Cubs dress up as Super Mario Bros. characters for road trip (Picture)

The Cubs may be having a horrendous season, but it’s nice to see they are still having some fun. Big changes for the better were expected in Chicago when Theo Epstein took the reins, and in his first season as GM Cubs fans have seen the complete opposite. The Cubs are 38-56, in last place in the NL Central and are looking to be sellers at the trade deadline. None of that nonsense has stopped them from dressing up for road trips.

As you can see from the photo that Cubs writer Doug Padilla shared on Twitter, the Chicago players dressed up as “Super Mario Bros.” characters this past weekend before their trip to Pittsburgh. Pictured above are pitcher Scott Maine, catcher Steve Clavenger and infielder Bryan LaHair. They may be one of the worst teams in baseball, but good for the Cubs for finding a way to keep it unique. We’ve seen the Rays wear all white before a road trip this year, the Cardinals rock these crazy tuxedos and the Mets dress like cowboys. To our knowledge, this is 2012′s first Nintendo-themed road trip.

H/T Sharapova’s Thigh

Cubs ballgirl apparently gives out her number during game (Video)

What we’re looking at here appears to be (and Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly would certainly agree so) a Chicago Cubs ballgirl during a break in the game against the Braves on Monday writing down her digits on a slip of paper for somebody. But what’s frustratingly unclear is who that somebody was. Was it that security guard she handed the message to? A fan? A Braves player, perhaps? If it’s the latter, Annie Savoy would be proud.

Of course, it’s completely plausible she was writing something totally unrelated. Maybe she was letting the clubhouse know she wanted a heater. Or maybe a turkey sandwich. But we certainly hope a love connection was made. Because if the Cubs aren’t getting lucky at Wrigley this year, we hope at least somebody is.

H/T The Big Lead

Visiting teams say Cubs new scoreboard makes it hard for relievers to warm up

One of the updates the Cubs made to Wrigley Field for the 2012 season was a new LED scoreboard in right field. The new addition, which is featured in the photo above, was built on the idea of not having to clutter the bleachers with advertisements. This way, ads can be rotated through the scoreboard sitting under the right field bleachers and are less invasive to the park itself. But there seems to be one problem: It’s too bright.

According to the Chicago Tribune, opposing players have complained that the lights on the new scoreboard get so bright at times that it makes it difficult for their relievers to warm up. The visiting bullpen at Wrigley is located down the right field line, and teams have complained that catchers have trouble seeing the ball because of the LED board.

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‘MLB 12: The Show’ commercial shows Cubs winning World Series (Video)

Only Cubs fans truly know how this commercial makes Cubs fan feel. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my best guess is it brings out extremely mixed emotions. On one hand, the creators of the ad did a tremendous job of making it seem authentic. You really get the impression that this is what the streets of Chicago would look like if the Cubs broke their 104-year World Series drought. That being said, it’s not real. Does that mean it simply adds to the pain?

Whatever the case, the folks at MLB 12: The Show did a fantastic job with the commercial in my opinion. That’s about as authentic as it gets. I almost cried when that old guy cut his beard off. Anytime you can make people laugh and cry in a one-minute span, you’ve done something right.

Fist pound to Big League Stew for passing the video along

Theo Epstein to Cubs: No more staying out late, Chicago nightlife has ruined careers

For those of you who who unaware, it has been a while since the Cubs won a World Series. The same was true of the Red Sox when Theo Epstein took over as general manager 10 years ago. Epstein helped break a life-long drought for the fans of Boston, and the Chicago faithful are hoping he can do the same for them. One of the ways Theo believes the Cubs will be able to achieve their goals is to ignore the Chicago nightlife.

“It’s been a factor in ruining some careers,” Epstein said at the Cubs convention according to the Chicago Tribune. “And I’m sure it’s been an impediment to the Cubs in winning. … The approach we’re going to have is the opposite of laissez faire. We’re not just going to say, ‘Oh, that’s the way it is. This is Chicago. Boys will be boys. I’m sure they’re going to get enough sleep and I’m sure they’ll show up the next day ready to play.’

