It’s been a while since I’ve made a post, almost a full year in fact. There’s no real reason for not posting, not a good one anyway, I just haven’t. But like all things New Year; losing weight, getting into financial shape, reading more books, wasting less time looking at a computer screen and being a better person; I figured this was as good a time as any to re-launch Wrigley Regular.
By re-launch of course, I just mean that I will make more than the one post that I was able to regale you with in 2013.
It’s also not really a coincidence that I’m writing now. It’s Baseball Hall of Fame time, and there isn’t much in this game of baseball that makes me want to bang my head against a wall (or write a post for Wrigley Regular 😉 ) like the voting for the HOF does.
Until I actually write my HOF post, I guess I should give you some reasons to come back here and read this blog in 2014.
The top 5 reasons to read Wrigley Regular in 2014.
1) My never asked for, never anticipated, doesn’t make a difference in the world; Baseball Hall of Fame post. Yes I know I just spent the last several paragraphs talking about this magical, unwritten at this point, post; and now I’m adding it to this list also. But after all this build up, how could you not come back to read it?
2) The Cubs should be better this year. I don’t want to make that sound like I’m a band wagon jumper and that I can only be bothered to write about them when they win, but let’s be honest, when a team loses 288 games over three seasons it kind of zaps your will to write about them. Which leads me to next reason.
3) My posts will be less Cubs-centric. Over the past 7 years I’ve shared season tickets for the Cubs, but for 2014 I gave up my tickets **read that as getting my financial house in order** . So while I have always been a Cubs fan, and always will be a Cubs fan, I think my big picture on the current game of baseball as a whole needs to improve.
4) The occasional fantasy baseball post. I know fantasy baseball is a love it/hate it issue for many fans, but I love it and will make several pre-season posts about the topic. Look for the majority of these posts in late Feb and March.
5) It’s free to read.
So thanks for coming here now, and hopefully I’ll have much more to give you in 2014 to make a return visit worth while.
With the Cubs on the road, I had my second opportunity of the season the head over to the south-side of town to see the White Sox play the Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field.
One of my co-workers set up the outing for about 20 of us. It was a scheduled 7:10 start, but we started meeting a little after 5:00 in the parking lot for some pre-game tailgating. Not all ballparks are accommodating to tailgaters, but the Sox are fairly lenient when it comes to fans setting up grills and making room to play “corn hole/bags”. The Sox have several big parking lots around the stadium and they let people start parking about 2 hours before the game. (I brought my camera but forgot about it. Pictures would have told the story better……….maybe next time)
Tailgating is not something that happens around Wrigley. There are a few small “official” lots located in the area, but most people that go to Cubs games are taking public transportation, parking on neighborhood side streets, or parking in a local’s garage for a “rental” fee. The pre-game activities around Wrigley mainly constitute going to one of the many local bars and having a drink and some lunch.
So it was fun to get to the park early and grill our own food and drink our own drinks.
Our seats were in the left-center field bleachers. I’ve sat in the bleachers at US Cellular at least a dozen times and I think they are one of the best seats in the house, especially when the weather is nice. When an evening game starts, you still get that late-afternoon Sun that slowly transitions into an early-evening dusk and then on to a open star-filled sky above you. The concourse behind the bleacher seats are wide and provide plenty of room for people to get up, stretch out their legs, yet still have a great view of the field to watch the game.
As for the game itself, Toronto was in control most of the time. I don’t really want to bother with the details other than to say Colby Ramus had a great game (5 for 5 w/HR) and 2011’s biggest disappointment, Adam Dunn, continued his 2012 resurgence by hitting his 18th HR of the season.
Dunn’s HR did give me a chance to get one good photo. The White Sox shoot off fireworks just to the left of the center field scoreboard for each Chicago HR. I wasn’t ready to take a picture when AJ Pierzynski hit a HR earlier in the game, but when Dunn hit one I took a decent photo of the fireworks going off just behind me.
Long story short……….Toronto 9-5
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!!!
I don’t know if people read the reports last week that the Chicago Cubs were thinking about playing the 2013 season at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. According to the reports, the Cubs would move for one year so that Wrigley Field could be completely renovated during their absence. A spokesman for the Cubs has denied that the report is accurate, although there is little doubt that the Cubs have been seeking public funds to help renovate/restore Wrigley Field.
As a season ticket holder, I hate the idea of having to watch a season’s worth of games at “The Cell”. It’s not that I don’t like the White Sox home field, its ok and I usually see 4 or 5 games there each year, it’s just that I love Wrigley Field. I’d also have selfish reasons for not wanting to go, mainly, what kind of seats would they give me? The two fields aren’t designed the same and the seats I have now wouldn’t convert as nice as I would like.
But even a greater concern to me would be, what would the “new” Wrigley Field look like? Would they change the configuration of the seats? Would they add premium seating behind home plate? Would the changes be mostly cosmetic and/or just be limited to the clubhouse and concession areas? I have no problem with change, it’s just not knowing what the changes will be (if any) that are troubling. Not that I expect Mr. Ricketts to give me a call and ask for my permission. (But he can if he wants 🙂 ).
