary Gaetti, and Vance Law.

So, where is Bellhorn now? Well, he tweeted once in September of 2012. Maybe if you live in the Boston area, you can find him…eating donuts?

Greatest Cub Moment: All of Bellhorn’s 2002 season was pretty record-setting for the Cubs. He hit more home runs in a season (27) than any other Cub switch-hitter, and he was the first player in Cub history to hit a home run at every infield position. But August 29, 2002 was probably his finest hour as a Cub. The were Cubs visiting the Milwaukee Brewers, and were locked in a scoreless game going into the fourth inning. After Alex Gonzalez led off the fourth with a walk, Bellhorn hit a two-run homer from the right side of the plate. Later in the inning, Bellhorn hit a three-run home from the left side in a 10-run Cub explosion. Bellhorn’s five RBIs in the inning tied a team record, and he was the first player in National League history to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in an inning. In fact, he was the last Cub player to homer from both sides of the plate in a game until Dioner Navarro did it against the Chicago White Sox in 2013. Bellhorn finished the day 2-4 with five RBIs, two runs scored, and a walk. That’s a good day.

Worst Moment as a Human: June 30, 2003. Yeesh. The Arizona Diamondbacks were in Colorado to face Bellhorn’s Rockies. Bellhorn went to the plate six times and came away empty each time. In each of his last three at-bats, Bellhorn came up with a 4-4 tie and a runner in scoring position. He flied out all three times, and after getting outscored 4-3 in the 12th inning, the Rockies managed to lose an 8-7 game.

Friday Roundup: The “PLAYING CATCH!” Edition

I thought this team smelled bad on the outside.

I thought this team smelled bad on the outside.

Are you as excited as I am about grown men playing catch in the Arizona sun? It’s a low bar. But pitchers and catchers reporting is the first sign that this winter can’t LITERALLY be endless, right? Soon, there will be baseball games that don’t matter. Then, there will be baseball games that do matter. Then, around May, there will be baseball games that don’t matter again. But, hey, the sun is out today.

Your tips are as appreciated as pretending that Valentine’s Day doesn’t exist.
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Friday Roundup: The “Good Lord, It’s Nearly Spring Training” Edition

2014 Cubs Basketball Fever: CATCH IT!

2014 Cubs Basketball Fever: CATCH IT!

Pitchers and catchers report on February 13th. What does that mean to you? It means nothing. The 2014 Cubs MAY get within 10 games of .500 this year. But I said that last year. Because I’m an idiot. As someone who cut the cable cord last fall, the biggest story of the 2014 season is going to be whether I’m going to be able to watch Cubs games on MLB.tv. If not, I guess I’m going to complete my final metamorphosis into a full-time Twins fan. Or maybe I’m finally going to finish that novel and learn to play guitar. Or maybe I’ll just waste that time looking at memes. Who am I to judge myself?

Your tips are as appreciated as a Sochi shower curtain.

  • It’s really cool the the Cubs have a scheduled doubleheader this year, but leave it to the fucking Cubs to charge two gates for it.
  • Fernando Tatis had a sick Broncos burn until he looked down and realized he was still Fernando Tatis.
  • That’s the bottom line ‘cuz MATT STAIRS SAYS SO.
  • Somebody wants all of Tim Wallach’s baseball cards. (HT: Pre) I’m not entirely sure why, but if I’m Tim Wallach, I’m not walking alone at night past any panel vans.
  • Where are the Bud beer sponsors now? That “Whassssup?” commercial really was pretty funny before everyone started quoting it. /hipster Kermit
  • I really hope they found out when someone farted in a room, and he looked over at the person accusingly. (HT: Pre)
  • Bill Murray is great. Duh.
  • YOUR AWESOME CLIP OF THE WEEK: Apparently, Zombeavers is a real thing.

The Muskbox Asks, “What Does the Shark Say?”

And now, a selected reading from The Impotence of Me and Earnest.

And now, a selected reading from The Impotence of Me and Earnest.

Is Keith Moreland a secret agent? Are the Muskbox submitters a secret sect of low-intelligence sentient life forms? Does anyone remember Josh Vitters? Do people in New Zealand watch the Cubs? All these questions and more will be half-assedly answered in this week’s edition of the Muskbox.

Last year the Cubs gave Scott Baker $5.5 million and now they have reportedly given $6 million plus incentives to Jason Hammel but they’ve offered Jeff Samardzija $4.4 million. That does not compute.

BEEP. BOOP. BOP.
SYSTEM OVERLOAD.
RUN SCRIPT ERROR.
404 NOT FOUND.
I DON’T UNDERSTAND “COMPASSION.”

I understand they are in negotiations over a possible long-term deal and he has yet to prove he’s an ace. But he has to have more upside than Baker or Hammel. What gives? — Billy E., Lake Katrine, N.Y.

I don’t know. I really think Scott Baker is due for a breakout year.

CARRIE: It’s all about comparables, not upside.

I’ve used that exact same line on SO MANY women.

