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Three Tough Questions Facing the Cubs in 2013

By bullpenbrian - March 21, 2013 - 10:05 am Leave a comment.

CubsLogo

What are three of the tougher questions facing the Cubs this season?
Scoring runs tops the list and avoiding 100-losses ends it.
What’s in the middle may surprise you.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING

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Chicago Cubs Franchise Leader In Manager Ejections

By bullpenbrian - March 20, 2013 - 12:15 pm Leave a comment.

Leo Durocher

Any idea which Cubs manager leads the franchise in game ejections?
Sweet Lou? Mike Quade? Lee Elia? Nope, none of those guys. Dale Sveum’s not the answer, either.

The title, in fact, belongs to Leo Durocher who managed the Cubs from 1966 until midway through the 1972 season (he was replaced by Whitey Lockman).

Umpires ran Durocher 17 times during his 1,065 games skippering the Cubs, and 94 times total throughout his 26-year Hall of Fame managing career.

Durocher remains in the top five for all-time ejections trailing only Bobby Cox (161) and John McGraw (118). No wonder Durocher was called “Leo the lip!”

You can read more about manager ejections at TwinsTrivia.com where lead writer John Swol has a lengthy article dedicated to the topic. Here are a few nuggets of minutia from Swol’s post:

  • Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire is fourth (63) on the ejection list among active managers. But he’s always been a fast climber averaging a heave-ho every 28 games per season.
  • Seattle’s franchise leader in manager ejections is none other than Sweet Lou. He hit the showers early 28 times during his 1,551 games leading the Mariners.
  • Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem is responsible for the most ejections (256). Bob Davidson is the active leader (156).
  • As for the most ridiculous manager meltdown of all-time? It must belong to Bush League skipper Phillip Wellman, who went berserk on June 1, 2007. It brought him national fame and a three-game suspension.
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Former Cub Rod Beck Lives On Through ‘Pitch 4 Kidz’

By bullpenbrian - March 19, 2013 - 11:05 am Leave a comment.

Rod Beck | Chicago Cubs

Gwen Knapp of Sports on Earth writes a touching story about the family of former Cub Rod Beck, their life after his passing in the summer of 2007 and the founding of a nonprofit to support children of substance abusers
(Pitch 4 Kidz).

"Shooter” spent 13 seasons in the big leagues, including one and a half seasons with Chicago. He saved 51 games for the Cubs in 1998 and was traded the following year to Boston (h/t to Bullpen Brian reader Scott V. for passing along the article).

“The family had already staged an intervention, inviting close friends from baseball, including former Padres teammates Trevor Hoffman and Scott Linebrink, into the fold. To this day, they have remained friends, as have Rod’s former manager with the Giants and Cubs, Dusty Baker ("he’s uncle," Stacey said) and former Red Sox teammate Tim Wakefield.”

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Finding Former Cubs From 2012

By bullpenbrian - March 19, 2013 - 9:55 am Leave a comment.

Randy Wells

Is “Super Joe” Mather having another red hot spring?
How about Randy “Too Big for My Britches” Wells?

I’ve gathered the spring training whereabouts for players who were with the Cubs last season, but have since moved on.

It’s not a complete list, but includes some of the more notable departures from 2012. Spring stats are included…make of them what you will.

BATTERS

  • Geovany Soto – Texas
    .174/.240/.174
  • Jeff Baker – Texas
    .488/.522/.651, 21-for-43, 1 HR, 7 RBI
  • Reed Johnson – Atlanta
    .179/.220/.231
  • Blake DeWitt – Atlanta
    .219/.286/.344, 4 doubles, 6 RBI
  • Marlon Byrd – New York NL
    .324/.333/.441, 4 doubles, 1 BB vs. 6 K
  • Anthony Recker – New York NL
    .471/.500/.765, 8-for-17, 1 HR
  • Tony Campana – Arizona
    .222/.263/.389, 1-for-2 in stolen bases
  • Blake Lalli – Milwaukee
    .357/.419/.536, 10-for-28
  • Joe Mather – Philadelphia
    .091/.167/.091

