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Posts Tagged ‘Wrigley Field’

UPDATE: Questions Surround Chicago Cubs As Annual Fan Convention Starts

Posted by sportsmaven on May 23, 2011

Loyal Chicago Cubs fans arrive in town today to kick off the 26th Annual Cubs Convention at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. Besides the obvious challenge on how to effectively market a 5th place baseball team, the failed attempts of ownership to get the public to finance upgrades to Wrigley Field, and finding a classy and respectful way to honor a Cubs folk hero after the death of Cubs legend Ron Santo, questions surround the team on and off the field after an offseason that receives a mixed review to date. Some of the questions i’m sure will be brought up this weekend include:

Why Mike Quade over Ryne Sandberg when hiring Lou Piniella’s replacement as Cubs manager?

Why did Carlos Pena hit only .196 last season and was that worth the $10 million salary that was given to him to play 1B for the Cubs? (By the way, what was the deal about deferring half his salary? Are the Cubs in such a financial state that they have to start deferring salary on a player with a 1-year contract? Will he hit over .200 playing half his games in Wrigley this season?

Will you ever find mid-season homes for Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome when the Cubs hit double digits in games behind in the division standings? When do the Cubs start calling up kids from the minors?

How did Cubs P Kerry Wood turn down reported 2 year, $10 million contract offers to accept a 1-year, $1.5 million Cubs offer, including the infamous “Cub for life” clause that was rumored to include broadcasting for the Cubs after he retires. How do you become a Cub for life off a 1-year contract?

Was Cubs P Matt Garza worth the 5 players he was traded for? Do you think any of those 5 players will eclipse the career that Garza has (and will) put together as a Cub? Is he the front of the rotation talent that required 5 minor league prospects to close the deal?

Who will step up in the rotation after Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Garza? Does a rotation of Dempster, Zambrano and Garza even scare anyone other than Cubs fans?

Will the strong back end of the bullpen ever get into some meaningful games this season? Will Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, and Wood continue to dominate?

Will young talent Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, and Andrew Cashner continue their ascent in becoming cornerstones of a revived Cubs farm system that appears to be on the verge of regularly developing major league quality talent? Who will be this season’s Starlin Castro?

Off the field, there are even bigger challenges facing the Ricketts family:

Are last season’s empty seats an aberration or a indictment from fans on the quality on the field?

Will Crane Kenney and Jim Hendry survive another abysmal season as the Cubs top on-field and off-field management?

Will this be the year that the fruit of Cubs Director of Scouting Tim Wilken’s tree starts blossoming?

Will we ever see a Cubs Triangle Building and more investments in infrastructure of Wrigley Field with the Ricketts footing the bill, instead of the taxpayers?

Stay tuned as I will update this post with a progress report around mid-season/All-Star break.

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Winter Classic Is Chicago Blackhawks Coming Out Party

Posted by sportsmaven on January 1, 2009

It can be very easy to say that the star of this afternoon’s NHL 2009 Winter Classic is Wrigley Field, and even easier to say the game is a showcase for NHL power, defending Stanley Cup Champions, and this year’s Stanley Cup favorite, the Detroit Red Wings.  But lets not be mistaken any longer than needed.  The NHL Winter Classic is the coming out party for Rocky Wirtz/John McDonough led, new, improved, and revived Chicago Blackhawks team.  And it’s exactly what the NHL needs for an Original Six team that has been down on it’s own luck.

(Tribune photo by Charles Cherney / December 31, 2008)

(Tribune photo by Charles Cherney / December 31, 2008)

Of course, the young Chicago Blackhawks team has been doing it’s part, especially of late, winning a franchise record 9 games in a row.  That streak was broken yesterday in Detroit, with the Red Wings pitching a shutout, adding to the already incredible hype of today’s game, making it into a nationally televised grudge match.

