Random Musings from Wrigley Field's Upper Deck

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Jim Hendry injured in fall...

All I can say is "ouch!" My dad had exactly the same injury a couple years back (slipped on the ice trying to shovel the driveway). Maybe while Hendry's hopped up on morphine, he can be convinced to raise his offer for Maddux. (I'm actually ambivalent about getting Maddux, but I think the Cubs would be a better team with him than without him.)
Several of the other Cubs bloggers have recently described their first memories of Wrigley Field. Our first experience with the place is important for all of us. For Cubs fans, a trip to Wrigley Field is one of the pillars of our faith. Wrigley Field is a true shrine of sport, on a level with Notre Dame Stadium and Lambeau Field (sorry, Bears fans) in football, and at least on a level with Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park in baseball. Wrigley Field is the Cubs' greatest asset, the one positive thing about the team during many (perhaps most) seasons.

Although I don't remember much about the first time I saw a Cubs game in person, here's what I do recall. It was during the magical 1984 season, although I don't remember who the opponent was that day. Of course, it was a day game. We didn't sit in the bleachers - hardly a bad decision given that "we" were my mom, my brother (who was 7 years old), and me (I was 9). We sat in the upper deck, behind home plate, a little off to the first base side (not that far from my current seats). It was one of those gorgeous summer days in Chicago: sunny, with an electric blue, cloudless sky, not too warm, dry, and with a slight breeze. I don't remember much about the game itself, but I remember that Jody Davis hit a grand slam, and the Cubs won 4-3. I was already an embryonic Cubs fan, since both my sets of grandparents and both my parents were all fans. But that day put something in my blood that never left. My Cubs fandom lay dormant, simmering just beneath the surface, before erupting again once I was old enough to really appreciate the game of baseball. I will be a Cubs fan until the day I die, and, while the team's history and relationship with its fans play a part, my fanaticism is due largely to the wonderful place where they play half of their games.
Really disgusting but pretty damned funny...Dead whale explodes on Taiwan street. No Cubs news today.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

From the "HUH?" file...

Cleveland Indians prospect Kazuhito Tadano has apologized for appearing in a Japanese gay porn video while he was in college, calling it "a mistake." Apparently, the existence of the video led Tadano to be shunned by Japanese teams, which is why he came to America and joined the Indians' minor league system.

Not to get too political, but what does it say about our country when the first we hear of this player (who pitched in 40 minor-league games last season, compiled a 6-2 record and a 1.55 ERA, and had 9.66 K/9IP) is that he appeared in a gay porn video three years ago? (Not to mention that he had to insist that he is not actually gay?)
It looks like the Cubs and the city of Chicago have reached a compromise on landmark status for Wrigley Field. Rather than declaring the stadium a historic landmark, the city council has recommended that landmark status be granted to the stadium's "historic features," including the four outer walls, the roof, the main entrance sign, the scoreboard, the grandstands and bleachers, and the bricks and ivy around the field.

This proposal does not explicitly allow the Cubs to expand the bleachers over the sidewalk as they wanted to do. However, it doesn't not allow it either. The proposal would still have to be approved by the city council, which would involve a review of how any expansion affects the landmark features of the park. Also not included in the landmark status proposal are the concourses and concessions, meaning that the team could alter those areas without any approval by the city. The proposal also allows the Cubs to install their new high-dollar seats behind home plate.

This is a relatively good compromise. The Cubs maintain some degree of control over the park and are allowed to install 200 new seats which they will sell for $200 each for each home game. That's over $3 million in additional revenue per year. They aren't precluded from expanding the bleachers in the future, but the city retains the ability to review the design to make sure that any expansion doesn't destroy the look and feel of the park (and probably that it doesn't prevent the neighborhood rooftop owners from seeing the games).

Sunday, January 25, 2004

At the suggestion of Jason Steffens over at The Clark & Addison Chronicle, I have installed the RSS generator modifications described at SportsBlogs.org. I'd appreciate any comments regarding whether or not this works, since I don't know anything at all about RSS. Thanks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Non-Cubs news...

Jesse Orosco has decided to retire. The ageless wonder pitched in 1252 major league games, an average of better than 52 appearances per year during each of his 24 years in the majors. That's endurance, folks.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

I'm attending the Cubs Convention this weekend. It's my first time, and I have to say that I'm not greatly impressed. The Cubs have been holding the same event, with the same activities, on the same weekend, every year for the last 19 years, and they still seem as disorganized as a beehive without a queen. I heard that they oversold tickets, which I believe given the hordes of people present. Still, the event could have been worse.

First, this morning, I found out that I won the lottery for a Ryne Sandberg autograph. (In an effort to give everyone an equal chance at some of the more popular autographs, the team decided to hold a lottery for autographs by Sandberg, Wood, Prior, and Ernie Banks.) He signed my Sandberg jersey, and he was very nice about it. (Much nicer than I would have been if I had to deal with 15,000 fans who all just want to meet me and my teammates.)

My wife stood in line to get Santo's autograph (a losing proposition as it turned out - while she waited, Santo was replaced by Corey Patterson, who was replaced by Billy Williams, who was replaced by Jody Davis and Rick Monday). I was waiting with her when a security person came through the line asking whether anyone was waiting for autographs from Randy Hundley and Glenn Beckert (or alternatively, whether everyone was waiting for Santo). Since my wife was going to wait for Santo, I skipped up near the front to get autographs from Hundley and Beckert. Before I got to the front of the line, though, they both got up and left. The security people, rather than just kicking out those of us who waited, actually put us at the front of the Santo line, so I got his autograph instead.

Sandberg and Santo - two (at least) potential Hall of Famers in one day. Both of them were very kind in what I have to figure is a trying situation. Santo looked very healthy; it's great to see him in good shape.

Like I said, the convention was not very well-run, but this was largely a problem of selling too many tickets. The Cubs need to sell fewer tickets, but I can't blame them, given the number of fans the team gained with its stellar performance in 2003. If this is the price of a great season, I'll pay it (but I'm still not happy about it).

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I've been on vacation and then catching up on work recently, so I'm sorry for the lack of posts.

Everyone has heard by now that Sandberg was denied entry to the Hall of Fame. This just plain sucks. Congratulations to Eck and Molitor, who should definitely be in the Hall. (On the other hand, it's unheard of for two players both to be elected in their first year of eligibility. One - or possibly both - of them should have been made to wait until next year, with those votes going to Sandberg.) Better luck next year, Ryno. (Like you haven't heard that before.)

Roger Clemens came out of "retirement" to go to Houston. I have it on good authority, though, that he won't actually be playing for the Astros. Upon hearing that people refer to Clemens as "Rocket," President Bush has apparently tapped Roger to serve as the new launch vehicle for NASA's newly revived lunar missions.

The Cubs made an offer to Greg Maddux. I was only an incidental baseball fan when Mad Dog left in 1992 (I was too young to appreciate the game), so I don't have much to say about what I gather was a very poorly handled transaction by both sides. Still, Maddux could be a welcome addition to the team. Even at age 38, he is an upgrade over Juan Cruz as the number 5 starter. He is a very different pitcher from Wood, Prior, and Zambrano, with much more finesse and less power. The only problem is that he is a right hander, giving us an entirely right handed starting rotation. Even given that, though, I'll take the Prior-Wood-Clement-Zambrano-Maddux rotation over anything in the league, while Prior-Wood-Clement-Zambrano-Cruz is probably not even the best rotation in the division. With any luck, Maddux will take the deal.

Finally, I added some more Cubs Blog links to the right. Hopefully, this list is up to date. If your site is missing, please let me know.

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