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.
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?