Jun 23, 2020

Baseball might finally be back + ranking the Chicago mascots

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Good morning, frents …

Lots to get to today, so let’s get to it.

Let the actual MLB games begin! (And also end)

Well, that sure was fun, wasn’t it?

Three months after MLB and the players union agreed to a deal that gave players full prorated pay and the league the right to determine the length of the season, the game is set to come back under two main provisions …

<checks notes>

  • The players getting full prorated pay.
  • The league setting the length of the season at 60 games.

In between those 88 days was the game taking a tone deaf submarine dive into the muck to score points for their next CBA battle. In the middle of the intense fight, there were also talks about things like the universal DH, expanded playoffs and playoff pool money, all of which were quickly scrapped in the past 24 hours.

Of course, all of this happened while most of the country was:

  • getting sick
  • worried about getting sick
  • losing a job
  • worried about losing a job
  • some combination of the above

The good news is that the real treasure were all the press releases from Rob Manfred and Tony Clark we read along the way! Those emails will be the only evidence these last three months of strife ever took place.

Actually, that’s not quite true. Baseball took a bat to its reputation during the proceedings, all while most of the sporting world had nothing else to do but watch in horror. The sport won’t be able to delete that damage as easily as a beat writer cleaning his or her inbox of those releases.

Regardless, here we are. If the MLBPA is amenable to getting into camp by next Wednesday (July 1) and agrees to health and safety protocols, we’re looking at games starting around July 24, per Jeff Passan.

But so many things could still happen, of course. The negotiations over the protocols could combust. COVID-19 numbers could continue to rise and not only force the hand of baseball, but every other sport we’re eagerly awaiting to return.

Sitting through three months of bickering only to not see a single pitch thrown would make sense with the year we’ve been having.

It’d also make MLB’s mudfight look even more ridiculous than it already does.

Ranking the Chicago mascots

Illustration by @gregharriscre8s

The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg just published a fun story on Barry Anderson’s time playing Benny the Bull, so here’s a quick ranking of the city’s big-league mascots:

1. Benny the Bull: The Chicago mascot O.G. and the one with the deepest bag of tricks. If there were a contest for best mascot in pro sports, he’d be our undisputed entry. It’s him and then everyone else on this list.

2. Southpaw: The best mascots should be a bit subversive. Southpaw doesn’t get there quite the way Ribbie and Roobarb did, but he’s an upgrade from Waldo the White Sox Wolf.

3. Supernova (Red Stars): See above. A Martian who also looks a little like Grover. Good for the kids, good for the soccer fan who just enjoyed an edible in the lot.

4.  Sparky (Fire): Can’t argue with a dog wearing a soccer kit.

5. Tommy Hawk: I generally don’t think hockey teams should have mascots and Tommy Hawk still looks too much like a chicken for my tastes. But I did appreciate the way he expertly froze a gaggle of approaching drunks at the UC last fall so he could get on one knee to hug my daughter. Total pro.

(I mean, come on.)

6. Staley Da Bear: He’s … fine? The Bears could rocket to the top of these rankings by bringing an actual bear to the sidelines.

7. Sky Guy: Anyone else think it’s weird the mascot for a women’s basketball team is Stretch Armstrong in a flight suit? Feels like a missed opportunity.

8. Clark the Cub: He clearly has a problem with pants. End of discussion.

The White Sox signed first-round pick Garrett Crochet to a contract worth $4,547,500 — the exact amount slotted for the No. 11 overall pick.

  • Having already signed its third and fourth-round picks for a total of just $60K, the Sox have more than enough to throw at second-round pick Jared Kelley. The pitcher is $1.5 million but will command much more.

Chicago is one of six finalists to be a NHL hub city, though Vegas and a Canadian city (if Rogers has its way) look like the favorites. Meanwhile, the NHL’s Phase 2 is reportedly expanding from six-player workouts to 12 on Tuesday.

Have a link for Midway Minute? Email me!

A 60-game season actually tells us a lot more about a team than a 48-game schedule, Eno Sarris writes. (The Athletic)

Dan Pompeii with a Chicago truth. You can never have too many stories about Dan Hampton and Steve McMichael. (The Athletic)

Phil Rosenthal on Laurence Holmes. (Tribune)

Arlington finally reached a deal to start racing. This year’s schedule starts July 23 and will run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through September. (670 The Score)

Epidemiologists on whether Florida’s COVID spike should worry the NBA. (Yahoo Sports)

Dave Melton is having trouble seeing how sports can come back right now. (Second City Hockey)

• Been a bit since I was able to share a good Chicago sports highlight. Watching this felt good.

Thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter! Go have yourself a Tuesday.

Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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