At least two generations of Hawks fans have been disenfranchised by the draconian methods of management under long time owner Bill Wirtz.  When the older Wirtz died in September of 2007, his son Rocky was tapped to run the team, and it seemed that Rocky learned all the “lessons” of his father’s mismanagement.  In 188 sweeping days, Rocky has reversed all the negativity of past mismanagement, with his first move, stealing the marketing genius McDonough away from the Chicago Cubs.  That move alone signaled to Hawks fans that Wirtz was committed to reviving the sagging fortunes of the once-proud Blackhawks franchise.

The rest is marketing history.  As we ring in what we hope to be a better year in 2009, hope springs eternal in the City of Chicago, for the Chicago Blackhawks, and their fans.  Regardless of the outcome of today’s game, the Winter Classic marks the coming out of a young Chicago Blackhawks team, the unveiling of a new, historic direction for a historic Original Six team.  For those not fortunate enough to secure tickets for the Classic, the game will be brodcast on television, as will every single game the Blackhawks will play this season.  This is a first in the 82-year history of the team.

So let the celebrations begin, hopefully the first of many celebrations for the new, improved Chicago Blackhawks.

Blackhawks Extras:

ESPN has extensive coverage of today’s NHL Winter Classic:

On the local front, the popular stories of the week on the Winter Classic:

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Chicago Cubs Should Trademark The “Wait ‘Til Next Year” Slogan

Posted by sportsmaven on October 5, 2008

It’s been over an hour since RF Alfonso Soriano took the last of his pitiful swings to end the season for the Chicago Cubs and I am still pissed off.  I, like millions of other people, am a Chicago Cubs fan and again, we have been turned into a mockery again by the very team that we live and die for.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

WE have become a national laughingstock, a total joke.  There are hundreds and thousands of Cubs fans in the city of Chicago, as well as all over the world that are angry tonight after the Cubs were swept out of the 2008 playoffs by the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Los Angeles newspapers accuse Cub fans of giving up after being down in Game 1.  TBS showed shot after shot of grieving, somber Cubs fans after both Game 1 and Game 2, heads in their hands, stunned beyond belief.

(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Practically every person associated with Cubs management has sounded off about how there are no such things as curses caused by billy goats, that those things are the concoctions of the imaginations of over-restless fans and yet Cubs management felt the need to sneak in a Greek Orthodox priest to Wrigley Field to splash holy water over the Cubs dugout hours before the start of Game 1only to get caught by a TBS camera crew who showed up early to set up for the Game 1 telecast, thus broadcasting this absurd event to the entire baseball watching audience.

This Cubs team had brought so much pride and joy to Cub fans in a magical regular season with 97 wins, and a second consecutive, NL Central Division Championship.  In three short playoff games, this very Cubs team has brought shame and embarassment to Cubs fans all over the world.  Extinguished all the wonderful, inspiring, positive feelings about Cubs baseball in 27 innings of the worst playoff baseball played in recent memory — by ANY team.  I don’t care what Lou Piniella or any of the 25 guys in the Cubs locker room says – this season was a failure, no other word to describe the end result.

It’s not that the Cubs lost, it’s the ridiculous manner in which they lost.  It’s not that the Cubs played their hearts out and just got beat by a superior team, because that wasn’t the case at all.  The Cubs lost because they failed to show up to play.  No hitting, no pitching, and no fielding.  A pathetic, lifeless effort by every member of this Cubs team.  Not one player played good baseball in this series.  Cubs P Ryan Dempster said in tonight’s post-game interview that the Dodgers just brought more energy to the series than the Cubs.  How utterly ridiculous is that?  The Cubs just have a tendency to play appallingly bad baseball at the absolute worst possible time.

Of course, we’ll all have the offseason for the anger to diminish, the Cubs will be back next season and we’ll do this all over again for the 101st consecutive season without a World Championship.  We’ll also be entering our 64th year without making the World Series.  We may even have a new owner that will do whatever it takes to erase those indignified statistics.  If next season’s Cubs make the playoffs again, I’m sure the pressure will still be there, the statistics will still be there.  The Cubs are not the New York Yankees. They don’t make the playoffs every year.  Opportunities are few and far between and the Cubs blew this one in a disgusting, embarassing, shameful, uninspiring and lacksidasical, manner.  Wait ’til next year?

