Why baseball means even more on Mother's Day


Why baseball means even more on Mother's Day

I still remember the way my childhood mitt felt on my hand.

It was "signed" by former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy, which makes absolutely no sense for a kid who grew up in suburban Chicago as a Cubs fan. Plus, I was only six when Murphy retired from baseball and almost his entire prime was before my lifetime, so it's not even like I was capable of truly appreciating him as a player.

But I refused to get a new glove. It was far too big for me in Little League, but I insisted on using it and must've looked pretty comical as an undersized kid playing middle infield in T-Pitch with a mitt about three sizes too big.

I loved that glove. Every time I looked at it or put it on, it reminded me of going out in the backyard with my mom to play catch or play "The Inning Game" where I pretended I was all nine fielders desperately trying to get a bunch of invisible runners and hitters out.

My dad spent a lot of time coaching my Little League teams and supporting me even on the teams he didn't coach, but my true passion for the game of baseball originated from my mom.

She was — and still is — a diehard Cubs fan. To the point where I had to talk her off the ledge a bit last week during the Cubs' recent struggles.

Mother's Day is always a baseball barometer of sorts for me each spring. It was the end of my college club seasons and in the years since I've graduated has now been simultaneously a checkpoint in the MLB season and a harbinger to my own summer season about to begin.

Every year, I request off work for Mother's Day — even when the Cubs are in town.

I wasn't at Wrigley Field for Javy Baez's walk-off homer to finish off a sweep of Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals last year. I was sitting on the couch at my mom's house watching her run in from preparing food in the kitchen and do a little fist pump, just a few feet from the pink Mother's Day bat my sisters and I got her years earlier as a gift:

Baseball isn't just another sport to my mom and as a byproduct, it's not just another sport to me.

I've made baseball not only my career, but my life. This summer will mark my first season playing the game as a 30-year-old, one of the goals I set for myself when I was still using that Dale Murphy glove. Next step: Playing at age 40.

My mom just got a new job this month and one of the first things she told me about it was her hours are more flexible and the office is closer to my summer baseball field, so she hopes to be able to make nearly every game as she has every summer since I started playing Little League.

Ms. Andracki serves as "Team Mom," keeping the scorebook on a nightly basis and she even showed up with Mondos last year in the playoffs as a throwback to a simpler time.

It was my mom who taught me how to keep score and helped me understand the game that has grown into the backbone of my life.

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For my extended family, Mother's Day is the day we all get together to pay tribute to the all the moms.

For me, Mother's Day is an opportunity to honor the woman who shaped my career, my hobbies, my life. 

And the best way to honor my mom is with baseball, particularly Cubs baseball.

Joe Maddon received a first-place vote for NL Manager of the Year


Joe Maddon received a first-place vote for NL Manager of the Year

Joe Maddon's future beyond 2019 remains unclear, but his 2018 performance was good enough in someone's eyes to warrant a first-place vote in NL Manager of the Year voting.

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker won the award, receiving 17 of the 30 first-place votes in the process. Meanwhile, Maddon also added a third-place vote to finish fifth overall, behind Milwaukee's Craig Counsell, Colorado's Bud Black and St. Louis' Mike Shildt.

Members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America vote for the award and two representatives from each market vote, adding up to the 30 voters (see the full list of 2018 NL voters here). Jayson Stark tweeted out that it was in fact 670 The Score's Bruce Levine who voted for Maddon with a hometown pick.

A large number of Cubs fans are disappointed that 2018 was the worst postseason run the team has had in the current run of four straight playoff appearances, but that doesn't factor into the voting. Maddon led the Cubs to 95 wins, second best in the league to the Brewers after Milwaukee won the NL Central playoff at Wrigley Field. He did so while Yu Darvish pitched only 40 innings, Kris Bryant was limited to 102 games and had his worst season in the majors and closer Brandon Morrow didn't pitch after July 15.

That is a decent argument to make for Maddon, but expectations have never been higher on the North Side and Theo Epstein saying the Cubs won't renew his contract this offseason isn't the highest vote of confidence.

Maddon's future with the Cubs will be a talking point until he either leaves or gets a new contract, but he has one believer in Chicago.

Hot Stove: AJ Pollock could be the player to fill the Cubs needs


Hot Stove: AJ Pollock could be the player to fill the Cubs needs

Six players turned down qualifying offers in baseball, and they are quality names in LHP Patrick Corbin, C Yasmani Grandal, OF Bryce Harper, LHP Dallas Keuchel, reliever Craig Kimbrel and OF A.J. Pollock. It’s the last name that piqued the interest of Cubs Insider Tony Andracki, who told me on our Hot Stove show on Facebook Live Tuesday at 12:30, that while all eyes are on Harper, Pollock is a player who could fit the Cubs’ needs. 

“The interesting name is A.J. Pollock, depending what the market is for him, because he’s a guy that when he’s able to stay healthy, and he hasn’t really been healthy for about five years now, but when he’s able to stay healthy, he’s a dynamic player who would really shake up that offense, and he’s also a leadoff hitter,” Andracki said. “The Cubs need a stable leadoff hitter and he’s a guy they could look at.”

Hot Stove

Time for your weekly dose of HOT STOVE! 1. The White Sox are shopping Avi make room for Bryce Harper? 2. BIGGEST Takeaways from the GM Meetings. 3. Will we be celebrating an Eloy 'Rookie of the Year Award' after next season?

Posted by NBC Sports Chicago on Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Pollock has played in only 469 games over the last five seasons. He played 113 in 2018, and batted .257 with 21 home runs and 65 RBI, and broke his thumb in May. His all-star season was in 2015, when he played in 157 games, hit .315, had 20 home runs and 76 RBI. Pollock turns 31 on December 5. 

If the Cubs were to sign Pollock in the current circumstances, they would have to give up their pick after Competitive Balance Round B in the June 2019 First-year player draft, and $500,000 of their international bonus pool money. Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, a team signing a player who turned down a qualifying offer would have to give up a supplemental first-round draft pick.