All of this is a year away though. Players have started reporting to spring training and the season opener is coming. The one thing I do know for sure, 6 weeks from today I’m be sitting in Wrigley Field and the 2012 season will have started.
This past week I saw the highlight recap show of the 1945 World Series on the MLB Network. For those that don’t remember or didn’t know, 1945 was the last year in which the Cubs played in the World Series. Ummm, that’s a long time. Let’s put it this way; every other team in the majors has been to the World Series at least once since 1979 except the Seattle Mariners (established in 1977) and the Washington Nationals/Expos (established 1969), both of whom have yet to make to the final game of the season.
The Cubs played the American League Champion Detroit Tigers in 1945, it was their 5th World Series in 16 years and a rematch of the 1935 series that saw the Tigers beat the Cubs 4 games to 2.
I don’t want to go through all the details of the ’45 series, but there are a few things that I wanted to mention.
First of all of course is the fact that the favorite Cubs (98-56) lost the series to the Tigers (88-65) despite having the home field advantage. It was the Cubs seventh straight loss in the series as they had previously lost in 1910, ’18, ’29, ’32, ’35 and ’38.
The Championship itself went 7 games. The Cubs won games 1, 3 and 6; while the Tigers won games 2, 4, 5 and 7.
The different thing about this series was the schedule. Yes, the Cubs had home field advantage, but baseball was using their wartime scheduling. Games 1, 2, and 3 were played in Detroit while Chicago hosted the remaining 4 games.
Baseball went to the 2-3-2 schedule it still uses today in 1924, however, in 1943 it was determined that a 3-4 schedule should be used to save on travel and expenses during the war. That first year the St Louis Cardinals (105-49) had home field advantage over the NY Yankees (98-56). But in order to get the advantage of playing 4 games at home including a possible game 7, the Cards had to play the first 3 games in Yankee Stadium in New York. The Bombers won two of three and then went to St Louis and won the series in five after winning games 4&5.
In 1944 the schedule remained the same, 3-4. But this time no travel was required because the series pit the NL Champion St Louis Cardinals against the AL Champion St Louis Browns. In fact, there wasn’t even a change in venue. Both teams shared Sportsman Park III from 1921 through 1952. The only thing that changed was the designation of which team was the visitor and which team was home.
Which again brings us to 1945. Detroit hosted games 1 through 3 and things were looking good for the Cubs as they were able to take 2 of the 3 games before heading back to Chicago. Unfortunately, Detroit was able to win three games in Wrigley Field, including of course game 7, and they took the series 4 games to 3.
1945 was the last season that baseball used the 3-4 wartime format because thankfully WWII had ended late in the summer of ’45.
Obviously, I can’t mention the 1945 World Series without also referencing the Curse of the Billy Goat. Before game 4, Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis who had brought his goat to the game was denied admission by Cubs officials. The legend/reality has been blurred a little over time, but basically Sianis declared that the Cubs would never win a World Series again……………………………..and they haven’t.
This is a Part I piece. I’m working on a project that involves the 1945 World Series and you can expect to see a few more post about the series as well as a related subject that I hope will be far more interesting but that I don’t want to divulge just yet, mainly because I don’t know how well it will work out.
According to published rumors today, the Cubs and Kerry Wood are close to a deal that would bring Kerry back again for at least the 2012 season. Last year Wood returned to the Cubs after two seasons spent with the Indians and the Yankees.
Wood has had his ups and downs with the Cubs; from the history making 20 strike-out performance during his rookie year, to losing game 7 of the 2003 NLCS, and through all the arm injuries. But no matter what has happened, Wood has always been a fan favorite and he has always returned the love to Chicago and its fans.
Kerry and his wife have also done a lot of charity work in Chicago through their Wood Family Foundation. They have an event scheduled for tomorrow January 13th. You can check out some of the details HERE. It could be an extra nice event if Kerry were able to announce that he is signing a contract with the Cubs for 2012.
I also want to see the Cubs sign Wood for another reason. Ya know all the vendors outside the park that sell different hats and jerseys and t-shirts. Well one of the more popular t-shirts has been one version or another that says…..
We Got Wood
Which is fine, but now that the Cubs have also acquired Travis Wood from the Reds, the vendors need to update their shirts. I have a couple of ideas. 😉
Now with twice the Wood
We get Wood twice a day
Our Wood goes both ways (Kerry is Righty, Travis is Lefty)
…………..Maybe I should let the professionals handle the slogans. 🙂
On the Chicago White Sox last home stand I went to one of the games against the Seattle Mariners. I took the whole family and we met up with my sister, brother in-law and their kids. It is the same brother in-law that I went to Boston with last month to see the Cubs in Fenway. You can see the pictures and read about that trip here.
The main reason we went to this particular game is because my brother in-law and his family are big Ichiro fans. In fact last season we went out to Seattle to see both Ichiro and the Cubs when Chicago played out there last June. You can read the review, with plenty of pictures, from that trip here.
We arrived at the field about 45 minutes before the game and so we had a couple minutes to walk around and see some of the things outside the park.
