Archive for March, 2008

It’s a beautiful Monday in Chicago

March 31st, 2008

Today is Opening Day of the 2008 Major League Baseball season.  As a Cub fan, never is optimism higher with the excitement of Opening Day crackling in the air. Virtually every radio station on the morning drive today is broadcasting live from one Wrigleyville bar or another. The national ESPN Radio show Mike & Mike is at Murphy’s Bleachers which is fun to have the national spotlight shining on us. Now if the rain pauses long enough to get the game in…

Here is an old Slugs promo photo (aren’t we charming?) snapped in front of Wrigley in 1988…

GO CUBS GO

Worlds Collide

March 28th, 2008

This evening and tomorrow, the Cubs play exhibition games in Las Vegas as a final tune-up before opening day on Monday. They’ve done this for a few years now.  So why is it I’m not there?

 Cubs + Vegas = MIKE!  Right??

I even lost my facial hair at Caesars

March 27th, 2008

Oh, did I mention I shaved my goatee on my last day in Vegas a few weeks ago?  I figured that since I grew it during my June 07 Vegas trip, it seemed fitting to shave it while in Vegas too.  Here’s how it went – photos taken in my Signature Marble Bathroom in the Augusus Tower at Caesars Palace on 2/28/08:

The full goatee 2/28/08  Half way there..  Clean shaven..

Recording Session

March 26th, 2008

Last night I went into a recording session for the first time in about 9 years! I had the good fortune to be invited to play drums on a track for the forthcoming Johnny L album. We layed down the rythym beds (drums & bass) for his song “Spring Forward” which the Slugs have played live many times. Fellow former-Slug Gregg Juhlin played bass and we hope his brother in life and Slugs, Dag, will play some guitar too when he returns from his tour with Poi Dog Pondering in support of their new CD, 7.  Naturally, Johnny L played guitar and vocals for this hair-under-two-minute-long pop gem.

There was an unexpected treat in the engineer Johnny is working with is Don “Griff” Griffin, a veteran guitarist and producer from the oldschool of Chicago rock.  He shared stories of touring with Foghat & Judas Priest, and a brief period when our paths crossed in the early 80’s.  A nice guy and very good engineer – the sound we got was exceptional!

Here is the clock hanging in the VMR Recording Studio in scenic Brookfield, IL…

Guitar clock

New site launched: CubHub.net!

March 21st, 2008

I have just launched a new website dedicated to the Chicago Cubs… www.CubHub.net!  Check it out and let me know what you think.  This is a fan site with a Cubs-centric blog so I would anticipate less Cubs talk in this space. There is a also a “Fan Store” which is setup through Amazon.com.  I hope for this site to take on a life of its own and (hopefully) generate enough income to cover hosting expenses through referral purchases via Amazon and others.

The name is partly kind of a nod to the ticket broker Stub Hub, but also a catchy, short domain name in its own right. Plus the “hub” implication is relevant as a meeting place for like-minded Cubs fans.  So let me know what you think, and forward the link on to all the Cubs fans you think might be interested!

Oh, and check out the photo gallery – all pictures taken by me!

CubHub.net

Field of Schemes

March 20th, 2008

This book might be a very interesting and timely read in light of the plan being floated for the state of Illinois to purchase Wrigley Field…

Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit

Éirinn go Brách

March 17th, 2008

As a kid I attended several St Patricks Day parades in downtown Chicago.  I was usually walking in the parade as part of the 49th Ward Democratic Organization, Neil F. Hartigan Commiteeman.  That idea always looked better on paper than in reality as inevitably a cold steady rain would be part of my experience.  Still, was always a thrill to see the odd tradition of members of the plumbers union dyeing the Chicago river green.  As I recall the dye was an orange powder that they dumped off the back of a motor boat and zipped around in figure-eights to stir it in.

Dyeing the Chicago River green on St Patricks Day

Forget March Madness!

March 17th, 2008

Don’t know about you, but I couldn’t care less about so-called “March Madness” college basketball.  I say bring on baseball! 

 Two weeks from today is opening – I can’t hardly wait!

The Friendly Confines

Crane Kenney, Senior VP/General Counsel and Secretary

March 12th, 2008

Crane Kenney assumed responsibilty for the Cubs when the Tribune company was acquired and taken private by Sam Zell late last year. He is not as slick as his predecessor, Dennis FitzSimons and therefore has been taking shots in the media lately for floating his ideas to raise additional revenue for the franchise. In his defense, I understand Mr. Zell has challenged all Tribune entities to step back and re-examine all aspects of how to cut costs and increase revenue for their business units, the Cubs no exception. So Crane has auctioned off 71 new premium seats, in partnership with the CBOE (http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/ticketing/season_auctions.jsp). He has been floating the balloon of naming rights for Wrigley which has been met with a ton of negative reaction from fans and media. He has been evaluating additional advertising revenue streams and frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to sell Nascar-like sponsorship on the grounds crew uniforms.  Everything is in play in Cubland.

I’ve had the great fortune to sit in some of those premium (first three rows from the field) seats at Wrigley a few times. Each time I sat close enough to spit on (not that I would) Cubs executives such as Dennis FitzSimons, John McDonough, and Crane Kenney.  I will tell you this about both FitzSimons and Kenney: they are absolutely fans of the team. I personally observed them in their seats for each game, beginning to end, paying attention to every pitch, high-fiving at Cubbie home runs, and in fact, standing for the entire half of the bottom of the 9th inning with the Cubs down by more than a few but with a runner on and barely a prayer to win the game. They were clappping and cheering with the masses and visably dismayed when the Cubs eventually lost the game. They are fans, no doubt. Here is a photo I took last September of Crane Kenney and wife:

 Crane Kenney and wife at beautiful Wrigley Field 

I was so impressed by what I witness from the highest Cubs brass, I found the email address of Dennis FitzSimons, then CEO of Tribune Corp, and told him what I thought. He wrote back the same day saying we needed to get our offense going and thanks for being a great Cub fan. This is from the CEO of a publicly-held company!  Impressive. So I sent him another email last fall when the Cubs made the playoffs. I just said congratulations on October Cubs baseball.  He replied (again, same day) saying “thanks, on the way to Arizona (Cubs played the AZ Diamondbacks). Let’s get 11 more (wins)!” 

So back to Crane.  He is a dead ringer for character actor James Cromwell, only younger.  You agree? Check out these pics:

Cromwell:  James Cromwell

Kenney:  Crane Kenney

Does the wise gnome bring spring?

March 9th, 2008

Yes, all of us in the Midwest are D-O-N-E with this winter.  We are looking for signs, no matter how irrational or improbable, that Spring is coming. For me, I found this one today; our lucky garden gnome has emerged from his ice castle!

Gnome at home