RIP Ron Santo, Cubs Legend

I’d often wince at the thought of Ron Santo leaving us in the middle of a Cubs Mets game at New York, in one of the late innings when Carlos Marmol or [fill-in-the-blank] inevitably loads the basis before retiring the side and saving the game.

Obviously this would not be an ideal situation and certainly was not what I hoped for. But it came as quite a disappointment when I heard, early this morning, that Santo passed from complications from a recurrence of bladder cancer at age 70.

I really thought he’d be around to see the Cubs finally win it all. Of course I imagine a Cubs championship as a likelihood every spring, only to have my heartbroken by August and inevitably lose interest in baseball altogether by the time the Wrigley Field ivy starts turning colors. But there were definitely a few seasons over the past decade in which I had a pretty-to-really good feeling that it was going to happen.

Santo raised more than $50 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund through his annual Walk for the Cure and other charitable activities. Every time a Cubs player was issued a base on balls, Santo took the opportunity to advocate for JDRF, thanks to a partnership in which Walgreens donated $100 to JDRF for every Cubs walk.

So let’s show some appreciation and thanks to #10, one of the greatest Cubs of all time, and see if we can raise 10 grand for JDRF in the name of Ron Santo over the next ten days. It’s as simple as filling in the box below or you can visit: http://www.razoo.com/story/Donate-To-Jdrf-In-Memory-Of-Ron-Santo.

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Baseball Time is Here Again

It’s been a long offseason and, as a die-hard Cubs fan, it’s taking longer than normal to get psyched up for this season. I was more optimistic than normal last year and vested much energy into the Cubs playoff run only to see my Cubs swept out immediately. No consolation that the Dodgers knocked them out — I like the Dodgers but that doesn’t matter when they’re playing the Cubs.

Today is the first spring training game for many teams. Coincidentally the Dodgers are playing the Cubs. This year MLB is touting their new MLB network as the place to see all games — even the blacked out Saturday Fox games. BUT, the MLB Network is only available to DirecTV and Time Warner Cable subscribers, leaving Dish Network and AT&T U-Verse subscribers in the dark. Worse yet, MLB.TV — the online stream, will continue to black out these games in addition to the World Baseball Classic. What’s a fan to do?

How will you follow your favorite team this year? Who will the Cubs beat in the 2009 World Series? Will MLB continue their restricting online media outlets and photographers from media access and privileges?

Photo by Seth William Page, 2/21/09, via CC-license.

R.I.P. Studs Terkel

studs terkelOne of the greatest radio voices of all time, pioneering storyteller Louis “Studs” Terkel died today. He was 96. What he gave to journalism and radio storytelling has everything to do with my addiction to podcasts, public radio and journalism of the people for the people and to the people.

It goes without saying that Terkel’s unique traveling interview style, best illustrated on 1963’s “This Train” is the model for great audio and visual storytelling of today. While riding the train from Chicago to the civil rights march in Washington D.C., Terkel gathered the voices of anger, joy and ultimately optimism from people of all ages making that historic trip. Just listen to part one of “This Train” below and, suddenly, you won’t think This American Life is the most revolutionary program to hit radio.

Studs was a Chicago guy but his stories had a purely American bent, touching on difficult matters of importance and celebrating life coast to coast. I’m sorry that he will not be around to see Barack Obama become president, although he discussed as much with a Huffington Post scribe in the days before his passing. I’m also sad that the Cubs couldn’t pull it out this year for Terkel and other Cubs fans who’ve waited the better part of 100 years to see a championship.

Studs Terkel was an activist until his dying days, playing a prominent role challenging AT&T’s corroboration in releasing records to the National Security Agency in 2006.

I hope to locate the full audio of this amazing piece to post later. For now, here’s the first 50 minutes of “This Train.”

Video and more below:

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MLB: Last Day of the Regular Season – 2 Playoff Spots at Hand

It doesn’t get any more exciting, especially in a sport that often drags on and on for 5 1/2 months. But this year might see — for the first time ever — 2 (and possibly a third) one-game playoffs for the final two spots (the NL Wild Card and the AL Central Division Title) in the playoffs.

UPDATE: The Brewers beat the Cubs and the Marlins beat the Mets, so for the second straight year, the Mets have been shut out of the playoffs on the last day of the season. The Brewers will play the Phillies in the NLDS beginning Wednesday and the Cubs will host the Dodgers Wednesday in that NLDS. The White Sox must beat the Tigers in a make-up game Monday to face the Twins in a playoff Tuesday for the AL Central Crown and a spot in the playoffs vs. Tampa Bay (starting Thursday).

I’m listening to WGN Radio’s broadcast of the Cubs vs Brewers, where the crowd is decidedly split, but while the Cubs are starting one-time prodigy Angel Guzman (who after all these years is still 0-7 and awaiting his first major league victory), The Brew Crew sent out CC Sabathia for the third time in 10 days. I’m watching the scores on the Mets/Florida game very closely, as well as the Sox/Indians and Twins/Royals.

Here are the possible playoff scenarios:

AL Central: If the Chicago White Sox (86-74) and Minnesota Twins (87-74) are still within a half-game of each other after play is completed Sunday, Chicago must make up a rainout against the Detroit Tigers on Monday. If the White Sox and Twins finish with the same record, they would play a tiebreaker game Tuesday in Chicago.

NL Wild Card: If the New York Mets (89-72) and Milwaukee Brewers (89-72) still have identical records after Sunday, they would play a one-game tiebreaker Monday in New York.

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