For my usual Friday piece, I had planned to talk about my one year anniversary of my website. I had wanted to take some time to thank the people who have helped me this past year grow my readership and popularity of my site. Then I woke up this morning to the news of Cubs legend Ron Santo passing away at the age of 70 of complications from bladder cancer. The news hit me like a Manny Pacquiao combo to the dome. The news hurt because I met Santo several times at Cubs games through my father. The cool thing about Santo was the first time I met him, he treated me like we had been friends for years. I remember leaving the WGN broadcast booth each time thinking “wow, Ronnie is cool as hell.”
My father got to know Santo back in the day when he attended the Randy Hundley Cubs fantasy camp. My father went 3 years in a row in the early 90′s, and he was definitely Santo’s guy. Each of the former Cubs legends managed their own team for the week. My dad was younger and waaaaaaaaay better at baseball than 99.9% of the stiffs who were there. You should see the old tapes from the games. It’s hysterical. Most of those guys didn’t belong on a baseball field unless thy were planning on mowing it. Needless to say, my father stood out. It’s also why Santo made sure to have my dad on his team after the first year. Yes, Ronnie wanted to in those games too. When my dad showed up the 2nd year, Ronnie told him right away “you’re with me big boy, I don’t care what anyone says.” One of my favorite stories was from the championship game one year at the camp. Santo had my dad playing left field. They were up 2, last inning, bases loaded. The opposing team’s best hitter was up and Santo had my dad play more towards center. Sure enough this guy hits a bomb to left. My dad(still in his athletic prime) ran back towards the left field line to make a diving catch to save & win the game against Joe Pepitone’s team. Santo blew up like he id when the Cubs clinched the division title in ’03. “You’re the man, where would we be without you”, Santo said.
Ronnie made these camps for my dad. Santo was coaching 3rd when my dad strolled to the plate when their team was playing some of the former Cubs. Former closer Ron Davis was pitching and threw a slider that my dad missed by two feet. Todd Hundley(yes, the former Cubs bum) was behind the plate and said, “he’s got more of that for ya.” Davis threw another slider, but this one hung. My old man hit it over Billy Williams’ head for a triple. Santo greeted him at 3rd and asked him why he never played anywhere. It was moments like that that made Santo so memorable. He never big timed anyone, & he was never above anyone. He was just one of the guys, and my dad was definitely his guy.
You’ll hear plenty of stories about Ronnie in the coming days because so many people have at least one. I’m grateful for my father for bringing me to the Cubs broadcast booth those times to see Pat Hughes & Ronnie. His love for the Cubs was a hell of a lot better than mine. How he put up with that garbage everyday from ’96 until last year is hall of fame worthy in and of itself. He without question should have been inducted a long time ago. I don’t want to go there today. Look at his numbers when he retired compared to other 3rd baseman in that era. He played in a pitchers league before the performance enhancing drug error inflated inferior players’ numbers and tarnished 20+ years of the game. I never got to see him play, but I’ve seen enough highlights to know that I wish this current dog shit Cubs team had him playing at the peak of his powers. You’ll also hear how Santo didn’t always take the best care of himself that he could have(apparently he liked to drink. If I had to watch the Cubs 162 times a year, I’d be boozing too). If that’s true, I hope people who suffer from diabetes use him as an example and take care of themselves to the best of their ability. I’m looking at you Jay Cutler.
I’ll most certainly remember the ’03 Cubs hanging his jersey in the dugout prior to game 5 against the Braves in the divisional series. Ronnie was ill and unable to travel with the team. Kerry Wood pitched a brilliant game and made sure to call Santo when it was over. Was he the best color analyst? Not even close. Was he a homer who annoyed the casual fan? You bet. Did you empathize with him every single time the Cubs lost or were playing like the quadruple A team they usually are? I know I did. Ron Santo will unfortunately never see a Cubs world series championship. Too bad. If anyone one person deserved to witness that, it was Santo. It’s all good Ronnie, I’m fairly confident I’ll never see it either. RIP.
Week 13 NFL Picks
Home Team In CAPS
Texans +8.5 over EAGLES
Eagles 34 Texans 24. Shame on me for having faith in that putrid Texans defense. I was looking good for a while, but Mike Vick and the Eagles rebounded from last week’s loss to the Bears.
CHIEFS -9 over Broncos
I’d love for Todd Haley to punch out Josh McDumb-ass after this game. Not because he ran up the score last time, but for being a wannabe Bill Belichick clown. Hey mini-hoodie, how is that Peyton Hillis for Brady Quinn trade working out for you. Take solace in this Broncos fans, the McDaniels nightmare is mercifully nearing it’s end.
Bears -4 over LIONS
Vegas knows Drew Stanton is quarterbacking this game for the Lions right? On a side note, Julius Peppers should be the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. He doesn’t have the high sack numbers, but you find me a guy who has been more dominant that J-Pepps. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Jaguars -1.5 over TITANS
The thought of Rusty Smith gives me nausea. Plus, you know your season is over when you are clamoring for Kerry Collins.
Saints -7 over BUNGALS
I’m on a DiMaggio like streak when it comes to the Bengals this year. It’s about that time for the world champs to turn it up a notch.
Falcons -3 over BUCS
The Bucs were more competitive than I thought against the Ravens last week. I love Josh Freeman, but the Falcons might be the NFC team to beat. Yes, we might finally have one 13 weeks in.
Bills +5.5 over VIKINGS
Adrian Peterson may not play. Do you need more? Okay, how about the fact that the Bills should have beaten the Steelers last week if God I mean Steve Johnson didn’t drop a potential game winning TD pass. That damn God must really hate Bills football. Give me a break. Hey Steve, next time, just say someone hacked your Twitter account. Everyone else does.
DOLPHINS -4.5 over Browns
If Jake Delhomme plays, not even the presence of white Jim Brown(Peyton Hillis) can sway this pick.
PACKERS -9.5 over 49ers
Even the sorry ass 49ers can beat Derek Anderson. They will finally get hit with a tombstone piledriver and be laid to rest this Sunday Undertaker style.
GIANTS -7 over Redskins
If the spread was 11, I’d still take the G-Men.
Rams -3.5 over CARDINALS
Let me see here, Sam Bradford or Derek “I take this shit seriously” Anderson? Gee, that’s a tough one.
CHARGERS -13 over Raiders
San Diego Super Chargers!
Seahawks -6 over Panthers
I’d rather watch a Glee marathon.
Cowboys +5.5 over COLTS
This just isn’t the Colts year. I speak for every non Colts fan when I say…..bummer.
RAVENS -3 over Steelers
I can’t wait for this game.
PATRIOTS -3.5 over Jets
Tom Brady on a Monday night in December. Yes, I’ll take that.
This Week: 0-1
Last Week: 9-7
In honor of Ronnie, I think it’s fitting to play this song for the biggest Cubs fan there ever was. Take it away Steve…..