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.