CARRIE: Compare their service time and performance. Baker has eight seasons as a starting pitcher in the big leagues. Samardzija has pitched in the Major Leagues for six seasons but only the last two as a full-time starter. The Cubs and Samardzija’s agent are still discussing a long-term deal. Hopefully, they avoid going to arbitration and reach a compromise between what the Cubs offered ($4.4 million) and what Samardzija is seeking ($6.2 million).

Actually, hopefully the Cubs just pay him what they want to pay him and he accepts. Because why the fuck should I care if Samardzija can buy the biggest house in all of Merrillville and still have $6.1M to spare?

The Cubs appear to have four starters in Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood and Jake Arrieta.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Jake Arrieta is definitely a starter now? TICKET PACKAGES ARE STILL AVAILABLE!!!

Who are they considering as No. 5? I know they have Justin Grimm, Chris Rusin and Carlos Villanueva as possible candidates but do you see them re-signing Baker to a reasonable deal or going elsewhere? Who’s the front-runner for the No. 5 spot? — Dustin R., Kimberly, Wis.

Let’s just say the forecast is…Grimm.

/puts on sunglasses
//YEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!

CARRIE: Baker is not in the mix because he signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners. As for who gets the fifth spot among the names you listed, that’s one of the fun elements of Spring Training.

The other fun elements are the blistering heat, the absolute wasteland that is downtown Mesa, Arizona, and being the first one to get Clark’s signature.

CARRIE: Hammel, who has reportedly signed with the Cubs, pending a physical, also is a candidate.

This sentence, which was written by Carrie Muskat, using an old-timey typewriter, is a mess.

CARRIE: The right-hander was the Orioles’ Opening Day starter but missed time because of a strained right forearm. I know Villanueva would like to start but he’s so valuable as a swingman, he may end up back in the bullpen. I’d pick Rusin as a front-runner. He made a huge leap last season and the Cubs may decide they want another lefty in the rotation.

Get Terry Mulholland on the phone!

I was wondering what the future holds for both Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters.

WHO ISN’T? SOMETIMES I’M AMAZED I CAN GET TO SLEEP AT NIGHT!

Are they in the Cubs’ long-range plans or have they been passed up by the other prospects? — Eric L., Plantation, Fla.

Yes. ALL of the prospects.

CARRIE: Both battled injuries last season and they’ve dropped on the list of top prospects simply because of the lack of playing time.

Also, talent.

CARRIE: “They did not stay on the field long enough, first and foremost,” said Jason McLeod, director of scouting and player development. “We still have belief in both of them, especially a guy like Josh. He was drafted in 2007, and you’ve heard his name so much. You’d probably think he’s 26 years old or 25 years old. This is somebody who is 24. When he was on the field, the performance was pretty good. He was born to hit and he’s always hit. There were other parts of his game that we felt he had to work on.

Vitters’ career OPS+: 7

CARRIE: “With Brett, it’s the same thing,” McLeod said. “He had a tough year, even the year we called him up. … He got injured last year as well. They both took this offseason to regroup, get healthy, and they’ll both be in camp here in a couple weeks.”

Position players report to Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 18.

/checks math
All right, I’ll allow it.

It seems the rooftop owners are going to make things difficult for the Cubs’ remodel of Wrigley Field. At what point do the Cubs owners decide they are in a no-win situation and decide to relocate someplace else and the rooftop owners have a front-row seat to watch Wrigley Field be torn down? — Terry L., Sun City Center, Fla.

Not going to lie, I dig your style, Terry L.

CARRIE: Preserving Wrigley Field has been one of the Ricketts family’s goals since they purchased the Cubs but with the $500 million renovation plan stalled, don’t think leaving hasn’t been mentioned.

Yeah, but eventually everyone shot down Todd’s idea to increase Cub home runs by moving Wrigley Field to the moon.

CARRIE: “How far do you go before you say, ‘You know what? We tried and we tried to make the good effort, but it didn’t work out?'”

Apparently more than 106 years.

CARRIE: Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Saturday during an interview on WSCR-AM. “I won’t speak on behalf of the [Ricketts] family, but I’m sure this is weighing heavily on them because they want to move forward on this.”

Upward, not forward!

When will Jorge Soler be getting the call? He didn’t get an invite to spring camp. Does that mean he won’t be coming up this year? — Nate C., Orion, Ill.

TOM: Todd, did you sent out the invitations to Spring Training?
Todd looks sheepishly at the ground.
TOM: Todd?
TODD: Ruh-roh!
Studio audience laughs.
TOM: Oh, Todd, you’re about as reliable as a George R.R. Martin release date!

Next time on The Big Bang Theory

CARRIE: Soler is on the 40-man roster already, which is why he wasn’t included in the list of non-roster invitees. As to when he gets called up, that’s up to his progress. The outfielder was limited to 55 games last year because of a leg injury. He needs game experience.

And there’s no better place to get it than in Chicago. Unless you’re talking about baseball game experience.

What’s your pick for the starting lineup for Opening Day, including the starting pitcher, relievers and a closer? I’m from New Zealand and after seeing the Cubbies at Wrigley Field last year, I’m a fan. — Tobin D., Wellington, New Zealand

To be fair, he voluntarily lives on an island where 98% of the species can easily kill him.