PITCHERS

  • Randy Wells – Texas
    4.15 ERA, 13.0 IP, 17 hits, 6 ER, 6 BB, 10 K
  • Jeff Beliveau – Texas
    6.35 ERA, 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 K
  • Chris Volstad – Colorado
    1.29 ERA, 7.0 IP, 6 hits, 3 K
  • Manny Corpas – Colorado
    3.60 ERA, 5.0 IP, 4 hits, 7 K
  • Paul Maholm – Atlanta
    2.33 ERA, 19.1 IP, 13 hits, 13 K
  • Scott Maine – Miami
    27.00 ERA, 1.0 IP, 2 HR, 3 ER
  • Rodrigo Lopez – Philadelphia
    0.00 ERA, 7.0 IP, 6 hits, 5 K
  • Justin Germano – Toronto
    7.36 ERA, 11.0 IP, 18 hits, 9 ER, 12 K
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Ryne Sandberg still in line to manage Phillies?

By bullpenbrian - March 18, 2013 - 11:00 am Leave a comment.

Ryne Sandberg | Philadelphia Phillies

Ryne Sandberg is going to be the next manager of the Phillies, right?

At least this was the general consensus when the Phillies promoted Ryno to third-base coach this winter after spending the last two seasons managing the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Lehigh Valley.

It only seems to make sense Sandberg will make a seamless transition to replace current manager Charlie Manuel, who’s 69-years-old (the second oldest manager in baseball behind 70-year-old Davey Johnson in Washington) and in the final season of his contract.

But Manuel recently offered a different view. ”I still want to manage,” Manuel told The Associated Press. ”I’m not ready for somebody to tell me to go home. I’m not ready to quit managing. I’m not ready to get out of the game.”

Manuel may be old in years, but his success with the Phils can’t be ignored. During his eight-year run he’s become the franchise’s all-time leader in wins, led the team to five consecutive NL East division titles, two pennants and one World Series championship.

That’s not a manager you push out the door easily.

However, the Phillies’ .500 finish last season was largely viewed as a disappointment, despite the fact several starters missed significant time due to injury (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, et al).

With the Phillies’ roster the fifth oldest in baseball entering the season, there’s speculation it’s time for Philly to hit the reset button and begin reloading their roster with younger talent–and with a fresh, younger manager like Sandberg to guide the ship.

But given Manuel’s desire to sign a contract extension, if offered one, and his past success, it’s very possible Manuel will be skippering the club next year, or for several more seasons.

Additionally, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has said Ryno was promoted without any guarantee of taking over as manager. ”The fact of the matter is he’s not the heir apparent. We made no promises to Ryne Sandberg.”

Considering Sandberg’s extended stay in the minor leagues and having been passed over numerous times for big-league manager positions, it’s hard to believe Sandberg will choose to wait in the wings for Manuel to walk away from the dugout on his own terms, whenever that may be.

Should the Phillies tank badly under Manuel in the early going it could prompt the club to dismiss him mid-season. Then perhaps, Ryno is awarded his major league managing opportunity. But such a scenario of cutting ties with Manuel before season’s end seems unlikely.

Instead, maybe it’s time to start thinking of Sandberg as a replacement for other big-league managers who are on the hot seat, or on the brink of retirement (*), which could include:

Colorado – Walt Weiss
New York – Terry Collins
Pittsburgh  – Clint Hurdle
Los Angeles – Don Mattingly
Kansas City – Ned Yost
*Detroit – Jim Leyland
*Washington – Davey Johnson

I’m still slightly shocked Sandberg isn’t a major league manager. What more does the man have to prove?

What I do know is Sandberg will be a big-league manager some day. But the when and where, however, seems as unclear as ever.

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Name That Cub!

By bullpenbrian - March 18, 2013 - 8:05 am Leave a comment.

Cubs Trivia
Born in Atlanta, Georgia.
Spent 17 seasons in MLB, all in the NL.
Finished his career with 2,134 hits, 322 HRs.
6x All-Star, 2x Silver Slugger, World Series Champion.
Played 3 seasons with Cubs, one as an All-Star.
His cousin Mel Rojas pitched for the Cubs in 1997.
Name that Cub! (Answer after the jump)

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Cubs Make ‘Doomed List’ 2013

By bullpenbrian - March 15, 2013 - 1:05 pm Leave a comment.

