Cubs keep Ron Santo close to their heart


Cubs keep Ron Santo close to their heart

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Posted 12:19 p.m. Updated 5:21 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney

MESA, Ariz. As the manager at Triple-A Iowa, Mike Quade would turn to WGN Radio once his game was finished. Like Cubs fans everywhere else, he immediately knew what was going on by the tone of Ron Santos voice.

It wasnt manufactured for the booth, Quade said. (Id) listen to three words out of Ronnies mouth, three groans, and I wasnt sure how bad we were losing, but I knew it wasnt good. And if he and Pat (Hughes) were having fun, then we were in good shape.

They all have stories here about the towering figure that walked around on prosthetic legs and maintained a childlike enthusiasm for the Cubs that was in Quades words exceptional and sincere.

The Cubs began a season-long tribute with Thursdays Ron Santo Day at HoHoKam Park. There was a No. 10 painted behind home plate. The Cubs also wore No. 10 hats during their workout. That matched the patches on their sleeves for their All-Star third baseman and long-time broadcaster, who died last December from bladder cancer.

We hurt for our dad, Jeff Santo said. Theres mixed emotions. Its a great day, seeing that his number and his life will live on for many generations. Its an honor to us, but it also gets overwhelming, too, because we miss him so much.

Ron would have turned 71 last month, and at this time of year he would get sick of sitting on the couch watching movies.

Every spring it brought a smile, Jeff recalled, because he was ready to come to the park and (see his) second family. That smile and that optimism (he) brought is kind of gone now.

Jeff chronicled his fathers amazing life in the 2004 documentary This Old Cub. He plans to film an update this year, adding footage from the funeral and the statue dedication outside Wrigley Field on Aug. 10.

Now Keith Moreland has to replace a legend in the radio booth. Jeff endorsed the choice, saying that Moreland was his favorite player on the 1984 team: He played with the same kind of heart as my father.

That spirit might one day be recognized by the Hall of Fame, though the family long ago built their own Cooperstown at Wrigley Field, with a retired number and soon a statue. In a sense the 2011 Cubs season is dedicated to Ronald Edward Santo.

My dad would be content just knowing (this is) happening, Jeff said. This means everything.

Quade vs. Ozzie

As a Chicago guy, Quade gets it Santo, the entire WGN catalog and the rivalry with the White Sox. As a kid, hed watch Santo and Bozos Circus.

Ringmaster Ned and Bucket No. 6, right? Quade said. Are you kidding me? Absolutely. We got tickets I never (went, but) I think my little brother (got) to go. Somebody in this family finally ended up going.

Quades friends from Prospect High School are still divided Cubs-Sox. On Friday hell bring his team to Camelback Ranch and use the designated hitter, what he described as a little bit of gamesmanship.

Lou Piniella and Ozzie Guillen enjoyed going back and forth, and even did commercials together, but the 51st manager in Cubs history is probably going to stay out of it.

Well let Ozzie try to steal all the headlines, Quade said. Hes something and I do get a kick out of him, but I dont know hed have to really come after me (to) get much out of me.

All is Wells

Randy Wells was in a good mood after Thursdays 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians and a workshop on dealing with the media held in the Cubs clubhouse that morning. Wells, who enjoys sparring with reporters and making Major League references, has now thrown nine scoreless innings this spring.

Do you think you have the inside track to one of the two open spots in the rotation?

I have no idea, Wells said. Thats not up to me. I learned that in the (session), too. Stay away from vulnerable questions.

PatrickMooney is's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Bill Murray makes Cubs address from the White House

Bill Murray makes Cubs address from the White House

Actor and longtime Cubs fan Bill Murray crashed the end of the White House briefing on Friday sporting Cubs attire after his team took a 3-2 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.

Asked whether he believes the Cubs will reach their first World Series berth since 1945, Murray responded: "I feel very confident that Clayton Kershaw is a great, great pitcher, but we (Cubs) got too many sticks."

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Earlier in the day, he briefly met with President Barack Obama, a noted White Sox fan, to congratulate Murray on being the recipient of the 2016 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Murray will be honored on Sunday, but the problem is, it may interfere with Game 7 of the NLCS if the Dodgers beat the Cubs on Saturday night.

Murray will surely be cheering the loudest for the Cubs in Game 6 to avoid that conflict.

Check out the video here.

How game-changing Kyle Hendricks deal came together for Cubs team on brink of World Series

How game-changing Kyle Hendricks deal came together for Cubs team on brink of World Series

Kyle Hendricks will have that same blank look on his face as 40,000 fans stand on their feet at Wrigley Field and the sea of people forms around Clark and Addison, waiting to explode in celebration when the Cubs win their first National League pennant in 71 years.

Hendricks is exhaustive in his preparation, creative with his variety of pitches and unpredictable sequencing and not at all intimidated by the idea of going up against Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night in Game 6 of this best-of-seven NL Championship Series. Even Kershaw – a three-time Cy Young Award winner – recognizes Hendricks as “the Greg Maddux of this generation.”