CARRIE: New manager Rick Renteria has yet to write out a lineup card…

Fucking procrastinator.

CARRIE: …but here’s a guess:

SS Starlin Castro

2B Darwin Barney

1B Anthony Rizzo

LF Junior Lake

RF Nate Schierholtz

C Welington Castillo

3B Luis Valbuena

CF Ryan Sweeney /Justin Ruggiano

P Jeff Samardzija

Jose Veras is projected as the closer. In the bullpen, Hector Rondon and James Russell are the primary setup pitchers.

Second basemen gotta hit second, dude. Even if they’re terrible at hitting.

Why did Keith Moreland leave WGN Radio? I thought I heard him announcing an alumni game for the Longhorn Network. Is that his full-time job now? — Randy B., Asheville, N.C.

Here’s a better question. Why would anyone care? The broadcast got marginally better with his departure.

CARRIE: Moreland wanted to be closer to his family in Texas.

“No one asked us what WE wanted!”
-The Moreland Family

CARRIE: Former Cubs first baseman Ron Coomer will join play-by-play man Pat Hughes on WGN Radio broadcasts this season.

It’s going to be so weird when Pat introduces Ron. We went from “Cub legend, Ron Santo!” To “Former Cub star, Keith Moreland!” To, presumably, “Former Cub backup third baseman, who at least still has all of his limbs and who doesn’t reek of whiskey, Ron Coomer!”

Ticket packages are still available as of this writing.

Friday Roundup: The “Soup Bowl” Edition

I don't understand the excitement.

I don’t understand the excitement.

Happy Super Bowl weekend, humans. If you have plans for the Super Bowl, you’re one step ahead of me. No part of me wants to see Peyton Manning with another Super Bowl, but a large part of me wants Pete Carroll to fall on his stupid smug face. So, go Broncos? Whatever your plans for this weekend, be safe, try to let your significant others actually watch the game if they want to, and try to space out your halftime toilet flushes.

Your tips are as appreciated as bailing on your college football program like an utter pussy just seconds before the NCAA drops the hammer on you.

  • The anti-lights people: The original rooftop dickheads. I’ve got news for you, idiots from the past. If you’re trying to raise a kid around Wrigley Field, you’ve already failed as a parent.
  • Couldn’t the paralyzed kid have asked her to hold up a sign, or something?
  • The Cubs are going to be good some day. ALLEGEDLY.
  • Anna Kendrick is improv class hot and stars in self-aware commercials.
  • The VERY reliable pornwikileaks.com has some revelatory information information about why Ryan Dempster might have gotten divorced. (HT: Ziggy) For those of you who can’t get to sites with “porn” in the title:

    On February 12, 2011, it was reported on the Porn Wiki Leaks Forum that Mariah Milano had fucked a Chicago Cubs pitcher on a 2010 road trip. The poster that reported the incident was a personal friend of the Cubs player and retold the story:
    “A friend of mine who pitches for the cubs fucked this whore last season on a road trip. He said she smoked meth out of a glass tube in front of him, insisted on unprotected sex but he used a condom and fucked her in the ass and 30 seconds in to it he smelled shit and looked down and his entire cock was covered in shit and his balls. He threw up, kicked her out of the hotel and showered for 3 hours straight after. This chick is a nasty meth head street whore of the worst kind. A total dumpster diving tweeker too.”
    When pressed to name the Cubs player, the poster said:
    “his name is Ryan and he’s from Canada.”

  • Wouldn’t it be safer to just paint a stripe on the ground? (HT: level5)
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is, in my opinion, one of the most consistently great webcomics out there. This one is one of my favorites solely for the red-button punchline at the bottom.
  • If you just believe in yourself, you’ll never be tired again. Or something.
  • YOUR AWESOME CLIP OF THE WEEK: Bad Lip Reading is always hilarious. Here’s the Super Bowl edition.

BREAKING: Rooftop Contract Shockingly Not Written in Crayon

The only seats "in" the house worse than Yellon's.

The only seats “in” the house worse than Yellon’s.

Dave Kaplan got his hands on the contract the Cubs signed with the rooftop owners. Dave Kaplan wrote a 2,000+ word essay breaking down the contract. I wrote a million-word fisking of his breakdown of the contract. THE CIRCLLLLLLLE OF LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFE! Thanks to Section 242 for the tip.

With all of the discussion regarding the Wrigley Field renovation plan and the Chicago Cubs’ ongoing battle with the rooftops, one thing has never been publicly discussed — the actual wording of the contract between the Cubs and the rooftops because no one has publicly acknowledged what that contract says.

Some say the contract has never ventured outside of the spooky old house at the top of Old Mill Road. Some say that on a clear night you can hear the screams of a fountain pen signing the contract. These are the stories that made Todd pee himself at Crane’s sleepover last weekend.

In a CSN exclusive I have obtained a copy of the contract, I have had lawyers review the contract and I have the exact wording used in the deal.

