The Rundown: Grandpa’s Stories, Paint it Black Friday, Arrieta’s Feast-or-Famine Quandary

I hope you all had a pleasant Thanksgiving with your loved ones. I know I did. 

Once the kids go off to college, you don’t take holidays for granted. I made the 108-mile trek up to Cedarburg, WI so my two girls and I could have dinner with their grandfather and as far as Thanksgivings go, this one was one of the best, despite it being our first holiday without their mother. 

Grandpa has been around since 1930 and even though he’s got 87 years worth of stories — and though we’ve heard every one of them more than a few times — he proved to be a wonderful diversion from what could have been a much more sad walk down Memory Lane. 

We didn’t talk about baseball last night but on the way home I thought about all of his Milwaukee Braves stories I’ve heard through the years. True fact: During the years between the Braves defecting to Atlanta and the Seattle Pilots being purchased by Bud Selig and moved to Milwaukee, the majority of southern Wisconsinites were die-hard Cubs fans.

Many still are. The old timers still talk about Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, and Leo Durocher up in the 414 the way we do here in Chicago. Those players are their heroes just as they are ours. Milwaukeans lived and died with us through the thrilling-yet-heartbreaking summer of 1969.

A little known fact about Milwaukee baseball that G-Pop likes to talk about is that in 1968 Bud Selig convinced Chicago White Sox owner Arthur Allyn to schedule nine “home” games in County Stadium, which drew 264,297 fans fans. In their remaining 67 home game that season — the ones played at Comiskey Park — the White Sox drew 539,478 total fans. 

No fool, Allyn scheduled 11 games at County Stadium in 1969 which accounted for 33.6 percent of the White Sox home attendance that season, including a June 16th game against the Pilots. Despite all that, I don’t know one person north of the Cheddar Curtain who is also a White Sox fan. 

Of course, the Brewers and Cubs are fierce rivals now and depending on how this offseason works out, both teams may spend all of 2018 battling for the Central Division title. Grandpa is a Brewers fan now, but he goes to sleep listening to 670 The Score every night and when we talk on the phone a few times each week or when I go to visit him on the weekends, he manages to give me all the Cubs news as if I can’t get it here in Chicago.

You know what? I love him for that.

Cubs News & Notes

I’m expecting a few moves in the next week to10 days, though I believe if anything significant happens it will likely be among the many available relief pitchers. The Cubs should be active there, though that doesn’t mean they will sign or trade for anybody before next weekend. 

Alex Cobb is an interesting name to watch this week. If he truly wants to sign with the Cubs it will happen sooner rather than later. The longer he stays on the open market the more likely it is that his contract offers start to get into an uncomfortable area for the Northsiders. We are talking about a potential fourth starter who has yet to exceed 180 innings in a single season after all. 

The Winterland Ice Rink, complete with a Santa’s Workshop opens up today at Wrigley Field.

One thing I may have overlooked with the Cubs’ signing of Jim Benedict earlier this week is that he could possibly help with potential closer Justin Wilson, who performed well below expectations after arriving from Detroit.

Thanksgiving Stove

Nothing really cooking yesterday except a lot of turkeys and pumpkin pies.  And no, you’re not imagining things. This MLB offseason has been very slow compared to the last few years.

Will GMs try to lowball SP Jake Arrieta? The former Cy Young Award winner’s velocity was down in 2017, and his hard-hit rate was up. With that in mind, Arrieta offers the most feast-or-famine probability of any other free agent.

Here’s a look at the top 25 prospects from this year’s Arizona Fall League. Sorry, no Cubs.

The Mariners are all-in on Shohei Ohtani. 

Ohtani apparently studies video of Bryce Harper to help him with hitting.

Which teams offer the best fit for Giancarlo Stanton? None needs him more than the San Francisco Giants and the big slugger reportedly prefers to play on the West Coast.

The Detroit Lions had a specific play named after Justin Verlander in their game against the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving Day.

Two former Ivy Leaguers invented the game of softball on a Thanksgiving Day in Chicago in 1887. That first match ended in a 41-40 slugfest.

Black Friday Walk Up Song

Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones. If you’re reading this you chose me over frenzied shoppers. Thank you for that.

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