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Cubs Merchandise (Counterfeit) and (Licensed) is really hot right now

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The Chicago Cubs are the hottest team in baseball.

Thursday, Cubs merchandise was lining the front of a local megastore here in Indianapolis, IN. Mostly shirts announcing the Cubs as 2016 division winners. All of which was licensed apparel through Major League Baseball.

As I’m looking at the rows of shirts, I’m thinking ‘wow, I didn’t realize Indianapolis was so in tune with the Cubs and the pennant race.’  And I can’t remember a time when local stores kept up to the date as the season progresses. Especially merchandise for a baseball team. (We don’t have a pro team in Indianapolis) .

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-55-26-pmNone the less, all sorts of creative baseball memorabilia which usually bypasses the tightly licensed agreements MLB has with its vendors has popped up for years. The Cubs players themselves donned  David Ross a “Grandpa Rossy” t-shirts which appear to be only distributed amongst the team, but variations have appeared online, unlicensed from all appearances.

 

The Cubs meanwhile are cracking down on vendors around Wrigleyville, a section of Chicago around Wrigley field in which an entire micro-conomy exists because of the boys in white and blue.

Now, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, the Cubs are suing vendors around Wrigley Field for trademark infringement. Selling Merchandise that represents the Cubs without a license.

According to the report, “In a 32-page complaint (read it below), the league and team allege that dozens of individuals are violating trademarks with counterfeit merchandise, “deliberately free riding on the success of the Cubs” without a license or permission.

The Cubs seek to ban by court order the sale of unlicensed Cubs goods around Wrigley field.

The tradition of selling Cubs “stuff” without a license has been going on and around the streets of Clark and Addison for years, but perhaps for the first time in the franchise’s history, people actually care.

 

For Cubs fans, hope springs eternal, and now is the time

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Something that wracks my brain day and night: Will the Cubs faithful appreciate it this year if the Cubs win the World Series.

So many Cubs teams have gotten, well none of them have really gotten that close. 1989 the Cubs had Andrew Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston, Greg Maddux but it was all for not, loosing to the Giants in 5 games in the National League Championship Series. That was the team that was meant to make 1989 special. But it never happened.

 

 

It was 13 years ago, that the Cubs came up mercilessly to the Florida Marlins in the 2003 NLCS. Loosing to the Marlins in 7 games, 1 game away from the promised land.

In reality, those teams had some talent Sandberg, a juiced up Sosa, but not All-Star talent at every position like this 2016 Cubs team.

Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo,  Jayson Hayward all would be the “guy” on respective teams elsewhere, other key contributors like Ben Zobrist who was an all-star this season, and Javier Baez, Dexter Fowler, then a horde of pitching talent, Jake Arrietta, John Lackey, Arolidis Chapman and the list goes on.

So the Cubs enter the 2016 Playoffs as the favorite, in both leagues, the team that has the most talent, skill, momentum moxy to make it all, they won’t be as underdogs, and if they win it all, will it feel the same without a flaw.

Sometimes when the Cubs lost this season, it kinda seemed that the world was in a normal place. Just for a moment they don’t have to be perfect. Just for a moment they don’t have to come from behind and put up a seven spot in an inning.

It’s not just talent its the ability to win the baseball game.  The Cubs are 40-games over .500 with a 17 game lead in the division, they’re on pace for 103 wins. Wow.

The Cubs are now N.L. Central champions. No team has ever clinched the division faster than the Cubs did this year since the central division was created in 1994.

 

And this club knows how to have fun, as Paul Sulivan of the Chicago Tribune tells us regarding the Cubs clubhouse after clinching a day or so after clinching the division:

Dante the DJ spun tunes in the wild celebratory clubhouse, stopping for a moment as Chairman Tom Ricketts was called upon by players to make a speech.

Ricketts had taken a few hits since buying the team, but now The Plan was in full bloom and the championship he had promised Cubs fans seemed closer to becoming reality.

Players listened attentively, plastic cups half-filled with Jack Daniel’s in the hands of most of them, as Ricketts took the spotlight.

“All I did was buy some time with the fans,” Ricketts told the players. “And the fact is, we used that time for Theo and Jed (Hoyer) to go out and build the best team in all of baseball.”

Cheers went up, drinks went down. Dante the DJ took his cue, cranking up the song “All the Way Up” by Fat Joe and Remy Ma:

“Nothing can stop me, I’m all the way up. All the way up. I’m all the way up.” The party was just starting.
And no one wanted to see it end.

