I’m glad that the offseason being extended indefinitely has not likewise given rise to Cubs trade rumors. All winter long the talk was that Theo Epstein wanted to break up the team’s core, and numerous rumors linked stars Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras to various teams. Both players stayed put, thankfully, and you had to really dig to unearth even a whisper that the Cubs were looking to move players and/or salary once Cactus League games started.
I’m not sure if baseball’s hiatus will change the luxury tax threshold, but I find it difficult to believe penalties for going over the CBT cap are going to result in any kind of a financial tax on teams who are likely to lose significant revenues due to a shortened schedule. That would help the Cubs, who remain over the $208 million limit, but could come back to bite the asses of the Red Sox, who moved Mookie Betts and David Price to get under.
I’m certain baseball is going to do everything in its power to spin positivity once life returns to normal. That may include attempts to bury any of its ongoing scandals and potential rule changes beneath what will surely be a grand welcome once the all-clear is given for the game resume. The nation will be looking for a reawakening of sorts after this forced hibernation. In that light, I’m sure Rob Manfred has his PR team ready to spin uplifting messages to massage fans back to the reality that large social gatherings in stadiums will be safe and healthy experiences. Negative hits to the sport’s facade are likely to be as censored as wartime news during the Viet Nam conflict.
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) February 7, 2019
For most of us, that will suffice. A return to normalcy seems almost like a pipe dream at this point, and the 2020 baseball season seems to be slipping further away with each day that the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic. In that respect, I’m glad Epstein decided to keep the core together to see if there is any magic left in this team. I wouldn’t mind seeing a repeat of 2016 once this extended break has ended.
Apropos of Nothing
Can’t wait until these kids enter the job market. Feeling woke, am I right?
“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I'm not gonna let it stop me from partying”: Spring breakers are still flocking to Miami, despite coronavirus warnings. https://t.co/KoYKI8zNDH pic.twitter.com/rfPfea1LrC
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 18, 2020
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs need Contreras to remain healthy if they have any hope of contending this year.
- Brandon Morrow expects baseball in 2020, and plans to use the delay to start the season to his benefit.
- David Bote called the coronavirus pandemic a “wake up call.”
- Now is not the time to write off veteran lefty Jon Lester.
- Your Statcast Play of the Day: David Ross with a fancy pickoff in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS.
- Today’s featured former Cubs player of the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer era is Munenori Kawasaki. The utility infielder signed with the Cubs on three separate occasions starting January 21, 2016 and became sort of a team mascot during the championship season.
- Kiley McDaniel, formerly of FanGraphs and currently working for ESPN, recently dropped his 2020 Cubs prospect list and it includes a couple of nice surprises.
Odds & Sods
Four Republican Senators have now been implicated in this coronavirus insider trading scandal.
1. Richard Burr (NC)
2. Jim Inhofe (OK)
3. Ron Johnson (WI)
4. Kelly Loeffler (GA)https://t.co/pHcbRYEDr4
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) March 20, 2020
MLB News & Notes
Let’s hope MLB scheduling options will be needed soon.
MLB may be forced to bring the scheduled doubleheader back to make up some of the lost games. I loved the idea of the two-game stack when I was a kid, until I finally attended one. That’s a long, long day.
The league has called off two international series scheduled to be played in late April.
MLB announced interim financial support for all minor league players affected by the mandatory delay to start the season. Each player who is under a Minor League Uniform Player Contract will receive a lump sum equal to the allowances that would have been paid through April 8. The exceptions to this plan are non-40-man-roster players who are already receiving Major League allowances; players who are currently receiving housing, food or other services from Clubs; and players who were not participating in, or expected to participate in, Minor League Spring Training.
Despite the financial relief, most minor league players have sought temporary part-time jobs to get them through the crisis.
The Padres hope to host team workouts at Petco Park starting next week.
The A’s have offered Justin Wilhite the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the team’s first home game once baseball resumes. Wilhite is a rabid fan who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and has chronicled his battle on Twitter. “He’s got his A’s hat and beanie in all the videos and pictures,” Oakland president David Kaval said Wednesday afternoon on A’s Cast, the club’s 24/7 audio streaming station on TuneIn. “When I saw him, the first thing I thought was, ‘We have to do something for this guy.’”
This is really, really cool.
— RyanDempster (@Dempster46) March 19, 2020
They Said It
- “I’m good right now. I feel better. Obviously, the extra time is good for me to get healthy. And then there’s lots of rumors floating around about how the season will shake out. I think that benefits me, as well. Less games, more pressure to win. I don’t know what they’re going to do about salaries, but mine’s down anyway. So it’s easier to keep somebody like that around, I think. And if they expand rosters maybe, that would be another thing.” – Brandon Morrow
- “Sign stealing is a well-respected art in the game of baseball today.” – Jack Brickhouse, during the MLB rebroadcast of the Cubs 23-22 loss to the Phillies on May 17, 1979
Friday Walk Up Song
Tonight’s the Night by Rod Stewart
What went wrong? Is there anything more cringe-inducing than the lyric “Don’t say a word my virgin child, just let your inhibitions run wild?” Holy Jerry Lee Lewis! If that’s not enough, try not needing a full sanitizing scrub after watching the accompanying video. In it, Stewart woos a young woman and leads her up to his bedroom before she says in translated French, “I’m a little scared. What is my mother going to say?”
How does it play today? It’s funny (in an icky sort of way) hearing boomers sing along when the song comes on at the local Wal-Mart. Many of you born in 1978 and ’79 are here today because of this song. Enjoy discussing that with your therapist.