Hey there, Milk Duds, Joe Schlombowski here to point out that Ferris Bueller, one of the greatest things to ever come outta Hollywood — other than that human ice cream cone, Scarlett Johansson — turned 30 Saturday. I bring this up for three reasons: 1) Ferris was a Cubs fan. That one fact, all by itself, shoulda spelled “Oscar” for John Hughes’s, my friend. 2) Take a look at Ben Stein. You take away his Gillette Foamy for a few weeks and you get Joe Maddon’s twin. “Rizzo? … Rizzo? … Rizzo?” 3) You know how every last little thing works out for Ferris, no matter what? That’s the 2016 Cubs, pal.
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
— Ferris Bueller
Words to live by. Why? Cuz what you’ve been watchin’ on the green, green grass of Wrigley Field this year is somethin’ special. Somethin’ unusual. Somethin’ that comes along every 108 years. Maybe. So enjoy it. Watch it. Replay it. Breath it in like the perfume of the aforementioned Goddess of Sultry, Ms Johansson. Why? Cuz this is baseball, jujubees. The credits will be rolling on this summer’s feel-good movie before you know it … and unlike Hollywood, you can’t count on 3 or 4 or 8 sequels. Sure the hell is fun to think about, though.
So, I gotta “what if” for ya: What if the Cubbies are flashin’ some long awaited bling next season. One reason to think that there just might be a sequel or 2 is the fact that at 30, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is older than the majority of the roster. Yeah, I know … baseball teams are like musical chairs from season to season. Still, most of this particular team are likely to have lockers here for a while. So if we can keep the staff from gettin’ too greedy (and I think you know who I mean) champagne soaked locker rooms are somethin’ the Cubs may have to get used to.
The question isn’t “what are we going to do,” the question is “what aren’t we going to do?”
— Ferris Bueller
The Cubs are playin’ like Ferris this year; throwin’ caution to the wind; doing whatever they want; breakin’ the fourth wall. And like Ferris, they’re holdin’ the world in the palm of their hands … or the web of their mitts, in this case. So let’s raise a frosty Old Style to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — one of the best movies ever shot in Chicago, and hope we’re doin’ the same thing in November for the World Series Champion Cubs.
You’re still here? It’s over. Go home. Go.
— Ferris Bueller
Hey there, fly swatters. Joe Schlombowski, super Cubs fan here with my 2 cents on the upcoming All Star break’s Home Run Derby. Unless you’ve been vacationing on Neptune, you’ve seen that Jake Arrieta and Maddison Bumgarner are lobbyin’ to show off their power hitting chops by participating. Maybe on Neptune — or Mars or Jupiter or even Uranus — that’s the way they do things, but on Earth, not so much, pallie. (By the way, I most definitely don’t wanna know how you do anything with Uranus.) On this planet, the Home Run Derby is for guys who are relative experts at hittin’ yard shots. Arrieta and Bumgarner? Pitchers. Damn good ones, too, but I don’t wanna see them pulling a rib cage muscle tryin’ to imitate Babe Ruth. Not Arrieta, anyway.
To me, the Derby is like the Miss America Pageant. Now I don’t know about women, cuz I’m a guy, but when guys are forced to watch the Miss America Pageant — and we all are now and then — we agree to it for one reason and one reason only; to see which babe looks the hottest. We don’t really give a crap about whether they can tap dance and juggle at the same time, or can give an intelligent answer to the question, “If you could be a hammer or a nail, which would you be, and why?” We just wanna see the swimsuit part — the part they’re really good at. That’s it.
MadBum and Jake are great pitchers and they’re fun to watch pitch. You might even say they’re good hitters … for pitchers. But if you wanna be in the Derby, you gotta be a great hitter, with no qualifiers. And … AND … you gotta do it with power, my friend. I’m about as interested in seeing them in the Home Run Derby as I am is seeing them in evening gowns.
I tend to look at the Home Run Derby the same as I do the Pageant. I watch it for just one reason; to see the likes of Trumbo, Arenado, Cano, Ortiz and Bryant send a few balls up there with Neptune. Cuz, hey … if we’re gonna open up the friggin’ thing to anybody who thinks they’re Kyle Schwarber, why don’t we just go full-on Miss America and have guys do anything they think they’re good at besides playin’ ball. Maybe somebody can do bird calls. Or how ’bout lion taming or opera singing? Maybe the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies on banjo. Personally, I’d like to see Bartolo Colon doin’ one of those military rifle-twirling routines to a Herzegovinian march. That, or freestyle rollerskating to the Star Wars theme wearin’ a tutu. What about a ventriloquist act with a puppet of Rob Manfred makin’ up more new rules? Entertaining AND poignant. ($5 word bonus!) You get my point. And if you don’t, you must be a Mets fan.
