Tag Archives: quid pro quo

MLB16 Chin Music: Cubs Win Is Just More Cloudburst For Rainmaker Epstein

6 Nov

Those Sporting Gods are a funny bunch of deities. Not funny like a “clown,” oh no, but curious, like that monkey on PBS (“George”).

sportingmeetinggods-wc-1630-cv-poelenburgh-3mAt times they seem asleep at the wheel, having no interest whatsoever in the goings-on of sport, letting just about any Whosit on a hot-streak hoist the Title hardware (‘86 Mets, ‘06 Heat, ‘15 GSW, ’14 Seahawks), then, at other times, the Sporting Gods just can’t keep their all-guiding hands off of the controls.

It’s the latter practice that looks to’ve been in operation for major league baseball’s World Series 2016 that pitted two Title-starved opponents in the Cleveland Indians against the Chicago Cubs.

The Gods must’ve had themselves a good long laugh.

Not with the winning Bruins (4-3), the team most pre-season prognosticators pegged to take the title, but in affecting the crazy course by which the Cubbies finally navigated their way, once again (‘07-08), back to the champion’s podium.

As for the Indians, Mgr Terry Francona and Cleveland brass will have ’em back.

chancemcgraw-5-2-1911-gg-bain-loc-wc-66kEmphasis on the adverb ‘again’ as most people, even the raucous revelers on State Street, have no idea (interest) that there were times, like in the 1880s (Cap Anson, King “Hook-Slide” Kelly, John Clarkson) and then early 1900s (Chance, Evers, Tinker, Brown, Kling, Overall, Steinfeldt, Reulbach) when the name Chicago Cubs struck fear into the hearts of men, even the likes of Cobb, Wagner, McGinnity & McGraw.

First, the Gods put the Tribe out front (3-1), building hope for their frustrated fans who hadn‘t had a championship since Red River was in the theaters (“Yeeee-ha!” (‘48)), then they set the Cubs, who hadn’t even taken a pennant since that heart-wrenching year of 1945 (FDR – WW2), storming back to even it up at three, most of their wins coming on the road, no less, at Progressive Field.

And if that weren’t enough to trigger the PVCs, then the deciding game seven (7) goes extra innings (Zzzzz), has a rain-delay and had baseball writers pulling their hair out not knowing which title they were gonna’ post (’Cleveland, City of Champs!’ or ‘Cubs Win, Cubs Win, Cubs Win!’).

james-wc-4-27-8-k-allison-3-8mEven a kingly presence in the crowd (LeBron James) couldn’t turn the trick for the Tribe.

But if there are any fans in sportdom who can fully appreciate both the lows of losing the big match (Indians) and then the cathartic joy that comes with winning the Chalice of a Champion (Cavaliers), it would be those who reside in and around the Forest City, Ohio.

So after all their fun n’ games, why’d the Gods tab Chicago the winner?

If there’s one thing the Divinities will not tolerate, something they simply abhor, it is the haphazard stewardship of baseball records.

If you write about rounders often you will come to rely on the wealth of statistics made available on the web at baseball-reference.com. The same sort of repository exists for many of the major American merriments. When you cut through all the sabrmetric snooze (WAR, OPS, etc.), the site’s smorgasbord of stats is a tremendous baseball resource for which this user is grateful.

gold-medieval-ring-wc-sonofthesands-britain-146kBut when the boys who run the site brazenly decided in-Series to award championship rings to the Indians (appearing as a gold icon next to the relevant year in the “Postseason” section (all now removed)), as early as the close of game three (3) with Tribe up 2-1, the Sporting Gods decided on a winner: The Cubs. There’s that, and the fact that the Northsider’s dry-spell for a World Series winner (1908), whether based at West Side Grounds or Weeghman – Wrigley Field, had Cleveland’s beat by 40 years. Plenty parched.

— — —

He was near demigod status in his role shaping the Francona Red Sox teams that ended their own championship drought in 2004 and reigned again in 2007. But in doing the same for the parched pin-strippers on Chicago’s Northside (See Also; GM Jed Hoyer), Theo Nathaniel Epstein (b.12.29.73 (NY)) left behind the wunderkind tag and joined a select group of baseball executives (GM – PBO), builders who, when funded ($), create dream seasons and dynasties. It’s a membership that includes Branch Rickey (OH) and Ed Barrow (“born in a covered wagon in Springfield (Ill.)(Wikipedia)).” Big stuff.

inherit-tracy-wc-1960-ua-54kBut with progress comes a cost, a quid pro quo. You gain something, you give something up. For the Cubs and their followers that price may be the ‘lovable’ they’ve been serving up since 1945.

