By Dave Wischnowsky–
There’s snow on the ground. The temperatures in Chicago are about as high as a Packers fan’s IQ (heh, heh, heh …). And pitchers and catchers still have nearly a month to chill out until they report to sunny spring training.
Nevertheless, baseball season did start (unofficially) in the Windy City over the weekend – even if most of its citizens were still far too consumed by football season to take notice.
Hey, that’s understandable.
On Friday through Sunday, though, the 26th annual Cubs Convention was held at the Hilton Chicago, just like always. While the event wasn’t as well as attended as in years past, it still produced its fair share of interesting storylines.
And to provide you with a little breather from today’s Bears coverage, here’s a list of five questions still burning after Cubs Convention doused its lights …
1. Where will Ron Santo’s statue go?
Six weeks ago, when Cubs icon Ron Santo passed away at the age of 70, I asked through this blog whether the team’s beloved broadcaster deserved a statue outside Wrigley Field.
On Saturday, the Cubs responded with a resounding, “Yes.”
Team chairman Tom Ricketts announced that the Cubs will honor Santo during 2011 with a statue and a commemorative patch. The patch, of course, will go on the players’ uniform sleeves. But, where will the statue go?
The Cubs didn’t say, but I would have to imagine that the top two options for it would be 1) near the players’ parking lot along Waveland Avenue or, 2) along Addison Street on the other side of the Captain Morgan Club opposite Billy Williams’ statue.
My vote would be for a spot along Addison, which is more high-profile than Waveland. Regardless of the statue’s location, though, I love it that will be officially unveiled on August 10 – in honor of Ronnie’s jersey No. 10.
2. Will the Cubs really quiet ‘The Riot’?
During the Convention, the Cubs sounded pretty ticked at former Chicago pretty boy Ryan Theriot for the derogatory comments that he made to a St. Louis radio station about the Cubs organization after being traded by the Dodgers to the Cardinals.
“He’s the enemy now,” Carlos Zambrano said on Saturday about his former teammate.
“There’s probably a decent chance he’s going to feel how hard the dirt is around the home-plate batter’s box,” Koyie Hill added.
And, “Hopefully we can make him pay,” manager Mike Quade chimed in.
So, will the Cubs really back up their bark with some actual brush-back bite against Theriot this season?
We’ll find out as soon as May 10, when the Cardinals arrive for a Tuesday night showdown at Wrigley Field.
The game could be a riot.
3. Who will join Pat Hughes in the Cubs radio booth?
Over the weekend, Kerry Wood debunked rumors that he’s headed to the Cubs’ broadcast booth after he hangs up his cap – “I don’t think there will ever be an interest in me broadcasting anything, much less baseball,” the popular pitcher said – but the Cubs still haven’t told us who will replace Ron Santo as color analyst in the Cubs’ radio booth this season.
Former Cubs outfielder Keith Moreland, however, made a fine pitch during the Convention for a “Pat and Zonk Show” in 2011.
“There’s nobody who can replace Ron Santo,” said Moreland, currently a broadcaster for the University of Texas. “He’s irreplaceable. Yes, I’d love to warm the seat to sort of keep it in the (Cubs) family. It would be something.
“I’ve spent a long time over the last 20 years getting myself in a position to maybe broadcast full time for a team. I’ve done the University of Texas for a long time and it’s something I feel like I’m ready to do.”
4. Will Albert Pujols be an option for the Cubs in 2012?
The answer to this question remains: Who knows, maybe?
Over the weekend at their own Winter Warm-Up in St. Louis, the Cardinals confirmed that Albert Pujols’ agent has said he will cut off talks for a contract extension for the free-agent-slugger-to-be at the start of spring training if an agreement is not in place.
Now, the odds probably favor the Cardinals and Pujols working out a deal before the deadline. But, contracts can be tricky things – especially incredibly expensive ones like Pujols’ will be. So, if things do get hung-up in St. Lou and the first baseman makes it to free agency next winter, all bets could be off regarding his landing spot.
The Cubs, who could trim more than $54 million off their payroll next winter, might be willing to pay through the teeth for Pujols. And, if so, it may be unlikely, but not inconceivable that the Cards superstar could choose to bite.
5. Is this ‘Z’ way to Cubs success?
Last week on Facebook, my friend posed an amusing question about the Cubs’ potential 2011 pitching rotation. He wrote, “Zambrano, Garza, maybe Gorzelanny and Samardzija … should Ryan change his last name to Dempzter to fit in?”
Heck, knowing Dempster’s goofy nature, I wouldn’t alphabet against it.
Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.