Tagged: Opening Day

Opening Day Disappointment!

 

 

For the fifth time in the last six years, the Cubs lost on Opening Day. They didn’t play bad, except they couldn’t get a timely hit or throw the ball over the plate, other than that, not bad.

 

Actually, Ryan Dempster had a really nice game as the starting pitcher. But after giving up a hit in the eighth, new Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided that it was time to go to the bullpen. Sveum called on Kerry Wood to get the last out in the eighth, which he did, unfortunately not until after he walked three straight batters and forced in the tying run. Carlos Marmol than gave up another run in the ninth and the Cubs dropped the first game of the year 2-1.

 

As for the day itself, I got down to Wrigleyville early. I went right to Murphy’s, were I had a burger and some tater-tots and washed them down with an extra spicy Bloody-Mary. The crowd was buzzing as it always is on Opening Day. We were all ready for a win that didn’t come.

 

I went into the park about noon to walk around and see the new fan deck out in right field. I was pleasantly surprised as the new video board and the seating area itself really fit in nicely with the existing bleachers.

 

Bill Murray did a nice job with the Opening Pitch and seventh-inning stretch.

 

All in all, not a bad day.

 

One Week……

 

One week until every team is in first…..at least for a day

One week until the Angels begin life with the best right handed hitter in the game

One week until the beginning of Chipper Jones’ farewell season

One week until Stephen Strasburg tries to recapture his rookie year magic

One week until the Pirates try to end a streak of 19 straight losing seasons

One week until Paul Konerko is just 4 homers away from 400

One week until the Theo Epstein era begins in Chicago

One week until Prince Fielder questions money over Comerica Park’s 420ft Center Field fence

One week until the ‘Carlos Zambrano Meltdown Watch’ starts

One week until Bobby Valentine tries to prove he’s the smartest guy he knows

One week until Kenny Williams questions why he traded Sergio Santos

One week until Kansas City fans look at the starting lineup and say “who’s that?”

One week until Magic Johnson wonders what $2 Billion just bought

One week until the fans actually listen to the starting lineup announcement

One week until Ryan Braun tries to prove it was all legit

One week until the Houston Astros become National League lame ducks

One week until the New York press declares the Mets out of the division race

One week until a first pitch ball outside will get a huge cheer

One week until I duck my head when an F-18 skims the top of Wrigley after our National Anthem

One week until the Red Sox don’t eat fried chicken during the game

One week until this passion we call baseball begins

 

One week until Opening Day!!!

 

 

Opening Days

 

I love Opening Day.

 

I look forward to it every year. I really love it when the Cubs home opener is the first game of the year, as opposed to the 7th game after starting the season on the road. This year, not only will I be at the Cubs home opener, but I’m heading over to the south-side a week later for the White Sox home opener.

 

Opening Day is the start of the season. The real start. Spring training is fine, but I just can’t get into number 78 ‘so-and-so’ pitching to number 63 ‘never-gonna-make-the-roster’.

 

I even love the first Opening Night game on ESPN the day before all the other teams start the year.

 

Unfortunately, that Opening Night excitement of being the first regular season game is ruined again this year as the season will officially began a week earlier in Japan. On March 28th and 29th the Mariners and the A’s will play two games in Tokyo. I’m probably not gonna get up at 5am to watch. But hey, you Oakland and Seattle fans can get up at 3am if you want to watch your favorite team.…..blah.

 

Look, I know the league wants to take the game to an international level, and I’m all for it, but we’ve had season openers in Japan now since 1999, and so far nothing has changed.  You wanna show me that the game can be played on an international level, ok fine; schedule a three game series in the middle of July. Show me that two teams can finish a series on Sunday afternoon in Seattle and Oakland, and then meet for a three game series in Tokyo or Sydney or San Juan; then be back in Chicago to start a three game set on Friday night. Because if you can’t do that, then these games in Japan are about nothing more than putting some extra money in MLB’s pocket.

 

In the meantime, it really screws up Opening Day. Won’t it be fun opening up the paper every day for a week and seeing 28 teams at 0-0 and two teams with 2 games under their belt? Then again, if Seattle wins both games, that 1 week may be the longest time that they have spent in first place in over a decade.

 

Here’s an idea. People are always trying to make up drinking games, right? On the night of April 4th when the Marlins take on the Cardinals in what should have been the first official game of the season, get your favorite beverage ready. Every time an announcer on ESPN says that this is the start of the regular season – “except for those two games played in Japan last week”…..take a sip.

 

 

End of an Error

 

It started promising.  I was there that Opening Day in late March of 2008. The Chicago Cubs were facing Ben Sheets and the Milwaukee Brewers on a mild and rainy Monday afternoon.  The Cubs new right fielder was Kosuke Fukudome, a Japanese player signed to a 4 year, $48Million contract the previous winter.

 

Image courtesy NYTimes

Fans new little of Fukudome before the signing and we were told that he was a cross between Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. Great, I thought. A player that would produce a .300+ average and 25+ HR’s.

 

Ben Sheets was mowing the Cubs down that afternoon.  He had 7 strike-outs through the first 6 innings with no runs allowed on only two hits, those two hits belonging to Kosuke Fukudome.  The game was scoreless heading into the ninth inning when Kerry Wood took the mound as the Cubs new closer. After hitting the first man he faced, Wood walked another batter and surrendered a couple of hits, by the time the inning was over the Brewers had scored three runs and had one of the best closers at the time, Eric Gagne, coming in to close out the Cubs.