Oh, thank goodness some lawyers are reviewing the contract a decade after it was signed. I was a bit worried the Cubs had entered into a really terrible deal that subjected them to the whims of a bunch of freeloading assholes. I SURE HOPE THERE’S AN AMENDMENT CLAUSE!!!

You can make your own judgements about who is in the right, who is in the wrong and who might win a potential litigation…

…but one thing is for sure: This contract — signed in January of 2004 and at the time provided the Chicago Cubs with a new and significant revenue stream — has become a major nightmare for a team looking to jumpstart its business plan.

BOSS: What this plan needs is a kick in the behind, pardon my French. A shot in the arm. A jumpstart. Johnson, what do you have?
JOHNSON: Okay, what if we waive the online fees for buying ticket packages?
BOSS: You mean those bullshit fees we’ve been charging and using to pump into our sentient robot programTM?
JOHNSON: Yessir.
BOSS: Good idea. What else?
JOHNSON: Well, sir, I- No. No, it’s far too stupid.
BOSS: What is it, Johnson? I don’t have time for your wavering.
JOHNSON: What if we have a mascot, sir? You know? To bring the kids in?
BOSS: I like it so far. What are you thinking?
JOHNSON: Well, a cub is a baby bear. And the team name is the Cubs. And kids love teddy bears. And weirdos love people dressed in furry costumes. So, what about a big bear?
BOSS: CAN THE BEAR BE NAKED FROM THE WAIST DOWN?
JOHNSON: I- I guess.
BOSS: CAN THE BEAR WEAR A BACKWARDS HAT TO SIGNIFY THAT HE IS HIPPER THAN OTHER BEARS?
JOHNSON: As long as it’s a Cubs hat, I don’t see why not.
BOSS: CAN WE NAME IT WAVELAND???
JOHNSON: We can. But how about Clark?
BOSS: You’re a goddamn genius, Johnson.

If it ends up in a legal proceeding, I believe the Cubs would win, but it won’t be easy. It will be expensive and there is no sure thing. That’s why I still feel a settlement is the best solution for both sides and I believe one will eventually happen sooner or later.

This is exactly how I advise all of my clients. And then I slap them on the ass and send them to the showers.

Now, I am not a lawyer (although I did get accepted to law school way back when and my late father was a very successful attorney), but my opinion was sealed after talking with multiple attorneys who have reviewed parts of the contract at my request.

Here is the admission process for some law schools:

Q: Do you have access to $100,000?
A: Yes.
Q: Are you willing to give it to us over the course of three years?
A: Yes.
Q: Congratulations!

The agreement, which is dated Jan. 27, 2004 runs until Dec. 31, 2023…

Without even looking at the rest of the agreement, I can already tell you that entering into almost any sort of deal that spans more than five years is a terrible, terrible idea.

…and says a number of very interesting things above and beyond giving the rooftops the right to run their businesses.

“It says here that once a fortnight, the general manager has the power to claim the right of Prima Nocte.”

Among them includes a provision that says that the following:

6.6 The Cubs shall not erect windscreens or other barriers to obstruct the views of the Rooftops, provided however that temporary items such as banners, flags and decorations for special occasions, shall not be considered as having been erected to obstruct views of the Rooftops. Any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation of this agreement, including this section.

The first draft of this section just read, “NO PERMANENT ERECTIONS,” but Andy MacPhail wouldn’t stop giggling.

7.3 From time to time during each season, the Cubs shall authorize WGN-TV or other Cubs broadcasting partners to identify a phone number where fans can call to reserve Rooftop seating.
7.4 The Rooftops shall have the right to inform the public that they are endorsed by the Cubs.

I’ve been angling for a similar endorsement of HJE. “Hire Jim Essian: The only part-time Cubs blog that uses small enough words for Todd to understand.”

7.5 The Cubs Director of Marketing shall meet with the Rooftops before the start of each Major League Baseball season to discuss opportunities for joint marketing.

And every since the agreement was signed, on March 1 of every year, the Cubs Director of Marketing climbs to the top of the scoreboard and shouts obscenities at the buildings across the street.

7.6 The Cubs shall include a discussion about the Rooftops on their tour of Wrigley Field and shall include stories positive about the Rooftops in The Vine Line.

“And just over the bleachers on both sides of the park, the fuckwads who keep selfishly hamstringing the front office’s efforts to construct a championship team can be found. And that concludes our tour. Please take your complementary dozen eggs and six rolls of toilet paper, and enjoy the rest of your day in Chicago!”

7.7 Each of the Rooftops may display broadcasts of Cubs games to patrons at its facility, including displaying such broadcasts on multiple television sets, without any infringement of any copyright owned by the Cubs or its assignees.

The fact that the Rooftops were showing the game broadcasts on multiple televisions became an issue and one of the things that spurred both sides to agree on this deal back in 2004.

Seems like the Cubs could have just cease-and-desisted them instead of jumping into bed with them, handing them a strap-on, presenting, and biting into a pillow.

Now, looking at some of the above clauses in the contract, we find some very interesting things.

