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Friday 22 August 2014

The Sun-Times reported last night that the Cubs organization's desire to avoid paying heath-care benefits required by Obamacare led to the tarp-rolling error Tuesday night that, in turn, almost caused a forfeit:

The staffing issues that hamstrung the grounds crew Tuesday during a mad dash with the tarp under a sudden rainstorm were created in part by a wide-ranging reorganization last winter of game-day personnel, job descriptions and work limits designed to keep the seasonal workers – including much of the grounds crew – under 130 hours per month, according to numerous sources with direct knowledge.

Sources say 10 crew members were sent home early by the bosses Tuesday night with little, if any, input from the field-level supervisors.

Tuesday's game was rained out in part because the ground crew couldn't deploy the tarp over the infield correctly. This caused water to pool on the infield dirt and grass, making the field unplayable. Since the game had gone into the 5th inning, and the Cubs were ahead, a rain out would have meant a Cubs win. The Giants successfully protested, the first time since 1986 for a Major League team.

Keep in mind, the Cubs have more revenue than 26 of the 29 other MLB teams. And they don't want to provide basic benefits to their employees?

Why do I keep going to games again?

Friday 22 August 2014 14:03:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs | US#
Thursday 21 August 2014

The Wall Street Journal explains why the Cubs can sell 38,000 seats and only get 19,000 asses in them:

Since 2009, ticket sales are down almost 6,500 a game. Where have all the Cub fans gone?

The answer may be that they've in effect awakened from a beer-soaked party.

Over the first four years of Ricketts ownership, attendance sank 13.7%. It is flat so far this year versus 2013, but the figures don't include the legions of no-shows. "I have plenty of friends with tickets who can't get rid of them," said Jon Greenberg, executive editor of Team Marketing Report.

Count me in that group. After sitting through six innings of last night's sad 8-3 loss against the Giants (in which the Giants hit and fielded better than any team I've seen this season), we left shaking our heads. We've still got tonight's game available, plus the 4:05 pm back half of Tuesday's game, but we can't sell them. The Cubs will count our tickets as "paid attendance" even though no one will be using them.

It's even odds whether we're going to renew our season tickets next year, especially if the Cubs don't drop the prices. Unfortunately, it's even worse odds that the Cubs will end the season out of last place.

Thursday 21 August 2014 09:05:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Tuesday 12 August 2014

(Hm. That didn't quite work, did it?)

We're now in our final weekend (for the time being) in Cleveland, and another person from the client has offered to take us to another Indians game. Two things:

1. I hope they play. Tonight's forecast calls for thunderstorms and rain.

2. If they do play, I hope they do better than last week.

The Indians are at .500, dead-center in the league, the division, and in all of baseball. Tonight they're (scheduled) to play the Diamondbacks, who are just one game ahead of the Cubs and so not a particularly threatening opponent.

Come on, rain. Go away.

Tuesday 12 August 2014 13:05:18 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs | Travel | Work#
Wednesday 6 August 2014

From yesterday's game—with its 22,000 paid attendance:

Progressive Field holds 43,500 people (compared with Wrigley's 41,100) and yet has worse attendance this year. The Cubs are averaging 32,000 fans per game, with no game coming in under 25,000 paid; Cleveland is getting 18,600 per game with some early spring games pulling in fewer than 10,000. This, despite the Cubs holding onto last place like they're afraid to fall off the chart, and the Indians actually being the wild card at the moment.

Progressive Field isn't a bad ballpark. The Indians aren't a bad team. I guess Cleveland just isn't a huge baseball town.

Wednesday 6 August 2014 08:40:11 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago | Cubs | Travel#
Wednesday 30 July 2014

A friend and I attended last night's Cubs game at Wrigley, and left before it ended. Good thing, too, because it wound up the longest game in team history:

This game, which took six hours, 27 minutes, was the longest game (by time) in Cubs’ history. It surpassed the previous record of six hours, 10 minutes that it took the Cubs and Dodgers to play 21 innings on Aug. 17-18, 1982.

[S]tarter Edwin Jackson needed 105 pitches just to throw four innings, and seven Cubs relievers combined to throw 11 scoreless innings and closer Hector Rondon wasn’t available.

Yes, that's how catcher John Baker wound up pitching in the 16th inning. At least he got the win.

Let me explain why we left: in the first inning, Colorado got three runs before getting their second out, because the Cubs' outfield couldn't get the ball back to the infield. Then both teams hit so many foul balls and lollygagged around the infield so much that the third inning ended almost 90 minutes after the game started. (Usually, 90 minutes in, we're well into the 4th or even 5th inning.)

