Monday, October 24, 2011

Cubs and Mesa lose a champion, but his work will endure

With an entertaining World Series being played and the Cubs big hire of Theo Epstein from the Red Sox it seems there is a lot going on in the baseball world as we approach the close of October. Sadly, this past Friday baseball and the Cubs lost a great friend as Cactus League stalwart Robert Brinton passed away unexpectedly. Robert was one of the a key leaders in helping the Cubs secure the new spring training complex to be built at Riverview Park in Mesa. He was also a past president of the Cactus League Association and 20 year board member, the current executive director of the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as a former leader and longtime member of the Mesa Hohokams.

Robert was a huge Cubs fan, and worked tirelessly for the last 50 years to make the Cactus League the success it is today. As former Hohokam Stadium manager and current D-Backs manager of Spring Training Operations Dave Dunne said in this article about Robert , "He was this generation's Dwight Patterson." Patterson is known as the father of the Cactus League and made the deal to help move the Cubs to Mesa for spring training beginning in 1952. Robert's father was one of the original members of the Hohokam group formed by Patterson and Mesa business leaders in the early 1950's to help with Cubs spring training. Which essentially meant Robert was around spring training and the Cactus League since he was an infant.

I never heard a negative word spoken about Robert Brinton and those who met him seemed to universally agree he was one the nicest, most helpful, self-effacing people you could ever meet. I got to know Robert while he was a Hohokam member at Cubs spring training and was lucky to be able to call him a friend for the past two decades. Most recently I worked with Robert extensively on one of his passions the Mesa Historical Museum's exhibit, Play Ball - The Cactus League Experience. While Robert's list of accomplishments is long, he never sought publicity for himself, he was too busy helping others.

Robert exemplified kindness every day in his actions. I'm reminded of a day last year when Mesa honored Ron Santo on 10-10-10 with a day dedicated to the former Cubs third baseman and broadcaster. Both men, Ron and Robert were helping out as usual, on that occasion promoting Proposition 420 to help create a new spring training complex for the Cubs. Ron was signing autographs at the end of the event, when Robert came to me and asked if I could take a photo for him, I said sure. An older disabled man was in line to get Ron's autograph and Robert asked the man if he might like to have a photo taken of Ron and him together, the guy's face lit up with a smile as wide as the grand canyon. I forwarded the photo to Robert who gave it to the gentleman. A small act of kindness, the kind Robert did over and over on a daily basis.  He will be missed.

Robert (left) cracks up Ron Santo. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith (center)  Photo taken 10-10-10

Monday, October 17, 2011

So You're Good at Social Media and Marketing

Then join the Boys of Spring team! We are looking for a social media and marketing intern for the upcoming documentary, Boys of Spring - The Movie. Here is our Craigslist posting for the position.

Social Media and Marketing Intern Needed (Sports) (Work from home!) 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Future Looks...

It's been a while since I've blogged and quite frankly considering the Cubs season in 2011, leaving the '10' and Ron Santo statue photo as my last entry seemed appropriate. However time marches on and as Cubs fans we do what we are good at - we look to the future. That future it seems just got a bit brighter with the Cubs landing Theo Epstein to replace exiled GM Jim Hendry. The Cubs getting Epstein is a big deal and comes with at a price of somewhere between $15-20 million for 5 years and whatever player compensation the Cubs may need to give the Red Sox for snatching Epstein away from the last year on his Beantown contract.

What this really means is a new long term direction for the Chicago Cubs with a successful new age baseball man in charge. By "new age" I don't mean some type of spacey music. The best thing to do is let Theo explain some of his thoughts on player evaluation in the video below. Credit to Matt Clapp of The Friendly Blogfines for tweeting this video today.

Of course now we must see where this leads in terms of the Cubs Manager. Mike Quade has a year left on his contract but it seems unlikely that Epstein won't make an immediate impression by bringing in a new manager. Former Red Sox Manager Terry Francona is an interesting possibility. However with new allegations of issues with pain killers and marital problems affecting his job this season, the Cubs may be hesitant. However, Boston's WEEI's sports talk radio team Mut and Merloni say the Francona allegations smell like a smear campaign by the Sox ownership to push blame for the team's epic failure in September on the former Manager. Of course the other big name candidate for potential future Cubs Manager is Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. According to sources Epstein wanted to hire Sandberg last season to manage the Red Sox AAA ballclub, if so, he obviously holds the Cubs icon in high regard.

I give a cautious grin towards next season while seeing Andrew Cashner hit 100 mph on the gun at his Fall League game Tuesday while pitching a scoreless inning for the Mesa Solar Sox. Here's a photo of Cash from yesterday shot by BOS's John Antonoff.

The Arizona Board of Regents approved the move of the ASU Sun Devil baseball team from longtime home of Packard Stadium to the Cubs future Spring training complex. According to this article ASU will enter into a 30-year facility use agreement with the Cubs at their $100 million spring training facility near the current Riverview Park in Mesa. ASU is expected to begin playing in the new complex in 2014.

The City of Mesa has also released almost 200 pages of documents outlining how the new Cubs spring training complex will be governed and developed. Here's an article with some of the details and here are the actual documents.

As for me, I've been working on Boys of Spring - The Movie in preparation for it's release this coming spring. I'll be posting more on that here as we continue to work on the final edit, as well as posting video clips and other news about the film.