Cubs Corner: Elia’s Rant, Almora to NY, More

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Now that Super Bowl LV is in the books (Final: Tampa Bay-31; KC-9, it’s time to focus on Cubs Corner, MLB, and the upcoming edition of Spring Training and the MLB season. It’s sort of hard to picture it all from northern Wisconsin where out temp was about seven below all day yesterday, with wind chills down around 30 below, but it is all coming.

Cubs Corner: Flashback

Every day I have been adding videos from the good ‘ole days and today is no different – but I must issue a parental advisory with this one.

Back on April 29, 1983, the Cubs were managed by a man named Lee Elia. The team was doing lousy that year, 5-14 as the first calendar month of the season was coming to an end. Fans were down on players, down on Elia and the press was brutal.

There’s nothing better than a manager who prtects his team, and boy, did Elia do that. He went bererk in his press conference on that day, verbally attacking everybody he had a beef with.

Cubs Corner: Albert Almora Jr. to the Mets

After being non-tendered with Kyle Schwarber and others earlier in the offseason, Albert Almora Jr. has finally a home for 2020. On Sunday, February 7th, it was announced that Almora had latched on with the New York Mets.

When Almora was with the Cubs, his defense was always Gold Glove caliber, but issues at the plate often caused him to lose playing to time to Ian Happ, Jason Heyward, and others.

At the beginning of 2019, Ian Happ was also having issues, left behind in Arizona, as the Cubs headed north to begin the season. Happ would spend a good amount of time in triple-A that season, almost forcing Joe Maddon to start giving Almora the playing time he needed to further develop his hitting. It never happened.

Much like Tyler Chatwood who’d struggled in 2018 but was able to turn things around during the 2019 campaign, (then) Cubs manager Joe Maddon bastardized both, burying Chatty in the pen, while giving Almora limited starts and plate appearances. When Happ returned mid-season, his bat was on fire, his glove had improved and Maddon referred to Happ as his “Everyday centerfielder,” dealing a crushing blow to Almora and his hopes for a full-time role with the Cubs.

This change of scenery may do well for both Almora and the Mets, as New York adds defensive depth to their outfield. For Almora, a native of Miami, it may actually mean getting home more as he’ll now be playing in the NL East, meaning frquent trips to Miami.

Over the past couple of year,s I’ve gotten to know Almora’s mom, a very sweet lady whom I once interviewed for another website. During that interview, we chatted a lot about Almora’s upbringing, and the devastating mental consequences Almora suffered after an errant foul ball struck a small child in the stands in Houston on May 29, 2019.

The girl suffered serious injuries, including what the doctors said would be a lifetime seizure disorder. Almora attempted to reach out to the family, but they instead referred him to their lawyer. A terrible accident which was no fault of Almora’s, but one which would weigh heavily on his mind for the rest of the season.

Almora agonized over the incident, finally finding peace through his religion over the offseason. Hoping to rebound in 2020 under new manager, David Ross, Almora just could never quite find that groove. I wish him the best of luck with the Mets.

Cubs Corners: Birthdays:

Celebrating yesterday was new Cubs’ starter, Zach Davies and a gandful of former Cubs.

Follow me on Twitter at @KenAllison18 for more of my content and additional Cubs Corner columns! Don’t forget to join our OT Heroics MLB Facebook group, and feel free to join our new Instagram – @overtimeheroics_MLB. We’ll see ya there!

main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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Ken Allison is the senior of two MLB Department Heads, as well as a writer and editor for Overtime Heroics. A life-long MLB fan, he's also written for CubsHQ and had the opportunity to try out for the Chicago Cubs in 1986.