Road to Opening Day: #3

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On the last game of the Cactus League slate prior to two exhibition games at Chase Field against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Chicago Cubs eked out a victory over the Chicago White Sox in the 2014 farewell to new Cubs Park in Mesa.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen an umpire induce an out before today:


Nice to see Justin Ruggiano play some defense and shrug it off like it was nothing:

Starlin Castro is looking to come back for those final two games against the Diamondbacks.  He should be ready for Opening Day, but we’ll wait and see on that one.  If he is ready in Pittsburgh, there are a bunch of new guys who will join him.  Looks like the last things to determine are who the number five starter is and who the last two guys in the bullpen will be.  We should know very soon because, y’know, Opening Day is Monday.

Carlos Villanueva was officially named the fifth starter, and the last decisions are for the bullpen.

The Cubs are in Chase Field on Friday night.  Game time is 8:40 PM Central, and the game will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Net Chicago.  You can listen in on MLB.com audio.

It’s okay, just a rest day:

 

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Ron Santo, the Ultimate Fan

RonSantoNo10flagAll Cubs fans should know that Ron Santo is one of the best third basemen of all time, on offense and defense.  Santo played his Hall of Fame career with Type I diabetes, which is even more impressive considering that it wasn’t as effectively treated back then as it is now.  And of course, Cubs fans know that Santo died before he could see himself be inducted into the Hall of Fame where he always belonged.

That is secondary to what I wanted to talk about though.  I knew Ron Santo not as a player (I was born years after he retired) but as the crazy uncle sidekick to Pat Hughes on the radio.  Half the time, I don’t think Santo knew what was really going on, or at least he wasn’t able to articulate it very well.  It always took him several more seconds than I deemed necessary to get a thought out, and when it did come out, it was jumbled and poorly formed.  Calling Ron Santo a “color commentator” was generous at best.

Yet, Ron Santo provided plenty of color.  He cheered for the Cubs when the team did well, and you could actually feel the man get physically ill if the Cubs did poorly.  The way he emoted suggested a deep love for the team and all things Chicago.  It was infectious despite his poor attempt at commentary.  And I don’t think any of us cared that Santo sucked as a commentator; his energy and enthusiasm were greatly appreciated, especially in the last couple years of his life when the Cubs were in a downturn.

ron-santo-cubsI think that’s why most fans my age miss Ron Santo.  We certainly can’t remember his playing days because we were too young, but we could recall all the moments we tuned in and many of the stories that Pat Hughes tells now.  It’s refreshing to see a guy with so much passion for something as simple as a baseball team be so bad at a job, yet so good.  He was so good because he was the ultimate fan.  Santo was like Hawk Harrelson in a way, only he wasn’t nearly as annoying as Hawk…or maybe I’m just biased.

It will be difficult at best to duplicate that amount of passion, and we’ll always remember the joy that Ron Santo brought to us over the radio waves.

THREE more sleeps.

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