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.
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……………….
I’ve had a nice two week holiday with my family. We spent some time driving around the country, roughly 3200 miles, and we also were out of the country for a short time. While it’s always interesting to visit different places and meet people of different cultures, there is nothing like being in the USA.
People all around this country may have differing views on every subject under, and even including, the Sun. But we are still one country and I’m glad that we can still all enjoy baseball, hotdogs and apple pie together.
And so while I don’t drive a Chevy and I’m certainly not one of those that think all things were better back in the day. I thought that before I get back into baseball I would put up a short video that I couldn’t help but think of as I was driving around this great country of ours.
I’ll be back to the game I love with my next post. I’ve missed a lot over the past two weeks and I am really looking forward to the final two months of the season and the playoffs.
I was happy to find out this morning that my page has been linked from the main MLBLogs page.
There are so many excellent pages to read in the MLB community and I’m very glad just to be a part of the group.
So to all the people that have stopped by my page the past 18 months to read my posts or to leave a comment…. Thank You!
To those of you that are first timers here…..Welcome!
Unfortunately it’s just a little bit of bad timing to be on the main page in terms of new content to Wrigley Regular. I will not be posting any new material here for the next 2 weeks. So for all the first timers here, I have linked below some of my favorite past posts. Some of those posts contain links to additional posts.
Thanks to one and all for stopping by, enjoy some summer fun and post all-star break baseball. I’ll see everyone again in about 2 weeks.
Yesterday I made a complaint about the All-Star Game, most specifically the number of players on the two teams.
Because of injuries and pitching rules and just some players not wanting to go to the game, 84 players have been named All-Stars this year. That’s just too many.
But it’s not fair to just sit back and complain about something without at least making some attempt to suggest a better/different way of doing things. So here are a couple of suggestions, all which have some level of fault, which will make the Mid-Summer Classic classic again.
Reduce Roster Size: We do not need 34 players per team. This is one baseball game, not a best of 7 series. A roster of 28 players is more than enough. I would have 18 players, two for each position including DH, and 10 pitchers. If this means that some players will play 7, 8 or even 9 innings, so be it. If Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and Carl Yastrzemski and Dave Winfield and Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn, all HOFers, can play 9 innings so can Rickie Weeks and Josh Hamilton.
Players Should Select Starters: Yes I said it, take away the fan vote, at least for the starters. Let the players from each league vote in the starters. Or weight the two sets of votes, fans and players, equal. Top two from each position get in. Which leads directly to the next “fix”.
Not Every Team Needs Representation: Send only the best players to the game. Kansas City’s Aaron Crow is a fine young pitcher, but I’m pretty sure I could find 10 better pitchers that I would want on my all-star roster.
The Best Fix: Move the game to Monday night. This isn’t the 1940’s, players don’t have to take a train from one side of the country to the other to get to the game. Schedule all Sunday games before the ASG as day games. Players can then get to the ASG site on Sunday night for the Monday game, then give all players the next three days off, T-W-R, resume play across the league on Friday. Let’s face it, the biggest beef most of the players have is losing out on the 3 days rest. So give it to them. We get a good game on Monday night while the players are still in baseball mode and they get their 3 day break.
I used to love the All-Star game, now I just kinda like it.
I don’t want to get into a big rant about how the ASG used to be better and how the players used to care more and bla bla bla ( even though it’s true ), but this year 84 different players have been named to one of the two All-Star squads for one reason or another. 84! That’s just too many.
And yes, I do realize that 84 players actually represent a smaller percentage of the league than used to make it back in the 16/20 team days of the 1950’s and early 1960’s. I don’t care. 84 are too many.
Raise your hand if you predicted Pittsburgh to be just 1 game back in the NL Central at the all-star break, ok other than Pittsburgh Peas,………………me neither.
I’m not expecting the Cubs to make major changes before the season ends, but right now, during the break; I would hope that Tom Ricketts makes some type of statement.
If he doesn’t, the drum beat from the fans will start to bang louder and louder. All he has to do is say; “We’ve played bad. We’ve disappointed ourselves and our fans. We will take the next 3 months to review every facet of the team from top to bottom. No one will be above scrutiny. And when the season is done, we will do what is best for this team in an effort to play winning baseball in 2012.”
I heard talk on the radio today about the 3000 hit club and the Hall of Fame. The host was actually trying to make the case that Craig Biggio should not go in the HOF when he is eligible. That he was just a numbers accumulator and not a great player.
I’ll just say this. 3000 hits. Only 28 players. It might just happen to be a round number that’s not particularly much better than 2995 hits, yet if it was easy there would be more players that would have them. It’s not easy, and Craig Biggio is a first ballot HOFer.
I’m writing this post Friday afternoon but won’t be able to post it until late Friday night, right now Derek Jeter is at 2998 hits.
The only reason to talk about that is because he is just two hits short of 3000, a milestone hit total known to all baseball fans. When he gets that hit he will be just the 28th player in baseball history to do so, of course he is also just the 28th player to get 2998 hits, but that doesn’t have quit the same ring to it as 3000 does.