Hendricks will stand on the mound as a billboard for The Cubs Way, a mixture of the patience, natural talent, Ivy League intelligence and guts needed to reimagine this franchise and get to the brink of the World Series. It also took some luck, the kind of random bounce or happy accident you don’t automatically associate with the Cubbies.

What if the initial Ryan Dempster deal with the Atlanta Braves didn’t fall through and the Cubs wound up with an underwhelming reliever like Randall Delgado? What if the Dodgers – the team Dempster desperately wanted to join so he could play with Ted Lilly again – changed their minds at the last minute? 

“It was bizarre,” general manager Jed Hoyer admitted. “I’ve never been a part of something like that.”

Just think about how much Wrigleyville has changed since July 31, 2012. The Cubs were in the middle of a 101-loss season that would be rewarded with the No. 2 overall pick in the next year’s draft, which became potential MVP Kris Bryant, a tanking strategy that helped create a 103-win team.

As the clock ticked down toward the trade deadline, Dempster hung out inside the team’s offices, playing Golden Tee in the lounge, kicking his feet up on a staffer’s desk and watching the coverage on MLB Network.

“He was quite comfortable,” Hoyer said. “Listen, (players with) full no-trades or 10/5 rights – they have power. And I think Ryan is very thoughtful and had very specific desires and the Dodgers are obviously a destination. But I think he understood by the end that we had an obligation to the Cubs to make the best trade we could. And we couldn’t make a trade we liked with the Dodgers.”

The pitching infrastructure that would eventually help Hendricks win 16 games and an ERA title this season first built up value for Dempster, who posted a 2.25 ERA in his first 16 starts in 2012, the final year of his contract. The Cubs had been focused on a group that included three pitching prospects – Allen Webster, Zach Lee and Chris Reed – who are no longer in the Los Angeles organization.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

“Listen, nobody knew how it would turn out,” Dempster said. “That’s the truth. No matter what trade you make with anybody, you don’t know how the trade’s going to turn out.”

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein understood all the risks and all the rewards, flipping one short-term asset after another and trying to collect as many potential building blocks as possible. During the Jeff Samardzija negotiations, the Cubs asked for Corey Seager so many times that it became a running joke with the Dodgers. The Cubs found another future All-Star shortstop in Addison Russell when they shipped Samardzija to the Oakland A’s in a blockbuster Fourth of July deal in 2014.

Dempster had been so fixated on the Dodgers that Cubs management finally told him: Fine, you don’t believe us? Talk to Ned Colletti yourself. Dempster spoke directly with Colletti, the Dodgers GM at the time and a former Cubs PR guy.

“I was like: ‘Wow, this really isn’t going to happen,’” Dempster remembered. “‘OK, so where do we go from here?’”

Like Rick Renteria, Colletti ultimately became part of the collateral damage when Andrew Friedman left the Tampa Bay Rays for a president’s job with the Dodgers in October 2014. That triggered the escape clause in Joe Maddon’s contract, allowing the star manager to score a five-year, $25 million contract in Chicago, while Colletti got bumped into an advisory role in Los Angeles.

“We got some criticism for this, but (Dempster) couldn’t actually hear the (other) conversations,” Hoyer said. “It wasn’t like he was forcing the negotiations. He was just there (in the office), so that way we could ask him any questions that we would have, like: ‘Will you do this? Will you do that?’ It wasn’t like we were having him on speaker.”

The Cubs also had a source with connections to the Texas Rangers who recommended a Class-A pitcher with a fluid delivery, pinpoint control and that Dartmouth College education.

“Theo would pop his head in,” Dempster recalled. “He would be like: ‘St. Louis?’ And I’d say: ‘No.’

“‘Yankees?’ ‘Do I have to shave my beard?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Then, no.’ We were going back and forth. And then (Theo said): ‘Hey, we like this package from Texas. It gives us a couple good players.’

“I was like: ‘All right, let’s do it.’”

Whatever tension may have existed in the moment, Dempster earned his World Series ring with the 2013 Boston Red Sox, signed on with MLB Network and rejoined the organization as a special assistant in December 2014, or right around the time the Cubs pushed to close Jon Lester’s $155 million megadeal.

“I love the Cubs,” Dempster said. “To see one of the guys that you got traded for contributing so much to a place that you care so much about, man, every fifth day, I don’t miss (it). I don’t miss when he’s pitching. I don’t miss an inning.

“I’m locked in, because I totally enjoy it. I think it’s awesome to leave somewhere that you care so much about – and the guy that comes back as a piece is much better than you (and) has been such an integral part.”

The Cubs are up 3-2 in the NLCS again, which means the national media will bring up Bartman, etc. But the Cubs will give the ball to a pitcher with poise, the ability to think on his feet and way more stuff than he’s given credit for, even if he’s not Kershaw.       

“This is still the same game,” Hendricks said. “You go out there and you’re making the same pitches. It’s the same lineup, same hitters. There’s just more going on outside. So all the attention – the added pressure coming from the outside – you don’t pay attention to it.

“It has nothing to do with the job that you have to do when you go out there.”