So this team has the all the potential. All of the talent. The right attitude, all the right stuff.

But can they turn that magic into a World Series title, the first for the Cubbies since 1908.

 

Harry Caray: “Someday the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series”

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“As sure as God made green apples, someday the Cubs are going to be in the World Series.”

“It may be sooner than we think,” Harry Caray told WGN TV viewers after the final game of the 1991 season.

“It seems to me that we don’t have too much time. It seems the ingredients, the nucleus is there. I don’t know who the manager will be.”

“It require’s a veteran manager,” Caray added.

Of course, Caray had a much shorter view of when that will happen, adding that they would need a veteran to handle the mixed of veteran and youngsters on the current roster. All of those players on that roster are long gone.

It’s 15 years later and Caray may be spot on.

Someday will come.

Someday is this year.

Harry Caray uttered those words in 1991. He would call his final game in 1997 and passed away early in 1998.

He never got to live to see this team or really a legit contender, but boy would he be bonkers about a club oozing with so much young talent it doesn’t even have room to fit them all into the lineup.

But this is the year if there ever was going to be the year. 2016 is World Series or bust for the Cubbies.

The Cubs magic number is down to one, the Cubs can clinch the NL Central Division title with a win tonight against Milwaukee at Wrigley.

Joe Maddon was asked what it would mean to clinch at Wrigley:

“Let’s do it, why not.”

 

 

Tony LaRussa wonders why Colin Kaepernick didn’t protest when he was “on top”

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Tony LaRussa, the former MLB manager, and current C.E.O of the Arizona Diamondbacks told Sports Illustrated’s Maggie Gay on Wednesday he sincerely doubts the sincerity of one Colin Kaepernick.

LaRussa couldn’t wait to give his opinion. As seen in this video:

 

“I really question the sincerity of someone like Kaepernick, I remember when he was on top I never heard him talk about anyone but himself,” LaRussa said.

“Now all of the sudden he’s struggling for attention and he makes this big pitch, I don’t buy it.”

“I think you have the right as an organization, about having a philosophy, about respecting, whether its our constitution, our country, our soldiers, however you feel, our flag,  I would not, to the best of my ability, sanction someone taking a knee, I think that’s disrespectful.”

“Even if he was sincere there are other ways to show your concern.”

 

The ink is dry on the contract and Tim Tebow is proving us wrong again

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Tim Tebow has signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets. The Mets made the announcement on Thursday to a somewhat shocked audience of pundits, fans, and in general those who love to think, write and talk about one Tim Tebow.

The man will not go away.

He’s a fascinating man. And not for the reasons we find typical in today’s sporting atmosphere. No drug abuse, arrests, tantrums, or more just an unbelievable, perhaps somewhat insane belief that if you try hard enough and give it everything you have, well good things will happen.

 

Tebow said Thursday, “We don’t have to listen to what everybody else wants us to do with our lives We get to do what we want.”

“I just get to go pursue my passion, do what I love,” Tebow said. “I get to pursue this awesome game of baseball. I’ll give everything I have to it.”

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said on Thursday that he was not driven to sign Tebow by the “novel situation” or as some would say, publicity but simply because they think he might be able to play baseball.

Via Bloomberg, Alderson said, “This was not something that was driven by marketing considerations or anything of the sort. We are extremely intrigued with the potential that Tim has. He has demonstrated over his athletic career that he is a tremendous athlete, has great character, a competitive spirit. And aside from the age, this is a classic player development opportunity for us.”

 

 

It was rumored the Atlanta Braves had interest. That would make sense given Tebow’s affiliation with the south, and much of the territory the Braves hold media rights to, and the geographic location of their minor league clubs. Tebow the Florida Gator and Heisman winner is well known in Tennessee, Georgia, Virgina and other cities which he could have played minor league ball in. Alas, he went big city on us.

The logical conclusion is that Tebow had many offers, but chose New York. Knowing Tebow’s mindset as we do, he really believes he can make it to the big league club and he just wants a shot. When he gets his shot, why not make it New York city, where he and his message can shine brightest.

Next week, Tebow, 27 will be in Port Saint Lucie where he will play in the Mets instructional league.

If he does well or the Mets will move him to fall baseball and then we’re talking spring training with the Mets in 2017.