“That’s a failure on the organization’s part. We have to take a very proactive approach in setting a high standard.”

In other words, Epstein isn’t going to tolerate the type of behavior that went on in Boston in 2004 when the Red Sox snapped their 86-year curse. If he doesn’t want his team enjoying the nightlife in Chicago, I doubt he wants them ripping shots of Jack in the clubhouse before big games. Outfielder Reed Johnson agrees with the new team president.

“It’s important for young players to recognize that you need to get your sleep,” Johnson said. “This is your career. This is what you do for a livelihood. You need to treat it that way, especially in our park. You don’t have that extra 10 hours when you wake up in the morning to get ready for that 7 o’clock night game. You’ve got to be able to get into that routine. … I know I’m in bed probably by 9, 10 o’clock at night to get ready for that day game.”

In reality, we’re talking about professional athletes. Guys are going to do what they want and aren’t going to adhere to a curfew just because the new sheriff in town says to. That doesn’t mean Theo’s advice should be taken lightly.

Terry Francona Reportedly Would Love to Manage the Cubs

After the debacle that became the Boston Red Sox 2011 season, one would assume a fresh start would be best for all parties involved.  After going 7-20 in the month of September, the Red Sox pushed manager Terry Francona out the door and Theo Epstein chose to leave.  Epstein will now be leaned upon to rescue the most disgruntled fan base in America while Francona continues to search for a job.  Initially, it was believed that Epstein had no interest in hiring Francona, given the clubhouse issues that plagued Boston at the end of last season.  If that is indeed the case, it sounds like Francona will be disappointed.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago is the preferred landing spot for Francona.

Epstein has admitted he and his former manager with the Red Sox have talked at length and that “I don’t think we’d have to” go through a formal interview if Francona indeed becomes the choice.

For his part, Francona says he is “trying to stay under the radar” with his unspoken candidacy, but a source very close to him says “deep down” he badly wants to manage the Cubs — for whom he played in 1986 while falling in love with Wrigley Field — and has told Epstein so.

Francona and Epstein rescued the Red Sox together, bringing Boston its first championship in 86 years.  It has been more than 100 years since the Cubs won the World Series, so it would make sense that both general manager and manager would want a shot at breaking another historic curse.  However, you can understand the risk that would be involved if Epstein hired Francona.  If Chicago doesn’t perform, everyone will wonder why Epstein had to bring in his old buddy, who happens to have overseen the worst September collapse in MLB history.  While tempting, the move may be too risky for an already cranky city of fans.

Fist pound to Hardball Talk for passing the story along.

Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Josh Byrnes, Ben Cherington Play GM Musical Chairs

Being a baseball GM as of late has become something of a merry-go-round ride. Still in the thick of the World Series, MLB is getting dizzy with management changes within big-name ball clubs.

The official announcement came Friday night: Theo Epstein is leaving the Red Sox to become the Cubs’ president. That was the first domino.

With a big hole to fill, Boston quickly slotted assistant GM Ben Cherington into Epstein’s former seat. Both teams will hold press conferences on Tuesday, the next off day in the World Series, to present their new bosses.

Another domino fell when Epstein decided to poach long-time friend (and former Red Sox assistant) Jed Hoyer, the Padres’ GM, and bring him into the fold. This would be Epstein’s first move as President since he managed to swing a deal where Hoyer comes in as the Cubs’ GM.

So in one decision, Epstein has rocked the executive world of three franchises. And, it seems, a lot of nepotism was in play since Cherington and Hoyer worked together as co-GMs during Epstein’s absence from the Red Sox in ’05. Remember too, it was Hoyer who traded All Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox.

The good news for the Padres is that they get a few players in exchange for letting Hoyer go. The San Diego club is turning the reigns over to Josh Byrnes — another former Theo Epstein assistant — who was the Padres’ former Vice President of Baseball Operations.

All this and baseball hasn’t even hit the off-season yet.