Spencer Tracy (“Henry Drummond”) spoke to this yin-yang thing in Stanley Kramer’s highly acclaimed Scopes Monkey Trial movie, Inherit the Wind (‘60):

Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it.
Sometimes I think there’s a man who sits behind a counter and says, ‘All right, you can have a telephone but you lose privacy and the charm of distance.
Madam, you may vote but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder puff or your petticoat. And Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.’”

The faithful, Cubs ownership in the Ricketts family and Manager Joe Maddon, both deserving of the Rainmaker tag themselves, the sports media, all have failed to consider what it will really mean to the Cozy World of Confine now that the Cubs have won their 3rd World Series championship.

epstein-wc-slingsby-9-8-10-688kThe red, white & blue Bruins have built so much out of “nothing” it became the most beloved brand in all of sports. Everybody likes the Cubs, even before 2016. The undying love they engender in their fans nationwide is admired on par with Yankees’ prowess in play.

Winning changes everything. Fenway fans in their 40s understand that. There’s a new expectation, standard in Bean Town and Chicago, too. Anything short of a World Series title gets an incomplete grade. Tension rises, especially amongst the fair-weather fan who jumped the bandwagon and has wherewithal of a wet peanut.

Finally breaking that championship drought (’04 (1918 v Cubs)) can be cathartic for those who still hold the pain from chances that got away (‘67, ‘75, ‘86). But it’s a different mood in Boston these days. Success is sweet but it can be a pretty girl with a fickle heart: Warm when in clover, cold when the chips are down.

And that’s half hyperbole.

The victory parade down Michigan Avenue in November, so thick with confetti The Fugitive could’ve eluded police for days, was a beautiful sight to behold.

chicago-mi-ave-wc-4-9-11-l-fuss-2-8mA man who knew a thing or two about progress was at the Allied controls when the Cubs were in spring training and about to embark on a season that would take them to what was to be their last NL pennant and fall classic prior to 2016 (1945). That man was U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – April 12, 1945 (d. Warm Springs, GA)):

This is what 4-termer FDR, the standard by which all Presidents are measured, had to say about progress: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much (Yankees & Cardinals), but whether we provide enough for those who have too little (Royals (2015) and Cubs (2016)).”

Hooray for progress!

.....canned cornSteven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: T.Epstein, wc.cca, 10.22.16, A.PardavilaIII; Sporting(MeetingGods), wc, 1630, CV.Poelenburgh; J.McGraw-F.Chance, wc, 5.2.1911, GG.Bain, LoC; L.James, wc, K.Allison, 4.27.8; gold-medieval-ring, wc, Britain, Sonofthesands; Inherit-the-wind, S.Tracy, UA, 1960; Epstein, wc, 9.8.10, S.Slingsby; MichiganAve., wc, Chicago, L.Fuss, 4.9.11, Canned-corn
Posted: 11.5.16 @ 9:57pm EST; Copyright © 2016

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McDonald’s: Sorry French Fries, Love’s Not Enough

21 May

Caesarian appetite

All roads lead to our gut, esophageal and metaphysical both.

Our stomach is the coliseum of calories, the place where sugar, fat, carbs and protein all do battle but ultimately succumb to those rippling, duty-bound digestive enzymes to give our body & mind all it needs and more, much more.

El Gastro Gestalt is capital city of our conscious and unconscious minds both.

It’s been that way ever since the Allies crushed the Axis and victors re-directed all that industrious, inventive spirit in armament assembly into the peacetime production of food stuffs on a mass scale the world had never before seen.

While opposite economic ideologies (capitalism v communism) became basis for continued conflict in bullets, A-bomb building & bivouacs (Korea, Indochina, Cuba), the war on hunger became the 2d theater of battle, fighting for the freedom to eat, eat more and then eat again.

