With the Cubs on a downward plunge with no end in sight and White Sox manager Tony La Russa making more controversial decisions, it’s a great time to debate the baseball season.
As the dog days of summer wind down, here is the latest from another interesting week in Chicago sports media.
1. The Cubs haven’t revealed the voting committee for their new Hall of Fame, but I received a preliminary list of voters.
I asked a few of them Sunday where they stood on the burning question of Sammy Sosa’s candidacy. Only one voter said they would vote unequivocally for Sosa’s enshrinement. Two others answered “no” without hesitation or explanation. One said yes, noting the criteria for entrance aren’t as stringent as getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Another said yes, but only if Sosa admits to having used performance-enhancing drugs and shows remorse.
It was an unscientific poll, and I told the voters I wouldn’t use their names. But it looks as though Sosa faces an uphill battle if he gets on the Cubs ballot. I can’t really see Sosa showing remorse for something he won’t admit to doing in the first place, so maybe he’ll never get in. But at least the decision will be out of the Rickettses’ hands.
2. The big series between the White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays fizzled out when La Russa rested Tim Anderson for the final two games, saying his ‘dogs are barking.’
The message from La Russa was the physically fit, 28-year-old spark plug of the Sox lineup wasn’t injured but had sore legs. And Anderson could’ve played if it were October, La Russa said.
It’s still August and the Sox have a huge lead in the American League Central. So no big deal? Maybe home-field advantage in October isn’t as important to the Sox as it is to their fans. Still, resting one of your key players for two games against the team you might be fighting with for home-field advantage in a potential postseason matchup doesn’t make a lot of sense. The Sox lost both games without Anderson, who was out of the lineup again Monday night in Toronto.
La Russa also confounded fans by removing Craig Kimbrel during the eighth inning Friday and then apologizing for it afterward. They talked it over, and Kimbrel insisted his feelings weren’t hurt. It would help matters if Kimbrel pitched better.
At least La Russa kept Sox Twitter busy, which is all that matters.
3. The Cubs lost their record 13th consecutive home game Sunday, setting a franchise record at Wrigley Field, where the team has played for 105 years.
Marquee is co-owned by the Cubs, so it’s not surprising when bad things are downplayed. But if the Rickettses want their network to gain credibility in Chicago, they at least need to address the obvious stuff on their website, even if it’s a maddening home losing streak. No one expects Marquee to be overly critical, but completely ignoring reality is a bad look — especially in a sports-crazed town like this one.
The broadcasters haven’t been shy about it. Analyst Rick Sutcliffe joked about the losing streak Monday, saying one of the keys for the Cubs was to “find the ‘W’ flag … and dust it off.” Ed O’Bradovich, Doug Buffone and Norm Van Lier set the tone in this city, proving an athlete can love his former team and still offer valid criticism when merited. NBC Sports Chicago has two such duos — Ozzie Guillen and Frank Thomas on the White Sox and Will Perdue and Kendall Gill on the Bulls — who never shy away from saying what needs to be said about the state of the team or management.
NBC Sports Chicago also has a website that doesn’t pull punches. Maybe Marquee needs to watch the competition and take notes.
4. Kudos to WMVP-AM 1000′s Fred Huebner.
Huebner brought up the touchy subject of tipping concessionaires at ballparks for handing you premade food and beverages. With most stadiums going to all credit and debit cards for payment, fans are asked to push a button to add a tip or not.
It puts them in the tough position of either letting the concessionaire know they don’t think a tip is deserved or giving a 10% to 15% tip — or more — on an already overpriced item. And with fans waiting in line behind them, there is no time to ponder the decision.
I’m not sure of the etiquette on tipping concessionaires, so maybe Huebner better Ask Amy.
5. Watching the Little League World Series games on ESPN reminds me of how fun it was to cover the Jackie Robinson West team that won the US title in 2014.
The title was later stripped after allegations of administrators skirting boundary rules to get players on the team. Last spring, Little League International acknowledged that JRW players were “not aware of administrators’ decisions to change the team’s boundaries,” according to a Block Club Chicago report.
Their U.S. championship was not reinstated, but seven years later, the memories of watching those kids on the field, and the sportsmanship they exhibited, lingers on — bad ending or not.
6. Comparing the 2021 Cubs losing streak to the 1994 one.
According to a 1994 Chicago Tribune story by former Cubs beat writer Joseph A. Reaves, on the day the 1994 Cubs snapped their 12-game home losing streak at Wrigley Field, media relations director Sharon Pannozzo “broke out a Voodoo doll that she brought from vacation in Jamaica and carefully followed the instructions that called, among other things, for her to read the words of the 23rd psalm. (’The Lord is my shepherd …’).”
Unfortunately, the 2021 Cubs don’t have the resources to purchase a Voodoo doll from Jamaica. Tough times.
7. Former Cubs pitcher Steve Trout informed me the age-old story of him getting injured falling off an exercise bike is incorrect.
Trout said the injury came from a fall off a real bike. Mea culpa. Not sure how it all started, but I first heard it 36 years ago and it has been repeated often. Apologies to Trout for perpetuating an apparent Cubs myth.