Category Archives: Sam Zell

Getting a Job: Writing for a new baseball site

On the prodding of Susan Bernard, my eminently qualified writer friend, I applied to a baseball website for a position as team writer. The new site (really, really new) is called the Hometown 9.

I picked the Chicago Cubs, and maybe, through a little luck, I’ll get my writing career rolling. Anyways, here’s the first two pieces: one is my bio, the other, my opening day piece.
My Bio: I come from a long background of frustrated ballplayers as both my grandfathers spent time in the pursuit of playing baseball at the minor league level. Grandpa Clark tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers before being told by Uncle Sam they needed 17-year olds to fight in WWII. As a result, he never got to meet Branch Rickey or that man’s miserly and ingenious ways personally. Grandpa Powers tried his hand in the Texas Leagues of the 1920’s. No records on his success, but I know he spent 37 years as a state penitentiary guard. That pretty much says it all.

Before I swindled Purdue University out an Industrial Engineering degree (or did they take me?), I was likely in hot pursuit of fly ball in centerfield. I grew up on the Chicago Cubs, wishing I could one day patrol their cozy confines in pursuit of some wind blown high pop, while also hoping Jay Johnstone wouldn’t be in the same pursuit.

My high school career never amounted to the glory of getting a visit from a tobacco-chewing scout. Some how 5’6”, 165-pound lefties weren’t on the short list of players to watch. But I could really throw that “speed ball” by you. (Glory Days reference.)

Instead, I matriculated to the concrete jungle that is Purdue University. There, I learned how to walk 1 mile across campus at 7:00 AM in 15 minutes, spend 50 minutes in class, usually falling asleep, then back to the dorm in 20 minutes, due to the headwinds of winter. That practice became a rarity; and so did my achievement of good grades, as a 2.07 GPA attests to.

Baseball play turned to baseball fantasy turned to baseball disenchantment with the 1994 strike. I felt cheated on – unlike my imaginary girlfriends – and so, I put aside the game for a spell. I am sorry for that enterprise, and I am a reformed addict. (No lie.)

So that’s it. Professionally, I have wandered away from industrial engineering and decided upon the career of “writing.” This is my first gig – aside from blogging for several years and slogging through writings that are the epitome of Americana – and I hope it will be a smashing success.

Maybe the Cubs will be too.

1st Article: Opening Day: She’s coming back to me

The mistress of spring is coming back home after a heady trip abroad. She’s wearing a devilish blue dress, cut low, the way I like it, and carrying a baseball bat. Again, the way I love it. That is but one vision of baseball that in my more sensuous dreams might exist.

“What is Love?” but that of a pitcher scraping dirt off the rubber, digging his toe into side, and steaming a bee ball toward a tightly-muscled assassin with a 35-inch thunder maker in his clutches. As the pop of the mit or the sweet crack of the bat means we are seeing the first of thousands of confrontations between the two diametrically-opposed fellas. That is love to a baseball fan.

In our nation’s capital, as the 2008 election stirs patriotic feelings, the Washington Nationals open a new cathedral for the baseball gods to perform their wondrous feats. It seems Cuba’s better known Castro knew the park was going to be a startling vision, and decided, “leader of Cuba or new Washington Senator, er, National pitching prospect?” and chose to give it, just one more try.

As a team in search of a new owner, the Chicago Cubs are seeking to break through after 100 years. 100 years. When they last proclaimed the title of World Champions, the world had no supersonic travel, no television, no atomic annihilation, no internet, no rights to vote for women, and still held back African-Americans. How times have evolved for some. As the team has changed hands, from restaurateur, to gum maker, to son-of-a-(gun) gum maker to corporate conglomerate, the loyalty of the fans has kept alive the dreams of William Wrigley, who never won a title, but is the name everyone will forever associate with the ballpark at Clark & Addison. No matter what the current real estate man has to say about it.

In Los Angeles, fifty years after their movement west on a subsonic bird of Orville Wright’s wilder dreams, the Dodgers are playing again in the L.A. Coliseum. A place developed for Olympic feats and USC football, it makes for a quirky attempt to put 80,000 fans aghast at the odd dimensions swinging around to the left field area. Where an outfielder has to put on protective gear, or at least, gets an opportunity to add 3rd base to his list of abilities. Only outfielder Wally Moon might reminisce fondly about his time hitting in this short-lived version of a major league ballpark.

