Results tagged ‘ Mike Fontenot ’
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Since he joined the Chicago Cubs organization in 2003, current interim manager Mike Quade has been one of the more colorful personalities to grace the Cubs clubhouse.
He’s always available to help you with a quote or be part of a photo shoot. He helped Sam Fuld teach a young girl with Type 1 diabetes to catch fly balls; he’s thrown batting practice to countless fan clinics.
I remember distinctly watching him in the clubhouse in 2008 shortly after the Cubs clinched the NL Central Division, cursing at former Cub Mike Fontenot after the diminutive second baseman poured a bottle of champagne over Quade’s bald head.
“Oh, am I going to get you, you little Cajun [expletive],” Quade yelled as he wiped the bubbly from his eyes.
An admitted “foodie”, Quade shared his love of fine dining, talking about his gastronomic experiences at such high-end establishments as The French Laundry in San Francisco, and the more Chicago-centric Le Francais in Wheeling, Ill. Now residing in Bradenton, Fla., Quade loves his seafood.
He also showed readers how to hit and throw a Chicago-style 16-inch softball. Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, it was a game with which Quade had intimate knowledge.
Here are some of the more colorful quotes from Quade over the years:
On how he got his fancy taste buds:
“[When I turned 12], my parents took me to the Drake Hotel’s Old Cape Cod Room. It was delicious. It was my first fine dining experience.”
On his love for cooking:“I can grill a steak. I can bake a potato. But the real challenge is trying to do some creative things in my own kitchen. I enjoy copying the chefs. I spend a lot of time watching the Food Network. I watch [chefs] on TV and talk to them at the restaurants, and I find myself asking ‘how do I prepare that?'”
“These chefs are just innovative as hell. I’m fascinated by the chef’s preparation. There’s a lot of knowledge that goes into putting together a meal like that. But the also try to make the experience as enjoyable for you. So if there’s something you want, they might just do it.”
On fine dining service:
“In baseball, you talk about instinct, like if a guy knows to hold up at third or throw to second or whatever. Servers have instinct, too. They see you’re glass isn’t full, or you’re done with your plate, they immediately fill the glass and remove the dish. You pay a lot of money in these places, so you expect the servers to be attentive.” (Photos courtesy of Drake Hotel)
On asking about fine dining on the road:
“You know, I’d always ask people where can I get some really high-end seafood, and people would always refer me to Red Lobster or some Fisherman’s Wharf tourist hellhole. I don’t know if I just didn’t know the right circle of people who knew these kinds of places, but yeah, I was a little disappointed.”
On the art of playing 16″ softball:
“All you need is a bat and a ball and go have some fun. I’ve seen the coed games, but these tournaments the guys play in, they’re playing for keeps. And there’s an art to it that only the guys who play it day in, day out can do. I mean, we’re sitting here trying to see how far we can hit it, but hits like that [points to a long fly ball] are pretty, they’re really outs. Just like with our game, you value the line drive.”
Growing up around 16″ softball:
“I’m telling you, I was around it a lot, because every park near my house in Evanston had a game going on. Then especially in the summer when this game is really big, there was always summer baseball right after your school season just ended. By the time summer baseball was over, it was too cold to play softball.”
Why he didn’t play a lot of 16″ softball:
“Everybody’s finicky, but there’s no one more finicky than baseball players and their swings. But I didn’t really play a whole lot because as a hardball guy, you didn’t want anything to affect your swing.”
Why 16″ softball symbolizes Chicago:
“It always struck me how fitting this game was for Chicago. It’s a blue-collar town, where people brought their lunchpails to work and perhaps didn’t have money to buy a glove. So they came up with a game that anyone could play, just with a bat and a ball.”
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With this past Saturday’s trade of shortstop Ryan Theriot and left-hander Ted Lilly to the Los Angeles Dodgers, it affords Vine Line an opportunity to run one last piece about the diminutive shortstop from LSU.
In the August issue of Vine Line, we offered a new installment of our popular Cubs CrossOver feature, which often places a Cubs player in a non-baseball situation. It’s your standard fish-out-of-water story. However, this month, the only fish out of water were the ones Ryan Theriot was catching.