“What’s this picture of Andy MacPhail putting nipple clamps on Dusty Baker doing in here?”

First, it appears to me that the Cubs were giving the rooftops an avenue to run their businesses in exchange for a significant amount of revenue, which was a new stream for the franchise.

You mean like a WAVELAND Avenue, right?

/high five

Section 6.6, the main point of contention between the two sides, can be interpreted in different ways.

THAT’S SOME GOOD CONTRACT DRAFTIN’!!!

I spoke with a noted attorney…

/looks over at phone
//SILENCE

…who reviewed the entire agreement for me.

It’s going to be hilarious when an $8,000 invoice shows up at the CSN offices.

Here is what he said about this section of the contract:

“The last line of 6.6 is the one that an arbitrator might have to decide,” he told me. “And let’s be clear that unless both sides agree, the contract does not provide an avenue for a lawsuit in the typical sense of the word. Instead, it sends both parties before an arbitration panel. The arbitration process will keep everything in the litigation confidential, as opposed to a federal lawsuit, which becomes part of the public record.

What a dickhead way to say there’s an arbitration clause.

“Now, in looking at 6.6, the question that will have to be decided is whether or not the word ‘expansion’ will apply to a sign or Jumbotron. Looking at the wording of the contract, any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation of this agreement, including this section. Is a sign in right field or a Jumbotron in left field an expansion of Wrigley Field? Or is an expansion of Wrigley Field something that would have to include seating or making the ballpark bigger? This is no slam dunk win for the Cubs, although I think they would ultimately prevail, but I would say the same about the rooftops.”

What a fucking lawyer. “Depending on who’s writing the check, am I right, Davy boy???”

/drinks scotch
//fucks secretary
///threatens her with termination

Now, with the Cubs looking to expand the outfield walls, the case can clearly be made that the project is an expansion of the ballpark rather than just putting in a Jumbotron and an outfield sign. Will an arbitration panel see it that way? That remains to be seen, but by building out the walls, the Cubs have clearly made a case that by the terms of the contract, they can proceed with their renovation plans with governmental approval.

What the arbitration panel will see, is hard to define.

Other observations that I have after reading and re-reading the entire contract multiple times includes the amount of promotional exposure the Cubs are supposed to provide the rooftops.

The first time, he read it out loud. By the third time, his lips were only moving slightly.

Consider that for a moment.

The very people that you are battling against so fervently are the same people that you are supposed to promote when the season begins? That is unbelievable.

And that is SO Kap.

Sources have confirmed to me that those marketing meetings have not been taking place for the past several years and that there is no joint marketing going on between the two sides.

Contract: VOIDED. I just saved you hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, Theo. YOU’RE WELCOME. Now please fire Crane.

Another very important part of the contract is Section 6.2 which could be an integral part of any potential litigation:

This is just how I like to read my contracts: out-of-order and only partially revealed.

6.2 If the Cubs expand the Wrigley Field bleacher seating and such expansion so impairs the view from any rooftop into Wrigley Field such that the Rooftop’s business is no longer viable even if it were to increase its available seating to the maximum height permitted by law, and if such bleacher expansion is completed within eight years from the Effective Date (1/27/2004), then if such Rooftop elects to cease operations before the beginning of the next baseball season following completion of such expansion, the Cubs shall reimburse that Rooftop for 50% of the royalties paid by that Rooftop to the Cubs during the time between the Effective Date and the date of expansion of the Wrigley Field bleachers. The Cubs shall pay such reimbursement to the Rooftop within 30 days of receiving notice from the Rooftop it is no longer viable and has ceased operations. Any Rooftop receiving payment from the Cubs pursuant to this provision shall cease operations for the remainder of the term and shall not seek or accept any compensation or benefit related to activity on a Rooftop on a day of a game.

Holy shit, that’s a horrible clause. If the Cubs had expanded the bleachers during that time frame and blocked the view, they would have essentially had to buy out the rooftop owners? Was Crane Kenney not aware that the 17% of revenue the Cubs were making off the fucking rooftop owners could have EASILY been made up by adding bleacher seats inside the park that they actually owned and controlled? And they wouldn’t be dealing with this miserable contract for the next ten years?

Also, this clause is terribly written. If the Cubs expand the bleachers next year, the expansion wasn’t completed within eight years from the effective date. Does that mean they don’t owe the rooftop owners a dime? The way this clause reads, I think that’s an easy argument to make.

The legal opinions on this clause look at the eight-year period that the Cubs are liable for potentially having to refund royalties and believe the Cubs could possibly win on an arbitrator’s opinion of this section of the contract. Are the Cubs only liable for damages during the eight-year period that the agreement states? Or are they liable for the entire 20 years of the contract? It certainly seems that the Cubs have a solid chance to have an arbitration panel agree with them that the eight-year period (which expired on Jan. 27, 2012) was the only time in the contract that the Chicago Cubs were on the hook for a financial penalty or a return of royalties.

I don’t see how there’s any other way to read that clause. The idiots were guaranteed revenue from this horrible deal for the first eight years of that contract. That time period expired. Fuck ’em. If they want to sue over it, I’m sure they can pay the legal fees from all the money they made freeloading off the Cubs’ product for decades before.

