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The Pointless Index: Show the man some respect
The Cubs are running the captain out of town, the Cardinals are suddenly afraid of needles and the Bulls are back, eventually
The Garbage Family is really bad at this
We can all recite the names of the key Cubs players who are free agents at the end of the season. Kris Bryant. Javy Baez. Anthony Rizzo. Craig Kimbrel. Matt Duffy. I mean, it’s a veritable who’s who.
Given the penurious nature of The Garbage Family That Owns The Cubs™ and the fact that they just, completely suck, we know that most of the free agents are going to be deemed cost prohibitive for a franchise that Forbes1 just reported actually increased in value during a pandemic that has nearly cratered the global economy.
It’s one thing for the Rickettses to be cheap and to insult the intelligence of their fanbase2. The Cubs should be wrapping up talks with Rizzo, Baez and Bryant and locking up the core that not only brought them the long awaited World Series title3 but took a hose to the laughingstock that was dripping all over the franchise. Sure, maybe Bryant and Scott Boras wouldn’t be interested in signing now and would rather go out on the open market, but Rizzo and Javy are very open about the fact that they’d like to get deals done.
The easiest thing for the Cubs to do to pacify the fans would be to sign Rizzo. If they did that, they could survive letting KB and Javy go. It’s the cynical move to sign the oldest, most cost effective and beloved one of the three. You think it’d be right up their alley.
But they’re blowing it.
There’s no grand strategy here. The Cubs aren’t playing three dimensional chess. Sit Todd down at a chess table and he’ll just start eating the pieces. This treatment of Rizzo isn’t just insulting to the modern-day face of the franchise, it’s just a reminder of who these people really are. Of course they are botching the easiest decision they’ll ever be presented. They got a lot of credit for hiring Theo Epstein and then getting out of his way and letting him do his job—until they didn’t. Now they’re in everybody’s way. Their fingerprints are all over the franchise’s aggressive return to mediocrity.
This isn’t like the Angels paying Albert Pujols $240 million over ten years when was 32* years old. Rizzo can be signed for half of that, probably exactly half of that, and you know what? He’d be worth it. Does anything about him scream regression over the next five seasons? No.
Somebody’s going to pay him, and he’s still going to be good and productive. One of his best friends is Jon Lester and Lester has talked openly about how he never thought he’d leave Boston. Jonny was every bit the Red Sox legend that Rizzo is for the Cubs. But then the Red Sox traded him to Oakland at the deadline in 2014 and Lester said he realized it’s really not that hard to change teams, after all. Rizzo’s already been in two other organizations. He doesn’t want to leave, not because he doesn’t know better, but because he likes it on the Cubs. He also knows what he’s worth, and that he already took a discount in 2015 when he signed a seven-year, $41 million deal with the team. It made sense for both sides. He got security and the Cubs locked him in for his prime at an affordable price. And then he outperformed the contract on and off the field.
And this isn’t charity. He’s their most reliably good player. Javy is prone to wild swings (literally) in terms of his production, and Bryant has played through a number of performance inhibiting injuries and haircuts. Plus, the Cubs go on and on about their culture and how important it is to everything they do. Rizzo is the embodiment of the good parts of that culture.
So when they refuse to get serious in contract negotiations with him, we’re left with only conclusion to draw.
Maybe it’s time to stop hoping Rizzo will re-sign with the Cubs.
Because we love that dude. And frankly, he deserves better.
You hate to see it
Of course these doorknob lickers are the ones who are going to fuck this up. Even for the Cardinals this is obtuse. The franchise that couldn’t stay out of a casino during a pandemic last year and screwed the schedules of every team in two divisions can’t be bothered to get vaccinated against the disease that caused that pandemic.
This isn’t surprising. The official sports franchise of mouthbreathers everywhere is simply living up to their long legacy of deranged obstinance. And of course there’s a very vocal element in their fanbase that loves the idea that their boys aren’t going to line up like sheep and get an injection of some rushed-to-market magical elixir. They don’t believe in that stuff. No sir. Unless it’ll help them hit dingers.
David Bote, bookworm?
I just want a transcript of whatever this conversation between Jesse Rogers and David Bote was.
Bote: Hey, you’re an author, right?
Jesse: No, I’m Jesse, not Arthur. David, we’ve talked like hundreds of times.
Bote: No, “author.” You know, I read nine books this offseason!
Jesse: Wait, there are NINE books?
Honestly, the minute I read that Tweet I immediately thought of the scene in Major League when the guys are reading the comic book versions of classic literature, and I thought of this.
I’m not even sure which I guy I think is Fredo. Probably both.
And, I love Jesse’s quote, “Some fictional, some in-depth, some mental mind stuff.”
Those are not things.
Our large adult son is still smarter than umpires
As we get used to watching all of our favorite Cubs go on and play for somebody else, we have this from yesterday. Our Large Adult Son, Kyle Schwarber was humoring the terrible, terrible MASN Nationals broadcast team of Bob Carpenter and FP Santangelo by chatting with them from the dugout during the game. And then something happens, and well, it was just gold.
Kyle is never going to catch a break from an ump, is he?
The Bulls are back! Maybe for real this time.
After watching the roster he inherited for about nine months, Arturas Karnisovas had finally seen enough, and in a flurry of moves at the trade deadline he turned over a third of that roster.
