Archive for the ‘Sports’ category

8/8/88

August 8th, 2008

Twenty years ago today was the first scheduled night game at Wrigley Field. Knowing the managers at Cubby Bear and being a totally and completely broke aspiring rock music drummer, I took a one-night only job as a bar back at Cubby for that momentous and festive evening.

Wrigley Field at night

In the weeks leading up to 8/8/88, I saw various stages of the delivery on flat bed trucks of the lighting trusses. I watched as a helicopter hovered over Wrigley as the dangling lights were lowered into place. I watched the park glow for the first few times as they lit up the night sky to test and aim the lighting.  I spent a lot of time in Wrigleyville in those days.

Then the big game came around with much fanfare and bubbly excitement. The neighborhood was teeming more than usual with plenty of folks recognizing a special event was taking place and wanted to be a part of it.  There were blue City of Chicago tow trucks dragging improperly parked cars away. I recall there was an enormous showing from the Chicago Police. These days, there are non-police “Public Safety” people managing traffic control but back then it was all full fledged Chicago Police officers doing crowd control outside the park. Once the game started and the rains came, dozens of police were congregated in the then backstage area of the Cubby Bear, huddled in their rain gear around a dedicated keg of beer for the exclusive use of Chicago’s Finest. Now I’m not saying I saw any uniformed, on-duty Chicago Police officer drinking beer from this keg, but it certainly would not do to have them buying beer out in the club with the public. But I digress.

Yes the rains came, inspiring a few Cubs players to entertain the crowd by turning the field tarp into a slip n’ slide.  I think it was future hall of famer Greg Maddux, along with Steve Trout and a few others that ran the bases ending with a belly flop slide into a splashy home plate, delighting the masses.  I didn’t personally see this either, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The game was called after a few innings, with all the stats washed out. But the memory stands and the 8/8/88 date will always be known as the first night game at Wrigley Field even though it was technically 8/9/88 according to official records.

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

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

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

Holy cow! Has it really been 10 years?

February 18th, 2008

Harry Caray died 10yrs ago today.  

The Rocket – going down in flames?

February 13th, 2008

This photo says much about an ugly story:

 Clemens pressed by Congress

Roger Clemens, with lawyers Rusty Hardin (left) and Lanny Breuer (right), testifies before Congress. (Chuck Kennedy / MCT)