 

 

The Yankees offer a helping hand

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—These are not the Yankees that I remember. The Yankees of 2016 are now known as a selfless organization willing to give second chances (A-Rod), build from within (goodbye Beltran) and help those in need. Old Hal Steinbrenner ain’t so bad.

ESPN by way of the Daily News reports the Yankees have offered to pay whatever it costs to help Dwight Gooden get drug counseling.

In recent days Gooden has denied a serious drug problem despite the public concern by former teammate Darryl Strawberry who called Gooden a “complete junkie-addict” after Gooden failed to make a public appearance along with Strawberry last week.

Gooden told the Daily News this week, yes he’s an addict, but he does not have a drug problem as he stood outside his New Jersey apartment and spoke with a reporter from the New York Daily News.

Meanwhile, Gooden’s former drug counselor told the paper, “They said they’re willing to pay for Dwight’s treatment, which is a huge gesture on their behalf.”

“They’ve always tried to do right by Dwight, going back to George Steinbrenner when he gave him a chance to play again.”

More via ESPN.com 

 

 

As October creeps forward, Magic at Wrigley could be very real

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It’s August and Wrigley is buzzing.

The Cardinals are in town.

The Cubs have won nine straight games. It’s the eleventh inning, the bases are loaded the lights are as bright as ever from atop the grandstands, and the a pitch coming across the left side of the plate to Anthony Rizzo looks like a strike, probably was a strike, is a called a walk and the Cubs win Thursday night 4-3 over the rival St. Louis Club.

The Cubs have now won 10 straight games and are 13 solid games ahead of the Cardinals in the N.L. central. Although the magic number sits at 36 games, it appears as solid as a guess as ever that the Cubs will be playoff bound and no one expects anything less than the first World Series game at Wrigley field since 1945.

 

 

Even Joe Maddon, the Cubs skipper, is surprised his team is so out in front in the division race.

“Yeah, I am surprised that there is that kind of a gap,” Joe Maddon said via the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Absolutely surprised.

“But I’m not taking anything for granted.”

As of Friday the Cardinals are a half game on the outside-looking-in behind the Marlins for the second Wild Card spot in the National League. But for those who feel like the Cubs will have a Warriors type romp through the playoffs into the World Series, Thursday night’s game should be enough to show that a game with intensity may not necessarily amplify talent, but purely who has the most grit. The Cubbies have grit and lots of it.

A pitcher’s home run derby in San Diego is a nice idea, in theory

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The separation between pitcher and hitter is as old as the game itself.

Babe Ruth’s Major League Baseball career began as a pitcher in the summer of 1914. That year Babe Ruth was moved to the Major League Boston Red Sox from the minor league Baltimore Orioles as a pitcher.

The Babe would pitch four solid seasons for the Red Sox, finishing with a career earned run average of 2.28.

But even as a pitcher he could crush it, unlike anyone in that time, after all that was the dead-ball era. In his final full season as a pitcher, 1918, he hit 11 home runs, tying for the lead in the big leagues for all players. Moving to the outfield was the best thing that ever happened to the Babe where he would go on again to lead the majors many more times.

Fast forward nearly 100 years later and we have Madison Bumgarner who probably would be approaching Babe like numbers if it weren’t for the five-man rotation, relief pitchers and all that sort of thing. The San Francisco pitcher has hit 2 home runs thus far this season which puts him tied for first among pitchers along with New York’s Noah Syndergaard. Bumgarner has hit 11 home runs in the last three seasons combined.

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Madbum said he’d love to participate in the home run derby in San Diego this July. His manager Bruce Bochy is opposed to the idea, the pitcher still wants to do it.

Meanwhile, two other National League throwers would like to participate, Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs and Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals have voiced their willingness to participate, thus breeding the idea of an all-pitcher home run derby.

Wainwright said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I’m ready if they call. Of course, the Cardinals would have to approve.”

Wainwright also campaigned on Twitter:

 

 

But regardless of whether MLB holds a pitchers-only hitting contest in San Diego, or even allows a pitcher in the contest (odds are they don’t, MLB is not apt to make baseball fun) there is a wider movement and question, closely related to the designated hitter debate, why in fact don’t pitchers hit better if they are required to at least two to three times a game? And why don’t we see more pitchers come up through the ranks as true dual-players both able to pitch and contribute offensively.

