Chicago Cubs

Random News: New Year's (Sports) Resolutions

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Random News: New Year's (Sports) Resolutions

Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010
9:14 AM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

"The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we're afraid." Author Richard Bach

New Year's resolutions are like repetitive Facebook status updates. Usually, it's the same old narcissistic thoughts time and time again. They all just blend together after a while and they're usually megaphoned out to the world by people who you can barely tolerate in the first place:

"I'm going to lose weight next year!"

"That's it. I'm quitting smoking in 2011. Take THAT Philip Morris!"

"I am going to get more involved in the community!

"Thanks to my self-help book, I'm going to actually talk to that girl at the bus stop next year!"

It all becomes background noise after a while: more regifted bags of lies that we insist on telling ourselves (and others) year in and year out. In fact, various studies put the success rate of New Year's resolutions around 15-20. Quite frankly, I'm shocked the percentage is that high. Our national attention span is next to nil, folks. Why do we kid ourselves into thinking that major life changes can be held for a year? Heck, or a month? I mean, new-fangled exercise plans can be shot thanks to a really long day at work. Or by caving in to a gallon of Butterfinger ice cream. Or by getting that summons to appear on Maury Povich.

Anyway...

But it's always fun to play the resolution game this time of year. You can watch the weaklings fail and see how far the stronger ones go until they cave under the pressure (or laziness). I am resolving to become less selfish. And what better way to start than by making a list of resolutions...for other people! Talk about taking time to think about others, right? Here are some New Year's resolutions I would like to see in place for 2011:

The Chicago Bears: To make sure every venom-filled 2010 critic gets their gift card to Eat At Crow's.

The Chicago Cubs: To play inspiring, winning baseball-- and be lurking just off the radar at the same time. (See: 2010 model of success for Bears, Chicago)

The White Sox: 95-67, 10 games ahead of the Twins. And then hit the gas from there.

The Bulls: To finish with a three-seed (at minimum), including a major upset a few weeks later.

The Blackhawks: To give the phrase "A Happy and a Healthy" some meaning. Especially if it culminates in another scenic drive up La Salle Street in June.

Frank Caliendo (Fox): To scrap impressions of John Madden, Donald Trump, Jay Leno or David Letterman on Sunday's NFL pregame show. Stale only works with certain types of cheese.

Northwestern Football: To win a bowl game. Any bowl game.

Brett Favre: To let someone else win the "Annoying Dinner Guest Who Just Won't Leave" trophy in 2011.

Major League Baseball: To give the playoff expansion talk a rest. C'mon, MLB. Leave "Everybody Gets A Trophy" day to college football.

Speaking of which...

College Football: To make the Alaska Bowl a reality. They already have a 500,000 Boise State-esque field for Barrow's high school (The Whalers). The rest should be easy! I say, you take the two schools with the worst records and send 'em north. You wouldn't watch this? Come on. Nothing says ratings like a Gatorade shower at 40 below!

MLB Umpire Jim Joyce: To find Dr. Emmett Brown, get his DeLorean, and go back to the 9th inning of the TigersIndians game on June 2nd, 2010.

LeBron James: To find a better advisory group. And an enhanced set of earplugs.

Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission of Minnesota: To find a Home Depot gift card big enough to accommodate the purchase of a Commando Teflon Staple Gun 20,000.

Wheaton Warrenville South football: To line up a scrimmage with a mediocre college and walk away with a 35-3 victory.

Buffalo Bills WR Steve Johnson: To find gloves made by the Elmers company.

So go ahead. Make a resolution for somebody else. Its the easier, more mail-it-inny way to ring in 2011. Stock up on the Oreos and Haagen Dazs while you're at it. You deserve a breakfrom lying to yourself year in and year out.

Or something like that.

The Godfather, Anthony Rizzo, lays down new law in Cubs clubhouse

The Godfather, Anthony Rizzo, lays down new law in Cubs clubhouse

MILWAUKEE – Javier Baez broke the code of silence when he mentioned to reporters the latest thing for a Cubs team that designed a Party Room for their state-of-the-art clubhouse at Wrigley Field, turned Jason Heyward’s Rain Delay Speech into World Series mythology and interviews each other in the dugout for pretend TV segments after hitting home runs.

“He doesn’t know how the Italian way works,” Anthony Rizzo said. “There are supposed to be team things that stay with the team.”

Baez let it slip before Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, replaying the dramatic 10-inning comeback victory from the night before at Miller Park. If you see the Cubs instantly disappear from the dugout, or a TV camera shows a shot of an empty dugout…    

“We got this new thing,” Baez said. “I don’t want to be the one saying it. I’ll just let him say it. But it’s really fun. When somebody’s mad, everybody walks in and we do some fun things that get us hyper. You guys ask Rizzo.”