.......McDonalds.Arch.thm.3.22.6.R.Sinn.wc.TorontoAfter 70 years of bridge building, base construction and salvos of savory & sweet treats fired off by McDonald’s, Nestlé, ADM, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo and Yum!, those who write the history of the Hunger War will record that hearts & minds were won over, completely, like the slurp sound found at the bottom of a small shake.

Mission accomplished: The world is addicted to eating.

(Regarding that Axis thing, a small cell was brought back to life in some demonic deed at, of all places, Disney (ESPN), in some joker’s idea to work a motif on, of all things, camera angle. Even the colors have a Third Reichian feel. Gadgetry goofs. Ugh. Walt’s gotta’ be spinning in his grave: ‘I just wanted to make a place for fun (and a little loot to boot)!’ We know, Walt, we know.)

From sun-up to sundown the gobble & guzzle direct much of our day.

A line in a Roger Corman flick, of all mediums, summed up well the power of the emerging super salivary state (X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes (‘63)):

Dr. Xavier (Ray Milland): “Is that what you think (that I’m a fraud)?”
Carnie Mom: “I don’t think, I just eat!”

Or these nuggets from the gold-mine that was The King of Queens:

Carrie: “Doug, you once told me you only play poker because it adds excitement to your eating!” Doug: “Well excuse me for embracing life!”

Carrie: “Look, there’s a special on mahi-mahi, you’d like it, tastes just like steak.” Doug (“Sir-Eats-Alot”): I’ll get excited when there’s fish that tastes like Doritos.”

.......McDonalds.QP.wc.9.19.6.F.Saalfeld.thmSometimes it’s the salty urge that draws us in (moi). Others it’s sweet. Nearly always it’s pre-packaged by something or someone else hundreds of miles away who add in only god or a chemist knows what.

Eating is of course a basic need for life, going back to Adam & Eve, the Leakey sloth or Ancient Aliens experiment #1, depending in which school-of-thought you matriculate.

After out-foxing toothier beasts, then fashioning shelter from the elements, eating has been our #1 worry for 99.99999% of our time on this “spinning world.” But while that effort consumed much of the day’s time, the haul was generally compatible and nurturing to our physical and emotional well-being.

Fibrous fruits & vegetables, nuts & seeds, formerly diet mainstays, grown or gathered near home or bought locally for soon-day consumption are still favorites but for only a comparative handful: 1000 to 1.

Seek and you shall find

‘We are what we eat (Brillat-Savarin).’ In 2016 we’re just a bunch of trans-fatties, filled-to-the-gills with triglycerides, traces of barnyard hormones & antibiotics, quarts of high fructose corn syrup, shakers of salt and enough genetically-modified organisms (GMO (corn)), hot (aldehydes) & hydrogenated oils and gluten (wheat) in a year’s consumption to fill a Honda Civic, sans a CD-player.

.......McDonalds.Tokyo.JPN.wc.9.21.4.thm.A.FucitoUnless a maker clearly states on their product it’s organic or gluten-free (See; USDA labeling standards), you can assume you’re getting the whole toxic treatment.

I’ve singled-out McDonald’s but could just as easily have listed Burger King, Kellogg’s, Olive Garden, Taco Bell, Appleby’s, Frito Lay, Cracker Barrel, Hillshire Brands, General Mills, Smithfield, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Mars or any other major player in production or delivery of processed / prepared food stuffs, confectionaries or beverages. Mickey D’s just happens to be the first, the biggest and most recognized of the drive-in joints, a cultural icon in eatery consumerism. The Oak Brook, Illinois-based restaurant also happens to be my favorite when indulging the desire for a fast fill-up.

Ray Kroc’s burger baby was my first family fast-food experience.

Choices were limited in the 60s but we didn’t complain. Returning from a trip or to give Mom a break, we’d pack the Ford station wagon, all eight of us, Dad took the orders, walked inside (no seating then) and returned with cardboard holders in drinks and eats. No Big Macs, Quarter-Pounders, salads, chicken things, McMuffins, just the basics: Single-patty burger, chocolate or vanilla shakes, Coke and fries in one size so small you could’ve fit it in your shirt pocket.

.....McDonalds.Bangkok.5.9.6.E.Molina.thm.wcAnd in that last fun fact (fries) lay Big Issue #2, after the uh-oh ingredients (See; Above), serving size. We eat too much in 2016 by portioning too big.

Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary Super Size Me put the quantity issue right under our noses, tabbing McDonald’s as the fast-food format-doormat.

It’s not easy guarding the gate to our mouth. Our needs must do battle daily, and nightly, with desires that are shaped by marvelous marketing, tantalizing, permanently impressionable tastes and professional placement of product line in grocery aisle and on highway signage.

Insatiable appetite

Our bodies and brains have no natural inclination towards sugar and carbohydrates. But the palate-pleasers developed by food chemists post-World War 2, indoctrinating us from the time we exit the womb, make our mouths sing for “♫ more, more, mooooore (ATC (‘76)) ♫.” One taste and you’re hooked, or, in the nomenclature, it’s love at first bite.

......McDonalds.brd.wc.thm.Kici.2.4.7.JapanKey players in the fixation: Hydrogenated trans-fats that came onto market in the 1950s, followed by high fructose corn syrup (Clinton Corn Processing and Japan‘s AIST (Takasaki)), first in drinks (70s), now in pretty much in anything that’s processed & packaged.

If you don’t think food is addictive like cigarettes or alcohol, try going off the sweet, savory and wheat-based staples for a week and see how you fare. You’ll be climbing the walls and kicking the family pet if you’re not careful.

We’re not helpless creatures. Will power, lack thereof, plays a role in our oral fixations and face-stuffing routines. But science & psychology play their part.

Food stuffs are packaged with artful, eye-catching flair, labeled in accordance w/USDA but free to finesse (One of the FDA’s sorry-standards: If a food item has trans-fat < 0.4 gram it need not be listed on said label. “Tanks fur nuttin (“Maggie (Caddyshack (‘80)”)!’”). Once the goods hit the grocery or restaurant chain, the strategy-in-placement, whether on shelf & aisle or street location will take command and push a Pavlovian response if you’re hungry or just think so.

......McDonalds.Israel.wc.2.7.7.Ingsoc.thm.AshqelonWriting as one of those dutiful dogs in dining I can say it’s been alot of fun. Many a tasty, convenient and filling meals have passed these lips. I wouldn’t say inexpensive fun but then convenience does exact a price.

But now some of us are making discoveries about the food and beverages we consume, deciding to break the cycle of addiction. It’s not easy. Making a life change never is.

Spurlock & Co. did a public service, for profit, with their documentary, focusing on the most conspicuous health harm associated with a steady diet in processed – prepared food (weight gain), and a subject most easily solicitous of chuckles.

But there are many potential serious health risks associated with a daily diet in prepared-food that are not directly associated with the scale, i.e., obesity.

Ingesting a mere 1 gram of trans fat, easy to do with federal labeling loophole (< 0.4 gram), found in most pre-packaged, processed food items, can take days to process out of the body. That hidden harm can then potentially be the build-up and tipping point for the bad event: Myocardial infarction, i.e., heart attack.

......McDonalds.kiosk.10.28.5.Shizhao.Shanghai.thmAnd don’t expect government to push the food court to find healthier means to feed the world. Understanding that legislators and agency folk work on a quid pro quo basis and are generally captured in 2016 by those they’re entrusted to regulate, the task of getting lots o’ food to the masses, as laden with undesirables as it would seem, has become the only political mandate on the eat-issue.

And it is that same mentality that drove the message behind Soylent Green (Stan Greenberg & Harry Harrison (‘73)): When the sea is farmed-out, the people keep multiplying fruitfully, terra firma loses that precious top soil and pollutants take their toll, you find protein wherever you can. Eek.

♫ Breaking Up Is Hard to Do ♫

Here then are the interlopers in processed food stuffs, those unseemly sorts who were given a key to the place and drove a wedge between health-wise consumers and their former steady (McDonald‘s, etc.), leading the jilted to bid adieu.

......Coke.bubbles.Spiff.wc.thmSugar-based beverages (high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sucrose (table sugar) – dextrose mixture)

Flavoring soda pop and other heavily sweetened drinks, sugars regular consumption can lead to insulin resistence, glucose intolerance and metabolic syndrome (diabetes). The neuro-degenerative disorder Alzheimer’s disease is now sometimes being referred to as diabetes of the brain.

