Dear Baseball: Welcome Back, We Love You

Dear Baseball,

You made it. You’re back. Every year, Spring rolls around and you reappear in our lives just when we’re all at our wit’s end with Winter.

Your debut is upon us, and league-wide hope is at a premium. Spring Training has wrapped, and all thirty teams have traveled back home to start the long, arduous road to a pennant. The weather is starting to turn; summer is creeping around the corner, and with it, thoughts of cold beer and hot dogs dance in our heads.

Opening Day is a time and feeling unlike any other. It’s like waking up in the middle of the night thinking your alarm’s about to go off, to find you’ve only been asleep for an hour. It’s like taking out your contacts after a long day, or hitting every green light when you’re running late. It’s hard to exactly describe it, but have you ever found a $20 bill in your pants that you forgot about? That’s what it feels like having you back.

From Wrigley to Fenway, Yankee Stadium to Petco Park, let the hum of fastballs and pop of catcher’s mitts fill the air for the next seven months. Let the home runs fly out of Coors Field, pop ups die in the acres of foul territory at RingCentral Coliseum, and Bernie Brewer take all of the home run slides his heart desires.

Who cares if the pace of play is a little slow? Who doesn’t want to to piss in a urinal trough, pay $12 for a mini helmet full of ice cream that melts in five minutes, or step in dropped neon yellow nacho cheese while awkwardly scootching past eight of your fellow attendees all while squeezing into undersized seats in 98 degree weather?

We definitely don’t get embarrassed when our favorite players get injured in hilarious ways while playing a noncontact sport. We don’t care that you make a bunch of old men squeeze into baseball uniforms, or that your Hall of Fame voting is incredibly flawed, or that your fields of play aren’t equal in size like every other legitimate professional sport. No reason to complain about the fact that the DH rule isn’t universal, unwritten rules are dumb, and that hitting at this point is either home runs or strikeouts.

Baseball, we could not be happier that you are back.

Love,

Baseball Fans Everywhere

Sunday State of Mind: February 8th-February 14th

Happy Valentines Day! A holiday associated with poetry is a perfect time to drop this week’s SSM.

The Tampa Bay Bucs had their Super Bowl parade
Appeared the entire team was drinking vodka lemonade
The visuals from the entire day were just so great
Who says no to next year Brady getting number eight?

The Houston Texans have released JJ Watt
An organization in flux, change happening a lot
A formerly great offense, and that defense was mean
Next year looks like it’s trending towards 0-16

The Cubs and Jake Arrieta are running it back
The Cy Young winner, rejoining the pack
In a rotation that’s lacking, Jake could be a guide
And stabilize a weakness next year on the North Side

We got old school Melo this week, absolutely silly
Sixteen fourth quarter points in a win against Philly
Carmelo had 24 points as the Blazers sixth man
Portland fifth in the West, things going to plan

Sunday State of Mind: December 1-December 6th

Sunday is here, and so is another week of SSM.

Baker Mayfield had himself a day
Four touchdowns, 334 yards, to the Titans’ dismay
The Browns moved to 9-3 on the year
Once in a blue moon the Dawg Pound can cheer

A few big name changes, on Chicago’s North Side
Kyle Schwarber is gone, and Len Kasper has gone for a ride
To The White Sox radio both, Cubs fans were surprised
What’s going on with the Cubs? It’s hard to surmise

A big name trade in the NBA
John Wall for Russell Westbrook, what the hey?!
A few bad contracts, who both wanted to change teams
This trade will only change things in Wizards & Rockets fan’s dreams

Alabama football rolled their rival LSU
The Crimson Tide won by 38, Tigers didn’t have a clue
In this weird COVID season, one thing remains the same
Alabama is good, and they’ll probably win every game

Theo Epstein has Resigned as President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs and I Am Sad

Photo: SFGate

Damn…what a ride.

This morning, news broke that Theo Epstein would be stepping down as President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, effective immediately. Epstein joined the Cubs in October 2011, and completely transformed an organization known for being long time losers into consistent post season appearances, success, and of course, World Series champions.

Epstein noted in his press conference this afternoon that the original plan was to transition out of his position in October 2021. However, with important roster and organizational decisions coming this offseason, he believed it best that those who would be with the Cubs longer-term should be making those decisions.

The now former President of Baseball Operations has always maintained that 10 years is about the maximum he would ever stay at job, and he is holding true to his word. In his presser this afternoon, he noted there was “no sense of burnout. I enjoy building, transformation, and accomplishing. Maybe I’m not as great at maintenance. After a while, I need a new challenge, and with the Cubs in a state of change with the roster, it felt like the right time.”

