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Posts Tagged ‘National League Central Division’

Sportsmaven Invades Cincinnati

Posted by sportsmaven on October 8, 2007

222The plans for a road trip to Cincinnati were in full force on Friday night, even though the Cubs clinched a playoff berth by the combination of beating the Cincinnati Reds and a loss by the Milwaukee Brewers to the San Diego Padres. Saturday morning we packed ourselves into the car at 6am and made the trek to The Queen City from our north suburban Chicago home. Along the way, we encountered tons of screaming Cubs fans, who apparently had the same idea we had. For 4 1/2 hours, we dodged through the traffic of crazies so we could get to Cincinnati before they did. We finally rolled into the city and parked our car right outside the stadium and made our way to the ticket window, asking for the best seats available. For $65 , we got tickets in their Scouts Alley section, about 10 rows behind home plate, very nice seats indeed.

After being in the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis 2 weeks prior, my first impressions of The Great American Ballpark was that is was not nearly as nice. The park is on the Ohio River, with the back facing the river, but the very first thing I noticed was that the back of the park was closed — no view of the river. The park also had a sterile, cold feeling about it. It didn’t feel like the warm, friendly, inviting Midwestern ballpark that Busch Stadium was in St. Louis. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. We enjoyed the game, saw Jerry Krause scouting the Cubs for the New Your Mets, had a wonderful server named Bernie, who kept us refreshed with cool drinks and some good ballpark food, and Rich Hill took a no-hitter into the 6th inning and pitched well. The Cubs won, the Reds fans were friendly, and the weather was tremendous.

As we made our way back to Chicago that evening (yes, we did this trip in a single day), my thoughts drifted back to Wrigley Field, the start of the NLDS, and the fact that my urge to go to Cincinnati was finally filled. I don’t think I would go back to that park again, (or Cincinnati for that matter) as I just didn’t find it compelling enough to make a repeat visit. Let the playoffs begin, thankfully, not in Cincinnati.

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Early Thoughts From Chicago Cubs Camp

Posted by sportsmaven on March 4, 2007

The spring games have started and it seems like developments are becoming more apparent as the early games begin. Some of my thoughts on the Chicago Cubs in the early going are:

1. Looks like the Cubs are going to hit and score runs this season. The batting order looks solid with some questions around who will hit in the #2 hole (early leader appears to be Matt Murton when he’s playing, although Murton is getting some time hitting lower in the order.) With Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Murton, Michael Barrett, and Jacque Jones, there aren’t a lot of spots in the Cub order to pitch around. If Mark DeRosa hits like he did last year, sprinkle in a healthy Cliff Floyd, this lineup of hitters are the best in the National League Central Division.

2. On the other hand, defense may be an issue. Cesar Izturis is a Gold Glove caliber player. So is Derrek Lee. After that, it gets quite sketchy. Mark DeRosa appears to be solid and if he indeed is the starting second baseman, playing one position will help him, defensively. Soriano in CF is an unknown at this point. Ramirez can play defense if he wants, and Pinella will demand that he does. Barrett needs work, especially with baserunners and limiting his passed balls. Jones and Murton are ordinary. Most of the defensive lapses from the Cubs through the first three games of Cactus League play are from guys that are probably not going to make the team (like Scott Moore, Ronny Cedeno, and Mike Kinkade) but clearly, Lou Piniella is not pleased.

3. Speaking of Lou Piniella, looks like he will be more demanding from the players both publicly and privately, than Dusty Baker ever was with the Cubs. I like that. Lou calls it like he sees it. He’s not blunt, he’s honest. I look forward to more of that in the upcoming season. This will be refreshing, informative, and certainly entertaining.

Tomorrow is Cubs-White Sox in Mesa, Rich Hill vs. Jon Garland. Monday, is Mark Prior’s scheduled debut in Cactus League play and Kerry Wood is also scheduled to pich. It’s starting to get more interesting……

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