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Cubs Spring Baseball

Yu Darvish tries on the team's cap during a media availability at the Chicago Cubs' spring training facility last week. Darvish signed a $126 million, six-year contract with the Cubs.


There was a lot of hand-wringing last week that Yu Darvish may have gotten a raw deal.

An article on, for example, indicated that it was “troubling’’ that the 31-year-old pitcher only received a six-year contract worth $126 million to sign as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs. The inference was that this was the product of collusion on the part of the owners.

Sure. Or maybe they just all recognized that Darvish wasn't worth any more than this.

This is a pitcher who was 10-12 with a 3.86 earned-run average while splitting last season between the Rangers and Dodgers. He is only three years removed from Tommy John surgery. He has pitched more than 200 innings only once in his career and that was five years ago. He failed to last two innings in either of two starts in the World Series.

So, let’s see, his durability is in his question, his ability to pitch in big games is in question, his ability to disguise his pitches is in question. And he lost more games than he won last year.

And we’re troubled that the guy is only going to make $21 million per season? We’re troubled that he only received a 91-percent increase in pay over what he earned last season? Even if he stays healthy — which is a big question with Darvish — he’ll make close to $700,000 per start.

It’s not as though he’s going to qualify for food stamps or anything.

The piece noted that Darvish's contract terms were considerably less than what "pitchers of his ilk" have received. It specifically mentioned Max Scherzer.

Scherzer is far beyond Darvish's "ilk."He has won three Cy Young awards in the past five years, and he was fifth in the voting the other two times. He may be the best right-handed pitcher in baseball. Darvish isn’t close.

All that being said, it was a decent move for the Cubs. They landed the starter they need to replace Jake Arrieta in the rotation, and they got him for about the same money that some other foolish teams are paying guys like Jordan Zimmermann.

It was a good deal for them. Just don’t let anyone tell you it was a bad deal for Darvish.


One thing in Darvish’s favor: He is a headline writer’s dream. His name is short, unique and lends itself to all sorts of cutesy plays on words.

Yu da man. Mad about Yu. Yu got game. The possibilities are almost endless.


We live in a strange era of college sports.

On the same day a public university in Nebraska announced it was cutting its baseball, men’s golf and men’s tennis programs, a small private college in Iowa announced that it would add men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse and men’s volleyball to its athletic offerings.

Baseball, tennis and golf are sanctioned as high school sports in Nebraska. But lacrosse and men’s volleyball do not exist at the high school level in Iowa.

It all comes down to money.

Nebraska-Kearney estimated it will save as much as $450,000 by eliminating three sports.

Meanwhile, William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa, expects to profit from adding the sports that it did. Like many other small colleges — including some in the Quad-Cities — it hopes to attract tuition-paying students from Chicago, St. Louis and other metropolitan areas by adding sports that are growing in popularity in those places.


Among the football players signing letters of intent with Northern Iowa last week was a defensive back from Kansas City named Shakespeare Williams. Try Googling that name and see what you get.

Also among UNI’s signees was running back Jack Wegher, younger brother of former Iowa player Brandon Wegher. The younger Wegher is a transfer from Purdue, where he played sparingly as a freshman last season.


Several Football Bowl Subdivision programs doubled down by signing sets of twins to letters of intent.

Michigan signed defensive backs Ge’mon and German Green of DeSoto, Texas. Michigan State brought in defensive linemen Zachary and Jacob Slade from Lewis Center, Ohio. Notre Dame collected signatures from defensive linemen Justin and Jayson Ademilola of Jersey City, New Jersey. And Utah signed Brant and Blake Kuithe of Katy, Texas.

Oklahoma also is bringing in a set of twins as preferred walk-ons, but these two already had a pretty strong connection to the university. Isaac and Drake Stoops are the sons of Bob Stoops, who served as the Sooners’ head coach until last year.