The Rundown: Maddon Brings Circus to Mesa, Bryant & Rizzo Mic’d Up, Bauer Purposely Tips Pitches

“Accept whatever happens to you, and be patient in humiliating vicissitudes.” – Ben Sira

It’s always awkward when you are out with a new significant other and you run into somebody who used to hold a similarly special place in your heart. It further complicates matters if the current betrothed happens to be friends with the ex. Such was the state of affairs when the Cubs, under new manager David Ross, played the Angels yesterday and bumped in to Anaheim’s new skipper, Joe Maddon.

I figured Maddon would wax poetic with an idiom or two, and that he would make some kind of passive-aggressive comment about his former bosses and the organization that employed him during the previous five seasons. He took the latter of the two options.

First, Maddon talked about the decision to bat Kris Bryant leadoff.

“We always talked about it,” Maddon said. “It’s interesting, based on his skill set. Just like Schwarber, although less strikeouts at that particular time than what Kyle went through. It’s similar with the high on-base percentage, a chance to put the first pitch in the stands. Anthony [Rizzo] might be the best leadoff hitter I’ve ever had because he did put the ball in the stands often.”

Just asking, Joe, but why not leave Rizzo in the one-hole all season then?

Later, the ex-Cubs skipper talked about Maddon’s Post, the ill-fated restaurant he opened in Wrigleyville that was shut down about nine months after its grand opening.

“I would put Maddon’s Post downtown,” he said. “That’s my biggest regret, that we chose to put it where we did. I think that restaurant in the proper setting [downtown Michigan Ave.] would have killed it. And we’d still be killing it. We were warned about it, but we screwed that up.”

Maybe it’s because I wake up just as the bars are closing to provide this daily content and lack of sleep makes me a little truculent when it comes to Maddon, but I wish he’d just go away. His time has come and gone, and if I am being forthright (and just a little edgy I suppose), I’ve reached the point where I have no problem saying the Cubs won the 2016 World Series in spite of their ex-manager, rather than because of him. Ross, Rizzo, and Jason Heyward deserve as much credit as anybody for leading that team.

For a guy who couldn’t manage a bullpen if his life depended on it, Maddon sure talks and acts the part of a modern day John McGraw.

My father used to say that men who isolate themselves carry selfish hearts. I’m sure that’s a proverb he picked up in Catholic church and modified to fit into real-world conversation, but there is some truth to it. If anything, Maddon has never turned down any opportunity to self-promote no matter how tiny the opening, and yesterday was no exception.

When Papa Joe was new to Chicago, that type of evangelism was refreshing. After five years, he sounds a lot more like P.T. Barnum. Where Joe goes, the circus follows. Thankfully his new gig landed him in the American League.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

I have no idea how one comes up with such an analogy. PS – the “Fergie” referenced here isn’t former Cubs great Fergie Jenkins, but probably the female ex-lead of the Black-Eyed Peas, given the context.

MLB Spring Training Notes

David Price debuted with the Dodgers yesterday, giving up two runs to the Reds in 1.1 innings while taking the loss. He has no ill will toward the Red Sox, who traded him to Los Angeles last month. “I don’t need any extra motivation,” the starter said. “Any day I get to put on this uniform or any other uniform, that’s motivation enough for me.”

Cincinnati starter Trevor Bauer used his glove to signal to Dodgers batter and first baseman Matt Beaty what to expect for the next pitch, in order to eliminate any chance of sign stealing. Bauer intends to signal batters all season according to infielder Derek Dietrich. “He’s gonna start telling the batters what’s coming,” Dietrich said. “And that way there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about what’s going on. Just here it comes, try to hit it. … Trevor’s always gonna do something nuts, and we enjoy him. So it’s pretty cool.”

From what I can tell, ESPN’s Jeff Passan interviewed himself about cheating in baseball. It’s a decent, albeit awkward, read. He does expound on the fact that pitchers have used pine tar to improve spin rate, something Bauer has been saying for two years.

The Rockies have instituted a daily yoga regimen to get their players ready for the season.

Félix Hernández has the early lead to secure the role of No. 5 starter for the Braves.

Angels outfielder and WAR-god Mike Trout can tattoo a golf ball just as well as he launches a baseball.

Extra Innings

I can’t even.

They Said It

  • “We would not have won without [Kris Bryant] being there either. At the end of the day, it does take that entire group. It was a special group. It started in ’15 and how we came together regarding a method of play. Last year we maybe got off the rails a little bit. But you don’t win 95-plus wins annually without having a really good method in place and really good players.” – Joe Maddon
  • “The theme [in this clubhouse] is professionalism. I’m not going to tell them exactly what it looks like, but look professional. If you don’t know what it looks like, ask a veteran. They’ll let you know.” – David Ross
  • “I like [Maddon’s] leadership style, I like his personality more … and we both hate analytics.” – Charles Barkley

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Wish I Had a Girl by Henry Lee Summer

  • What went wrong? True fact: in the late 1980’s sexual harassment wasn’t the disgusting, misogynistic annoyance that it is today as long as you had a baptist choir backing you in your efforts. In fact, it was an acceptable way to pick up….wait, I’m being prompted by my editor here, and sorry, it really was as off-putting back then as this video indicates.
  • How does it play today? Acid washed jeans, bad haircuts, inappropriate touching, labeling women as “modern day jezebels,” so much denim… I could go on and on. Social media would have massacred Summer if he released this video today.
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