Gluten-based bread and emulsifiers

Wheat-protein containing a difficult to digest amino acid is in the bread that houses those hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. Like trans-fat, it will turn to add-on weight, i.e., love handles, and celiac disease in more serious cases.

Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs)

The research is ongoing about these engineered foods and the human health risks, short and long-term, are largely unknown which means the safety picture on such altered foods remains blurred. No labeling required in the USA.

Cured or adulterated meats

Taking the form of bacon, sausage, jerky and the like, they are believed to have a possible casual connection to heart disease and some cancers.

......McDonalds.fries.Kici.Japan.10.14.06.thmReheated cooking oils

Burgers are boss at McDonald’s but the fries are its calling card. Best in the biz. The cooking oil can be harmful beyond the unhealthy fats. If reheated enough it will create toxic chemicals called aldehydes that collect in the brain and are being linked to neurodegenerative disorders (dementia / Alzheimer’s) and advanced glycation end-products (free radicals) associated with diabetes. Crazy love.

Chemically treated salad greens, vegetables and wheat – corn products

Unless plant parts are identified as organically grown it’s a strong chance they’ve been prepared with any number of chemicals that rinsing will not entirely wash clean. These man-made molecules kill the pests but do no good inside the body.

Antibiotics and hormones in livestock and feed

The livestock that account for most of the processed meals will often receive growth-hormone and drug treatments to fight illness, some that can add considerable bulk to the beast. Humans don’t need animal pharmacology.

Trans-fats and hydrogenated oils

Safflower and cottonseed oil (omega-6) are some of the bad boys that find their way into most processed foods because they emulsify and make it taste good. But these bad fats (good fats include omega-3 (fish oil) and omega-9s (olive oils) are key contributors to heart disease.

We wouldn’t let “Joe Camel” sell cigarettes to kids, why would we let Kellogg’s, KFC, PepsiCo and Kraft sell them on a possible pathway to increased risk for diabetes, heart disease (inflammation & oxidation) and maybe even some cancers as well (immunity deficiency)? Ask your friendly neighborhood legislator, soon.

......McDonalds.Sydney.Sardaka.11.5.12.wc.thmWhen Russ Westbrook (Mt-Dew), LeBron James, Bryce Harper and Cam Newton (Gatorade) pitch for PepsiCo and their sugar-based drinks, whether HFCS or the sucrose – dextrose mix, is selling the sweet drinks much different than when John Wayne, Joe DiMaggio and dozens of other stars shilled for the tobacco companies throughout a good part of the prior century? Government’s “strange inconsistency” in regulation may be explained in that there is no 2d-hand heart disease and diabetes can sometimes be manageable (ugh). But cancer is cancer, folks, in all of its deadly forms.

The food conglomerates’ have a good defense: ‘We feed the world,’ a planet with its ever-growing population, no longer checked by world war or global plagues. And with a world-wide energy crisis looming as oil reserves continue to dwindle and alternatives not yet a reality, healthiest foods may become a moot point.

Truth be told, because organic and gluten-free choices are not always available in stores & restaurants, because old habits die hard and one must treat themselves to the emulsified flavors that please the palate so well, my wife and I do continue to purchase some processed foods & beverages for home consumption and travel especially, with digestive supplement (Tolerase®) and handy.

Ultimately, responsibility will rest on the shoulders of every person, parent – guardian where children and dependents are concerned (It‘s never too late to start a healthier lifestyle) and their medical professional to better educate themselves on choices in diet and related habits like exercise, cessations (big portions / excess drink / smoking), stress reduction and supplementation.

Go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed and read for yourself what experts are publishing about their findings on the food we eat and who we really are.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credits: BigMac, 2.4.7, Kici, Japan, wc.cca; McDonalds-Arch, 3.22.6, wc.cca, Toronto, R.Sinn; QuarterPounder, wc.cca, Saalfeld, 8.19.6; McDonald’s-Tokyo, wc.cca, JPN, 9.21.4, A.Fucito; McDonalds-Bangkok, wc.cca, 5.9.6, E.Molina; McDonalds-burger, Kici, 2.4.7, wc.cca, Japan; McDonald’s-Israel, wc.cca, Ingsoc, 2.7.7, Ashqelon; McDonalds-Kiosk, 10.28.5, Shanghai, Shizhao; Coke, bubbles, Spiff, wc; McDonalds-fries, Kici, 10.14.6, Japan; McDonalds-Sydney, Sardaka, wc.cca, 11.5.12; macroecono-lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc.cca.
Posted: 5.21.16 @ 2:43pm, edit 11:59 EST; Copyright © 2016
The King of Queen quotes: Springfield!-Springfield!

