Cubs, White Sox to play for a trophy

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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.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.