After a particularly tough day at the office, which included a 12-0 loss to the visitng Los Angeles Angels, Vine Line and bass columninst Mike Pehanich took Theriot out 40 miles
northwest of Wrigley Field to do a little bass fishing. An avid fisherman all his life, he even had a fishing bobblehead giveaway this year at Wrigley Field (left).
On the trip, Theriot relayed some classic fishing stories. After all, you can’t have a fishing trip without fishing stories, all in a Southern drawl and some photos from the day.
“My dad, he doesn’t like bass fishin’. He’s a saltwater snob to a certain extent. But he’ll fish croppie all day long. He’ll sit out there with his ultra light hookup…Then we’ll have a big fish fry at night. That’s what we grew up doing, fishin’ like that.”
“I did a salt water show once, redfish show on the coast. Me and a couple of other ballplayers….The host was this nice lady who didn’t know anything about fishing. We were on the boat 45 minutes, and she starts throwing up. She’d never been on a boat before. And we had just gotten on the fish, too. I was like, ‘What is going on here?’ So we had to go back in. We dropped her off and went back out and fished. We didn’t do the show, but we got to fish.”
“One time, our whole coaching staff went out in Houston on the Gulf to catch Cobia and snapper. And one of our coaches, I’m not going to name names, but for eight hours straight, he threw up. Our trainer, too. He spends all this time taking care of us, and yet, he’s hugging the toilet. It was like a real nice 68-foot boat, too.”
“My glove sponsor, Wilson, gives me a choice of gear from Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop. My garage looks like a mini Bass Pro.”
“I love fishing because it lets you kind of get away from everything, turn yourself on/off.
It’s always been a passion of mine. Quiet time. It’s a good time to get people out of their element, it let’s people relax and get to know someone pretty good. I’ve rown up doing this, fishing and hunting. So it’s something that’s second nature to me.”
“[I remember] fishing one time when I was little in a lake called Country Club of Louisiana. I was in a little sweet pea row. A pea row is like a little canoe. I guess that’s Cajun for canoe. My dad both my brothers and myself in there, so if you moved to hard to one side, it would tip over. But I had the cane pole, and we’re fishin for croppie. A catfish hits my bait. It dragged us around the lake for an hour. And I swore I had Moby Dick on the line. I was talkin’ so much trash to my brothers and my dad. We finally dragged it in the boat, and it was only about a three-pound catfish, but I’ll never forget that one. That was a lot of fun. It was cool.”
“Mike Fontenot is a horrible fisherman. Probably one of the worst fishermen I’ve ever been around my entire life, true story. But for some reason he always catches fish, though. At LSU, we’d skip class and go fishin’. That’s just what we’d do.
“So me and two of our clubbies, Otis and Gary, were fishing in Arizona, of all places–the desert–right near my house out there so ‘Font’ comes out and fishes with us. Otis and Gary were in one area, me and Mike were in another area so Mike thinks it would be funny to cast right where their lines were and mess them up, hang them up. He ends up catching a five-pound bass. How does that happen? How do you do that? Where’s the rabbit’s foot? He’s a terrible fisherman, but he catches fish. So does that make him good? I don’t know. He has no idea what he’s doing. Maybe that’s what makes him a good baseball player. He has no idea of what he’s doing, but he’s just good.”
Just some observations around Hohokam Park today, the first day after the big-league camp moved over from Fitch Park:
–Watched former Rule 5 pick David Patton throw live BP. His got a great breaking ball as most people know, but he had a couple guys turn on him and line singles into right-center.
–Cubs fans filtered into the stadium to watch the team practice. The team is very loose, but the level of camaraderie is as good as it was last year. While much has been made about Milton Bradley’s presence on the team, last year during spring training no one had a problem with him. He was participatory and welcomed.
–Marlon Byrd, a friend of Bradley’s, has assimilated nicely into the clubhouse. In fact, he has been quite vocal laughing and smiling, further increasing the fun quotient. During BP, he was working on hitting to the opposite field where Ryan Theriot was manning second. The BP pitcher–I think it was Alan Trammell–pitched faster and more frequently, Byrd kept shooting line drives to Theriot. Theriot kept diving and getting up, diving and getting up, snagging them all until Byrd finally got one past the goalie. But Theriot earned a nice hand from the crowd, while eliciting a big “whoo!” from Byrd.
–Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro had their fun turning double plays. Castro, a quiet, easy going kid, was all smiles taking throws from “shortstop” Ramirez. But Ramirez showed his shoulder was in top condition when he snagged a liner that was about a foot above his head. That also earned a double take from teammates.
–Another person who earned double takes from teammates was young right-hander Rafael Dolis. The team was just filtering out for stretching while Dolis was throwing early live BP to a group of hitters that included No. 1 pick Brett Jackson. Standing next to Mike Fontenot, he asked what level he was at. I told him Dolis had dealt with some injuries, but I’d lay odds he’s going to be in Class-A Daytona or better. You didn’t need to be a ballplayer to see just how hard Dolis threw. A little buzz raced through the growing impromptu audience. Dolis’ “heavy” ball made a loud thud every time. The audience got a huge “Ohhh!” when Dolis broke Jackson’s bat. Sawed him off right at the handle.
Later, Jackson came by me and said, “Look at that, Mike. Well, that one ain’t coming back.” And he threw down the broken bat in disgust.
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The Blue Man Group visited Wrigley Field yesterday, and Cubs team photographer Stephen Green caught the curious trio in action. Their regular show is at Chicago’s Brirar Street Theatre, just a few blocks south of Wrigley Field.
Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot first showed them how to take the field … and then the Blue Men took off with it. The photos will be featured as part of a Chicago Tribune advertisement and to be used in online galleries. Here’s Steve on the shoot:
“Theriot loved it. He really started getting into suggesting some poses. The Blue Man Group were so excited that they — well, they had to express their excitement through gesture because they couldn’t talk. I shot them insidethe dugout, laying on top of it, around the batting cage. It was great, one of the most fun shoots I’ve been a part of.”
BUFFALO GROVE, IL–While the entire roster of my family has been exposed to some accursed flu, I find myself OK with it. Not in the sense that I’m glad my wife and daughter are coughing and sneezing, but I’m just glad to be home after being in Arizona for all of last week.
Nice weather is nice, but home is home.
That said, with an inch of snow on the ground, I listened to the interviews I was able to do while in Mesa and they brought a warmth to my chest. One with Mike Fontenot was insightful. I like the guy Ron Santo calls “Little Babe Ruth” because for a guy of smaller stature, he’s got some pop. I remember asking Randy Bush a couple of years ago about Fontenot and Ryan Theriot when they were at LSU and Bush was the head coach of the University of New Orleans.
“Those two were a pain,” he recalled. “It was like they were on base all the time.”
A couple of months ago at the Cubs Convention, Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita responsed to a Cubs fan’s question pertaining to the trade of Mark DeRosa, “who’s to say we don’t have Dustin Pedroia sitting there in Mike Fontenot?”
Well, Fontenot will get his chance. During our In the Dugout Q&A, Lou Piniella said Miles would be the primary backup for Theriot at shortstop and both he and Fontenot could see as many as 350-400 at bats between second and any other positions they play. It doesn’t matter to Fontenot, however, because his favorite position is…on the field.
Vine Line: What does the team need to do to get over the hump after two early postseason exits?
Mike Fontenot: I don’t know. We played so well in the regular seasons in the last two years. First things first is to win the division and get to the playoffs. But like everyone says, we just gotta get hot at the right time. The hottest team going into the playoffs usually wins.
VL: Were you guys tired at all by the end of the season? Did the media wear on you at all?
MF: Maybe there was a little bit, but I think going into the playoffs we felt pretty good. But that’s part of being in the big leagues, handling the media and our clubhouse is small. But I like playing at Wrigley and in Chicago, so for guys who’ve been there, it’s not some big burden. I feel relaxed wherever.
VL: A lot of people are picking you as possibly being the starter at second base. But Aaron Miles will also need at-bats, too. How do you see that playing out?
MF: Obviously every one wants to start. But when it comes down to it, as long as I am contributing every day in some way and the team’s winning, I’m happy. It’s a lot of fun to play on a team that’s winning games whether your starting or coming off the bench.
VL: So bat [No.] 2, leadoff, whatever–it doesn’t matter to you?
MF: Bat 2, leadoff, pinch hit and get a knock, it doesn’t matter. As long as the team wins, I’m cool.