ROY

The Cubs appear to make BuzzFeed’s list of 14 Ways you know your team’s season is doomed. Coming in at No.6 is “Management says they’re building for the future and ask for patience.”

Not breaking news for Cubs fans. We obviously had a pretty good idea the team was doomed since Chris Volstad (3-12, 6.31) made 21 starts last season while the Cubs went on to lose 101-games. And we know you don’t recover from that in one offseason.

Also knowing we’re without staff ace Matt Garza heading into the season, here’s hoping he returns from injury the likes of Henry Rowengartner,
and not Scuffy McGee.

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Anthony Rizzo’s Stats from the World Baseball Classic

By bullpenbrian - March 15, 2013 - 12:05 pm 2 comments.

Anthony Rizzo Italy

Anthony Rizzo’s strong performance in the World Baseball Classic eased my concerns he might suffer a sophomore slump in 2013.

It’s not that I expect Rizzo to struggle. He was poised and focused from the moment he arrived in late June last summer. And nothing about his 15 HRs, 48 RBI or .285/.342/.463 slash line in 87 games suggest the numbers are phony.

But sophomore slumps do happen: Jerome Walton, Geovany Soto, Randy Wells, et al.

So when Rizzo decided to join team Italy in favor of training with the Cubs this spring (and which the Cubs gave Rizzo their blessing to do so), I wasn’t sold the tourney was in his best interest while entering his first full season in the bigs.

Rizzo, however, played well in his 5 WBC games, and most importantly, avoided injury. At the plate he went 4-for-17, including a couple of doubles, scored 4 runs, drove in some clutch RBI (6) and walked 5 times vs. 3 strikeouts.

Rizzo’s 5 walks led the team. His 6 RBI and .409 on-base percentage ranked second-best on the squad. He added Gold Glove defense at first base.

Not to mention, the underdog Italians won their first two games in round 1 defeating Mexico 6-5 and Canada 14-4.

And they nearly won both their games in round 2, but eventually fell in thrilling one-run losses to the Dominican 5-4 and Puerto Rico 4-3.

The experience of learning from different coaches and playing in meaningful games (let’s be honest, that wasn’t happening with Chicago) appears to have left a positive impression on Rizzo. “It was a great experience for him,” said Dale Sveum.

Is it a sign Rizzo’s on track for another standout season? Let’s hope so. He’s the biggest bat in the lineup, aside from Soriano, and that could change in a hurry if Sori is traded or declines in production from last year.

For the Cubs to have even the slightest chance to compete this season they’ll need all their top guns performing up to standards. Rizzo will obviously play a huge part, assuming he can fend off the dreaded sophomore jinx.

Right now I’d put my money down on Rizzo to be just fine this season, and for many seasons to come.

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Cubs Have Rich History With ‘Batting Out of Order’ Rule

By bullpenbrian - March 14, 2013 - 10:40 am Leave a comment.

Dusty Baker | CB Bucknor

An interesting post at Retrosheet.org lists occurrences of teams caught batting out of order. That sounded like a ‘Cubbie occurrence’ if I’ve ever heard one.

So after searching through the data, I’ve listed the occasions where the Cubs were involved, both as the guilty party and as the team reporting the infraction.

There’s some good stuff in the recaps. Enjoy.