The Godfather gave a cryptic response. Omerta is expected to be part of The Cubs Way.

“It’s a team retreat,” Rizzo said. “It’s not just me. It’s anyone who needs to let out some steam this late in the season. It’s a team thing. It’s a long season and you go through ups and downs. And there’s times where you get to that boiling point where you just want to kill anything in your way.”

Rizzo needed to vent and called his teammates into the visiting clubhouse on Thursday night after striking out with two runners on in the eighth inning of a tie game that could swing the National League Central race.

“Throughout the year, you go back in the tunnel probably 25 times,” Rizzo said. “You got to take it out somewhere. You can only stay sane so long. It’s September. It’s a team (thing) now.

“It’s worked. We’re 3-for-3 on it. But it’s not me gathering. It’s just whoever feels like it’s time – you’ll see the team rushing off the bench and going for a nice little retreat.”

In many ways, Rizzo sets the clubhouse tone with his laid-back vibe off the field and intense competitive streak on the field. Tom Verducci’s book, “The Cubs Way,” detailed a scene before last year’s World Series Game 7 where Rizzo got naked, played “Rocky” music, quoted movie lines and shadowboxed until reliever Hector Rondon joined “in on the hijinks, picked up an aerosol can of shoe cleaner and sprayed it in the direction of Rizzo’s groin.”

“This is strictly in-game,” Rizzo said. “You can’t do it, though, and be selfish and go on a nice little retreat when we’re winning. It’s got to be the right timing. It helps, too, because it’s been fun the last couple weeks since we started doing it.”

One obvious benefit: There are no annoying TV cameras. Like in late July when frustrated pitcher John Lackey bumped into Rizzo in the Wrigley Field dugout and exchanged words with the face-of-the-franchise first baseman.

“We’ve come together now,” Rizzo said. “It’s not about anyone. It’s about us. When things go wrong for a certain individual, we rally around him. And that’s what we got to keep doing from here on out.”

Javier Baez stars for Cubs while his mind drifts to Hurricane Maria and family in Puerto Rico

Javier Baez stars for Cubs while his mind drifts to Hurricane Maria and family in Puerto Rico

MILWAUKEE – Javier Baez tries to use baseball as an escape, but his thoughts inevitably drift toward Puerto Rico and the damage and destruction Hurricane Maria has inflicted on his beloved island.  

“I’ve been doing my best to stay in the game,” Baez said. “But, really, my mind has been over there, trying to find out about family, how they’re doing.”

Baez could compartmentalize enough in the ninth inning to deliver the two-out, two-strike, game-tying RBI single on Thursday night at Miller Park, setting the stage for a dramatic 5-3 comeback victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that created a huge shift in momentum for the Cubs in the National League Central race.  

But several Cubs have been distracted during this nightmare hurricane season, seeing the haunting images on TV and thinking about more than magic numbers. Baez finally made contact with his brother, Gadiel, before Friday’s game in Milwaukee.

“He finally found a spot that has service. Everybody’s disconnected,” Baez said. “It’s been really, really crazy over there. They say there’s no trees in Puerto Rico right now.

“It’s really bad. (But) there are still people smiling and trying to get through it. We got no (other) option. Our whole family is over there. I think if we work together, the process is going to be faster and the help is going to be (stronger). Hopefully, everybody stays together and just tries to help.”

Baez has been using his social-media platforms, asking for prayers and helping raise funds through the GoFundMe page started by catcher Rene Rivera’s family and supported by teammate Victor Caratini.

Known for his flash and highlight-reel moments, Baez is actually more of a low-key personality off the field, close to his family and developing into one of the most important and dependable players for the defending World Series champs.       

“Sometimes, when you are going through difficult moments,” manager Joe Maddon said, “getting out there kind of is that little island that you need just to park your brain for a couple hours.

“You keep reading about it. You’re talking four-to-six months without power. When you read those lines, you know it’s devastating. But live it.

“Again, as an athlete, when you’re going through difficulties outside of your occupation, sometimes it’s the best place to be for those couple hours. And then you go back to reality afterwards.

“Javy has been on the stage. He’s had the bright lights shining on him for a long period of time for a young guy. He’s learned how to handle this pretty well.”

Baez starred for the team that made it to the World Baseball Classic championship game in March. He could feel the pride and energy and what that meant to Puerto Rico during an economic crisis.

“Our whole island, they were there for us,” Baez said. “If we really work together, we can get through it faster, and everything’s going to be OK over there.”