Looking at the list of the top 28 hit collectors, I will say that 12 of them accumulated all their hits during my baseball lifetime, 1973-2011. I was born prior to ’73, but my baseball memories begin around that time. There are an additional 6 players that I remember seeing play, but most of their careers are outside of my memory. That’s 18 of the 28 players. It’s a nice total that will hopefully be added to over time.
(Side Note: In fact its personal memories like this that make me want to write this blog. I have three daughters at home, and although they enjoy going to several games a year with me, baseball is not really a priority in their life like it was when I was 9 and 10 years old. So I write this now so that some day when I have grandkids or if my daughters themselves take a greater interest in the game I will have something to look back on to both remember what baseball in general was like and in particular what my thoughts were at the time.)
The funny thing is, despite having seen all of these players, I don’t really remember anyone in particular getting their 3000th hit. I’m fairly certain that I saw several of them as they happened, and all of them via highlight, but they just don’t stick out. The only one that I think I remember was Wade Boggs, I think he hit a HR for number 3000, but I’m not 100% sure.
I won’t be able to see Jeter live tonight, if he gets it tonight, but hopefully I’ll be able to remember better later if I write about it now.
The “I Didn’t Know That” stat - Derek Jeter will be 37y12d tonight. If he gets hit number 3000 he will be 11 hits ahead of Pete Rose (2989) when Rose was the same age back in the spring of 1978.
So Big Z comes out of a game with a back issue which requires a trip to the disabled list but goes out that night and throws the first pitch at a women’s professional softball game. The news media in Chicago goes crazy like it’s the scoop of the century that they got video of Zambrano making the pitch.
What a waste of time.
Zambrano was simply fulfilling a commitment that he had previously made and all he did was toss a 12 inch softball 30 feet. The way people were talking you would have thought he went out and threw 7 innings against the USA Olympic team.
During my lifetime the Cubs have had three owners. The first was the Wrigley family. William Wrigley Jr. acquired the Cubs in 1921 and, along with other family members, ran the team for the next 60 years. Initially the team had some moderate success with 5 World Series appearances (no wins) over the next 24 seasons. But from 1946 through the late 1970’s the team seemed to be an afterthought for the Wrigley’s and winning baseball was a rare sight on the north side of town.
Then in 1981 the Wrigley’s sold the team to the Tribune Corporation. Here is a picture I took of the owner a couple years ago.
It’s the Tribune Building.
I took this picture from a boat on the Chicago River. The Tribune Building is on the right with a red arrow pointing towards it. The Wrigley Building is on the left with a green arrow.
The building itself is beautiful, but it doesn’t make for a very personable owner. It’s big, lumbering and not very responsive to fans. I remember one occasion when I walked right up to the cornerstone of the building and started complaining about the team and ticket prices and etc, etc. Other than getting a few strange looks from people passing by, talking to the owner of the Cubs was like talking to a stone wall.
Over the years the Tribune Corporation did put a few winning teams on the field and the fans filled Wrigley Field every day, but overall it was a less than successful run for the Cubs. Then in the mid 2000’s the Tribune Corp ran into some financial problems. When the Tribune was sold, the new owner put the Cubs up for sale.
That’s where Tom Ricketts comes in. In October of 2009 the Family Trust of Joe Ricketts took control of the Chicago Cubs after buying the team for a reported sum of just under 900 million dollars. On October 31st, 2009 Tom Ricketts became Chairman of the board and managing partner.
Like all new owners, general managers, managers, and players; Tom Ricketts and family declared the number one goal was to win a World Series. Unfortunately the first season under Ricketts control was not great. They were handed a marginal team with bad contracts on the books, the manager seemed disinterested at times, and the players had a couple of blowups between themselves that even spilled out into the dugout. When it was all said and done, the Cubs finished fifth in the NL Central, 16 games out of first.
So while the team on the field was no different, Tom Ricketts was doing his best to make the Wrigley experience better. Several improvements were made to the physical structure of the park, although minor, it has made the park better and they continue to make changes.
But the biggest change has been having an actual flesh and blood owner. Mr. Ricketts can be seen all around Wrigley Field during most Cubs games. He is out pressing the flesh and listening to fans. He tries to watch the game as we watch the game.
It doesn’t make the team better, and of course I don’t really want the owner of the team taking baseball advice from some guy in the stands. But it is nice to know that there is someone to point my ire at when they lose, or hopefully, praise when they win it all.
And to that end, I had my opportunity to meet Mr. Rickets on Thursday. I see him walking around all the time, but this time I had a chance to stop him and talk for 30 seconds and then get a picture.
Here is the first attempt at a photo, but just as the picture was gonna be taken, our friendly Budweiser vender stepped in front of the boss.
But Tom was nice enough to pose for a better picture.
Hey, the Cubs might not be winning, but shaking hands with the boss is better than yelling at a stone wall.
Streak is Over:
It might have taken 13 innings, but my personal eight game Cubs losing streak is over. I was at Thursday’s 5-2 Chicago victory over San Francisco. I went to the game with a couple of guys from work. We had a great time and I got a couple of good shots at the game including pictures during Geo Soto’s game winning walk-off 3 run homer.
Sox take 2 of 3 from Cubs:
Not much to say really. The Chicago pitchers from both sides of town pitched fairly well, yielding just 5 combined runs in the last two games.
The White Sox win the season series 4-2 and get the BP Cup.