  • 4/16/2004 – In the top of the seventh inning, Cubs manager Dusty Baker intended to place two new players in the lineup with a double switch but failed to tell Umpire C.B. Bucknor. When the Cubs batted in the bottom of the inning, shortstop Ramon Martinez came to the plate in the ninth spot in the order and doubled. The Reds protested that the Cubs were batting out of order. Pitcher Kent Mercker, the proper batter, was called out. Baker argued with the umpires but was told that the call stood. Yelling & screaming, he tossed his lineup card on the ground and was ejected by Bucknor. Baker threw his hat, walked away and returned; he tossed his hat again, stomped to the dugout and kicked some items in the on deck circle before finally leaving the field. The Cubs won in the bottom of the ninth, 11-10, when Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou hit back-to-back homers to end the game. When Baker arrived home that day, his son called him "Mad Dog."
  • 9/5/2003 – The Brewers’ Bill Hall started to bat out of order in the bottom of the second inning against the Cubs but did not complete the plate appearance.  Hall was listed eighth in the batting order but came to the plate in the seventh spot the first time through the order. He took the first pitch for a ball before the mistake was rectified. Keith Osik took his proper place at the plate, and despite being spotted ball one, struck out on five more pitches.  Hall then popped out to end the inning. The Cubs won, 4-2.
  • 9/26/1993 – In the second game of the doubleheader, the Pirates were not clear about their batting order against the Cubs. In the bottom of the first, the first five players batted in order. The fifth-place hitter, Al Martin, knocked in the game’s only run with an infield single. The scoreboard listed Tom Foley batting sixth, Tom Prince seventh and Rich Aude eighth. The correct order was Aude, Foley and Prince. When Foley batted in Aude’s spot and grounded out, the Cubs properly did nothing. Aude led off the second, which matched neither lineup, and singled to center. The Cubs then talked to the umpires about the batting order. Aude was taken off the bases and Prince was declared out. In spite of the difficulties, the Pirates won the game, 1-0.
  • 9/24/1964 – The Cubs official lineup showed Ernie Banks playing first base and batting fifth. John Boccabella started the game in his place and grounded out in the second and fourth innings. However, in the sixth Ron Santo tripled and so did Boccabella, scoring Santo. The Dodgers manager Walter Alston then protested the batting order. Boccabella’s triple was nullified and Santo placed back at third. Ernie Banks was deemed to be the proper batter and was called out and given a time at bat. However, this was an incorrect ruling by crew chief Frank Secory. According to rule 3.08(a)(3), Boccabella became the first baseman and the proper fifth place batter when he took the field in the top of the first inning as an unannounced substitute. Therefore, it was incorrect to remove Boccabella’s triple and to charge Banks with a time at bat. Boccabella finished the game at first base, collecting a single in the eighth inning. The Cubs won with a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning thanks to three walks, an error and Santo’s sacrifice fly. The final score was 4-3.
  •  7/6/1962 – In the top of the second inning with two outs, seventh-place hitter Mack Jones was the scheduled batter for the Braves. However, Del Crandall, eighth on the lineup sheet, strode to the plate and walked. Pitcher Bob Hendley should be the next batter but now Jones came to the plate. After Jones singled, the Cubs protested the order of the batters. The umpires ruled Hendley out and disallowed Jones’ single. The Braves went on to win the contest, 5-3, on Eddie Mathews’ 2-run homer in the tenth inning.
  • 8/1/1951 – In the first game of two at Wrigley Field, the score was tied at one apiece in the top of the seventh inning. The Giants had the bases loaded with no one out after two singles and an intentional walk to catcher Wes Westrum. Davey Williams ran for Westrum, who was hitting in the eighth spot in the lineup. The Giants failed to score in the frame and Williams remained in the game playing second base and Sal Yvars entered the contest to catch and bat in the first slot in the lineup. In the eighth inning, the Giants had a run across with two out and runners on first and second. It was Williams turn to hit but New York manager Leo Durocher insisted to plate umpire Lee Ballanfant that Yvars was the proper batter. Ballanfant correctly did not comment on the idea and allowed Yvars to come to the plate. Since Yvars struck out for the final out of the inning, the Cubs remained quiet about the batting out of order. Chicago scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to win the contest, 3-2.
