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Monday Morning Cubbin' Down
Tom speaks and says mostly nothing, Adbert speaks and gets shut up
There are way too many podcasts in general and way too many Cubs podcasts in particular. The only one you really need (oh, that’s so sad) is the Pointless Exercise podcast, but if you want a second one, you could do a lot worse than Open Concessions with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. It’s everything you would expect it to be. Len and JD are an easy listen no matter what they’re talking about, and so far they’ve had really engaging conversations with people like Jon Lester, Bob Odenkirk and Billy Williams. They even made a conversation with Kerry Wood interesting, which, is no small feat. Last week’s podcast was with Tom Ricketts, and well, hey, they can’t all be winners.
Tom was not quite in full folksy, stuttering mode, but he was clearly in his element. He was, in effect, chatting with two of his subordinates, so he knew the questioning wouldn’t get too tough.
The irony was lost on him when he was bragging that MLB is working with infectious disease researchers at the University of Nebraska, even when his brother Pete, who just happens to be that governor, is busily threatening local governments they won’t get federal money if they make people wear masks.
He told a long, tortured story about trading a Paul Splittorff card to a Royals fan friend when he was a kid for a Bill Buckner card. Only to have the kid immediately regret it and demand a take back. Tom said in the real world there are no trade take backs, but he sometimes wishes there was. Hey Tom, Jose Quintana is STANDING RIGHT OVER THERE. Take it easy.
These would be the cards in question:
That’s the famous Bill Buckner mono-brow card. It’s apparently worth $125 in mint condition. The Splittorff card will get you six bucks if you throw in a 12 pack of Old Style.
They pretty much skipped over the fantastical tale that Tom met his wife in the Wrigley Field bleachers. That ludicrous story was clearly cooked up when the Ricketts were jockeying with interim MLB commissioner for life Bud Selig during the sale. It’s just the kind of folksy horse shit that Bud would eat up. They also bought 1979 El Camino with 212,000 “mostly highway” miles from Bud.
They were going to claim that Todd met his wife in the bleachers, but he’d been telling the story of how they met at a seminar on how to avoid paying taxes on homes and cigarettes for many years.
Ricketts said he greatly admired corporate raider Sam Zell (I’m not sure if that’s more disturbing it it’s actually true), took his obligatory jabs at Rahm Emanuel and Tom Tunney and said that when he first went to his dad to see if he’d buy the Cubs for the kids, Joe told him it was a terrible idea.
But none of those were my two favorite parts of the interview.
Tom talked about the early days after the sale finally went through and how he urged the family to give this Crane Kenney guy a shot. We know from the hacked Ricketts family emails that for some unknown reason Crane was guaranteed a job as part of the terms of the sale. Tom went on to say that he feels that with Theo Epstein and Crane, the Cubs have the two best guys in the league. Theo should sue for slander for being lumped in with Thurston Howell the Turd.
Tom talked about the renovations and said that at some point he told the “guys” (it sounded at first like the “guys” were architects, but clearly it was just the ticket “guys”) that they should do whatever it takes to keep the bleachers full of fans, because it’s such a unique thing to have a huge part of the ballpark be general admission seating and it would look bad on TV if they weren’t always full. I guess the “guys” decided that by keeping the bleachers the most overpriced seat in all of professional sports it would ensure they remain at full capacity. And, it’s worked.
There was, not surprisingly, little Marquee Sports Network talk. He did say that the fans-less games would mean Marquee wouldn’t be able to do the unique cut-aways between pitches to scenes around the park, that have been a huge part of every Wrigley Field broadcast for decades. He was referring to, of course, the Arne Harris “pretty girls with big cans” shots. My prediction is that by the third home game of the season they’ll have cardboard cutouts of those very things placed behind the home and visitor’s dugouts.
The best I can say about the Ricketts podcast is that at least Jeff Garlin wasn’t in it.
The Cubs have actual games scheduled for next week. It all starts on Sunday with a televised, afternoon exhibition against the White Sox at Wrigley. Oh, wait. No, it’s a 7:05 p.m. start for some unknown reason. On a Sunday? It will be on Marquee for all nine of us who can get it, but at least for the Sunday and Monday games with the Sox you can watch them on NBC Sports Chicago. The Cubs play the Twins on Wednesday and you’re shit out of luck for that one.
Oh, and the Sox are going to stream and televise their intersquad scrimmages this week. You know, it’s too bad the Cubs don’t have a 24 hour network or a dedicated website with nothing to show that they could use for stuff like this.
Speaking of the Sox, what was Don Cooper trying to accomplish by bringing up Michael Kopech’s past issues with depression and anxiety and saying “I sure hope he’s OK,”?
I know that with athletes we get really used to daily updates on their injuries and illnesses (which will only increase as leagues formalize relations with sports bettors), but there still are things that are none of our damned business, and this is one of them.
Kopech opted out of the season, which was his right, and we don’t need to know why, and we sure don’t need his I’m-just-telling-it-like-it-is pitching coach babbling on about his well-being. It’s just another case of Cooper saying the quiet part out loud. And not in a cool way.
Speaking of medical information that’s really none of our business, Aroldis Chapman has tested positive for COVID-19. The Yankees are pretty sure it was caused by Joe Maddon overusing him in the 2016 playoffs.
Last Thursday morning, Cubs’ prospect Adbert Alzolay had a short series of Tweets where he revealed that the Cubs are paying the guys on the taxi squad a whopping $18 per day (plus two provided pre-made meals), and Adbert said he laid out $115 of his own money to buy a TV for the room they’re putting him up in.
Theo sprang to action to clear things up and explained that Adbert was incorrect when he said that the players have to pay $8 in dues and clubhouse attendant tips every day.
OK, whatever. Still, EIGHTEEN dollars a day! That’s some incredible bullshit. Baseball’s compulsion to take complete advantage of their minor league players has long been impressively cruel. It’s a combination of sticking it to them while they can before they make the big leagues and get into the union, and profiteering off of their monopoly by telling those players, through their actions, “You don’t like it? Tough shit. Go find some other way to work your way up to the big leagues.”
Adbert deleted the Tweets and left only this:
Epstein said he didn’t ask Adbert to delete the Tweets and that he encourages players to speak their minds. He also said he acknowledges that “minor leaguers are tremendously underpaid.”
That’s great. I hope that some day Theo can work his way up through a big league organization, perhaps to something like President of Baseball Operations and then he could finally do something about it.