This sucks. Epstein has been the face of the Cubs for the past nine years. His list of accomplishments and the stories that have come out of his tenure is as impressive as it is long. I watched the press conference this morning, and wanted to outline some of the best moments and quotes.

  • When asked about his overall feelings about his time with the Cubs: “A life changing experience, the best part being the relationships and connections I’ve made along the way.” Epstein continued “Our goals were to build a foundation of sustained success and build a team that would win a World Series for the Chicago Cubs. It was not perfect, but we did it.”
  • Describing Cubs fans: “The depth of the connection with the fans, how intimate and easily shared…is really is different here, thanks to [the fans]. Right as we started to turn the corner, walking home from a game, I could ease drop on conversations that were so optimistic, it was such a special time. The lines between fans, team, and front office members were blurred. We all knew what was going to happen before it did.”
  • On the 2016 World Series victory: “Such a privilege to run into strangers and hear what the World Series meant to them.”

Jed Hoyer, current Cubs General Manger, will take over as the new President of Baseball Operations. Hoyer joined the Cubs with Theo initially as GM, and has more than earned this promotion. Epstein believes he is leaving the Cubs in incredibly able hands: “[Hoyer] ensures great continuity, and is also realistic in ways we need to change and get better” he said.

Additionally, Theo ensured Cubs fans that Hoyer “does not need me over his shoulder…he is ready, willing, and able.” He supported his claim by giving an anecdote on the now famous trade with the Baltimore Orioles that brought a struggling Jake Arrieta to the North Side, and as we now all know, to the MLB Awards stage as the 2015 Cy Young Award winner. Epstein said that Hoyer kept “banging the table” for an additional throw in on the trade, saying that the throw in must be included in the trade or the Cubs would walk away from the trading table. That throw in at the time, was a relief pitcher with a woeful career 4.82 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. That “meaningless” throw in was named Pedro Stop, who like Arrieta, resureccted his career in Chicago to become one of the best relief pitchers in team history.

This, and many other reasons, has Epstein feeling confident that the Cubs are in great long term shape as he proceeds with a peaceful transfer of power. Epstein noted that while he anticipates he will eventually return to baseball, for now, he and his family will continue to live in Chicago, and be Cubs season ticket holders moving moving forward. He noted that now he can enjoy the bleacher bum experience, and when he does, “it will feel like home.”

While this is a sad day, I also cannot help but feel happy. This nine-year stretch has been the best in Cubs history, and I feel lucky to have been able to see it from the foundation to the peak of baseball. Thank you, Theo Epstein, for putting all that you did into the organization for as long as you did, and bringing Cubs fans like me success that we only dreamt of before you came to Chicago.

Sunday State of Mind: October 26th-November 1st

Photo: Annie Nyle on Unsplash

Fall is here, friends. The leaves have changed, the sweaters have been donned, and the clocks have moved back. Let’s all get comfortable and enjoy this week’s SSM.

Tua Time in Miami, the rookie made his debut
A surprise win over the Rams, the Dolphins feel anew
Tua didn’t have a big game, or put up many stats
But if the Dolphins keep winning, they’ll no longer be AFC East cellar rats

We crowned a new World Series champ this week, the Dodgers from LA
Emerged victorious over the Rays of Tampa Bay
A lot of talk on the internet on the decisions of Kevin Cash
If he kept Blake Snell in longer, it could be the Rays throwing the championship bash

Trevor Lawrence, Clemson’s long-haired quarterback
Tested positive for COVID, by the disease he’s been sacked
The best QB in the NCAA missed this week’s game
It was also announced he’ll miss Clemson’s next contest against Notre Dame

This week the Chicago Cubs declined Jon Lester’s option for 2021
Unless he’s brought back on a cheaper deal, his time with the Cubs is done
Big Jon did something very cool this weekend, something very dear
He’s buying the entire city of Chicago their first rounds of beer

Sunday State of Mind: October 5th-October 11th

Photo: Amanda Phung on Unsplash

SSM after dark! Some late night sports poetry to send you into your week.

We’ve crowned a new champ, The Lakers have won
LeBron, AD, and the squad made sure The Heat were done
With the win comes the end of the NBA bubble
King James lead the way with a series winning triple double

Huge comeback story in the NFL
Alex Smith is back, that’s a buy, not a sell
Even if his team lost, him being back was a great scene
A rare feel good story for The Washington Football Team

Opposite Alex Smith, poor Dak Prescott
His seasons over, and the ankle’s shot
If you haven’t seen the video, I would suggest not
The pressure on Jerry Jones now has to feel quite hot

Moving on to the MLB
The bracket’s down to four teams to see
Who will take home the World Series Trophy
Since it won’t be The Cubs, it doesn’t matter to me

Sunday State of Mind: September 28th-October 4th

Sunday evening: a time to sit back, reflect on your weekend, and read this week’s SSM.