Finally, to wrap up everything that we have discussed and analyzed in this agreement, I turned back to one of the attorneys who I had review the contract and here is what he said:

“Please stop calling me until you remit payment for my invoice dated January 15, 2014.”

/smokes cigar in conference room
//hands new associate a file up in front of Judge Flanagan

“I can see this case from both sides of the argument. The Rooftops feel they signed a contract to run their businesses without having their views obstructed in any way for a period of 20 years from Jan. 27, 2004 through Dec. 31, 2023 and that they have paid the Chicago Cubs a significant amount of money for that right.

Then either they or their lawyers are fucking idiots. Maybe both?

Now, they feel the Cubs want to violate that contract because a significant renovation to the entire Wrigley Field campus threatens to impede their views and their ability to earn a living.

Without seeing the rest of the contract, there is absolutely no argument here in favor of the rooftop owners other than, “THAT’S UNFAIR BECAUSE WE DIDN’T READ OR DRAFT THE CONTRACT CAREFULLY!” Good luck in arbitration, dummies.

“From the Cubs perspective, they believe that they have lived up to the contract and that the written agreement says that with governmental approval, any expansion of Wrigley Field shall NOT be a violation of this agreement. The Cubs also believe the eight-year period for returning royalties has expired, which means there is no avenue for damages. The Rooftops would proceed at their own risk, so to speak. The Cubs also have been careful to phrase everything that they have done to the park over the past several years as an expansion rather than as a renovation or remodeling of the park and the surrounding area.

Good. Because that’s the correct legal argument. Based on the face of the contract. Which, though terribly-written, can really only be interpreted one way.

“So, if the case goes to court and ends up in front of an arbitration panel, it could and most likely will hinge on the interpretation of the word ‘expansion.’ Is adding a Jumbotron, another outfield sign and moving the walls to limit the blockage to the Rooftops an expansion or is it simply a phrase being used to try to allow a Jumbotron and more outfield signage? This one could be tied up in court for a while and I think it is probably going to go the Cubs’ way, but it is not a slam dunk. The fact though, that City Hall and Mayor Emanuel wants this to happen and that the Cubs will be bringing more jobs and more taxes into the City of Chicago (which desperately needs the revenue) leads me to believe both sides will be highly motivated and encouraged to settle this before it gets caught up in a lengthy court case that will cost millions of dollars for both sides in legal fees and will keep the Cubs from starting their renovation project. And, just to be clear, I understand why the Cubs don’t want to start parts of the project without total approval. Should they begin digging and the case drags on, they will have no leverage at all to reach a settlement.”

It could also hinge on the definitions of “barrier” and “windscreen.” The only thing a scoreboard showing Darwin Barney’s batting average serves as a barrier to is him getting a new contract.

Finally, in doing significant research on this dispute, I was able to read the following public document which is the result of a City Council of Chicago meeting and subsequent vote on July 24, 2013 which passed 49-0 by the Chicago City Council:

“Specifically, but without limitation, Applicant shall have the right to expand the Wrigley Field bleachers to install (i) a new video board in left field, which may include an LED sign, a neon illuminated sign above it and two light towers to assist in outfield lighting; and (ii) a neon sign in right field, which signage has been approved by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and, in addition to being part of the bleacher expansion, and along with all other signage contemplated by this Planned Development, is integral to the expansion and renovation of Wrigley Field and the development and redevelopment of the Property as contemplated herein.”

I could totally be missing something, as I don’t pay as much attention to Wrigley renovations as some people, but could this just be papering the trail for the modifications that already happened? Especially considering it passed unanimously?

Thus, the argument can be made that the City of Chicago has granted the Cubs a permit to expand the bleachers, to add signage, lights, etc. and they have called it an expansion. Further, the economic protection period of eight years has lapsed.

“I rest my case.”

/mic drop
//trips over swinging door leaving courtroom

“Mr. Kaplan, court is still in session!”

The Cubs’ position in the rooftop agreement appears to be as follows: The Rooftops pay the Cubs 17 percent for 20 years with no guarantees their views won’t change. The Cubs feel they offered economic protection for the first eight years, which lapsed Jan. 27, 2012. The Rooftops depended on the City never approving a change to the landmark ordinance or approval of a subsequent bleacher expansion. Both of those approvals came in July 2013.

Again, I go back to the lawyer that I had review the contract and this City Council document:

“After looking at the wording that the Cubs have used consistently and that the City Council of Chicago also used and approved by a 49-0 vote, I believe it strengthens the Cubs’ position against the Rooftops in a potential lawsuit,” he added. “Again, no one can predict what an arbitration panel could decide, but it certainly seems the Cubs have done all they could do to demonstrate and prove that the entirety of the project — which includes a Jumbotron and signage — is indeed an expansion. If that is what it is and it ends up in front of an arbitration panel and they agree, then that will remove the roadblock standing in the way of the entire Wrigley renovation project.”

ESQUIRED, MOTHER FUCKERS!!!

