Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2012 Boys of Spring - Best Cubs Site Awards

It's time for Boys of Spring to recognize some great Cubs websites, something I had planned on doing earlier when spring training was still going on. Unfortunately I didn't get time to put together the awards video until now, better late, than not at all. With the Cubs season nearly two weeks underway these fine websites are geared up and bringing you all things Cubs. This video may help you find a new place or two on the interwebs to enjoy as the baseball season progresses. As you may know these awards (other than the Ryno) were decided by a panel, who looked at many different components, some of which included, ease of use, depth of coverage, community, design, and content. The Ryno award for fan favorite was decided by a fan vote during spring training.

Many great Cubs websites were nominated. Although some of the nominees did not win an award this year, they are all quality sites with plenty to offer. We will look at expanding the categories for next year's awards, perhaps to include podcasts and other areas that were not represented in these six awards. There are also many other fine Cubs fan websites that were not nominated. At some point in the near future, I will blog about some of those as well. So finally, here are ALL the winners of the 2012 BOS-BCS Awards. Many thanks to Cubs Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, as well as Cubs Announcer's Pat Hughes and Len Kasper for helping out with the awards!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Another Tough One

Another difficult loss today and now the Cubs sit with a 1-5 record to start the 2012 season. Ryan Dempster pitches well, again, but the Cubs can't give him enough run support. Apparently that word 'patience' is going to be really important this season. I don't like 'what ifs', but 'if' the Cubs had been able to hold leads, they could be 5-1 right now. Reality says 1-5.

The plan was to give the BOS-BCS Award for the Santo, (Best Original Cubs Content) yesterday, but that obviously didn't happen. I don't feel like doing it today after this Cubs loss, so let's do it tomorrow. Someone had asked what was wrong with the voting process for the Ryno Fan Favorite Award? Actually, there wasn't anything wrong with the voting process itself. However, the poll site we used allowed comments, and there were some pretty nasty comments going back and forth. So we may just eliminate the comments next time, we'll see.

The Cubs need a win tomorrow afternoon to avoid a four game sweep by the Brewers at Wrigley. Go Cubs!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Bring on the Beer Boys

Great to see the Cubs bounce back and win the final game of the series against the Nationals. Jeff Samardzija pitched outstanding in the victory. Looking forward to seeing big Chris Volstad in his first start as a Cub at Wrigley tonight against the Brewers.

It was also nice to see the Triple-A Iowa Cubs make a big comeback yesterday over Round Rock. The I-Cubs charged back from a 5-2 deficit in the bottom of the eighth, led by an Anthony Rizzo three run home run. Then winning it in the ninth on a Brett Jackson one-out double scoring Matt Tolbert for a 6-5 victory.

Tomorrow we'll get back to revealing more winners of the 2012 BOS-BCS Awards, with - The Santo, for best original Cubs content. So far we have given out the Ryno for fan favorite (by fan vote) to Bleacher Nation, and the Jolly Cholly for best Cubs humor, to Hire Jim Essian. 

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Ryno Goes to...

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory! That Cubs opener yesterday was a tough one to take. If you're a Cubs fan like me, you saw and felt that one coming a mile away. When will we finally stop feeling that the worst possible outcome is going to happen? Patience, yes, I must keep saying that, patience.

Here is the 2012 Boys of Spring - Best Cubs Site Award for the Fan Favorite - The Ryno. This was voted on by you, the fans, during spring training. We may tweak the voting process on this one next year, at any rate here is Len Kasper.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Opening Day

It's finally here, opening day 2012!

Sure I could try to wax poetic about the beauty of this day and all, but I'm not very poetic, and hate waxing. I could also go through a laundry list of things that were different this spring than in the past with this Cubs ballclub, but I won't. Instead, I'm going to go back to my first time hearing manager Dale Sveum talk to the team. This was January 30th 2012 at Fitch Park, before pitchers and catchers reported. They were mostly minor league players at Fitch that day, but I think what Sveum said really signaled a new era in Chicago Cubs baseball on the field. A new style of play, a new mantra if you will, called The Cubs Way. I was the only person there (outside of the team) that day, here is some of what Sveum said to the players:

  • There will be no excuses for not doing something the right way.
  • Theo Epstein is one of the smartest people he's ever been around, and that Theo will not accept mediocrity, not from himself, not from anyone.
  • Making excuses is caused by your own insecurities and lack of preparation.
  • So many games are won by one run and the Cubs will prepare and do all the little things the right way in order to be the team that wins those close games.
  • He also told the guys they are being given the greatest opportunity in all of sports, to be the players who win it all after 103 years.
Sveum 1-30-12
The fact that this was the earliest I have ever seen a manager show up and work with the players before the mandatory report dates, says something about Dale Sveum and his staff. They don't just talk, they walk the walk. I think that is of major importance in starting this new Cubs philosophy, that you have a staff who are dedicated to doing things the right way.

Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have preached patience as the team moves forward, that is likely a good way to view this season. The pundits and media don't expect much from this Cubs 2012 squad, and with good reason, considering last season and no big additions like Pujols or Fielder. The Cubs are likely starting the season with some of their best players in Iowa at Triple-A, Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo in particular. But this is the patient approach, and likely the best course for now. They say Rome wasn't built in a day, and the Cubs drought of World Series titles spans over a century, so a little patience seems doable.