MLB16 Chin Music: What If Cubs Do Win a World Series, Again?

19 Feb

These are different days in the land of bruins, “big shoulders” and manually-operated scoreboards.

If you’d been pulling a Rip Van Winkle and just awoke from your Washington Irving-like slumber you might not recognize the goings on at Wrigley Field.

.....CubsLogo.1914.Wjmummert.wc.thmOh, the renovations at the century old structure (1914), originally named Weeghman Park and home to the Federal League champion Whales, haven’t changed it a whole lot. It still retains that certain brick & steel-beam charm but with more lights, seats, eats for the adults and bells & whistles for the Xbox® set.

And they best be careful what they do with that playing surface. It’s where Cubs’ great Charlie Grimm (d. 1983) had his ashes spread (Wikipedia). Hallowed ground, indeed.

The new mood amongst the faithful isn’t so much more upbeat as Cubs fans have always been the glass-half full sort, as it is more…expectant, an air of confidence they‘ve not had at the ‘friendly confines’ for quite some time.

...........Epstein.9.8.10.wc.S.Slingsby.thmEven the ivy, what’s left, looks more hopeful, if a bit nervy.

The hirings of wunderkind executive Theo Epstein (2011 (5y)) and then prized manager Joe Maddon (2015) were the table-setters to a hoped-for celebratory feast (WS win), marking the first major investments by the Ricketts family who purchased controlling share of World Cubs in 2009.

Ricketts tugged tight on those purse strings in early going to get team’s financial house in order in wake of Tribune’s economic plight (a prior ownership that had on occasion, like Wrigleys, made serious investments in winning) and some hefty contracts weighing on the books. But they’ve loosened those strings a bit with mind’s eye for pennants and championship banners. At least that’s the notion.

Though off-season signings of Jason Heyward (.268 (RF)) and ringholders Ben Zobrist (.265 (2d)) and moundsmen John Lackey (165-127) showed the Cubs are in a mood for winning now, the cultivation & keeping of young, homegrown (Bryant) or trade-acquired talent (Rondon / Rizzo), as opposed to free agency, seems the tack the Cubs’ braintrust favors.

..........Maddon.wc.4.14.14.MD.K.Allison.thmConfidence wasn’t always such a rare commodity in Chicago’s National League exchange. No sir-ee, Bob.

The Cubs today are butt of the longest running joke on championship futility. But because subject-history has been trampled flat by current trend-setters (See; the Prez, etc.) in favor of math, science, more math (sabrmetrics), most folks have no idea about Chicago’s glory days of yore.

The name Chicago had struck fear into the hearts of foes in the 1880s (White Stockings) when Cap Anson, John Clarkson and King “Hook-Slide” Kelly were busting balls, then again in the early 20th when the greatest pitching staff ever assembled was mowing ‘em down at West Side Park (Grounds) while the fielding exploits of Steinfeldt to “Tinker to Evers to Chance” were driving New Yorkers to despair and alternatively inspiring some to pen poems (F.P. Adams) in honor of the brawny & brainy Bruins.

That’s saying something in an age when players, managers, umpires, bowler-wearing fans, even kid vendors were tough as nails. ‘Put ‘em up, panty-waist!’

.........Chance.wc.1909.ATC.LoC.thmThough their last World Series win (1908), 2d of the 1st back-to-back dynasty in modern history, was over a century ago, collecting pennants is no small achievement. From 1929 to 1945 the Cubs collected Senior circuit banners like nobody‘s business, appearing in 5 and taking Tigers to 7 in their last.

It’s that near 40-year period from 1946 to just before the magical season of 1984 as Ryno, Rick, Jim Frey, Don Zimmer, Harry Caray & Co. finally broke the post-season drought, when the seed for a weeping willow of woe was sown & cultivated by a succession of sorries.