The Muskbox Yearns for More Steals; WE MISS YOU, JUAN PIERRE!!!

"His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel... or something." THAT'S AN ACTUAL LINE FROM 50 SHADES OF GREY.

“His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel… or something.”
THAT’S AN ACTUAL LINE FROM 50 SHADES OF GREY.

The Muskbox is here to solve all of the Cubs’ third-base problems… or something. What that solution is, is hard to define. But if there’s one thing our resident librarian knows how to do, it’s define words. And phrases. And idioms. And shush people. And hand out detentions. And stamp books. And keep Ed Hartig fed and watered.

But most importantly, bringing your stupid questions to the world.

With Mike Olt and Kris Bryant coming up, the future at third base looks bright for the Cubs.

With TWO third basemen playing at once, we’ll be unstoppable! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

In the immediate future, though, wouldn’t it be smart to sign a veteran like Michael Young to mentor the younger players and to provide stability at third while Olt and Bryant develop? Young seems like he would be a good fit for the Cubs. Any chance of that happening?
— Joel A., Florence, Ala.

“The future looks bright at third base. Can we please sign someone for insurance when our bright future at third base turns out to be a dull turd?”

CARRIE: Not likely, and not necessary. First, there are reports that Young is considering retirement.

“Wait, playing for the Cubs isn’t a form of retirement?”
-Fred McGriff

CARRIE: Second, if the Cubs did sign Young, he’d only be mentoring the young players for a few weeks in Spring Training, not during the season. The Cubs want the kids to play, not watch from the bench. Also, you forgot Luis Valbuena, who could be the Opening Day starter.

Remember, Cubs fans, Opening Day tickets are still somehow available!

CARRIE: That said, Olt is the player to watch this spring. During the Cubs Convention, director of player development and scouting Jason McLeod…

…whose business cards are fucking HUGE…

CARRIE: …reminded fans that Olt was untouchable when the team tried to acquire the third baseman from the Rangers in 2012 in the Ryan Dempster trade. Olt’s vision problems appear to have been resolved, and the Cubs will have a good idea of where he is once he faces live pitching in Mesa, Ariz.

The smart money is on, “In Mesa, Arizona.”

CARRIE: Position players report Feb. 18, but Olt has already been working out at the team’s new facility. Olt, 25, took part in the Cubs’ rookie development camp earlier this month.

BE ASSIMILATED OR BE DESTROYED.

CARRIE: “I don’t have anything I feel I have to prove,” he said.

…batting .152 with zero MLB home runs.

CARRIE: “I know I put in a lot of hard work. I think last year was good for me to deal with a lot of adversity to make me a better player. I know I’m going to get better.”

Bryant, who played at high Class A Daytona last season, most likely will open 2014 at Double-A Tennessee.

Now that Carrie has made predictions, is it safe to say that Bryant will be the starter, the Cubs will sign Young to back him up, Olt is completely blind, and Valbuena is going to be traded for a Motorola Razr?

What role can we expect Justin Ruggiano to fill this season with the Cubs? Is he the everyday center fielder or will he platoon with Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz?
— Matthew W., St. Peters, Mo.

When was the last time the Cub outfield wasn’t at least partially terrible? The end of the 2003 season? Someone get me Ed Hartig on the phone.

CARRIE: Ruggiano, acquired from the Marlins on Dec. 12 for Brian Bogusevic, has played mostly center and left, but he will likely platoon in right with Schierholtz and share center with Junior Lake and Sweeney. We’ll find out more about how manager Rick Renteria wants to use his outfielders this spring. The reason for the platoon is the players’ splits: Last season, Ruggiano batted .248 against lefties, compared to .210 vs. right-handers, while Schierholtz batted .170 vs. lefties and .262 against right-handers. Sweeney, limited to 70 games because of an injury, batted .313 against lefties and .250 vs. right-handers.

The parenthetical interruptor, a longtime staple of the Muskbox, conveys additional information at the expense of a sentence that flows naturally.

Is there any chance the Cubs might have more speed on the bases? They need more stolen bases.
— Bruce L., Fountain Hills, Ariz.

Are there ANY Cubs fans left in the actual state of Illinois?

Also, they absolutely don’t need that. The Cardinals were 29th in the league in steals last year. You’re stupid.

CARRIE: Looking at the current roster, Lake is one player who could steal more, but that’s about it. He swiped 38 bases in 2011, 21 in 2012, and 14 last year in the Minor Leagues. I’d rather see the Cubs be smart on the bases, not necessarily fast.

They’re traditionally pretty good at neither.

CARRIE: Just a note: the Cubs ranked 13th in the National League in stolen bases with 63 last season. The Cardinals, who reached the World Series, were last in the NL with 45.

Dammit, don’t steal my thunder.

What does the future hold for Darwin Barney and the Cubs?

I don’t want to be depressing, but death, inevitably.

There are rumors that Javier Baez may snag the second base spot or Barney may get a larger offer to stay with the Cubs. Personally, Barney is my favorite player and I would hate to see him go.
— Mike A., Kenosha, Wis.