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Chicago Cubs Uneventful Spring Training….NOT!

Posted by sportsmaven on March 7, 2008

Just when we thought the Chicago Cubs could have a quiet, productive, uneventful spring training…..reality sets in and proves once again that spring training is anything but ordinary for a franchise entering into the Golden Anniversary year of it’s last World Series championship. Off-field drama has dominated the Cubs camp, beginning with Day 1 posterboy, 3B Aramis Ramirez and allegations of cock fighting in the Dominican Republic and the majestic entrance of RF Kosuke Fukudome and the entourage of Japanese baseball reporters. Day 2 opens with news from winter blitzed Chicago that the Cubs are suing a rooftop owner who is refusing to pay his fair share of rooftop revenue. The Cubs have threatened to block said owner’s rooftop until payment is made. By the end of the first week, 2B Mark DeRosa leaves camp in an ambulance for a non-baseball heart procedure. Welcome to Days of Our Cubs.

lou-piniella-in-spring-training-3-5-08.jpg

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

For the encore, lets take a look at the next few days issues:

  1. RHP Jose Ascanio was sent to the hospital to be examined for injuries suffered in a one-sided fistfight at a Scottsdale convenience store
  2. Sam Zell warms up to Cubs fans by announcing that the Wrigley Field naming rights are open to the highest bidder
  3. Sam Zell warms up to the City of Chicago by announcing that he wants to renegotiate more night games and concerts for Whateverit’scalled Field
  4. State of Illinois makes pitch to buy Whateverit’scalled Field by dissing the City of Chicago’s landmark status and suggestions of hijacking tax revenue from revenue generated from stadium improvements for the next 30 years or so

So what about the real baseball issues, you ask? Well, those are just as outrageous:

  1. 3B Aramis Ramirez starts camp with his annual injury, nursing a sore shoulder that keeps him out of early game action
  2. RF Alfonso Soriano breaks a finger, sidelining him for 3 to 5 to 7 to who knows how many days.
  3. RHP Ryan Dempster makes a bold prediction that the Cubs will win the World Series in 2008
  4. RHP Jason Marquis boldly states that if he is not a starter, he wants to be traded
  5. Manager Lou Piniella pitching the Tribune Company to extend GM Jim Hendry’s contract while simultaneously dropping hints for his own contract extension
  6. Lou Piniella blows a gasket over Jason Marquis is-guided comments, losing early, meaningless spring training games, and the details of the pitching staff work schedule
  7. The on again, off again, on again, never happening trade talks with the Baltimore Orioles for 2B Brian Roberts that will fuel the rumor mill for the remainder of spring training to the July 31st trade deadline

Seriously, there are some on-field baseball issues to resolve, right? You bet:

  1. Who will be the 4th and 5th starters and where will Jason Marquis be pitching in 2008?
  2. Is Alfonso Soriano really leading off again?
  3. Who will be the Cubs closer?
  4. Can Kosuke Fukudome really hit?
  5. Do we have a CF on our roster that can actually play?
  6. Can Lou Piniella write 100 different lineups by the end of spring training?

Well, at least the entire Cubs organization from top to bottom, knows how to keep it entertaining for the rest of us. And to think that RHP Carlos Zambrano is the voice of reason in this year’s spring camp…..wait until the Cubs acquire a new owner? Mark Cuban, where are you?