Well, a man who knows a thing about duality in sports, Jeff Samardzija, the former Norte Dame wide receiver and current San Francisco Giants pitcher explained it best.

“It’s tough,” Samardzija said via The San Francisco Chronicle.

“Hitting is not like playing golf. You’ve got to do it all the time and be comfortable with your swing. So for (Bumgarner) to hop in there every other day and do what he does is really impressive.”

So there’s your answer. It’s possible to make great pitchers decent hitters, but to the level where they would sacrifice their pitching just hasn’t happened in the last 100 years. Don’t expect a major movement towards offensively minded pitchers, but you might see a pitcher here or there make it to the bigs and help his own cause as they say.

As far as the pitcher’s-only home run derby this summer, Buster Olney originally reported this past Sunday there was some talk it might be in the works, in the three days following his report on ESPN’s Sunday Night baseball broadcast, there has been no official announcement or word that such an event is taking place.

Marlon Byrd latest MLBer to be suspended for PED’s

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Cleveland Indians outfield Marlon Byrd will be suspended 162-games as a second-time offender, per FOX Sports. Major League Baseball is expected to make an announcement on Wednesday.

Byrd is a 15-year pro who began his career with the Phillies in 2002 at age 24.  His best season may have been in 2003 when he finished fourth in rookie of the year voting in the National League hitting .303 in 135 games. The 38-year old has spent time with 10 different Major League teams.

Byrd released a lengthy statement on Wednesday which read in part:

“After an extensive investigation by my lawyers and an independent chemist, it was concluded that the most likely source of Ipamorelin was a tainted supplement. I alone am responsible for what I put in my body, and therefore, I have decided to forgo my right to an appeal in this matter and accept the suspension. I apologize for any harm this has caused the Cleveland Indians, Indians fans, my teammates and most importantly, my family.”

Indians manager Terry Francona said Byrd addressed the team Wednesday and told his teammate that his career is basically over.

Francona said Byrd relayed this was not the way he wanted to end his professional baseball career.

MLB Draft Top Overall Picks: Where are they now?

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Over the years we the fans have seen some fantastic top overall picks in Major League Baseball’s First Year Player Draft. We have also seen some real busts taken first overall. What makes a top pick successful in the majors? Just like in any sport the draft is not a proven science. Lets take a look back at the past few number 1 overall draft picks and see where they are today.

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2015 – Dansby Swanson (SS) – Swanson was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks and then sent to Atlanta as part of a package deal for Shelby Miller. He is currently playing for the Carolina Mudcats, the Braves High A affiliate and holding his own. Through his first 20 games he is batting a .333 with 10 RBI’s and 1 HR. With the state of the Braves so far this season, we may see him in the big leagues by the second half of the season.

2014 – Brady Aiken (LHP) – Brady was drafted by the Houston Astros but could not work out a deal with the team and went unsigned. In March of 2015 he announced that he had undergone Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow but then was taken 17th overall by the Cleveland Indians in the 2015 draft. He is still recovering from his surgery and expected to be 2 years out from ever seeing action on the Major League level.

 

2013 – Mark Appel (RHP) – Appel was drafted by the Houston Astros and was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in December of 2015 as one part of a multiplayer deal. He is currently 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

2012 – Carlos Correa (SS) – Correa was drafted by the Houston Astros as the first of three consecutive number 1 overall picks and has been the only one of the three to pay off in an Astros uniform. He was called up in 2015 and was named America League Rookie Of The Year.

2011 – Gerrit Cole (RHP) –Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates Cole took a quick path to the majors and made his debut in 2013 when he started 19 games. He finished his first season with a 10-7 record. Cole has been instrumental in the turnaround of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

2010 – Bryce Harper (CF) – Harper was drafted first overall by the Washington Nationals in 2010 and called up in April of 2012. Harper finished his rookie campaign by being named National League Rookie Of the Year. He is currently believed by many people to be the best player in Major League Baseball

With all of that being said 3 of the last 6 number 1 picks have come in and made an impact in the big leagues, and its reasonable to understand why at least 2 of the remaining 3 havent been given a shot yet. When looking just a bit farther down the list names such as Stephen Strasburg and David Price immediately jump out. Recent draft history has been good for the sport and good for the fans. But what about those pics that end up being a complete bust? Are there more impact players or busts taken with the top pick? Stay tuned for our look back at the biggest bust at number 1.

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