Since that bittersweet ‘84 when Cubs were still ‘day-timers only’ and Ueberroth made the money-call to gave their playoff opponents the Padres (3-2) home-field even as Chicago had the top mark, the Northsiders have made the PS six times, including the NLCS in 2003 (FL 4-3). Not exactly a source for Midwest bragging rights but a far cry from the futility the bear Cubs had suffered for what seemed an eternity. It’s been moving in the right direction, anyway.

........Bryant.4.27.15.MBD.Chicago.thm.wcBut hold off on stocking that celebratory champagne just yet. These Cubs have a few burs in their fur that need attention.

Last season’s team BA (.244 – 13th NL (KC .269 (2d AL)) and strikeout totals (1518 – 15 (KC 973 – 1st)) are unacceptable lines for a championship caliber club. And no off-season acquisitions look likely to change that worrisome state.

Encouraging marks were the OB% (.321 – 5 (KC .322 – 7)) and favorable run production (689 – 6th (KC 724 – 6)) with Rizzo (94), Bryant (87) and Fowler (102), all mainstays who look to have a nose for the plate when they manage to get on base, not made easier with that woeful whiff total.

Some stern instruction in fundamentals seems in order for Chicago’s bat-control and the glove work, another necessity if Chicago seeks a place among MLB elite. Cubs sat in bottom bracket on team fielding (.982 – 12 (KC .985 – 3)) and errors (111 – 12th (KC 88 – 6)). The signing of 3-time gold glover Heyward will help.

.......Arrieta.wc.DSCN0048.thm..6.24.14As for the moundsmen, Bruins have their ace in re-signed 2015 Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta (R) while both Jon Lester (L (10)) and newly acquired John Lackey (R (13)) will provide innings and a wealth of craft.

Jon had a disappointing first year in the Senior Circuit, posting 11-12, in opposite of king’s ransom he’d negotiated. Lackey pitched alike his first half-season with the Cards (3-3 / 4.30 (‘14)) and picked-it-up in 2015 (13-10 / 2.77). All three stars gave mixed performances in their post-season outings last October.

Jake’s 2-1 record is misleading. The Missouri native pitched a gem in WC win vs PIT but averaged a hefty 6.50 ERA (1-1) and 4 runs in limited outings vs STL [W] and NYM [L]. Jon, known for his playoff prowess from Beantown days (‘07-13) pitched pedestrian in his two starts (0-2 / 4.50) and served up 3 dingers in 13i.

Fourth starter Jason Hamel, also in his 2d decade, went 10-7 (3.74), faltered in the PS too (2g-7h-7r (3hr)) but figures back in the rotation as Kyle Hendricks (3.95) and Adam Warren (3.29 (NYY-Castro)) may duel for the fifth spot.

.......Wrigley.wc.Jblesage.5.28.08.thmCubs’ closer is Venezuela-born Héctor Rondón (30sv / 1.67). Indians signee at 16 (‘04), Cubs took Rondón in “2012 Rule 5 Draft.” He came with an injury-history, a TJS in 2010 and elbow bang the next year (Wikipedia) but has been tooling along fine for Chicago since 2014. His showing in last season’s PS was mixed as well, shutting the door on STL (NLDS) in G2 & 4 after a shaky outing in G3 and only one hit surrendered in two, non-lead closer stints vs Mets (NLCS (0-4)).

Returning for mid-relief are Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, Clayton Richard & Travis Wood who in 2015 provided the bulk of innings for the Northsiders (100ip). “Sweet Trav (Overboard ’87)” was a 2013 All-Star but gave up 11 “tatters (G.Scott)” last year while Grimm posted a nifty 1.99e in just under 50i of work.

But a message to Wrigley regulars: Careful what you wish, you just might get it.

......Inherit.Tracy.wc.1960.UA.thmWith progress comes a cost, a quid pro quo of sorts. When you gain something you also lose something. For the Cubs and their followers, if they do hoist the World Series trophy, that price may be the ‘lovable’ they’ve been serving up since 1945. Spencer Tracy (“Henry Drummond”) spoke to this yin-yang thing in Stanley Kramer’s highly acclaimed Scopes Monkey Trial movie, Inherit the Wind (‘60):

Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it.
Sometimes I think there’s a man who sits behind a counter and says, ‘All right, you can have a telephone but you lose privacy and the charm of distance.
Madam, you may vote but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder puff or your petticoat. And Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.’”

