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Q&A: Hottovy on holiday plans and traditions

December 14, 2018

As the Cubs' new pitching coach, Tommy Hottovy is busy mapping out plans and strategies in preparation for the 2019 season. He is also prepping for a busy holiday season with his wife, two kids and the host of family making its way to Chicago for Christmas. Hottovy took some

As the Cubs' new pitching coach, Tommy Hottovy is busy mapping out plans and strategies in preparation for the 2019 season. He is also prepping for a busy holiday season with his wife, two kids and the host of family making its way to Chicago for Christmas. Hottovy took some time recently to chat about the holiday season with What are your plans for the holidays this year?
Hottovy: Usually, we go to Kansas City for the holidays. Most of my family is in the Kansas City or Wichita area. This year, though, we lucked out. We convinced my whole family to come up to Chicago for the holidays. They're going to ride the train up and kind of enjoy that whole process of coming from K.C. to Chicago on the train, and have a good time in Chicago. Chicago's such a fun city, especially in the summer. But even in the winter, there's a lot of really cool things to see. So yeah, we're going to have everybody up and do some fun things. Do you have family traditions that you do every year?
Hottovy: Yeah. Part of when you have grandkids and a lot of cousins, you get together and you always do the gifts and stuff. Well, a couple years ago, we decided it was really important to move away from just gifts and focus more on the time together. So the last couple years, we've done like a destination-type place where you can get everybody together, rent hotel rooms, spend three or four days with solid family time instead of everybody coming over, seeing them for a couple hours, you do gifts and then they're gone. We wanted something more fun and to spend more time together. So we'll do that in Chicago this year. That's our big family tradition that we're trying to carry on. Do you decorate your house for your kids?
Hottovy: We do. And every year, I go buy lights to hang them on my house. I consider myself fairly handy, but every year I buy lights and then every year I return them and say, "Nah, I'm not going to do it this year." We always get the stuff outside that's on the ground that's easier to handle. My wife, she's got Pinterest locked down, so we've got every Pinterest Christmas decoration I think that's out there. It looks nice. She did a great job. What about when you were a kid?
Hottovy: Yeah, our big thing was we always did it all together. We'd have the one night -- either coming back from Thanksgiving or the first weekend after -- we'd get all the decorations out. The one thing I'll always remember is we had this cool archway on our front porch above the front door. And my dad had this huge wreath. I mean, it was probably 6 feet across. It's a big, big wreath. Every year, he'd get the ladder out and he'd climb up and hang this huge wreath from this entryway.
In Kansas City, not unlike Chicago or the Midwest, there'd be those windy, cold days, and that thing was swinging in the wind. But every year, he'd get that up, and that was such a cool tradition. That's one thing I'll never forget. And it always looked awesome when he got it up. When my dad moved to Florida, we had this wreath and I didn't have anywhere to put it. But my brother, at their house, it has a nice similar entryway. So he's taking over the tradition of hanging that wreath. I always ask him, "When's that thing going up?" It's an undertaking. That thing's a beast. Do you go fake tree or real tree?
Hottovy: Right now, we're with the fake tree. I think we're getting to the point where the kids might be old enough that the real tree can play. We did a real tree a lot once we got older. That was kind of a tradition -- going and cutting the tree. There are really funny stories from when we went and got those trees. That's why I think, as our kids get older, that's probably going to be a tradition we carry on. Is there a favorite present that stands out from when you were a kid?
Hottovy: Yeah, I mean, man, we were fortunate. I got so many cool things growing up. Probably one of the coolest things was a new bike. I always had kind of the smaller bikes, and then in like fifth or sixth grade, I was really wanting more of a mountain bike that I could actually go do some stuff on. It was jet black. Really cool. I had that thing in our garage until I went to college. And then it got handed down to my brother. I'll never forget the day we did a garage sale and got rid of it. I can't believe we had that thing for that long. That was probably one of my favorite things I got growing up. As the oldest of four kids, you probably had plenty of gifts that wound up getting passed down the line.
Hottovy: Yeah, absolutely. Parents are strategic. And Santa is strategic, too. Santa knows that eventually the younger kids are going to want to play with it, too. (laughs) Speaking of Santa, can you name all his reindeer?
Hottovy: I think I can do them all. Let's see: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. Even with having two young kids, that's impressive.
Hottovy: And in order of the song, too. (laughs) Do you have a favorite holiday song?
Hottovy: I always liked the traditional Christmas songs growing up. But as I got older, I really loved like the Mannheim Steamroller and the really cool ones that have more of the orchestra like "Deck the Halls" and some others. Now, my son loves the same thing: Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller. He's kind of taken to that same genre. It's not so much the songs with vocals but with just awesome music. My family loves music. I have a guitar. We'll get together and play and make up songs and try to have music as part of our family. How good are you at wrapping presents?
Hottovy: Not as good as I should be. Not as good as my wife -- that's for sure. Let's just say everybody knows when I wrapped the present. I try to stay away as much as I can, but I love being part of it. I love letting the kids help wrap presents and wrap things for their sibling and wrap something for mom. But I do think my wife would not be able to tell the difference if my kids wrapped a present or if I did. That's where I'm at. Besides a World Series ring, what's on your Christmas list this year?
Hottovy: Really, just giving the fans of Chicago and the people in that city something to cheer for and for them to continue to support us and come out and have fun watching games. Obviously, a World Series ring would be at the top of that list. But I want all of our guys to improve and get better. That's why we're here. We want to see guys getting better and have great years. When I see guys doing that, and doing well for themselves, for the team, for the city, for their families, that's what drives us. That's what makes me excited about going into 2019.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.