  • 7/28/1950 – The Cubs played in Brooklyn in a game that started at 8:30pm. After a 30-minute rain delay in the third and another that lasted 1:20 in the eighth, the contest finally ended at 1:21am. The official lineup presented to the umpires by Cubs manager Frank Frisch showed Bob Borkowski batting second and Carmen Mauro third. In the first inning, they batted in reverse order but both made outs. They repeated the process in the fourth inning. However, in the fifth inning of the score less game, the Cubs started the scoring. With two out and a run in, Wayne Terwilliger reached on Pee wee Reece’s throwing error, scoring the second run for the Cubs. Mauro then singled to left, scoring Roy Smalley. Dodger coach Clyde Sukeforth then pointed out to Umpire Lou Jorda that Mauro was out of order. Borkowski, the proper batter, was called out, the run was nullified and the inning was over. The Cubs eventually won the game, 12-5.
  • 9/16/1949 – The New York Giants were at Wrigley Field to play the Cubs. In the bottom of the tenth inning, the Cubs batted out of turn and, when the Giants did not realize the mistake, the Cubs scored the winning run! The Cubs had runners on first and third with two outs when relief pitcher Bob Rush, in the eighth spot in the order, should have come to the plate. There was a "double switch" after Emil Verban pinch ran for Smoky Burgess in the ninth and remained in the game at second base and in the ninth place in the order. Verban came to the plate to hit ahead of Rush and walked to load the bases. The Giants failed to speak up. Mickey Owen then pinch hit and singled in the winning run. Once a pitch was made to Owen, the Giants lost the ability to speak up about Verban. Due to not complaining about Verban, the No.9 hitter, the correct next batter was the No.1 hitter, Bob Ramazzotti, so Owen was hitting in the lead off slot. The cellar-dwelling Cubs won, 5-4.
  • 7/27/1935 – In the first game of two at Wrigley Field, the Reds started the top of the fifth with the pitcher due up. Instead, the batter at the top of the lineup, short stop Billy Myers, hit instead and singled. According to the next day’s Chicago Tribune, the "radio announcers caused quite a commotion in an effort to arouse [manager Charlie] Grimm, but to no avail." Lew Riggs then stepped to the plate and once a pitch had been made to him, it was too late to protest the hit by Myers. Riggs struck out, Myers stole second and Babe Herman singled to left with Myers moving to third. Now Grimm came out to protest the batting out of turn – two batters too late! The Tribune’s account said: "Umpire [Cy] Rigler suggested to him that it might aid his pennant drive if he would try reading a rule book." Jim Bottomley then knocked in the run that should not have scored. However, the Cubs swept the double header, so only marginal damage was done by this event.
  • 8/31/1932 – The Cubs beat the Giants at Wrigley Field in a ten-inning game that witnessed an eclipse. The two teams combined for nine runs in the extra frame, as the hosts won the contest, 10-9. The confusion started in the eighth inning, when Stan Hack pinch ran for Charlie Grimm, who was in the sixth spot in the lineup. Marv Gudat pinch hit for Gabby Hartnett in the seventh spot and made an out to end the inning. He remained in the game at first base. At the start of the ninth, Zack Taylor entered the contest as the catcher, and would have to be in the sixth batting spot in the lineup, because he was the only player entering the game and that was the only empty spot. In the bottom of the ninth, Mark Koenig batted in his eighth spot and then Frank Demaree hit for Bob Smith. The Cubs scored one run to tie the game, 5-5. The last hitter of the inning was Johnny Moore in the fifth spot in the lineup. The only new player in the top of the tenth for Chicago was pitcher Guy Bush, and he was relieved before retiring anyone by Leroy Herrmann, who should be in the ninth spot in the order.

