Cubs, White Sox to play for a trophy


The Mediocrity Cup?

Multiple sources tell the Tribune that during a Monday morning news
conference, the Cubs and White Sox will announce a new tradition — a
trophy (and the public bragging rights) to the club which wins the
annual city series between them. We’re told a tiebreaker is in place
should the teams split the six games 3-3.

This is very Big Ten football, where teams play for things like big axes, wooden turtles,* brown jugs and the like.  The common denominator in all of these trophy rivalries? They’re pretty damn lopsided.

If the Cubs-White Sox rivalry follows the same pattern, one team will be taking home the Bronze Bratwurst, the Copper Crappy Pizza or the Golden Graft or whatever the hell they settle on at least two-thirds of the time.

*The Illibuck loomed much larger for me when I was an Ohio State undergrad because Illinois beat Ohio State three out of the four years I was there. The one year we had it, it sat on the floor in the corner of the Honors House, where I would occasionally study before a class I had across the street. One day I looked at it for a while, thinking how silly the thing was. Then, for about a minute, I thought that it would be a good idea to steal it. It would have been simple. No one else was there and I was sure I could get it back to my apartment without anyone noticing. Then I remembered the talking-to Greg Brady got from Mr. Brady after stealing the Coolidge High goat, thought better of it and went on to class. I think to think that decision represented a point of divergence in some fascinating alternate personal history, but that would be even lamer than stealing the wooden turtle.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.