He turned a raft of mediocre GarPax draft picks and a couple of top-four protected first round picks into All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu (don’t get too attached), Troy Brown Jr. (NOT the son of the Patriots WR, it turns out), heavily tattooed German backup center Daniel Theis and Javonte Green (the Radford flash, or something). All it cost them was Wendell Carter Jr. (destined to be one of those guys that you think is good until he plays for your team), Daniel Gafford (“How do all of these rebounds keep bouncing right over my head?”), Otto Porter (“My bank routing number? Of course I have it memorized.”), Chandler Hutchinson (was he still on the team?), and Luke Kornet (thank god.) Oh, and Mo Wagner (“Kill the wabbit!”) passed through for a hot second from Washington on his way to Boston.
The lottery protections on the 2021 and 2023 first rounders are not insignificant. If the Bulls flame out in either or both seasons and get lucky with some ping pong balls they’ve given themselves a little cushion. But those picks should be late teens or later. The trade gives the Bulls a bona fide second scoring option to go with Zach LaVine (who has finally really grown on us), and hopefully Vucevic and Theis can stop the express lane to the basket that every opponent has enjoyed while zipping past Wendell, (the appropriately named) Gaff, and, well, Lauri’s still around to wave as they go by, but that can just be his thing now.
The Bulls are still a team in need of a point guard, and yes, we all got greedy when the Nikola trade was announced early on deadline day and we kept waiting for the Bulls to trade for Pelicans’ point Lonzo Ball. It never happened. Mostly because the Pelicans have no use for Lauri at this moment and the Bulls made the sensible decision and used the first rounder that New Orleans supposedly really wanted in the first trade.
But thanks to Vucevic’s contract (it’s rich, but his salary goes down next year and the year after) the Bulls should be able to keep Zach and have cash left over for a point, maybe even Lonzo.
In the meantime they’ll try to finish 10th or better in the East (which is like bowling with the bumpers in the gutters) so they can at least qualify for the play-in games for the seventh or eighth playoff spots.
The new era got off to a horrible start when they took their new toys (minus Theis who didn’t debut until last night) to San Antonio and got down by 36 points. Then it turns out you can’t beat the Warriors with Zach playing on one foot and missing most of his shots. But, you turn over that much of your team and don’t get to practice before you play and things can go bad. And man, did they.
But the big picture is that for the first time since Derrick lay in a heap under the basket while Thibs’ soul left his body on the Bulls bench and Doug Collins was wondering where his perm went over on the Sixers bench in the 2012 playoffs, there’s a big picture.
Arturas said there were two big reasons for the trade. It makes them better and it helps to reposition the Bulls in the minds of other players that Chicago’s a place they might actually want to play. It’s sad that things have slid to that point, but they have, and they’ve been that way for quite a while.
And now the Bulls have a real coach, a seemingly functional front office, a few good players and a future. It’s going to take a while to get used to.
Oh, and they did it all without sacrificing their franchise player:
Taylor McGregor’s iPhone
She dropped it and it survived intact. Well, I mean she dropped it on sand, so who knows? Let’s see it bounce off the sidewalk and see what happens to that bad boy.
Wait, is that not Taylor? Ask this lady if she went to Arkansas. It’s the only way to really know.
What to watch: The Investigation, HBO Max
If you’re looking for a relatively short series to binge (after all, we have Cubs games to watch and scream at), check out The Investigation on HBOMax. It’s not a documentary, though it feels like one. It’s based on the true story of the alleged murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall by a guy in a submarine. Seriously.
You’ll follow the investigation by the Copenhagen police led by Jens Møeller, their Head of Homicide. He’s played by Søren Malling, a guy none of us have ever seen or heard about and he’s terrific. You will recognize the chief prosecutor because he’s played by the guy who played Euron Greyjoy in Game of Thrones, though at no point in this does he insist he’s going to impregnate the Khaleesi. But my favorite character was the head of the Danish Frogmen Corps (no, really, they’re real and they’re awesome) Lars Møeller, played by Henrik Birch. He’s constantly annoyed by Jens that they can’t narrow the search and he complains constantly about how hard it is on his divers to have to cover that much ground, in dark water, all the while hoping to—and at the same time kind of hoping they won’t—find a body. You will notice that for as pissed as he gets, Møeller never tells Jens they want to stop searching.
Yes, it’s much better to have the subtitles on than to listen to an awful dub, so you’re going to have to read the movie, but it’s completely worth it. Plus, it’s Nordic and moody so there’s a lot of not talking, anyway. One thing I noticed and rather admired is that they never once say the name of, or show, the accused murderer. This is a story about the dead journalist and the people trying to prove what happened to her, not about glorifying a perpetrator. The trailer above hammers home the idea that it’s about finding answers and that’s exactly what it is. It’s just so well done. It’s only six episodes, all less than an hour. Watch the first and and see if you can stop.
Subscriptions are coming
I know, “enough with the threats.” As you may have read yesterday, when the big Opening Day blowout newsletter comes out on Thursday it will usher in a new era for your favorite newsletter. The original plan was for the paywall to go up on Opening Day last year, but then COVID and economic uncertainty for us all and you know the rest. So this is the last of the free newsletter. Well, mostly. The vast majority of Monday Mornin’ Cubbin’ Down, and The Pointless Index and the other upcoming regular features will be pay only, but there will occasionally be some published for free to the full list, so even if you aren’t ready to subscribe now, you’ll still get some content from time to time.
The subscription link will appear soon, and it’s only $6.99 a month, or $69.99 if you’re into annual (that just sounds wrong, but that comes out to about $5.83 a month), AND, even better there will be a 15% off deal for those who sign up the first week. I hope you can come along for the ride.
Mind you, Forbes allows Phil Rogers to write about sports for them, so their judgement is a little sketchy.
I mean, when even a Cubs fan knows they’re being insulted, you’re being super rude.
Now five years old and aging poorly.