Cubs

Predicting the nicknames Cubs players will wear on new MLB jerseys

Predicting the nicknames Cubs players will wear on new MLB jerseys

Yahoo's Jeff Passan dropped a bomb of sorts Wednesday evening, saying Major League Baseball will actually relax their uniform rules for one weekend in August (25-27).

That's huge because the league has typically been very buttoned-up (pun intended) on teams' uniforms and instead of a very stingy set of guidelines, players will be able to wear jerseys with nicknames on the backs, boast fluorescent-colored shoes or wear a personalized patch to pay tribute to someone instrumental in their development.

The league sent around a memo and is calling the event "Players Weekend," allowing the game's stars to show their personalities on the field. The Cubs will be in Philadelphia taking on the Phillies that weekend. 

The loud-colored shoes and patches are cool and all, but let's be honest: The nicknames will be the best part for fans. (It will also be the best part for MLB as they can easily sell the jerseys and shirseys with the nicknames on it as a way to rake in bonus cash.)

Will somebody use "HE HATE ME" like the XFL star? How many baseball movie references will there be like "Willie Mays Hayes" or "The Rocket"?

Let's try to predict what nicknames the Cubs players will have on their uniforms (working with the current roster since we can't predict the future as awesome as that would be):

Jake Arrieta - "The Body"

Rationale: "Jake the Snake" is kinda lame. Let's say he goes with "The Body" after his nude appearance in ESPN's body issue.

Eddie Butler - "Big Red" 

Rationale: He's got red hair (though he is only 6-foot-2).

Wade Davis - "Beethoven" 

Rationale: The Cubs closer used to listen to Beethoven before games and the quiet, calm veteran is also not exactly a "Hell's Bells" or "Rage Against the Machine" kinda guy.

Brian Duensing - "Duenston Checks In" 

Rationale: After that sweet '90s movie with Jason Alexander.

Carl Edwards Jr. - "String Bean Slinger

Rationale: "CJ" is too easy and lame. "String Bean Slinger" is Edwards' former Twitter handle, so let's throw that on there.

Justin Grimm - "The Grimm Reaper" 

Rationale: I mean, duhhh.

John Lackey - "Blue" 

Rationale: Of the "You're my boy, Blue!" fame in "Old School." Lackey is the oldest player on the Cubs not named Koji, he may have actually written baseball's old-school "unwritten rules" and the Cubs' color is blue.

Jon Lester - "Big Game Jon"

Rationale: He stole it from his buddy Lackey after his reputation as a clutch performer and had an epic 2016 postseason with the Cubs, shutting down the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS, winning co-NLCS MVP and then coming up huge in relief in Game 7 of the World Series.

Mike Montgomery - "Accidental Closer"

Rationale: Let's be honest, it will probably be "Monty." We just wanted to get a bit more creative with the 6-foot-5 lefty who picked up his first professional save by getting the final out of the World Series.

Hector Rondon - "Carlos Rodon"

Rationale: How many casual fans confuse these two guys based on last name alone?

Pedro Strop - "Full Tilt"

Rationale: Strop never wears his hat straight and draws a ton of completely unwarranted hate because of it. It would be hilarious to draw attention to that fact for three days.

Koji Uehara - "Doc"

Rationale: He's old and he throws slow.

Willson Contreras - "Castaway"

Rationale: It will almost assuredly be "Willy" but that's too easy because we feel like people refer to him more as "Willy" than "Willson" anyways. So we just went with a "WILLSON!!!" reference.

Miguel Montero - "Captain America"

Rationale: Again, it will be "Miggy," but we wanted to pay tribute to Montero's hard work for gaining American citizenship, passing a test he joked most of his teammates couldn't pass (we couldn't either).

Javy Baez - "Bubble Boy"

Rationale: Javy has more flair than almost anybody in baseball and maybe his best moment ever was when he dropped the bubble gum in San Francisco but caught it and pointed at the camera, oozing with swag.

Kris Bryant - "Sparkle"

Rationale: There's no point in even trying to deny his dreamy blue eyes. 

Ian Happ - "Baby Zo"

Rationale: He's the young version of Ben Zobrist, right?

Anthony Rizzo - "THE GREATEST LEADOFF HITTER EVER"

Rationale: In all caps. Has to be in all caps.

Addison Russell - "Addyshack"

Rationale: You know, like Caddyshack?

Ben Zobrist - "Zorilla"

Rationale: Has. To. Be.

Albert Almora Jr. - "Not-so-fat Albert"

Rationale: We're out of creative juices, sorry.

Jason Heyward - "Reign Man"

Rationale: We wanted to have more fun than just "J-Hey" and wanted to pay tribute to the awesome CSN feature on Heyward's legendary Game 7 rain delay meeting.

Jon Jay - "The Sixth Man" or "Sidekick"

Rationale: Joe Maddon has had a lot of money quotes about Jay this season, comparing him to a good sixth man in basketball based on his talent off the bench and the Cubs manager saying he would adopt Jay as a son or a sidekick because he loves the veteran outfielder so much. 