So the two worst teams in the league played uninspired, boring baseball for six hours, and hit a record that I (mercifully) didn't wait to see. I'm not enjoying Wrigley as much as I used to.

Wednesday 30 July 2014 08:25:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Wednesday 9 July 2014

The Tribune reported about half an hour ago that the Cubs have agreed to the Mayor's proposal and will scale back their signage plans:

The Cubs agreed to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s requested conditions in order to present its latest renovation proposal Thursday to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, including reducing the size of signs along exterior outfield walls and to continue negotiating with rooftop owners who have said the signs will hurt their businesses, according to a City Hall source.

The changes requested by the city include reducing the size of the signs along the exterior outfield walls and increase spacing between them, as well as eliminating plans for sliding concession windows for the exterior brick wall at Waveland and Sheffield avenues. The team also agreed to drop enlarged openings in the outfield brick wall for new bullpens, a change the team previously announced.

But Crain's Joe Cahill has a snarkier view of the Ricketts' plans:

After looking over the Chicago Cubs' latest proposal for new advertising signs at Wrigley Field, I'm more convinced than ever that they're really committed to winning.

Why? Because their plan to install seven big signs at a ballpark that has been free of the visual clutter found in most big league stadiums means they won't be able to count on Wrigley Field to draw crowds win or lose. The retro charms of Wrigley Field are the reason why the Cubs have done well financially while doing poorly on the field for so many years, a rare feat for a sports franchise.

But it seems to me they're messing with a unique asset. Wrigley Field has been an annuity of sorts, generating reliable income for decades. Altering it is a risky business move.

It seems that way to us fans, too. As much as I'd like to see the Cubs in the Series, do I really have to give up historical Wrigley Field to get there? Cahill might not be joking, but only just.

Wednesday 9 July 2014 16:03:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Monday 23 June 2014

As mentioned earlier, today is the first day of my new job. That means orientation, setting up a computer, navigating paperwork, etc. Then tonight the Cubs play Cincinnati at Wrigley (weather permitting), so I'll probably go straight from work to the field.

So I'll probably be a little slow posting things this week.

Monday 23 June 2014 07:38:19 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs | Blogs | Work#
Wednesday 4 June 2014

Yesterday I mentioned three things that weren't connected except they all ended recently. This morning Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rosenthal has an op-ed about one of them:

HomeMade Pizza Co. was in the right business and exactly the wrong place.

We consumers indeed are buying more fresh prepared meals to eat at home or elsewhere, like the take-and-bake pizzas HomeMade hawked from 1997 until its abrupt closing Friday. These kinds of meals have become a $26 billion business in this country and are growing at a healthy clip.

But we're not buying most of those grab-and-go meals at stand-alone storefront operations, where costs for an operator like HomeMade, which had more than 20 outlets when it shut down, include the lease and utilities, and whatever it takes to let potential customers know that it's there and why it's worth a visit.

The fresh pre-prepared food business is proving a boon to food/drug stores, where almost three-quarters of these meals are being sold, according to NPD Group. Savvy supermarket operators are offering an expanding array of menu items, increasingly going beyond heat-and-serve home-style meals. Some have added restaurant-quality entrees, various cuisines and occasionally palate-challenging fare.

While you're chewing on that, here's another passing: the Cubs are ending their 90-year relationship with radio station WGN:

The team tomorrow will reportedly announce a new seven-year agreement with WBBM-AM/780 to air the team's games beginning in 2015, ending a run with WGN-AM/720 that dates back to 1924.

"The economic terms just don't make sense for us,” WGN Radio President Jimmy de Castro told media columnist Robert Feder. “So it's really not us saying we don't want them anymore. It's the Cubs saying that the economics they need are much greater than what we think they're worth or what we'll pay. They chose to go another way economically and made a decision to move on.”

Sic transit gloria etuli.

Wednesday 4 June 2014 09:42:41 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Business#
Friday 30 May 2014

Since the Cubs' 8-4 win over the Giants on Monday, they haven't gotten a run in 20 innings.

That may have something to do with them being the worst team in the MLB today. Yes, at 19-32, they're behind Arizona (23-33), Houston (23-32), and Tampa Bay (23-31), and 26 other teams.

Hully gee. Only 105 games left to play this year...

Friday 30 May 2014 11:56:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Wednesday 28 May 2014

I appreciate my friends getting 5th-row seats at AT&T park tonight. And yet, the Cubs still lost.

