“May good Saint Patrick bless you and keep you in his care, and may Our Lord be near you to answer every prayer.”– Traditional Irish Toast
“Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.” – Ernest Hemingway
We had a one-item bucket list, and that was to attend a Cubs game together this summer. There would be nothing better than basking in the warm afternoon sun in section 109 without a single care while we watched our hometown heroes mash against the Cardinals or Brewers. What could be better than a couple dogs, an ice cold beer, a rendition or two of “Go Cubs Go,” and like-minded camaraderie as the summer days are reaching maximum length?
I have a heavy heart this morning with some sad news to report. Our good friend and brother Scott Crandall, aka “Twin31s,” passed away at approximately 8am this morning due to complications from pancreatic cancer. The Sunday baseball column was always his favorite and the inspiration of many phone conversations between Scott and me. He was a man of God and an armchair Civil War historian. His ashes will be spread at Gettysburg per his wishes.
In our last conversation, we talked about the Tom Hanks movie Greyhound, the book Killer Angels (which was the basis for the movie Gettysburg), and family. Scott considered our Rundown community his second family. He wanted all of you to know that he deeply loved the conversations we’ve had here and that they helped him through nine months of chemotherapy and pain management.
Scott loved Anthony Rizzo and Javier Báez, thought David Ross was an excellent hire because he believed Joe Maddon let the Cubs get soft starting in 2017, and, like all of us, his greatest moment as a fan of Chicago’s North Side baseball team was the 2016 championship. Of course, we all know his favorite players were Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux, hence his Cubs Insider handle.
I’m so glad Mr. Crandall got to read my tribute to him last month after we first learned that his doctors could no longer stop the spread of his cancer. I was going through an automatic car wash when we first talked about his eventual passage. It was an eye-opener to say the least, but Scott remained in good spirits because he had come to terms with everything. His goal was to survive 2020, and he accomplished that.
Our community is one smaller this morning and as Scott has passed to the spiritual world, the populace of this planet is forever absent of one of its greatest individuals. Personally, I’ve lost a big brother and a tremendous friend. I’m going to send a #31 Cubs home jersey with a World Series patch and the name CRANDALL stitched across the shoulders plus a ’16 championship hat to his wife, Peg. If you’d like to contribute a buck or two, you can PayPal me here. Please include any personal note you would like me to pass on to Scott’s family.
The Sunday column will forever be dedicated to my “big brother” Scott.
Cubs News & Notes
- The highly-anticipated signing of IFA shortstop Cristian Hernandez was officially announced on Friday.
- Whether you want to believe it or not, the Cubs are in the middle of a youth movement that will span this season and next, and Hernandez will be added to a plethora of promising prospects that includes Brennen Davis, Miguel Amaya, Adbert Alzolay, Brailyn Marquez, and Ed Howard IV, among others.
- The front office agreed to terms with all arbitration-eligible players except Ian Happ, who is also the team’s union representative.
- The sides ultimately finished the day officially $850,000 apart, with Happ filing a figure of $4.1 million and the Cubs offering $3.25 million.
- Báez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, and new starter Zach Davies all agreed to one-year deals, avoiding arbitration.
- The last Cub to go to an arb hearing with the team was Justin Grimm in 2018, a move that ultimately didn’t work out too well for the reliever.
- The Cubs are still short at least two starting pitchers and Carlos Rodón may make a lot of sense on a one-year deal. He could be extended or potentially flipped at this year’s trade deadline if he has a strong season.
- Gleyber Torres and Carlos Zambrano are among the team’s best IFA signings, a list that also includes Contreras, Marquez, and shortstop Starlin Castro.
Odds & Sods
Not sure the optics will be very good among Cubs fans on this one, and the news service has an incredibly antiquated and difficult-to-market name.
Joe Ricketts is hiring staff to launch an online national news service called Straight Arrow News that he said will do what other outlets aren't doing — providing news without a political slant. https://t.co/bex2DBzEjS
— Omaha World-Herald (@OWHnews) January 17, 2021
Updates on Nine
- If you combine the talent that has left the NL Central this offseason — Kyle Schwarber, Yu Darvish, Josh Bell, and potentially Trevor Bauer — you’d have a team that could easily compete to win the division.
- The Phillies have reportedly offered free agent catcher J.T. Realmuto a five-year deal worth at least $100 million to re-sign. Realmuto and his agent, Jeff Barry of CAA, have reportedly sought a contract worth as much as $200 million.
- Free agent relief pitcher Kirby Yates is considering offers from five different teams, but the Padres are not among them. San Diego has interest in signing Yates but would have to “substantially” increase their offer.
- The Mets are in talks with closer Brad Hand. New York has been interested in Hand since Cleveland declined his option.
- The Yankees have reportedly re-signed infielder DJ LeMahieu to a six-year, $90 million deal.
- The Red Sox have agreed to re-sign left-hander Martín Pérez to a one-year, $5 million contract with a club option for 2022.
- In addition to Happ, 12 arbitration-eligible players did not reach an agreement with their respective clubs: Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson, Walker Buehler, Jack Flaherty, Donovan Solano, Shohei Ohtani, Ryan Yarbrough, Mike Soroka, J.D. Davis, Anthony Santander, Ji-Man Choi and Austin Barnes.
- New Mets’ owner Steve Cohen has been a social media delight since purchasing the team and he offered a teasingly funny response to a tweet by George Springer that indicated free agent outfielder would like to play for a team that is in close proximity to his native Connecticut.
- Fearing that the pandemic could create havoc with their scheduling once again, Major League Baseball is reportedly proposing the return of seven-inning doubleheaders and extra-inning games beginning with a runner on second base among other rules instituted before the start of the 2020 season. The universal DH is still being discussed and should be a no-brainer since pitchers haven’t batted since 2019.
White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is really trying to make Chicago a White Sox city. It probably won’t happen, but he will probably at least level the playing field. Even though I don’t believe they are a championship caliber team, they’ll be fun to watch.
Jerry Reinsdorf and Tom Ricketts share the same burden of having to pay players without knowing when — or if — fans will be allowed inside their ballparks.
— Chicago Tribune Sports (@ChicagoSports) January 17, 2021
They Said It
- “You don’t really see the players coming out and saying that we took a 63% loss this year. That’s not the narrative from the players because we didn’t lose any real money. Guys still got paid. Guys still made more than zero. We didn’t have to give anything back. It’s really tough to claim loss when it’s just money that wasn’t realized. But that’s the case on both sides, right?” – Ian Happ
Sunday Walk Up Song
Over the Rainbow by Eric Clapton – Until we meet again, my friend.