The Rundown: Cubs Baseball Just Around Corner, Hoyer Bullish on Cole Hamels, Best Super Bowl Ads, Phillies Manager Responds to Allegations

Did you watch that Super Bowl last night? Apparently you can take the Rams out of St. Louis but you can’t take the boring out of the Rams. Too soon? How about this: What do the Rams and Saints have in common? Neither scored a touchdown in Super Bowl LIII.

You know if the Cubs win five world championships in the next 15 years, everybody outside of Chicago will hate them as much as everybody outside of Boston hates the Patriots.

And, now that football season has ended…

This is actually one of my favorite times of the year. Once football ends I get amped up for the Grammy Awards, the Daytona 500, spring training, March Madness, my fantasy baseball auction, and then Opening Day. It is, for me, the most glorious eight weeks of every year. Oh yeah, St. Patrick’s Day and my birthday land on that same timeline. Hopefully the Cubs will be sweeping the Rangers just as I start my 55th lap around the sun.

Speaking of 55…

It’s going to be 55 degrees in Chicago today, which is nearly 80 degrees warmer than it was on Wednesday and Thursday. That rapid change in temperature should add about 500 potholes to my commute. What a time to be alive.

If you’ve read this far and you’re wondering when I am going to start talking about the Cubs, well, I know I can’t top what went down this weekend, so I’m not sure what to write. I was counting on a more exciting football game or better commercials, so now I feel as if I am leaving you less than fulfilled. What to do?

Speaking of fulfillment…

Viagra decided not to advertise in yesterday’s yawnfest, though Amazon’s incredibly phallic logo and gushing hot tub lined up perfectly with the horrible misuse of Howlin’ Wolf in past Super Bowl commercials. As far as football games go, yesterday’s could have used a similar type of boost. After I saw the Amazon commercial — which I loved — I wasn’t sure if I needed a new puppy, an Amazon Echo, or some sildenafil citrate.

Hey look, Amazon even uses an icon that looks suspiciously like a little blue pill. Suggestive selling, targeted marketing, or simply telling us Amazon is always at peak performance? Jeff Bezos just turned 55 a few weeks ago and Mr. Fahrenheit recently left his wife. Maybe he just wants to make supersonic men and women of all of us. Don’t…stop…me…now, ‘cuz I’m having a good time.

Even the Ma-ruined halftime show could have used a little extra thrust.

Anyway, back to baseball. If you made it this far you’ll be happy to know that I do believe Bryce Harper is going to sign somewhere this week. That is my opinion, and not sourced information, since my sources don’t count. Once it’s announced, I’ll be sure to message Patrick Mooney for verification, whether Harper signs with the Cubs or not.

Cubs News & Notes

  • This article says the Cubs shot down the rumor of a meeting with Harper, but it was just Mooney, who works for The Athletic, which is not owned by Tom Ricketts. The first comment at the end of the linked article is positively sublime.
  • For what it’s worth, my buddy’s co-workers are calling him “Deep Throat” now and they are calling me and Evan Woodward and Bernstein. Hopefully our lives aren’t in danger.
  • This is the craziest proposal to date to free up enough money for the Cubs to sign Harper or Manny Machado. Readers be warned, you may get more than a little riled up as you read it. I had to read it twice to believe it, and then I cursed myself for doing so. It would be nice if you could snap your fingers and half of baseball would bow to your every nonsensical whim.
  • New Cubs pitcher Tony Barnette dove headfirst into all the rumors surrounding Harper. I think I’m going to like this guy in the team’s bullpen. I can’t wait to see him bust out his home run dance moves.
  • Former Cubs prospect Luke Hagerty is back with the Cubs. The LHP was drafted 32nd overall by the Cubs out of Ball State back in 2002, but hasn’t pitched professionally since 2008. Imagine if this guy wins Rookie of the Year at age 38? It’s a long shot, no doubt. Hagerty allowed 45 earned runs in the last 24 1/3 innings of his career.
  • Jed Hoyer has “zero second thoughts” about picking up the option on Cole Hamels’ contract. I’ll say this until I am blue in the face: that $20 million option is not the reason the Cubs have yet to spend in free agency.
  • The development path of Kyle Hendricks through the Cubs system may offer a template of sorts for first round draft choice Nico Hoerner.

Monday Stove

The Phillies remain optimistic that they’ll land one of Machado or Harper. In case you’re tracking at home, that’s a much more understated vote of confidence than when the Fightins’ front office claimed themselves “favorites” to land Harper a few weeks ago.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler is treading in hot water after a report indicated that he mishandled an alleged assault while employed by the Dodgers. To recap, a 17-year-old girl was assaulted while partying with two Dodgers minor league players and two women in Glendale, Ariz in February 2015. The women allegedly assaulted the girl while one of the players videotaped it. A week after the incident, according to the report, the girl told police that she was sexually assaulted by one of the players. On Saturday, Kapler claimed that he had no knowledge of the incident.

Kapler could lose his job over the allegation that he failed to notify the organization when the incident took place.

The Padres view Harper as a business/marketing gold mine. Beware Bryce, San Diego is where endorsement deals go to die. The Friars reside in baseball’s fourth smallest television market, ahead of only Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Milwaukee.

White Sox skipper Rick Renteria hopes to have his first winning season as a major league manager in 2019.

The Rockies are hoping to sign Nolan Arenado to an extension. The slugging third baseman can become a free agent after this season.

The Reds are still hoping to trade for J.T. Realmuto, and it looks like they may not have to give up top prospect Nick Senzel to land the catcher. Derek Jeter is clueless. He’s allegedly turned down better offers for Realmuto previously.

Any hope the Dodgers have of acquiring Corey Kluber from the Indians is now on life support.

Roger Clemens is 56 years old but still flashes a plus breaking ball.

Five years before the Patriots famously nabbed Tom Brady 199th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft, the Montreal Expos selected him in the 18th round of the minor league draft — as a catcher out of Junipero Serra High School in California.

On Deck

Last night’s best commercial belongs to the NFL. Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher were amazing, but Franco Harris stole the bit. Time Magazine has a nice recap of all the commercials.

Extra Innings

Congratulations Coach Nagy!

Monday Walk Up Song

Wish It Was True by The White Buffalo. The theme for this month is hauntingly beautiful songs and you’ll hear a little Eddie Vedder in Jake Smith’s voice. In fact, this song could be the son of Yellow Ledbetter. If you get a chance, check out Jake’s website.

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