Jeff Samardzija, Ted Lilly, and saying goodbye to uber-Cubs fan Harold Ramis

Before we get to Chicago Cubs baseball today, let’s take  a moment to remember one of their biggest fans: Harold Ramis. Given that he wrote, directed, or acted in Ghostbusters, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Animal House, he probably did more to shape my twisted sense of humor than anyone on the planet, outside of my dad. RIP Harold. Let’s all have one big Twinkie today, shall we? And I hope the Cubs are winning wherever you are.

I’m spending my morning being pissed off at Bill Murray, Ramis’ one-time close friend, who stopped talked to Harold for a few decades after they made Groundhog Day. Ramis said he never really understood why. I love you, Bill, but you can get bent this morning.

On a much happier note, I’m sure Harold would want you guys to know what’s happening down in Mesa, so here we go:

We’ve got out first starting rotation of the year, even if it is only for Spring Training games, which start on Thursday:

Jeff Samardzija, the likely opening-day starter, will start Thursday against the Diamondbacks at Cubs Park. Left-hander Chris Rusin, battling for the fifth spot, will face the Angels on Friday in Tempe.

Left-hander Travis Wood will start Saturday against the Giants in Mesa, with Edwin Jackson pitching Saturday night against the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale. Recently signed Jason Hammel will pitch Sunday against the Royals in Mesa.

Renteria went on to say the reason Samardzija and Wood are 1-3, rather than 1-2, is that inserting a start between them leaves them in line for starting Opening Day and the following game. Is it wrong for me to wish the Cubs were starting Travis Wood, instead? Frankly, you can argue he had a better year than Shark, and letting Jeff start Opening Day just enables his whole “I’m an ace, I should get paid like one” attitude. I know the front office has to play nice because they want to resign him, but honestly, at this point I wouldn’t mind moving him for some more arms. Come at me.

If you didn’t hear yesterday, we’ve got a new rule for home plate collisions, and if Twitter is any indication, no one really understands it:

Under the new guidelines, umpires may call a runner safe if a catcher blocks the plate without possession of the ball, and a runner can be called out if he deviates from his path to home plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher or another player covering home plate.

Whiteside, 34, who has played at least parts of five seasons with the Orioles and Giants, said he and the other Cubs catchers prepared for the rule change by working on sweep tags at home plate.

“But it’s kind of a gray area,” Whiteside said. “It’s tough to hold your ground and play the ball at the same time, especially balls coming from different angles in the outfield. We’ve messed around with it a little bit. It’s going to be tough. Some part is going to be up to the umpire’s discretion.”

A lot of people are suggesting this rule be called the “Buster Posey Rule,” as it’s designed to lessen the chances that you lose your all-star catcher for the entire season. I’m calling it the Ted Lilly Rule, because there’s nothing I’ve loved more in my life than this:

Oh, and in case you were wondering, everyone loves the new ball park in Mesa. Wouldn’t it be great if we got one here?

“It’s a beautiful facility,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Obviously, we came and saw it earlier, but to have them go out there and hit, we’ll allow them to get a feel for the field.”

What did Renteria like?

“Everything,” he said. “It’s brand new, [there's] expansive seating — it’s incredible. For a Spring Training facility, that’s a big league ballpark.”

I’ll say this for Rick/h/y Renteria: I don’t know what kind of a manager he’ll be, but, so far, he seems like on hell of an affable guy.  I’ve yet to hear one negative thing come out of his mouth. Let’s hope he’s still this positive in like, oh . . . May.

26 thoughts on “Jeff Samardzija, Ted Lilly, and saying goodbye to uber-Cubs fan Harold Ramis

  1. Doc Blume says:

    My problem with Rentaria is not that everything he says is positive, but rather the fact he hasn’t told us a damn thing. Everything he says is generalized or completely irrelevant whether it is about a specific player or about the team’s approach to playing this season or anything. Maybe that’s just how he is or maybe he has orders from above to basically say nothing to the press, but at some point, the press is going to rip this guy apart and that isn’t going to be pretty.

    1. Dusty Baylor says:

      This is a good point. Counterpoint might be that he has had less than a week of Spring Training to get a handle on how the 2014 Cubs will shake out. Maybe after 5 or 10 games, he’ll have something substantive to say?

      Also, Julie… Agree 100% on Samardzija. If you want big boy pay, put on yuor big boy pants and pitch like a #1 or #2 starter…not a steaming pile of beetle dung over the last 3 months.