 

In the bottom of the 9th Derrek Lee lead off with a single to right, then Aramis Ramirez walked, which brought Fukudome to the plate.  In what was one of the most memorable moments I have ever had in Wrigley Field, Fukudome hit a 3-1 pitch into the right-center field bleachers for a HR to tie the score at 3. I thought we had our new Andre Dawson.

 

Unfortunately, just like the rest of Kosuke’s career with the Cubs, things went downhill. The Cubs lost the game to the Brewers in extra innings and Fukudome never became the player we thought he would be.

 

And so we did get that cross between Ichiro and Hideki Matsui, we just got the wrong mix. We got Matsui’s average and Ichiro’s power, or lack thereof from each player.

 

Now 3 and one half years later the Cubs have traded Fukudome to the Cleveland Indians for a couple of minor league prospects.

 

Let the Tyler Colvin era begin……………….

 

 

Remember, This is just a small sample size.

The fans in Wrigley Field, particularly in the Bleachers,
have gotten a bad rep over the years. The general thrust of the criticism is
that the people that show up to Wrigley are there for the party and not for the
team or the game.

 

And while there is some truth to the fact that Wrigley
Field, day games, and the whole Wrigleyville area do provide an opportunity for
people to enjoy the weather, good times with friends, people watching, and a
few drinks, most of the people that go to the park are real fans of the team.

 

But like most stereotypes, there is always a little truth behind
them.

Opening Day: The Cubs biggest fan from WBEZ on Vimeo.

Read the comment section below
for more info on this video.



Opening Day 2011 and Won!

Ok. So the season has started. And Opening Day didn’€™t go
exactly as planned. At least as far as the game goes.

I’€™ll start with myself first. I’€™ve been lucky enough to have
season tickets to the Cubs for the past five seasons. I split my tickets with a
couple other guys, we have five seats. For several seasons we were in the upper
deck box behind home plate. I really liked those seats and it was good foul
ball territory. Last year we switched locations to the lower deck. We were way
down the right field line in the reserve section. The seats themselves were
cheaper, but after a full year in that location I wasn’€™t thrilled. This year we
were able to change locations again. We moved to the Field Box section down the
left field line. After one game there I much happier with the seats.

We started the morning off early, getting to the
Wrigleyville area at 9:45. Considering the weather, it was already surprisingly
crowded down there. We spent the next 3 hours eating, talking, people watching
and having a couple drinks at Murphy’€™s
Bleachers
which is just across the street from the bleacher entrance into
Wrigley Field.

For those that have never sat in the bleachers at Wrigley
Field, the seats are all general admission. So it’€™s first come first serve on
the seats and people were already lining up at 10am. They line up outside the
back wall of Wrigley, right across the street from Murphy’€™s. It was crazy watching people stand there for three hours
to be first in.

So about 45 minutes before the game I started to make my way
over to the park. Just after I crossed Sheffield Ave I noticed a bunch of
firemen standing in the street. I waited for a minute to see what was going on.
Then I heard a police officer say that the firemen were bringing in the 911
Flag. I quickly grabbed my camera and took this video.

After that I go in the park to my seat. The players were
warming up and the pre-game ceremonies were taking place. I shot this video of
Ryan Dempster warming up and the starting lineup being introduced.

The game started good enough for the Cubs. After a quick top
of the first, the Cubs scored one run in the bottom of the frame. With one out,
Starlin Castro reached base on a hit. Marlon Bryd then hit a grounder to third
baseman Pedro Alvarez who threw wildly to first. Bryd was safe and advanced to
second on the error while Castro raced all the way home to score the first run
of the game. The Cubs then added a second run in the third inning after a
couple singles and a fielder’€™s choice ground out to take a 2-0 lead into the
fifth inning.

The fifth inning was where it fell apart. After a single and
a groundout, Dempster lost some control. He sandwiched two walks around a SAC
bunt to load the bases with two outs. Then Neil Walker came to the plate.
Walker worked the count to 3 balls 2 strikes against Dempster. With the crowd
on its feet and the base runners on the move, Walker hit Dempster’€™s next pitch
onto Sheffield Ave for a Grand Slam and a 4-2 Pirates lead. Essentially, that
ended up being the end of the game for the Cubs. Here are my thoughts just
after the inning ended.

The Pirates added two more runs in the 7th on an
Andrew McCutchen homer and the Cubs finished with one in the 8th to
make the final score 6-3 Pirates.

Cubs:     0-1

Game 2:

I wasn’€™t able to see much of game two. I know they won 5-3
after being down 3 nothing after seven. The interesting thing to me was seeing
the lineup that Mike Quade used.

With a left-handed pitcher on the mound for Pittsburgh,
Quade had Fukudome on the bench. The weird thing is that he replaced him with
another left-handed hitter in Tyler Colvin. I know Quade wants to get Colvin
at-bats, but if you are putting Fukudome on the bench because of the southpaw
on the mound, I would have thought that you put Reed Johnson in the lineup.

I think Quade either has to say Fukudome is my guy, or
Colvin is my guy. I don’€™t think you can be benching one guy because of a lefty
match-up and then bring in the other while Johnson sits on the bench. If he is
playing righty/lefty match-ups, play it straight.

Cubs Win:  1-1