I have a feeling the Cubs team starting today's game will be vastly different than the one you will see come September. However you look at this ballclub, they seem to have a different attitude now than anytime in my past 29 springs watching them in Mesa. As I told a friend the other day, "even if this team isn't winning consistently this year, I would much rather watch a Cubs club that hustles, plays good defense, does things the right way, and seems to care. Than a team, like many in recent years who seem indifferent or just going through the motions." That alone will be refreshing. This may not be a World Series capable team just yet, but having a smart, dedicated group running the show and acquiring talent, bodes well for the Cubs future.

The future starts today!

I'll be putting up a new winner of our 2012 BOS-BCS Awards each day until they are all revealed.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The First BOS-BCS Award Goes To...

The first of our 2012 Boys of Spring Best Cubs Site Awards starts with the Jolly Cholly award for Best Cubs Humor.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Cubs Close Cactus League with 3 Straight W's

Castro slams home run today
The Cubs closed their Cactus League spring training season with a 5-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers today at Hohokam Stadium in front of 5,801 fans. The Cubs started the game with most of what will be the opening day starters (minus Bryan LaHair), but after the first couple innings quickly emptied the bench, and beyond. The Brewers, who play the Diamondbacks tonight at Chase Field, had almost none of their regulars in the starting lineup. That made things interesting for this P.A. Announcer, more on that later.

The Cubs starters were able to score 4 runs in the first two innings off Brewers minor league starting pitcher Kyle Heckathorn. That was all they would need as Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood was solid, giving up only 1 run in six innings. Wood who's set to be in the rotation at Triple-A Iowa had his best outing of the spring. The Cubs runs came courtesy of a Starlin Castro 2-run homer which took off like a rocket into space. Castro's clout hit the top of the scoreboard. Two more runs came courtesy of consecutive hits by Reed Johnson, Joe Mather (a double) and Darwin Barney. Alfredo Amezaga, taking over for Castro at short, hit a solo home run in the fifth inning. Blake DeWitt filled in once again for Bryan LaHair at first base. Hopefully this is just the team playing it safe, so that LaHair is ready on Thursday, after recovering from a a minor back issue. Darwin Barney and Jeff Baker each had a stolen base today, I really like to see the Cubs running like they have this spring.

Normally before the game I'll go over to the visiting Media Relations person to get the proper pronunciations, however today the Brewers person was nowhere to be seen. So I launched into the starting lineups anyway, about half way through I noticed someone sit down beside me. It was the Brewers Media Relations guy. He starts telling me (between name announcements) that Khris Davis, who is in the lineup as the left fielder, is now the DH. And that the new left fielder is number 45 Lee Haydel, one of three Brewers wearing the number 45 jersey at Hohokam today. Obviously this makes things a little more difficult, but luckily those two players were batting sixth and ninth and I hadn't gotten that far in the lineups. So it's likely that nobody in the stands knew this was happening as I was speaking.

Javier Baez today in Cubs pinstripes
Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff tends to happen in a game like today where all the regulars are getting ready to leave town. So for the Cubs, we had a separate supplemental addition with 11 minor league players just for today. On top of that, a couple others were added who were not on any roster at all. This even perplexed Cubs Media Relations Assistant Director Jason Carr, who was announcing (on the interior press box mic) number 96 going into right field, only to see that 96 on the supplemental sheet was a right handed pitcher. Then he started announcing another player and realized he wasn't sure who that player was, to which he said, "we'll get back with you on who these guys are." While this creates some difficulty for me, it's all part of being a spring training P.A. Announcer. Those regular season baseball P.A. announcers have it easy.

One of the pluses of seeing all these young players is getting to announce for the very first time as a Cub, players who will potentially be stars of the future. Today it was Javier Baez, who was the Cubs first round pick (#9 overall) in the June draft. Baez in January, was listed by MLB.com as the 8th best MLB shortstop prospect.

Tomorrow we'll reveal (with help from Pat Hughes and Len Kasper) the Award winning Cubs fan websites and blogs in the 2012 Boys of Spring - Best Cubs Sites Awards.

Today's photos by BOS's John Antonoff

Theo 

Reed Johnson slides in safe at home on a Joe Mather double

Monday, April 02, 2012

Cubs Roll as Spring Training Winds Down

The Cubs took down the DBacks today 8-3 in Scottsdale and beat the Angels in Tempe yesterday 8-1. I was at the game Sunday and took a bunch of photos but I had a family obligation after the game, so I didn't get a chance to post them. Tomorrow is our last game of the spring at Hohokam before the Cubs head home for opening day on Thursday. If you plan on coming to tomorrow's game at Hohokam be aware the game starts one hour earlier than usual, at 12:05pm.

I'll have my game notes tomorrow on the final spring contest against the Brewers. With the Brewers also playing a night game against the DBacks at Chase Field tomorrow, we'll likely see mostly Brewers minor league players at Hohokam.

We will hand out the BOS-BCS Awards on Wednesday. I will also have my end of training camp notes, as well as a look at the Cubs chances for the upcoming 2012 season.