These are some of the new memories surrounding the return of my mistress from abroad. She is a broad – curvy, sometimes luscious, full of vigor, but she never ages – and yet, she is hardened by a seven-score affirmation that every spring she’ll come back home to us. Fresh. A clean slate. Mistakes forgiven. And more new memories to make whilst “rounding the sack.”

Opening Day. She’s home.

Fantasy Baseball Roster: My team and shortfalls

Yahoo! Team Name: SamZellHellCurrent owner of the Chicago Cubs
Hitters

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Tex – C,1B) NA – Dude couldn’t make the Opening day roster! He was traded last year from Atlanta as the ‘important piece’ of the Texiera trade. (Kurt Suzuki is my out. Sigh.)
1B James Loney (LAD – 1B) – 23, line drive hitter that could hit .300, 22-30 Jacks, 85-95 RBIs.
2B Chone Figgins (LAA – 2B,3B,OF) – speedster, rough with the glove everywhere, .300 + 45 SBs.
3B Ryan Zimmerman (Was – 3B) – .275, 25-30 dingers, 90 RBIs due to Washington sucking at the top.
SS Hanley Ramírez (Fla – SS) – #1 overall pick by me. Five-category stud if he hits 3rd. .310-35-110-115-40 type numbers.
OF Carlos Lee (Hou – OF) – “El Caballo”, which means “The Horse”, is another .300 -30-100 man who could get 10 Stolen bases. He was my 2nd pick. (Pictured right.)
OF Kosuke Fukudome (ChC – OF) – A new Cubbie to love or hate. I’m hopeful he’ll get 20 home runs and 15 stolen bases to go with a .280 BA.
OF Willy Taveras (Col – OF) – Speed merchant. No power. But can get steals, runs and maybe some batting average.
Util Josh Willingham (Fla – OF) – Probably the oldest regular the Florida Marlins have. Can hit 25 home runs behind Hanley Ramirez.

Pitching Staff
SP Erik Bedard (Sea – SP) – Best Baltimore Pitcher in ages got traded to West Coast. Good Deal – should give me some strikeouts (200), low WHIP(1.20), ERA(3.35) and possibly 17 wins. Fingers crossed. (Pictured Right.)
SP Cole Hamels (Phi – SP) – Young lefty stud that could get 20 Wins if the Phillies are hitting on all cylinders.
P Carlos Zambrano (ChC – SP) – Fire in his belly. Not a brain in his head at times. But likeable nonetheless. Workhorse that give the Cubs a chance to win every time.
P Fausto Carmona (Cle – SP) – Stuff, stuff and more stuff. Throws Hard and sinks everything. Can win alot behind C.C. Sabathia. I’ll take 15 Wins, 3.75 ERA and WHIP in the 1.25 area.
RP Jonathan Broxton (LAD – RP) – Closer in waiting. Can hit 98-100 MPH on the gun. Strikeouts nearly 1.2 batters per inning. Nasty. I figure 10 saves and 5 wins.
RP Kevin Gregg (Fla – RP) – might save half of the wins the Marlins figure to get, which is around 70 games.
RP Brian Wilson (SF – RP) – San Francisco won’t give him too much to work with. But I hope for 30 saves.

Benchwarmers
BNRick Ankiel (StL – OF) – Could be the next Babe Ruth, with steroids. (Hit plenty of home runs in his miraculous conversion from pitching stud to hitting stud/dud.) (Below.)
BNRyan Theriot (ChC – 2B,SS) -Scrappy little speedster that will give me all that a utility player can.
BN Andre Ethier (LAD – OF) – Could be a break out as LA figures out what it has in the outfield.
BN Yovani Gallardo (Mil – SP) DL – He could be a total monster at 22 years old. I think he’ll give me a 13-15 wins and serious strikeouts.
BN Andrew Miller (Fla – SP) – Just an injury pitcher. Was drafted #1 overall by Detroit in 2006, then traded (with others) for SP Dontrelle Willis and 3B/OF Miguel Cabrera.
Overall, I love my pitching. Deep starters should pull me up on those categories – WHIP, ERA and K’s are going to be pretty easy to come by, I hope. (Knock on the screen.) Problems are in the hitting. No big, big boppers. (35 HR plus.) The team can run, I got 3 guys that could steal 50 bases, but that is one category. No big RBI guys either. Batting average and Runs are often a shot in the dark.
So, I will be doing some trading about 3-5 weeks in, after I get a feeling for the youngsters I drafted and see if the pitching can be leveraged for some superstar hitter.