Just around the corner from the ticket box the White Sox provide some live musical entertainment. As you can see, there was plenty of room on the “dance floor” for those that wanted to show off their moves. We on the other hand just kept on moving.
( You can click on this picture or any of the others on this page to see in Full size)
Just in front of the ticket box is Champions Plaza. It’s laid out on the ground in a diamond shape like a baseball infield and in the center where the pitchers mound would be is a monument celebrating the White Sox 2005 World Series victory. Completely bordering the diamond shape is the history of the Sox set into brick. The entire “infield” is made up of bricks that have personalized inscriptions from fans to the White Sox. We have a brick near “third base”. The brick has my three daughters’ names on it and it says “Go Sox”. Obviously we are first and foremost Cubs fans, but I thought it would be a nice thing for my daughters to have their names in brick outside of U.S. Cellular Field for all time, or at least until they tear it down.
By the way, all around the outside of Wrigley Field they also have personalized bricks in the ground and we have one there also. At Wrigley the bricks are placed in sections named after Cubs greats. Ours is in the Stan Hack section which is located in front of Wrigley right under the Marquee, it’s a great location.
We met my sister and her family at Champions Plaza. They got the tickets for us that night which was a very generous treat. Before we went into the park I wanted to get one more picture outside.
For those that don’t know, U.S. Cellular Field opened in 1991. It was built across the street from old Comiskey Park. After tearing down the old field they turned that location into a parking lot, but they did mark the location where home plate used to be. I took my youngest over for a picture.
Then a passerby asked if I would like a picture with the both of us. I said that would be great and I kneeled down by the plate to get the picture. It wasn’t until later that I realized that the women didn’t actually get home plate into the shot. Oh well, maybe next time.
We entered the park from behind home plate and made our way around the field as our seats were in the fourth row of the right field bleachers. Here is a shot I took of the field as we stopped for a kids bathroom break. I drew an arrow to the “FUNdamentals” which is in the left field corner. I’ll get back to that later.
Here is the shot I took of everyone when we found our seats.
Here are a couple of shots of Jason “Viva Las” Vargas warming up in the bullpen before the game.
Here is a shot of my niece wearing her Ichiro jersey and watching Vargas. Just after this shot the Mariners pitching coach tossed a ball up to my brother in-law and he gave it to his daughter.
Here is our view of Ichiro’s backside from our seats.
At the start of the fifth inning I took my daughters to go visit the FUNdamentals area that I pointed out in a previous picture. It’s kind of a play area for the kids.
On the way there we stopped in the “Rain Room”. It’s an area with misters set up for people to cool off. Here is my youngest catching a spray.
For those that remember old Comiskey Park, in the 70’s then White Sox owner Bill Veeck set up a “shower” for people to use on hot days. Today’s park also has a “shower”, here is a shot of me standing in it while I try NOT to get wet.
We then made it over to the FUNdamentals area. Here is a shot of my daughter waiting for her turn to catch a grounder on the infield from one of the White Sox attendants.
See the big kid to the right of her? When it was his turn the attendant bounced a fairly hard grounder at him, not to hard for him to handle, but a solid two hopper. When my daughter saw that she just started shaking her head no no no, then dropped her glove and walked away. I tried to tell her and then show her other small kids getting grounders and that the guy would just roll it to her, but she wasn’t having any of it.
Here are shots of the field, scoreboard, and the ‘greenery’ from the FUNdamentals area.
The White Sox call it “greenery”, I guess they don’t want to use the term Ivy because….. well , you know why.
We continued exploring the area. Here is a shot of White Sox Mickey.
They also have info about White Sox players that have had their team number retired. Here are a few.
There are batting cages and a pitchers mound to throw from, the kids took a pass on those things. But my youngest wanted to “run against” Scott Podsednik. It’s a cardboard cutout of Pod’s that “runs” from home to first. You stand at home and when you hear the crack of the bat you start running.
Here is my daughter standing at home plate. As soon as the previous kid started running she stepped out there and I took this picture. You can see the other kid reaching first base and running into the glove.
As soon as I snapped that photo I then ran down to the other end behind the rail so that I could get the next couple shots. Here she is running……. So fast it was a blurrrrr.
She had a good time, as most kids were in the 6+ range.
On our way back to our seats we went through Legends Plaza. It’s located in the center field fan deck area behind the “greenery”. Here are some of our photos.
Me and Charles Comiskey.
The girls getting caught in a rundown between Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio.
Me with Billy Pierce and Minnie Minoso
And one last photo taken earlier in the evening with Harold Baines.
After all the walking around and pictures it was now the 8th inning. We grabbed some ice cream and went back to our seats.
The Sox were losing 4-2 but we got back just in time to see Carlos Quentin hit a game tying two-run home run. It was at that point that my youngest started breaking down. We had had a long day of swimming and being in the hot Sun and then the game. She was ready to go and the prospect of a 4-4 game going into extra innings was not going to happen.
We left the park and headed home. My daughter was asleep in about 5 minutes.
The White Sox lost the game to the Mainers 7-4 in 10 innings.