The Cubs emerged from the stone age


This story from Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal is crazy. It’s about the Cubs and how they have changed since new ownership took over in 2009 and, more dramatically, since Theo Epstein took over baseball operations in 2011.

Everyone knows that, under former GM Jim Hendry, the Cubs were not exactly on the sabermetric vanguard. But the club’s approach to baseball analytics seems secondary to the Cubs’ approach to basic office functionality, regardless of philosophy. As Costa observes:

The office Tom Ricketts inherited when he took over the Chicago Cubs in 2009 was a windowless room beneath the upper deck of Wrigley Field. A closet just outside his door contained all of the team’s computer servers, which were covered by a cafeteria tray to shield them from the water that would leak through the ceiling when it rained.

The Cubs were still processing season ticket orders by fax machine. They kept up on trade news by employing someone to scan the Internet for articles and deliver printouts to executives’ desks. Some of their staffers were barely on e-mail. And space was so limited that half of them worked in trailers in the parking lot.


And thankfully for the Cubs, the takeover by Ricketts and the hiring of Epstein is when things began to change.

We spend so much time talking about sabermetrics and analytics when it comes to front offices. But the fact of the matter is that the modern baseball executive is just as much systems administrator as he or she is a baseball mind. No matter what your philosophy is, it’s essential that the people in your organization have quick and ready access to the information and communications used to make the decisions, whether that information is statistical analysis from the number crunchers, scouting reports from the people in the field or business data from the folks who sell the tickets and do the marketing.

(thanks to Jordan for the heads up)


Donaldson ejected for kicking dirt on plate after home run

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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Minnesota’s Josh Donaldson managed to get ejected while hitting a home run.

Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

With the score 2-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 AL MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.

Manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.

Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.

Donaldson also had argued with Bellino on a 1-1 breaking ball in the first inning that appeared to be high but was called a strike, leading to a strikeout.

“We need Josh on the field, out there playing, and at third base,” Baldelli said. “That’s when we’re at our best. And so that’s really the end of it. I think we can move past it at his point, and go from here.”

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