March came in like a lion with a bunch of errors and a dugout fight, and went out like a lamb, or as it is otherwise known, Koyie Hill’s batting average.
So let’s just get right to:
March 2011: Lot’s of Losing and Discord Not Involving Carlos Zambrano
March 1 – Ryan Dempster makes his Cactus League debut by going 3 innings, and giving up one run, two hits and a walk. He also juggled three rubber chickens, made four separate dick jokes, and did about 30 seconds of his impression of Will Ferrell doing his impression of Harry Caray.
March 2 – The frustration of 14 errors in the first four Spring games boils to the surface when Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Silva get into a fight in the dugout after an inning featuring 3 of those 14 errors. The Chicago media is quick to point out that Carlos Zambrano was not involved just so they could get more traffic from people Googling “Zambrano fight.”
March 3 – The Cubs hold a team meeting the day after the Silva/Ramirez/not Zambrano fight to talk about their feelings or some shit.
March 3 – Carlos Zambrano throws three shutout innings despite being very fatigued from not participating in the dugout skirmish.
March 4 – Matt Garza is drilled in the back by a line drive that was not hit by Carlos Zambrano.
March 5 – The Cubs reveal that Jeff Samardzija is being considered only for a bullpen spot, and not a starting spot, disappointing everyone who had hoped he wouldn;t be considered for any spot at all.
March 8 – The Cubs losses piled up so much in the Spring that Fernando Perez got a standing ovation after stealing a base with the score tied 13-13 in the 9th inning. This was unfortunately the highlight of Fernando Perez’s season.
March 8 – Bud Selig can’t help but be disappointed in Marlon Byrd’s relationship with Victor Conte despite Carlos Zambrano not being involved. Byrd responds with one of the greatest quotes I’ve ever read from an athlete: “We talked about it in 2009. I mean, it’s 2011.”
March 10 – Mike Quade implies that 25-year old veteran, Blake Dewitt, may not necessarily be the Cubs’ starting second baseman, giving rise to the prospect of Darwinning with 25-year old youngster, Darwin Barney.
March 11 – The Cubs make their first roster cuts and since they can’t cut everybody, they settle on cutting John Gaub and Esmailin Caridad.
March 12 – Koyie Hill got a hit. It was his first hit of the Spring. It was also his last. I’m not even fucking joking. He finished with a .031 batting average.
March 14 – Braden Looper makes it clear that if he doesn’t make the Cubs roster, he will retire and go back to his family rather than head to the minors or scrounge for another team to sign him. SPOILER: Braden Looper has been spending a lot of time this year with his family.
March 14 – Carlos Pena takes a side job as a writer for Vine Line to make a little extra pocket money. At least, that is what I assume when I see quotes like this:
‘‘This would seem more feasible,’’ Pena said. ‘‘For us to win this division and go forth to the World Series, this is more [feasible]. This team is extremely talented, and obviously we have what it takes. In Tampa, it didn’t seem like we did — and then we did it.”
March 17 – John Grabow returned from shoulder tightness I forgot to mention in the February roundup because it doesn’t matter.
March 18 – Casey Coleman deletes his Twitter account after constant harassment from Al Yellon asking him if he knows who owns the Cubs.
March 21 – Jeff Baker states that he believes he can be the everyday second baseman and that he can hit right-handers. He also believes his mother was a virgin when he was born.
March 21 – Carlos Zambrano hosts a Homerun Derby to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club and the Hope of Life Foundation, which is interpreted immediately by the Chicago media to mean that Carlos only cares about hitting homeruns.
March 23 – Carlos Silva has an actual good outing and raises speculation that the rotund righty might actually be the Cubs’ 5th starter. It also spurs debate in the media about exactly how much the Cubs still owe Silva, and yet another meme is born.
March 25 – Braden Looper re-retires. Told ya.
March 25 – The Cubs announce plans for Opening Day at Wrigley including the first pitch being thrown out by Robert Redford for some reason, Ron Santo Jr. leading the crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and losing to the Pirates.
March 26 – The Cubs name Andrew Cashner the fifth starter,asking him to accept a minor league assignment and they’ll explore trade opportunities. Carlos takes the news from Mark Riggins professionally and remained a shining beacon of positivity:
“[Riggins] has to learn he’s in the big leagues now, know what I mean? There’s no kids around here anymore. The way he laid it out, I don’t know what he was trying to do. He said, ‘Man you’ve been throwing good, you can pitch, blah, blah, blah.’ He said, ‘What if you go to Triple-A and throw some games to continue building and continue getting better?’ I told him I don’t need to go there, I’m ready to go, I feel good, I’m ready to pitch.”
March 27 – The Cubs surprisingly can not find anyone to trade for him, so they cut Carlos Silva and his $8 million, $11 million, $10.5 million undetermined salary and there is officially nothing that can stand between Andrew Cashner and a long and lasting career as a Cubs starter, not even God himself.
March 28 – Carlos Zambrano makes his last Spring outing and surprises everyone by not murdering anyone. I’ll let Cubs.com describe it:
Carlos Zambrano tuned up for the regular season by pitching five innings against the Indians on Monday and overlooked some plays that weren’t made behind him.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say this is a literary tool known as foreshadowing.
March 29 – The Cubs option Welington Castillo back to AAA after he finishes the Spring by going 12 for 19 (.632), leaving Koyie Hill and his one more hit than I had this Spring as the back-up catcher.
March 31 – Kerry Wood claims his end-of-the-row locker back from John Grabow, who had it in his absence, which raises the obvious question: How in the hell did John Grabow ever earn a perk of any sort on this team? Oh and Darwin Barney was named the starting second baseman, which turns out to be only slightly less important than the locker thing.
More 2011 in Review