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MESA, Ariz.–It’s the first workout for the Cubs at HoHoKam Park, and everyone’s here today. While it’s just business as usual for the team, stretching, batting practice, bullpen sessions, it’s a big deal for everyone else. First off, the media. National writers Bob Nightengale, Jerry Crasnick, Alan Schwarz and Phil Rogers (he was at Fitch yesterday) are all here to check out our team. But more importantly, more than a handful of Cubs fans have showed up to hang out and watch the Cubs workout.
And everywhere you go–Starbucks, souvenir shops, stores or restaurants, people are talking about the start of Spring Training.
By the way, there was an AP photo in some of the local papers today showing Carlos Zambrano and Mike Fontenot doing their pregame ritual. LIke I mentioned in my blog yesterday, that was a photo shoot set up specifically for our 2009 gameday program CUBS2009. Here (right) is one of the authentic photos from the shoot.
Also, frequent photo contributor to Vine Line Chris Bernacchi added this perspective to photo day (below). Pretty interesting. I feel like I’m watching an old 70s episode of “Batman” with Adam West and Burt Ward. OK, I just dated myself really badly there.
Our “In the Dugout” session went extremely well, with Lou offering me 30 minutes of his time, which is a lot considering he had to fit lunch and me in between practice and a photo shoot with Aquafina. While the shoot was going on, we could hear the agency people and Lou yelling. But he wasn’t being cantankerous, they were simulating an argument with an umpire. But it cracked up media relations director Peter Chase.
And lastly, I conducted a roundtable discussion with Cubs beat writers Carrie Muskat, Paul Sullivan and Gordon Wittenmyer. It was interesting to get the perspectives from seasoned vets like them. We talked about travel, players, the journalism industry, the competitive nature of journalism, technology.
Tomorrow: The first Cactus League game. Like Lou said: “I got 39 games to figure things out. We got plenty of time.”
MESA, Ariz.—Every year, major-league ballplayers must endure an annual ritual of combing their hair, shaving their faces clean (or at least somewhat) and mugging for the camera. It is Photo Day for them, and they put their best faces forward, despite the fact it’s 7:00 in the morning.
The entire first floor of Fitch Park is turned into a massive photo studio. Among the participants, the Associated Press, Major League Baseball, Topps and Comcast, among others. It’s all put together very efficiently and organized, led by media relations director Peter Chase and his staff. Our staff photographer Steve Green organizes the photographers in location.
For the most part, all the players arrive at their designated times, albeit bleary eyed. There are very compliant to whatever poses we ask them to do. Steve and I are there to do a special photo shoot for our gameday program, CUBS2009. We had scripted the poses beforehand knowing we wouldn’t have more than a minute with each one.
The shoot went swimmingly. We got some great shots Geovany Soto and Ivan DeJesus modeling the WBC jersey of their home country Puerto Rico. We also got a couple and of Mike Fontenot and Carlos Zambrano doing their pregame routine of “Z” hammering “Font” into the ground. They were very playful and the shots turned out great. But to see them, you’ll have to get the program at Wrigley Field!!!!
We also got Ryan Dempster and Rich Harden playing hockey with hockey sticks and using a baseball as a puck. Tremendous. Chad Gaudin and Reed Johnson seem like they are in a competition to see who can look most like a billy goat. Perhaps when they finally shave off their goatees, we can say we killed the “curse of the billy goat!”
Of course, then there was manager Lou Piniella, who’s seen his fair share of photo days. In fact, say Lou, how many of these photo days have you seen?
“Too many,” he laughed.
However, Cubs legend Billy Williams skipped photo day and went straight out to the field..
“‘Greenie!’ You don’t need me, right? Man, you got enough pictures of me after all these years. Look, after you turn 65, your face don’t change much year to year,” Williams said, cracking up all the photographers.
Hey, when a Hall of Famer says he doesn’t want to take a picture, he doesn’t have to take a picture.
We also worked with Morry Gash, the photographer from AP. I asked him for a photo that he shot the other day. It was such a candid shot of Alfonso Soriano that I had to ask him if we could just borrow it for the blog.
But altogether, the photo shoot–and day–worked out very well….I’d encourage everyone to check out the gameday program the next time you’re at Wrigley Field. The pictures and experience was certainly worth more than a 1000 words.
PS. And one special note of sympathy goes out to our hitting coach Gerald Perry, who also was not at photo day. He lost his father last Friday to colon cancer. We are all thinking about you, G.