If Arrieta and Bumgarner were gonna light up the world with the lumber, they’d be position players not pitchers. They don’t belong in the Derby.
Of course I could be wrong. But I’m not.
Hey there, flap jacks. I freely admit that I’m not ever 100% sure what Theo is doin’. Hell, I’m not even 27% sure. But then that’s why he’s runnin’ the best baseball team in an 800 light year radius and I work in a sausage factory. I’m not complaining. Me and sausage are like Bert and Ernie, milk and cookies, Rogers and Hammerstein. But I think we can all agree that runnin’ the Cubs is a better gig, and definitely comes with the kinda fringe that puts my annual Christmas bonus case of red hots on the top of the shame pile. And hey, kudos to Theo. The Cubbies are treating the rest of baseball like a baby treats a diaper. Love it.
But this Shalamar trade with the A’s for Chris Coghlan? I don’t get it.
Why trade for a .260 hitter? (Only a .146 hitter if you’re talkin’ just this year in Oakland.) Does the name Mendoza ring any bells? Yeah, I know … the Cubs have a few banged up guys, and a little backup will help get us over the aches and pains. But c’mon. Coghlan … that’s it? Mmm-kay, he knows the system. I’ll give you that one. He can play a few different positions. Especially the 7 and 9 spots where, with Schwarber gone for the duration, Soler hurt and Heyward outta the lineup occasionally cuz of his Ironman imitations, he can band-aid things for us. Versatility is good. But if he’s SO friggin’ good why the hell did we broom him in the first place? Riddle me that, Batman. (Hey, me and sausage are like Batman and Robin, too.) It’s got a bit of odoriferous desperation to it, which I hate smelling … not because it’s questionalble … but because Theo made the move even though it seems that way.
This is where me not being even 27% sure what the hell Theo is doin’ sandpapers my hiney. Cuz either I gotta just bow to the altar of Theo’s brain, and trust that he knows somethin’ about Coghlan that ain’t very apparent in his numbers, or there’s somethin’ happening around the corner that no one but Theo can see, and he’s layin’ the ground work for it. I hate friggin’ uncertainty. For the first 54 years of my life I could count on the Cubs being 20 games out by the mid-season classic. This year and last, I’m surprised if we lose. I like that. I don’t like wonderin’ what the Cubs see in a .146 hitter that they traded less than a year ago. Now there’s something magically delicious about him?
Is it gonna be better the second time? We’ll see. I love the taste of crow (or pigeon, in this case) when it comes to this kinda thing.
Life is good, Cubcakes. I used to wake up, slide out of the fart sack and pray to the Polish gods that we might actually win a game. Now? Well, I can’t wait to jump out of … of … okay, it’s still a fart sack (hey, I drink Old Style and eat Red Hots from a Pez dispenser, what’d you expect?) then pay my respects to Joe-Joe Maddon, the Polish god IN OUR DUGOUT, and wonder not if were gonna win today, but by how much. Yep, life is good north of a .700 winning percentage.
But let’s put the present aside for sec, uhm-kay? With the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft starting today, June 9 is all about the future: the stars of tomorrow that will lead each club to the Promised Land.
Or so they hope.
It ain’t that easy, Moses. I mean, who in the wide, wide world of sports can forget Shawn Abner? Just about everyone, that’s who! Abner was the first pick in the ’84 draft, ahead of guys named Bell and McGwire and Mullholland and Charlton and Maddux and Glavine and Moyer. Hearda them? Save for his mother and a handful of pals he grew up playing Whiffle Ball with in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Smokin’ Joe Schlombowski is one of the few people on the planet who remembers if Abner knew which end of the bat to hold. He did, but barely. Point is, first-round picks ain’t a sure thing.
Good thing, too, cuz thanks to John Lackey, we don’t get one.