Wow. You need higher standards.

CARRIE: Barney, who batted .208 last season, is the starting second baseman for now.

HE’S STANDING AT WRIGLEY FIELD RIGHT NOW TAKING GROUNDERS!

CARRIE: He has started working with new hitting coach Bill Mueller.

“Uhh, maybe you’re actually a switch hitter?”
-Bill Mueller

CARRIE: The Cubs have limited options, including Valbuena, who played second in Venezuela this winter. The Cubs want Baez to continue to play short, and he’ll open the season at Triple-A Iowa. You may see him at third and second this spring, depending on what Renteria and the Cubs’ staff decide.

Since the Cubs already added a mascot and do all sorts of stupid stuff at Wrigley, can we add manager walkup music when the deliver the lineup cards? I’m hearing an organ rendition of Sublime’s “Santeria” as Rick struts out to home plate.

Of the Cubs’ big four hitting prospects, Jorge Soler seems to be the one with the most mystery attached. He has been ranked as high as No. 32 on prospect lists I’ve seen.

Yes, his apartment is wallpapered with prospect lists. And he’s wearing lipstick. And he’s standing behind you RIGHT NOW.

I know he battled injuries a bit. What is an update on his progress and projection? How early can we expect to see him at Wrigley Field?
— Tim B., Chicago

“Depends on whether he avoided the virtual waiting room and preordered 6, 9, or 12-ticket packages last week!”
-Tom Ricketts

CARRIE: Soler, limited to 55 games last season because of a stress fracture in his left tibia…

Man, she’s absolutely KILLING IT on the parentheticals today.

CARRIE: …says he’s 100 percent healthy and his leg has healed. He did play in the Arizona Fall League, but the Cubs told him to take it easy to avoid re-aggravating the injury. He was in Chicago during the rookie development camp and looks ready to go.

ONE OF US. ONE OF US. ONE OF US. ONE OF US.

CARRIE: Soler was recently ranked No. 49 on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects , and he has dropped because of the limited playing time. When will he get to Wrigley Field? That’s up to him.

And the front office, of course. And I think Clark has some input.

What is going on with the Wrigley Field renovations? Living out of state because of work, I’m unable to follow. Has any work been done?
— David Q., Bourbonnais, Ill.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. We don’t need your whole life story, chief. We just need to know that you really need a hobby.

CARRIE: The renovations have not begun, just maintenance work.

TOM RICKETTS: Todd, did you sign that contractor’s agreement for the renovations?
TODD RICKETTS: (smacks forehead) D’oh!

CARRIE: However, the Cubs have applied for a permit for the see-through sign proposed for right field, despite opposition from rooftop owners. At the Cubs Convention, president of business operations Crane Kenney did say the $500 million, five-year renovation plan could be completed in four years once they decide to proceed. The delay is because of the threat of legal action by the rooftop owners.

Thanks to Section 242, I’m going to have some shit to say about the rooftop owners, so I’ll leave that for another day. But you know what’s obnoxious? That some litigators are absolutely champing at the bit to represent these morons.

Friday Roundup: The “Is That a Ticket Package in Your Pocket or Are You Just a Drunken Billy Joel?” Edition

Slo-mo beatboxing GIF via flulaborg.com/

Slo-mo beatboxing GIF via flulaborg.com/

Brace yourselves for a shitload of videos this week. Sorry in advance to you office chumps. Most of these are worth getting fired over. Some pretty awesome things have happened on the internet in the past week. Here are all of them. Oh, and the Cubs did some things. Or didn’t do some things. Oh, and ticket packages are on sale this afternoon. And tickets to see Billy Joel at Wrigley Field go on sale tomorrow. SO MANY THINGS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH CHAMPIONSHIP BASEBALL ARE HAPPENING AT WRIGLEY FIELD!!!

Your tips are as appreciated as the raging exciteboner Cubs fans have right now.

  • Greg Maddux just keeps getting awesomer. And I’m totally going to photoshop a Cubs logo on that hat, anyhow.
  • Oh no! The Cubs are going to lose the Peoria vote!
  • Oh, rooftop owners. Die in a fire. (HT: Tina)
  • Movie quotes as charts.
  • Breaking Golden. That headline makes no sense, but somewhere some asshole is wearing a “Keep Calm and Use the Force” t-shirt, so fuck you.
  • I’m glad Bill Murray is immortal, because I’d cry my eyes out if he ever died.
  • Wait, people don’t realize The Big Bang Theory is actually terrible? THEY DON’T WRITE JOKES, PEOPLE.
  • Because you’re being a pussy, bro.
  • How is it possible that the Terminator and Dutch keeps getting MORE awesome?
  • I’m a sucker for 8-bit video game remakes of movies I love.

    Here’s The Big Lebowski.
  • You gotta admire this guy’s dedication to an arguably-terrible idea.
  • YOUR AWESOME MOVIE CLIP OF THE WEEK: The first fight scene from Fight Club minus Tyler Durden is awesome and disturbing.

    Fight Club minus Tyler Durden from Richard Trammell on Vimeo.