  2. Doc Blume says:

    Julie…I firmly believe Samardzija is going to be traded before opening day. With that being the case, your hopes for Wood being the #1 starter should be met.

  3. johnnywest333 says:

    I’ll be in Mesa covering the games this weekend and checking out the facilities. I’m hoping to get a few words in with Renteria and some of the kids. Maybe I might be able to jar something out of Rick/h/y other then the normal Ho – hum stuff he has been preaching. Anything you want me to ask Baez when I see him? I’ll do a write up next week when I get back…

  4. juliedicaro says:

    Really, what’s he going to say, though? This was my same complaint about Trestman last off-season: He just lets Emery answer all the questions. But then the season started and I was pleased. So let’s give him a chance.

    On the upside, I can’t see Renteria making Starlin and Rizzo cry. So there’s that.

  5. juliedicaro says:

    YES JOHNNY. Ask him what his name is!

  6. johnnywest333 says:

    You got it Julie!!! Enquiring minds need to know!!! :)

  7. juliedicaro says:

    Ask Baez if HE thinks he’s ready for the majors.

  8. NotAgain says:

    Write-up when you get back??? Live blog your convo, baby!! This is the 21st century, you don’t need to wait until the stagecoach gets you home!

  9. Doc Blume says:

    We are undergoing a “purge” here at work today. Quite unnerving. Tears flowing. Pretty upset as we were all told our jobs were safe less than a month ago. My job is safe, but I don’t really feel like staying here any longer. :(

  10. johnnywest333 says:

    Past experience with the Twitter has left me scarred. I’ll rely upon my old school methods until I have completely healed or until Julie puts me through a crash course in proper Tweeter etiquette. Also I don’t think any amount of training will be able to teach me how to use hand held devices while consuming large amounts of alcoholic beverages so I should probably just write it up and post upon my return.

  11. johnnywest333 says:

    Sorry about the job situation Doc. That’s sucks dude.

  12. Doc Blume says:

    I’ve witness layoffs at my previous two jobs, but this time it’s different. While we work for a very large corporation, our office is quite small and has been relatively isolated from the main company. As a result, a large number of people I’ve worked closely two have had their jobs eliminated unlike my previous jobs. I’m sure Julie experienced a lot of this with Tribune over the last year. And I feel bad because I’m sitting here knowing my job is safe while every 5 minutes someone walks past my office with their coat on, a box in their hands and tears in their eyes. Many of these people that are being let go have been here for over 10 years…since before this group was bought by the large corporation we belong to now.

  13. johnnywest333 says:

    Yes sir I remember when you were with previous company explaining the same thing. It’s never easy and you can’t help but to feel bad for them. Ugh.

  14. Doc Blume says:

    Dan Vogelbach is looking less and less like a DH. He shed some serious weight this offseason.

  15. juliedicaro says:

    UGH Doc. We’ve had that twice at the Tribune since I’ve been here. So hard to sit through. I’m sorry.

  16. Doc Blume says:

    They just held a meeting for all employees who are “not affected by the restructuring.” It was unnerving as everyone was looking around and trying to figure out who wasn’t invited. :(

  17. johnnywest333 says:

    Been following Vogelbach on the Twitter for awhile now and he never really mentions anything about his weight but he does mention healthy stuff so I suppose that’s his way of saying he is dieting…

    1. Dusty Baylor says:

      THAT”S IMPOSSIBLE VOGELBACH IS TOO BIG DERP!!!!!! I hope he crams it up people’s collective asses, and the massive weight loss hjelps him to be a decent fielding 1B as well as a powerful hitter. Sorry…off soapbox now…xanax administered…

  18. juliedicaro says:

    He looks fantastic. Looks like he lost a full person.

  19. juliedicaro says:

    I’m jumping on The Game today at 3:55 pm CT. You can listen at 87.7 fm, online at, or via the Tune In Radio app.

  20. Doc Blume says:

    Figures you’ll be on the air right when our “everything is going to be ok” meeting is supposed to start. This day just keeps getting worse.

  21. NotAgain says:

    Here’s the Vogelbach article…

  22. NotAgain says:

    Well, “everything is going to be ok” for people who didn’t lose their jobs… :-(

  23. Anonymous says:

    Doc, I went through 3 banks in 3 years, and the layoffs are never easy on the people who survive. Just hang in there, but look around….

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