Speaking with Japanese reporters Saturday before Team Japan played the Cubs in their tuneup for the World Baseball Classic semifinals, Joe Maddon offered a modest proposal. "In the future, the World Series champs should play the WBC champs at the ...and more »
Speaking with Japanese reporters Saturday before Team Japan played the Cubs in their tuneup for the World Baseball Classic semifinals, Joe Maddon offered a modest proposal."In the future, the World Series champs should play the WBC champs at the conclusion of the WBC in a best of three," Maddon said, according to cubs.com.
"The major-league team would be in great shape. I think it could be kind of interesting."It definitely would be interesting to see the Cubs play the winner of this year's WBC, especially if Puerto Rico wins. The sight of Javier Baez celebrating a great tag against his real team would be worth the price of admission.
But with apologies to Maddon, a better idea would be for the defending World Series champs to represent the U.S. and Canada and get a bye into the WBC semifinals against three other teams.Imagine the Cubs, Puerto Rico, Japan and the Dominican Republic in the semifinals this week at Dodger Stadium. It would be similar to the old College All-Star Football Classic, an annual preseason game that pitted the NFL champs against the best college players at Soldier Field.
At this point of spring training, the starters are stretched out enough to go five innings if needed, and the position players are just fine-tuning their swings for opening day. Frankly, the Cubs could use the competition since the Cactus League games are already repetitive.If the Cubs were in this year, Baez obviously would have to switch teams. But that's a small price to pay to make the WBC that much more fun and give baseball a real shot at competing for TV viewers with March Madness.
Don't expect that idea to ever happen, of course. Or Maddon's proposal either.If the Cubs won the WBC but then didn't repeat as champs, some would point to the tournament as a reason for the failure, suggesting they got too keyed up for exhibition games in the spring instead of readying themselves for the ultimate goal of winning the World Series.And naturally, if someone got injured, the Cubs front office would be understandably livid.Injury risks to the college stars entering their rookie seasons forced the NFL to put an end to its game pitting the All-Stars against the Super Bowl champs. The final game was played in 1976, when the Steelers beat the College All-Stars 24-0 in a game called in the third quarter because of a driving rainstorm.
Dancing machine: Former Cubs catcher David Ross makes his much-anticipated dancing debut Monday night in the season premiere of "Dancing With the Stars."Kris Bryant called Ross "the early favorite just because of the following he has now," but most of the early betting lines had Ross at or near the bottom of the 12 contestants, just ahead of Mr. T and Chris Kattan.Ross reportedly will dance the quickstep with partner Lindsay Arnold. The song they'll dance to, not surprisingly, is Steve Goodman's "Go, Cubs Go," which isn't exactly dance music but will remind everyone why Ross was chosen as one of the "stars" in the first place.Can "Grandpa" pull it off?"He's definitely got the self-confidence," Cubs President Theo Epstein said. "It's going to be really fun to see him out there dancing with his catching equipment on."Epstein joked that Ross would be wearing his cup. In truth, Epstein said he would not bet against the veteran backup, who survived for 15 years in the majors despite a .229 career average."He's an overachiever," Epstein said. "He plays above his tools. Let's hope he does that again on 'Dancing With the Stars.' He is representing the Cubs, so let's hope he gets us off to a good start."Since the winner is determined on fan voting, Ross' dance skills may not have to be Michael Jackson-like to advance a few rounds. He could turn out to be the 'DWTS' version of Sanjaya Malakar, the awful teenage singer whom fans voted into the final rounds of "American Idol" in 2006.With all the Cubs fans across the world, Ross is likely to get plenty of votes either way."I'd feel a lot more confident if Addison Russell was representing the Cubs on the show instead of Ross," Epstein said. "Addison is our best dancer."Russell is a little busy right now, while "Grandpa" is just starting his post-Cubs email@example.comTwitter @PWSullivan
Chicago Cubs,World Baseball Classic,Joe Maddon,Javier Baez,David Ross,Theo Epstein