Smile Politely

Pat Hughes Proclaims: “Cubs Baseball Is On The Air!”

Thoughts from opening night…

It’s 7:21 p.m. CST on Sunday evening and after a long good night from my son, I’ve planted myself right in front of the television.

The Nationals just officially opened their spacious new park (something great about baseball being back in D.C. these last few years). Looks to be a packed house and Odalis Perez has just fanned Kelly Johnson.

The season is underway!

Watching Baseball Tonight beforehand re-emphasized the fact that the National League is wide open this year. Four different teams could take the West, the Central has two or three second place teams, either of which could take a step forward and the Phillies, Braves and Mets will do their dance in the East. What are your predictions? Write in and let us know.

Ah…It’s a calm late March night, my neighbor is grilling ribs and the last place Nationals just jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

It’s going to be a good year.

Cleaning Part One

Cubbies were off today, resting and preparing for the Wrigley opener against the Beermakers an hour north. As predicted, the Northsiders picked up Reed Johnson and hours after he was signed he was leading off and legging out a triple. Good signing: we didn’t give up a thing, he’ll hit lefties and play a decent CF for seven innings. Well done, Jim Hendry.

Also as predicted, the Cubs did not acquire Brian Roberts. In fact, longtime Cubs President and current Baltimore bigwig, Andy McPhail (spell it: F-A-I-L) officially killed the trade by shooting his mouth off to the press last Wednesday, “We worked at it this long and we don’t have deal,” MacPhail said. “There’s other sides characterizing it as an impasse. You make the judgment.”

Let me say this. I’m really glad Mr. McPhail is no longer affiliated with the Cubs organization. If he’d spend more time improving the team he was working for, and less time trying to stick it to his old employers, he might accomplish something. He brought his losing ways to the Charm City. Get comfortable in the bottom of the division, Baltimore. And don’t count on him digging you out any time soon.

Ah wait. To be fair, there are two things you can count on him for: References to his glory days in Minnesota and allusions to his “baseball family pedigree”. Good riddance.

Cleaning Part Two

Piniella selected Cedeno and Fontenot for the infield, released Cintron and had to tell Murton that the Iowa bus was warming up in the parking lot. I feel good about his final selections though. I like Murton, but his defense limits him to the corners and with Johnson and DeRosa, we don’t need another RH bat for the corners. Both Fontenot and Cedeno can pinch run and are more versatile for Piniella’s classic late inning double switches.

You have to love Sweet Lou’s big club invitation to Fontenot in passing behind the batting cage:

Piniella: “Do you have a place in Chicago yet?”,
Fontenot: “No”,
Piniella: “Well, you can get one.”

The final bullpen spot came down to the very last hour. Sean Marshall and Carmen Pignatiello were both summoned in late inning left handed specialist situations. Carmen had out-pitched Marshall, but Marshall had the MLB experience. In the end, Marshall confirmed what the Cubs brass had predicted: he’s better as a starter. Marshall joined Murton on the Iowa express and the kid from Hammond, IN with the long last name had made the club. 25 man roster is set…Off to Chicago.

Vacation Day

As it happens I will take the advice of my readers and DVR/Tivo the game tomorrow. I’ll save the vacation days for vacation. There’s one thing I will do though. At 1:19pm, I’ll tune into WGN Radio, call my good friend and die-hard Cubs fan Brian Oaks and we’ll listen to Pat Hughes shout: “Cubs Baseball is on the air!”.

Yeah. It’s going to be a good year.

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