Cubs

Miguel Montero on Adam Jones incident, passing citizenship test and living the American dream

Miguel Montero on Adam Jones incident, passing citizenship test and living the American dream

On the same night that Miguel Montero tipped his cap and raised his arms in the air after the Wrigley Field video board saluted him for becoming a United States citizen, Adam Jones heard racist taunts from the Fenway Park stands.

That’s not at all trying to point out any fundamental differences between the Cubs and Red Sox or the cities of Chicago and Boston. It’s more about Major League Baseball’s powerful nature and ugly side, the game’s strengths and weaknesses and how it can reflect society as a whole. 

“It’s bad to hear,” Montero said Tuesday, not really focusing on Jones being a star player for the Orioles and an important figure in the Baltimore community. “Because it doesn’t matter if you’re white, you’re black, you’re Latin, you’re Asian. Whatever you are, we’re all human beings. 

“We’re all humans – we’re here for a purpose in life. Everybody has to appreciate life. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what you got. It doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s unfortunate that we’re still seeing these things in this era. 

“It hurts. It hurts because I don’t think anybody’s better than anybody. I think we’re all the same – we’re all going to die.”

After flying back from Boston, Montero didn’t fall asleep until about 5:15 a.m. on Monday. He woke up around 8 that morning, put on his 2016 World Series ring and made the short trip from his place in downtown Chicago to take the U.S. citizenship test along with his wife, Vanessa, and get his new passport.    

“I was so tired that I didn’t have time to get nervous about it,” Montero said.

Montero grew up in Venezuela, signed with the Diamondbacks as a teenager in 2001 and vowed that he would learn English as soon as possible, viewing it as a requirement to become a big-league catcher and an insurance policy that would allow him to stay in the game if he got seriously injured or didn’t make The Show.     

“It was so pretty for me, even though it was Tucson,” Montero said, remembering his first impressions of America. “Don’t get me wrong, Venezuela is a beautiful country, but when you think about the U.S., your mind goes so fast you don’t know what to expect.”

Montero made a point to not only hang around the players from Latin America. He wouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes or getting laughed at while he tried to learn a new language. He got good enough to become a translator for teammates during rookie ball in Missoula, Montana.   

Montero built himself into a quote machine, a brutally honest veteran with old-school perspective who entertains reporters while changing the culture around a championship team.   

“The guys here, they helped me a lot,” Montero said. “I always practiced the test with them to see if they were capable of passing that test or not. I will tell you, probably half of this team weren’t capable to do it.”  

After passing the test, Montero saw Ryan Dempster, who grew up in Canada and now works as a special assistant for the Cubs: “I told him, ‘Hey, get out of my country.’”

Montero’s children, Angel and Camilla, were born in the U.S. and the family has a spectacular home in Paradise Valley outside Phoenix. The kid from Caracas has earned more than $70 million in his career, according to the salary database at Baseball-Reference.com, and will be remembered forever as part of The Team in Chicago. 

“This country is full of opportunities,” Montero said. “I think all of us baseball players, we live the American dream. We’re playing a baseball game. We’re playing a sport that we love to play. We grew up always wanting to be in the big leagues. Now, we’re here, and we’re making a lot of money for what we love to do. 

“We’re all living the American dream.”

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred: 'We weren’t going to play more than 60 games'

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred: 'We weren’t going to play more than 60 games'

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made an interesting revelation Wednesday about negotiations between MLB and the players union. In an interview with Dan Patrick, Manfred said the 2020 season was never going to be more than 60 games given the spread of the coronavirus — at least by the time they got to serious negotiations two weeks ago.

“The reality is we weren’t going to play more than 60 games, no matter how the negotiation with the players went, or any other factor," Manfred said on The Dan Patrick Show. "Sixty games is outside the envelope given the realities of the virus. I think this is the one thing that we come back to every single day: We’re trying to manage something that has proven to be unpredictable and unmanageable.

"I know it hasn’t looked particularly pretty in spots, but having said that, if we can pull off this 60-game season, I think it was the best we were gonna do for our fans given the course of the virus."

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

Manfred unilaterally imposed a 60-game season after the two sides couldn't come to terms. The union rejected the owners' final proposal, retaining the right to file a grievance against the owners for not negotiating in good faith.

Whether Manfred's comments become a point of contention in any grievance the players might file is unclear. The league would likely argue Manfred was referring to negotiations after his face-to-face meeting with MLBPA executive director Tony Clark on June 16. Manfred's comments to Patrick's follow up question — if the league would have been willing to go to 80 games, had the players agreed to all their terms — also points to this.

"It’s the calendar, Dan. We’re playing 60 games in 63 days. I don’t see — given the reality of the health situation over the past few weeks — how we were gonna get going any faster than the calendar we’re on right now, no matter what the state of those negotiations were.

"Look, we did get a sub-optimal result from the negotiation in some ways. The fans aren’t gonna get an expanded postseason, which I think would have been good with the shortened season. The players left real money on the table. But that’s what happens when you have a negotiation that instead of being collaborative, gets into sort of a conflict situation.”

The players' final proposal called for a 70-game season. At this point in the calendar, 60 games in 69 days (Sept. 27 is the reported end date for the regular season) leaves room for a couple more games, not 70 (or more).

So, Manfred's right that 60 games on the current timetable was probably the most MLB can fit in amid the pandemic. But you have to wonder if the union will use those comments in a potential grievance. 

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.

Cubs fan base named second most loyal in MLB, only trailing Red Sox

Cubs fan base named second most loyal in MLB, only trailing Red Sox

When you wait more than 100 years for a championship, you must maintain a strong sense of loyalty to your favorite team. 

Cubs fans have done that, supporting the club through thick and thin, from the mediocre years to the curse-breaking 2016 World Series season. They pack the Wrigley Field stands, consistently ranking in the top 10 in attendance season after season.

That devotion led to Forbes naming Cubs fans the second most loyal fan base in Major League Baseball, second to only the Red Sox.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

Per Forbes, the rankings are based on "local television ratings (per Nielsen), stadium attendance based on capacity reached, secondary ticket demand (per StubHub), merchandise sales (per Fanatics), social media reach (Facebook and Twitter followers based on the team’s metro area population) and hometown crowd reach (defined by Nielsen as a percentage of the metropolitan area population that watched, attended and/or listened to a game in the last year)."

All that science aside, does the 108-year wait for a championship warrant the Cubs being first on this list? In fairness, the Red Sox waited 86 years before winning the 2004 World Series, their first since 1918. Plus, in terms of attendance, the Cubs have only out-drawn the Red Sox in six of the past 10 seasons, a near-equal split.

Two historic clubs. Two historic ballparks. Two historic championships. In a loyalty ranking, you can't go wrong with either franchise. Here's how the list's top 10 panned out:

10. Braves
9. Phillies
8. Indians
7. Giants
6. Brewers
5. Dodgers
4. Yankees
3. Cardinals
2. Cubs
1. Red Sox

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.