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Sportsmaven Invades St. Louis

Posted by sportsmaven on September 28, 2007

The Sportsmaven decided to venture into enemy territory two weekends ago, following the Chicago Cubs to new Busch Stadium for the 4 games in 3 days series against the arch rival (literally!) St. Louis Cardinals. Having never been to St. Louis, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the city, the fans, or from the baseball world in general, but I will have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much St. Louis is a small town dressed up as a big city. The downtown area, where the Gateway Arch, our hotel (the Adam’s Mark Hotel, which I highly recommend), and Busch Stadium are located, was very quaint, with all the aforementioned points of interest within walking distance of each other. We started our trip on Friday afternoon at The Feisty Bulldog Bucket Shoppe and Billiards for lunch and a few pre-game beverages and then worked our way to Busch Stadium, via a detour through Mike Shannon’s Steak & Seafood Restaurant, infamous for the bar that supposedly over served Cardinals P Josh Hancock the night that he died in an automobile accident on April 29th of this year. I have never been to old Busch Stadium, but the new Busch is a terrific venue to watch a baseball game.

Friday night, we found ourselves in section 139, on the first base side. Carlos Zambrano was pitching for the Cubs and hurled a great game, the Cubs taking a 5-1 lead into the 9th inning. It was important for the Cubs to set the tone early in this series, and they did just that. Ryan Dempster, in a non-save situation, gave up two homers and a couple of other hits before being relieved by Bobby Howry, who gave up a hit, but secured the 5-3 win for the Cubs.

On Saturday, for the early game of a day/night doubleheader, we had seats in the left centerfield bleachers, near the Cubs bullpen. As our luck would have it, we were sitting a row in front of the two most absolutely obnoxious Cardinals fans. One thing I do want to note about the Cardinals fans, in general is how absolutely wonderful they were to the Cubs fans overall. I was expecting Cardinals fans to be loathesome, some of which we experience in our fan encounters at Wrigley Field. I was very surprised to discover that 99% of the Cardinals fans we met in St. Louis were totally awesome and treated us with respect. They were friendly, considerate, and a great time to hang out with, except for the two jokers in the bleachers. They were obnoxious, insulting loudmouths that wouldn’t shut up. For seven innings, we listened to these guys, as the Cubs were down 2-1, until Alfonso Soriano came to the plate in the 8th inning with a man on base. The obnoxious twins were going at it full bore, jabbing their red foamed fingers into every Cub fan’s face……with one swing, Soriano parked that ball into the left field bleachers and all of a sudden the dynamic duo went silent. Soriano hadn’t even touched home plate when we turned around and discovered two empty seats where the loudmouths were sitting. That was just pure justice for those cretins.

After the day game, we strolled out the front gate of Busch Stadium and made the short stumble to Paddy O’s, a small bar with an outdoor tent right outside Busch Stadium. Paddy O’s had cold beer, vodka cranberry for me, and a cool mixture of Cub and Cardinal fans drinking together in harmony. It was their version of Murphy’s Bleachers, and it was pretty awesome.

The night game found us quickly, as our seats were on the first base side of the stadium again, this time in the Redbird Club section, which by the way, were quite nice. We were definitely the only Cubs fans in our section and felt like Custer facing the indians at Little Big Horn. The seats were padded, the section was awesome (was able to catch parts of the Nebraska-USC game in the Stadium Club) and the Cubs opened an early lead, but with shoddy base running (2 men thrown out at home plate) and fielding (2 errors by Jason Kendall), the Cubs ended up losing the nightcap, 4-3.

Our wakeup call on Sunday morning came early, at 4:45am. We had a 7:30am flight back to Chicago as we needed to get back to town for the Chicago Bears-Kansas City Chiefs football game. The Cubs ended up taking the final game of the series, 4-2 thus winning the series and essentially putting an end to a miserable season for the Cardinals.

So, our experience with the new Busch Stadium is that every seat seems to be a great seat, with a great view. Even the bleachers were a nice seat, not quite Wrigley Field bleachers, but close and pretty fun. For the baseball, we took 3 of 4 from the Cardinals and never looked back. It was a great weekend, we closed the door on the Cardinals, got to experience new Busch Stadium and made it out of town in time to catch the home opener for the Bears. All and all, a great Chicago sports weekend!

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