The faithful, the Ricketts, sports media, all may’ve failed to give enough thought to exactly what it will mean to the Cozy World of Confine if the Cubs actually do get to and then win a World Series, this year or any for that matter.

............whatIf.maryeoriginals.wc.5.4.14.thmRed, white & blue Bruins have built so much out of “nothing” it’s become the “cool(est) hand” in all of sport. Everybody likes the Cubs. The undying love they engender in their fans nationwide is admired on par with Yankees’ prowess. And the nobody’s, who cares what they think? What do titles get you anyway? A run-o-the-mill championship package from Sports Illustrated and higher ticket prices, that’s what.

Cubbies are cool to a ♫ tune ♫ of a $1.8 billion valuation (Forbes). Near chicken-feed to what your friendly neighborhood pharmaceutical draws in a fiscal year but not too shabby for so-called ‘losers,’ eh?

If “Cubs win” in the WS they become just like all the other champions today: Fairly forgettable. Pop Quiz: Who won the Series in 2014? Yeah, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Balderdash.

Fenway faithful understand of what I write, how winning changes things.

Finally breaking the drought (2004 (1918 (v Cubs))) to take a World Series title again can be cathartic for those who still hold the pain from the good chances that got away (‘67, ‘75, ‘86).

....Chicago.MI.Ave.wc.4.9.11.L.Fuss.thmBut it’s a different mood in Boston these days. Success is sweet but it can be a pretty girl with a fickle heart once the winning becomes an expectant: Warm in clover, cold when the chips are down.

And that’s hyperbole. A ticker-tape parade on Michigan Ave. in October, so thick with confetti “The Fugitive” could elude the coppers for days would be a beautiful sight. Even the lordly Cardinals’ fans, those who love the game, might nod in grudging appreciation, as long as it‘s not the Cubs who again bump ‘em from the PS (See; 2015 DS) on their way to the Series. Ouch.

Ready to rain on those parade preparations are other baseball clubs with their own aspirations to glory.

For starters, there’s the reigning champ Royals, newer version of Miami’s “No-name” NFL bunch back in the 70s. Joe got the loot but Ned Yost got the hoot (ring). These guys just might want a dynasty for the KC-side of Missouri.

Then there’s the Giants, winners of three Series the past six seasons, staggered every even-numbered year which means they’re due in 2016.

....FDR.wc.cca.E.Goldensky.1933.thumbAdd in the usual contenders like the Cardinals, Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, new-comers in the Pirates, Astros, Blue Jays and last year’s NL pennant takers the Mets and there are Seven Ways from Sundown (‘60) that could keep the Cubs frustrated.

Progress, like time, marches on. If Cubs don’t win the World Series sometime soon it’s just proof the Sporting Gods are stark, raving lunatics, or they simply know better. That’s why they’re deities.

A man who knew a thing or two about progress was at the Allied controls when the spring Cubs were about to embark on a season that’d take them to what was to be their last fall classic (‘45), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945 (Warm Springs, GA)):

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much (Yankees & Cardinals), but whether we provide enough for those who have too little (Royals (2015) and Cubs (?)).”

Hooray for progress! Play ball!

...canned cornSteven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: Cubs, wc-cca, 1957-78, Sportslogo; CubsLogo, wc, Wjmummert, 1914; Epstein, wc, 9.8.10, S.Slingsby; Maddon, 4.14.14, wc, K.Allison, MD; Chance, wc, ATC, 1909, LoC; Bryant, 4.27.15, MBD, wc, Chicago; Arrieta, wc, DSCN0048, 6.24.14, Wrigley, wc, Jblesage, 5.28.08; InherittheWind, Tracy, UA, 1960, wc; WhatIf, wc, maryoriginals, 5.4.14; Chicago-street-sign-MI-CHI-Ave, wc, 4.9.11, L.Fuss; FDR-girl, wc, 02-41, top college; FDR, wc, E.Goldensky, 1933; Canned-corn.
Posted: 2.19.16 @ 12:10p, edit (title) 10.22.16 @ 2:34p ET; Copyright © 2016
Stat / bio sources: Baseball-reference, Rotoworld & Wikipedia