Kyle Schwarber - America's Large Adult Son

Rationale: Don't even try to pretend like you don't get the reference.

Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Four days into the Cubs’ training camp restart, we’ve only begun to get acquainted with the new normal of baseball rhythms and routines that we can only hope will result in a 2020 season of 60 games.

If the league can fix some of its early testing issues and keep enough players on enough teams healthy enough to start the season, what might come into play for the Cubs and the actual baseball.

Early observations after about a dozen Zoom sessions with team personnel and two intrasquad scrimmages:

NUTS: Home cooked?

The Cubs, who draw so reliably in one of the unique ballparks in the majors, might have more to lose than most teams without fans allowed to attend games when the season starts July 24.

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

Just how much of the Confines’ home-field advantage is lost will be a matter of “wait-and-see,” manager David Ross said.

“There’s always an advantage to playing in your own park,” he said Sunday. “You feel more comfortable you woke up in your own bed. You’re not staying in a hotel room, which especially now, where you feel like outside spaces just aren’t comfortable as they used to be, probably [gives] a slight advantage in your city.

“There’s no substitute for fans,” he added. “There’s probably a slight advantage, but I don’t know if it’s as great as it used to be.”

What Ross didn’t mention were the rooftops across Waveland and Sheffield, which are planning to operate at 25-percent capacity when games start, suggesting at least a few hundred fans within cheering and booing distance.

“You’re going to hear them loud and clear, too,” pitcher Tyler Chatwood said. “I promise you that.”

BOLTS: Taking the fifth

All you need to know about Alec Mills’ ability to adjust and immediately step into an important role is what he did in an emergency start against the first-place Cardinals at Wrigley last year with the Cubs a half-game out and barely a week left in the season.

He hadn’t started anywhere in a month — and that was in the minors. But the guy who pitched out of the bullpen just three times in the four intervening weeks, pitched two outs deep into the fifth inning that day and didn’t allow a run (the bullpen took care of that, in a loss).

No wonder when Ross talks about Mills replacing the injured Jose Quintana (thumb) in the rotation, he says, “I’ve got a ton of confidence.”

He’s not the only one. “I’ve always had the mindset of doing whatever I can to stay ready and help in any way,” said Mills after pitching a strong three innings in a simulated game Sunday. “Obviously, with an unfortunate injury like this, I think it’s just even more heightened.

“I’m ready to do whatever, whether it needs to be maybe a start here or there, a couple more starts, long guy out of the pen — just whatever I need to do I pride myself on being ready to do that.”

CHATTER: The mask at hand

“It’s a little different. You leave the house with a phone, your keys, your wallet and your mask.”

—Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on his and his teammates’ new daily normal.

“Everybody is thinking about it, but we try to get here and understand this is our safe zone and we’re trying to create that [within] the things that we’re going to do on and off the field.”

—Ross on players weighing the risk of playing during the pandemic against the safety precautions and protocols the team has built in and around its Wrigley Field bubble.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.

2020 Cubs schedule features six games against White Sox: 'It’s exciting, right?'

2020 Cubs schedule features six games against White Sox: 'It’s exciting, right?'

Imagine it’s late September. The Cubs have already hosted the White Sox for three unforgettable games at Wrigley Field — fans packed the rooftops (at 25 percent capacity) around the ballpark. Now, it’s time to head to the South Side for the final series of the season, rife with playoff implications.

If the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t derail the 2020 MLB season, that scene very well could become a reality.

The Cubs regular season schedule, which MLB released Monday, features six Crosstown Classic games. The first of two series between the Chicago teams runs Aug. 21-23 at Wrigley Field. The second is penciled in for Sept. 25-27 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Both three-game series include Friday and Saturday evening games, and end with a Sunday afternoon game.

The Crosstown rivalry consumes 1/10 of the Cubs schedule this shortened season.

“It’s exciting, right?” Cubs manager David Ross said.

And quite convenient. That’s the point of a regionally-based schedule, which has the Cubs facing only NL Central and AL Central teams. While trying to limit the spread of COVID-19, that convenience becomes especially important.

“We get to sleep in our own beds at night,” Ross said of the Crosstown Classic. “We can set up things where if we need to we can work out here and drive over like you would in an Arizona spring training. There’s a lot of options that we have for us that we can do with an in-town team. I feel like that’s definitely a luxury.”

Some of those same advantages apply to the Cubs’ games at Milwaukee as well. As is the case with all their division rivals, the Cubs are scheduled to play the Brewers 10 times, including opening day at Wrigley Field on July 24.

As for their mid-September series at Milwaukee: “Players have the ability to drive up day of the game, drive back afterwards or get a car back,” Ross said. “There’s a lot of freedom and comfort in sleeping in your own bed, especially in the scenarios we’re in this year.”

The Cubs’ setup with the White Sox is mirrored over in Missouri between the Cardinals and Royals; they will also play each other six times. The Cubs will play three or four games against each of the four other teams in the AL Central. The White Sox are expected to be a stauncher opponent than the Royals, automatically giving the Cubs a tougher route through their interleague schedule.

But that’s a small price to pay for six rivalry games in Chicago.