    After the Giants scored four runs in the top of the tenth, the Cubs half of the inning went as follows: Billy Jurges pinch hit for Taylor and made an out. Gudat fouled out. Koenig homered into right field bleachers to make the score 9-6. So far, everything is OK. Taylor then singled to right, although he is out of the game because Jurges hit for him. The Giants don’t realize the mistake and therefore say nothing. If they had spoken up at this time, the proper batter, Herrmann, would be called out. He would have been the third out of the inning and the game would be over. Herman singled to center. English hit an RBI-single to center. Cuyler hit a three-run homer into the centerfield bleachers to win the game.

  • 8/11/1925 – The Braves were in Chicago playing the Cubs. The lineup showed Les Mann hitting fifth, Andy High sixth and Gus Felix seventh. In the top of the first inning, there was one out, one run scored and runners on first and second after four hitters had come to the plate. However, Felix (seventh) strode to the plate in Mann’s place (fifth) and walked to load the bases. High then singled home two runs and Mann ended the inning by grounding into a double play. All three of those players batted out of turn and the Cubs could have spoken up multiple times about the situation. Two of the runs could have been eliminated had they protested to the umpires. Boston went on to win the game, 9-2.
  • 7/19/1923 – The Cubs played in Philadelphia this day. Before the game the announcer listed John Kelleher playing third and batting fifth for the Cubs. However, when that spot in the lineup came up for the first time Bernie Friberg batted. He singled to left, knocking in the first run of the game but Umpire Bill Klem declared that Kelleher should have batted and called Friberg out for batting out of turn. Since Friberg was not in the lineup he should have been considered a pinch hitter and allowed to bat. When the Cubs took the field in the bottom half of the inning, Friberg went to third and played the rest of the game, which was won by Chicago, 7-1.
  • 6/28/1919 – The Cardinals played in Chicago, losing to the Cubs, 6-5. In the contest, the Redbirds batted out of order for the first eight innings, only correcting the mistake in the ninth. The batting order, as given to umpire Bill Klem, showed Doc Lavan batting seventh and Frank Snyder batting eighth. However, the two players batted in the opposite order starting in the second inning, when the Cardinals scored two runs. Those tallies would not have counted if the Cubs had spoken up about the miscue. Since St. Louis manager Branch Rickey changed the batting order for this game, neither the Cardinals players nor the Cubs realized that the two players were out of order. Lavan came to the plate in the ninth in his proper spot (for the first time in the game) and the Cubs protested that he was out of order when he was actually in order for the first time in the contest!
  • 9/6/1915 – The Cubs were in St. Louis for a holiday double header. In the bottom of the second inning of the first game, with two out and Tom Long on first, Bruno Betzel tripled. However, Frank Snyder was the proper batter but Cubs manager Roger Bresnahan did not notice. Snyder then batted (also out of order) and singled in Betzel. The mistake was not discovered by the Cubs until the fifth when Snyder and Betzel batted in the proper order, which they did for the rest of the contest. The Cardinals won the first game, 3-2, in 12 innings and then swept the Cubs, 10-0.
  • 5/25/1908 – The Cubs hit out of turn in the first inning against the Giants in Chicago. Pat Moran was listed seventh and Joe Tinker eighth in the lineup. However, when the seventh spot came up with two out in the bottom of the first, Tinker strode to the plate and made the third out. Moran then led off the bottom of the second with a single to center and eventually scored. In the third inning, the batters hit in the correct order and the Giants objected. However, umpire Bob Emslie showed John McGraw the lineup sheet and that was the end of that. The Cubs won the contest in 10 innings, 8-7.
  • 8/11/1905 – Brooklyn was visiting Chicago. Catcher Bill Bergin struck out to end the fifth inning but then came up again to start the sixth. He singled and eventually scored but the Cubs won, 3-2.
  • 6/17/1891 – The Colts (now Cubs) played in Cleveland. Through the seventh inning, the Colts’ Bill Hutchinson batted in Malachi Kittridge’s place in the batting order but the Spiders let it go. In the seventh, Fred Pfeffer walked and Hutchinson, batting out of turn, singled, moving Pfeffer to third. As Kittridge stepped to the plate, the Spiders told umpire Tim Lynch that Hutchinson batted out of turn. This out ended the inning, killing the Colts’ rally.

    Lou Piniella | Chicago Cubs

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Chicago Cubs baseball is back on the air!

By bullpenbrian - March 13, 2013 - 10:15 am 2 comments.

Bullpen Brian

  I’ve twice run my ipod through the washing machine, on accident of course. It still works to this day, and is now seven years old.

This week I accidentally ran my hand held radio through a full spin cycle—after leaving it in the pocket of my sweatshirt.

The front case, as you can see, was knocked off, so was the battery flap, and the tuning knob was spinning like a pinwheel.

As a sports radio junkie, this devise goes just about everywhere I go around the condo—kitchen, bathroom, Man cave. It’s a part of my daily routine, or was, until I gave it a thorough cleaning.

No way it would work again, right? Well, much to my surprise, after drying out for 24 hours it did! Chicago Cubs baseball is back on the air!

Truth be told, I shouldn’t be so shocked this little guy survived. It has, after all, endured two National League Division sweeps and a 101-loss season.

Thankfully, it should also be around for better days ahead, assuming I don’t accidentally iron it, flush it or cook it in the microwave.

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