That’s right, bat racks, the draft wheel will turn nearly three full times before the Cubbies make their first pick — the 104th overall. Hell, I could be dead by then. Like all sports drafts that matter, clubs pick in reverse order of their previous season’s finish, which is why the Phillies get first whack this year, and why Braves and Twins scouts, caffeine-high as they’ll need to be, are already hittin’ the road with an eye on the 2017 class. There will be no rest in the Big Peach or the North Star State for at least a year. Makes me feel all tingly inside.
Theoretically, the Phillies would get the first pick in all forty rounds. But then there’s this thing called “compensation picks” which turns the draft order into somethin’ that resembles the Christmas lights I unpack on Thanksgiving Day. This year, we gave up our first two picks to the Cards when Theo signed the Dental Giant and Jason Heyward. I get that. But someone’s gotta explain to me why MLB rewards teams by givin’ them preferred draft spots for not signing their top picks from last year’s draft. Makes zero sense to me, but then Carlos Marmol couldn’t close a a friggin’ umbrella either, and we paid him $9.8M in 2013. Idi-friggin-otic.
But I digress.
The point is, don’t put too much stock in this week’s draft, pallie. We’ve only got five first-rounders on our 25-man roster. And we sure as hell ain’t home grown (only four Cubs were drafted into the organization). Like it or not, it ain’t Ernie’s Cubs anymore. Free agency’s our thing. We’ve got money and we spend it like Jason Kidd at the Pink Monkey. Enough with the future; it’s draught time, as in icy cold Old Style. Now, where’d the missus hide the remote?
Wow, there are a lot of assholes in the world, aren’t there? On the world stage you got your Kim Jong-un and Vlad Putin (and I’m just scratchin’ the surface here). America’s got the mouth that roared, Donald Trump, and the mouth that lied, Shrillary Clinton. And much, much closer to home — practically peekin’ over the backyard fence — we got Jay Farquhar, the friggin’ Mayor of Monee. I’ll say this, though, the size of the stage has no bearing on the size of the a-hole.
A couple of days ago, Farquhar, while coaching his son’s Little League team, got so upset over an umpire’s call, he friggin’ broke the guy’s jaw … in two places. Full disclosure: I want to personally rearrange an ump’s face at least once in every game, but 1) I would never actually try to do it, and 2) I’m not talkin’ about Little League umpires. Take Angel Hernandez, for instance. If Hollywood made a movie about the guy, they’d call it “Legally Blind.” And … AND … he’s one of those narcissistic umpires that thinks every last one of the 40 thousand fans packed into Wrigley came for one reason and one reason only — to watch him call the game. Idiot. “Angel.” Pretty ironic name considering where he’s gonna spend eternity.
Sorry, I got a little side-tracked there. My point is that Little League is a place where kids are learnin’ the game. This is how you throw the ball, this is how you catch the ball, this is how you hit the ball, this is what you do in this or that situation. That’s pretty much it. There’s no room for Earl Weaver lessons, and even if there was, the worst that could happen is kids would develop a more complete vocabulary. But that’s it. To my knowledge, Baltimore’s over-caffinated firecracker never ever took a swing at an umpire. Farquhar? Breaks a guy’s jaw. You’d think a politician would be more diplomatic, right? I mean they’re supposed to be masters at the art of compromise. Yeah, they may be corrupt, they may speak outta both sides of their mouths, but fists are typically not part of a politicians party platform. Not this guy, though. And I don’t buy his claim that he was acting in self defense. What a pile of crap.
I saw the ump (his name is Tim Nelson) on the news, and you could see that Farquhar had done a little Muhammad Ali dance on his face for sure. He was wearin’ a Soxside Irish t-shirt. When I saw that, I guessed maybe he coulda had it comin’. I kid. I kid. Calm the hell down, White Sox fans.
In all seriousness, there seems to be a broken turnstile at the a-hole gate of youth sports — one that’s spinnin’ outta control and letting in the unbalanced likes of Mayor Farquhar, and others. How do we stop that? Do we need a kind of Little League TSA? Some kinda scanner that sets off a friggin’ alarm when it detects a genetically-inferior brain mass? How about issuing “Mature Adult” cards to coaches and parents — something that can only be obtained by submitting to a psychological evaluation? That woulda kept Farquhar out of the equation cuz, as a politician, his mental makeup is OBVOIUSLY questionable. I don’t know what the answer is. I’m just a Cubs fan. What I do know is that the kinda incident that happened in Monee should never happen in Little League, and that it must be a real hoot growin’ up in a house with this Mayor dude.