The NBA Finals is in full swing
The Heat are decimated, The Lakers are getting the ring
It probably was always going to end this way
With only Jimmy Butler for Miami, and LeBron and AD for LA

The MLB playoffs have advanced a round
Only half of the playoff teams are left and still taking the mound
It is a bit sad, that we won’t have a chance
For a Cubs/White Sox World Series, since neither advanced

Russell Wilson continues to be
In this blogger’s opinion, NFL MVP
He balled out again today, carved Miami with a knife and fork
Don’t think we forgot though, he’s still a dork

The big NFL story, another COVID outbreak
Cam Newton tested positive, a sad truth to take
The cases are clearly rising in the NFL
I think we all wish this virus would just go to hell

Sunday State of Mind: August 17th-August 23rd

Photo: Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Happy Sunday, all. Please enjoy this week’s SSM…

Earl Thomas, in trouble a bunch
Sketchy activity with his brother, now a teammate punch
The Baltimore Ravens lost their defensive toy
Don’t be surprised if Earl is the next Dallas Cowboy

One of my new favorite teams, the San Diego Padres
They’ve hit five grand slams in the last six days
Hosmer, Machado, Fernando Tatis
Pitchers serving it up, and the Padres feast

No more Brooks Kopeka in 2020
The 2019 patella injury, still bugging him plenty
This week he withdrew from the Northern Trust
Ending his season, a total bust

This is a stanza I don’t want to write
The White Sox have taken it to the Cubs the last two nights
Jose Abreu is on an absolute tear
Sox beating up on the Cubs, a sight too sad to bare

Sunday State of Mind: August 3rd-August 9th

Photo: Photo by Blake Richard Verdoorn on Unsplash

Happy Sunday, everyone. Please enjoy this journey back in time on the week that was in sports in this week’s SSM.

At the time of this blog, the PGA Championship is still live
DJ, Finau, Scheffler…who will survive?
To be completely honest, the most important thing though
Is the continued trolling, of Bryson DeChambeau

The Cubs and Cardinals, cancelled this weekend
St. Louis’ COVID positives have gone off the deep end
It’s the best rivalry in baseball, there’s no debate
Yankees/Red Sox? Giants/Dodgers? Not that great.

This week us NBA fans lost a good one
76ers standout Ben Simmons is done
According to this tweet, Ben had a left knee subluxation
He left the NBA Bubble, on a surgical vacation

Connor McGregor is engaged! The Notorious MMA.
Asked his girlfriend of 12 years, announced on Saturday
Seems like Connor’s enjoying his “retirement” so far
Engaged and staying out of trouble, no hitting old men in bars

The Chicago White Sox are Your 2020 Exhibition Crosstown Classic Champions

Photo: WGN Radio

To quote one of the greatest broadcasters to ever do it, Mr. Al Michaels: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

The White Sox have dethroned the Cubs, folks. The peak has been reached, the mountain has been scaled, and any of the other sports clichés you can insert here have been accomplished. After taking it to the Cubs in Game One by 7-3 final on Sunday, they came back last night and continued on their exhibition season tear by again defeating The North Siders 5-3.

The Sox used a six-run fifth inning in Game One to take a lead they would never relinquish. The barrage started with an Adam Engel home run off of Cubs Opening Day starter Kyle Hendricks, and continued with two singles by Tim Anderson and José Abreu, three doubles by Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnación, and Luis Robert, and capped off by a triple by Leury García. This built the lead out to 6-2, and The Cubs would only add one more run via a David Bote RBI single in the seventh inning.

Yu Darvish took the bump in Game Two, only to be rudely greeted by a first inning grand slam by Eloy Jiménez. One of the Cubs’ former top prospects, who was dealt to The Sox in the 2017 trade for José Quintana, Jiménez showed his power surge by taking the first pitch he saw to straight away center. Dallas Keuchel started for the White Sox, and threw five innings of one hit, scoreless baseball. The Cubs got the offense moving a bit in the seventh, with Hernan Perez scoring on a fielder’s choice, Kyle Schwarber driving in Bote, and finally Javy Baez scoring on a double play ball from Steven Souza Jr.

This is The White Sox’s first Crosstown Classic victory since 2014, when they beat the Cubs in their annual season series 3-1. After ties in 2015 and 2016, The North Siders took the illustrious trophy back home to Wrigley in 2017 and 2018. As for 2019, we can all remember that unbeleivable 2-2 series tie that kept the trophy with The Cubs.

This feat is something that might not ever be topped, and White Sox fans should be immensely proud. So pop that champagne, order your tee shirts and caps, and enjoy this victory. No one can take this away from you, South Side.