“Mantle did not expect to play one day and showed up extremely hungover. He was nevertheless called on to pinch hit and smashed a towering home run to an enthusiastic ovation. The outfielder related to his teammates, “Those people don’t know how tough that was.” – Jim Bouton
Mickey Mantle could be a case study in optics. Rumors persisted, later confirmed by the Hall of Fame slugger himself, that he battled alcoholism for the entirety of his career and still he managed to slash .298/.421/.977 with 536 home runs and 1,509 RBI over 18 seasons. He also missed 391 games during that time due to various injuries. He could easily have it another 75 home runs while driving in additional 225 runs or more were he consistently healthy.
Though his alcohol issues were widely assumed, only Mantle’s closest teammates had definitive proof. Before Bouton published his book, Ball Four, few players exposed clubhouse secrets to fans or the media. The Mick played his entire career with one good leg and probably a dozen or so hangovers per season, if not more.
The Ricketts’ family has an optics issue that is quite opposite of Mantle’s, and it’s not a good look for the family or the team. Though the organization published a very eloquent statement condemning racism and supporting equality for all members of society, the family is and has been dealing with negative backlash due to racism and tone-deafness.
A statement from the Chicago Cubs. pic.twitter.com/11FWFWR1bE
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 2, 2020
Billionaire patriarch Joe Ricketts shamed the family last year with a racist, Islamophobic email scandal. Years before that, he funded a Super PAC in an attempt to unseat Barack Obama during his 2012 re-election bid. Todd Ricketts runs the fundraising arm of Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, brother of Tom and Todd, isn’t helping with his family’s reputation. In some cases where mistakes are made, I’ll often look immediately to intent to see if it was a simple case of foot-in-mouth disease or if true hatred is at the root of the error in judgment.
According to a pastor who took his story to social media in an enraging video, Governor Ricketts began a sentence with the words, “The problem I have with you people” while meeting with a large audience of community leaders. This took place in Omaha, Nebraska, where a 22-year-old black man was fatally shot by a white bar owner during protests of the George Floyd killing.
That’s never a good look. Right now, it is so much more than a poor choice of phrasing or an error in judgment.
Pastor Jarrod Parker, then man whose video took off, called Ricketts a racist. The Republican governor stepped down from the Cubs’ board of directors in 2019, but this controversy will reflect upon the rest of his family. Credibility issues are the last thing the family needs when they have refused to spend to upgrade the team, charge more on average than any other franchise for a family of four to attend a game, and cry poor as negotiations between owners and players have created a salary stalemate.
Tom Ricketts has done little to help his family’s public image as he continues to lament the wreckage that is his, and the team’s, current financial state.
“The league itself does not make a lot of cash,” Ricketts said yesterday while asking for financial sympathy from fans. “I think there is a perception that we hoard cash and we take money out and it’s all sitting in a pile we’ve collected over the years. Well, it isn’t. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. No one expects to have to draw down on the reserves from the past. Every team has to figure out a way to plug the hole.”
I feel you, Tom. All I do is plug financial holes these days, you know, just so I can eat and keep my home.
In a country that is waging war over white entitlement, suffering through mental fatigue and financial disrepair, and while 40 million Americans are collecting unemployment, that’s probably not the narrative you want to relay to the general public, especially considering Ricketts may have understated the profitability of the franchise. It’s all about optics, and right now, the view from the cheap seats is pretty bad.
Find Your Inner Hero
“Look for the helpers.” – Fred Rogers
Here's a video about @LostBoyzInc
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 1, 2020
Cubs News & Notes
- Deferrals in the MLBPA economic proposal that was rejected by owners might have helped the Cubs financially.
- Ricketts remains optimistic that the 2020 season will be played.
- Anthony Rizzo is taking some flak for a photo he posted to social media yesterday. I don’t agree that he posted a “trophy photo” but I can understand that some individuals may have been upset. As I said, I look to intent, and I believe he just wanted to publicly praise the racial awareness efforts of Jason Heyward and Dexter Fowler.
- Let’s not forget the wonderful impact the Rizzo Family Foundation has made since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and for all of their charitable endeavors since he joined the Cubs.
- Fowler was once racially profiled by a nightclub while out with Cubs teammates.
- The Cubs posted an “End Racism” message to the Wrigley Field marquee.
MLB News & Notes
Sports have never felt more meaningless than they do right now.
Perhaps it’s a bad idea for the league to try to salvage the 2020 season given the nation’s ongoing racial divide.
The union was unmoved by the concept of a 50-game season and both sides remain in a stalemate.
There could be some advantages to a shortened season.
The MLBPA is reportedly on board with a regional schedule if baseball does return.
If baseball does return, here’s what it might look like.
Two Japanese professional baseball players have tested positive for COVID-19. The protocols instituted by NPB and other Asian professional leagues have been the foundation of MLB’s coronavirus plan.
A man was apprehended after breaking into Miller Park and causing damage to the field.
Odds & Sods
Adds this to the list of 2020 disasters.
— Daily Star (@dailystar) June 1, 2020
MLB is expected to make a statement today on George Floyd, nationwide protests, and current states of affairs outside its own economic bubble. Let’s hope they get it right. Most teams have already made public announcements.
Sliding Into Home
I suffered through a scary incident yesterday, and I know that not all readers are following my GoFundMe page so I thought I’d provide a quick update. I spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening yesterday in the ER because my blood sugar dropped to a level where I nearly went into shock. Now, I don’t know what medical shock is, nor do I care to know, but it sounds like something that leads to death.
The hypoglycemic incident appears to be permanent, a byproduct of having a bum liver, and means more dietary restrictions while requiring a better effort on my behalf to lose weight. I am not overweight for a healthy individual, but I do need to drop 40-50 pounds because I am not a healthy individual. I’m still feeling jittery and out of sorts, so I have to take sips of juice or soda to maintain until more test results come back. I just got my new insurance card yesterday, too, so I imagine I will be be financially responsible for all of yesterday’s tests until I meet my deductible. When that bill comes I’ll suffer a different type of shock, I’m sure. There are worse problems to have, as we are all witnessing these days.
Out of Left Field
José Canseco is my new favorite nutjob.
If you want to stop racism you have to apply Supernatural Force
— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) June 3, 2020
They Said It
“The scale of losses across the league is biblical. The timing of the work stoppage, the inability to play was right before the season started. We’re looking at 30 teams with zero revenue. To cover the losses, all teams have gone out and borrowed. There’s no other way to do it in the short run. In the long run, we may be able to sell equity to cover some of our losses but that’s in the long run. [But] who would invest [right now]?” – Tom Ricketts
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Real World by Matchbox Twenty – We had some bad storms in Milwaukee last night and some protesters were accusing the government of seeding the clouds to stop their efforts. Sometimes you have to just shake your head.