So, voilà:

To clarify: I was legitimately surprised that my friends got such awesome seats. I was not surprised that, having won yesterday, the Cubs lost tonight.

Wednesday 28 May 2014 00:19:34 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs | San Francisco#

I enjoy a healthy dose of randomness when traveling, because it means sometimes you get a hotel room with this view:

It's hard to see, but I'm looking directly at AT&T Park, where the Cubs are playing in about two hours. Since they won last night, I fully expect they've used up their allotted runs for the rest of May, but it will still be fun to see a baseball game.

Tuesday 27 May 2014 17:28:56 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs | San Francisco#
Sunday 25 May 2014

When I go anywhere for only a couple of days, I try not to shift my body clock. It prevents jet lag, mostly.

This weekend I'm at my folks' house outside San Francisco, which has a two-hour time difference from Chicago. That is why I woke up at 5am and walked to the local Peet's Coffee, as I usually do.

This trip I may allow my clock to drift westward, though. I'm going to Tuesday night's Cubs game at AT&T Park at 7:05pm—9:05pm Central time—and would like to see the whole game. The Cubs might even win. I mean, they have a 1-in-3 shot, right?

I do like getting to the Peet's this early, though. First, the just-before-dawn walk is quiet and even a little spooky down the local bike trail, but today I got a tremendous view of the crescent Moon and Venus, which are passing just 2° from each other this morning. I'm never up this early at home unless I'm still up, which hasn't happened in years anyway.

Second, the Peet's is quiet right now. In two hours it'll be packed with families and locals (the fishermen who stay here for hours at a time most mornings are more colorful than any of the characters at the Alibi Room). Time to write for a bit, and wait for the rest of my family to wake up.

Sunday 25 May 2014 05:57:25 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Cubs | San Francisco | Travel | Astronomy#
Thursday 22 May 2014

Even though the Cubs are officially the second-worst team in baseball right now, Cubs owner and chairman Tom Ricketts is tired of negotiating with the neighborhood:

The Cubs announced early Thursday that they plan to ask the city to approve more signs in the outfield at Wrigley Field, a move that comes after "endless hours" of negotiating with rooftop owners have gone nowhere, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said in a video.

In the six-minute video to fans, Ricketts blamed rooftop owners for delaying the renovation of the field, saying "Despite the city's approval and our clear contractual rights, they plan to file lawsuits to stop our renovation and expansion plans."

Well, sort of. The Cubs agreed to a 20-year contract with the rooftop owners in 2004, so the rooftop owners actually have a case.

Of course, a Jumbotron in left field is exactly what the organization needs to win ballgames. I mean, there couldn't be any other reason, right?

Thursday 22 May 2014 13:58:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs#
Wednesday 21 May 2014

I went to yesterday's Cubs-Yankees game at Wrigley and was very happy in the middle of it that our seats are under the awning.

The Cubs won 6-1 while a nearby thunderstorm dumped a centimeter of rain on the park in the top of the 9th:

Maybe rain is Tanaka's Kryptonite. As rain started to fall at Wrigley, the Cubs were able to total as many hits in the third inning as they did against Tanaka last month. Baker singled to lead off the third, moved up on Hammel's sacrifice, and scored on Bonifacio's single.

Luis Valbuena doubled to lead off the fourth, and one out later, scored on Olt's single to make it 2-0. Valbuena went 0-for-3 in New York against Tanaka, and is the first player to get three hits off Tanaka in a single game.

"I had more of an idea," Valbuena said.

Apparently it was Derek Jeter's last game:

Outgoing Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who was presented with a No. 2 tile from the scoreboard in a pregame ceremony, had a pair of singles — the 3,354th and 3,355th of his career.

He grounded out to shortstop Starlin Castro with the bases loaded to end the game.

At that point, weather radar showed the rain ending soon, but not soon enough. Between the park and the #22 bus across the street I got drenched. I think my shoes are still damp.

Wednesday 21 May 2014 08:01:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Wednesday 30 April 2014

If so, these are queued up:

More later...

Wednesday 30 April 2014 09:38:27 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | US | Security#
Friday 25 April 2014

The New York Times has an interactive map of which ZIP codes support which baseball teams, according to Facebook.

Some teams, apparently, just can't catch a break.

Oh, there they are, that other little team in Chicago:

Friday 25 April 2014 16:35:10 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs#
Thursday 24 April 2014

I mean that literally. With the wind whipping off the lake, our shaded seats never got above 10°C, and felt a whole lot colder. We fled after the 5th inning.

One of the (metaphorically) cool things was how the Cubs used the names of the two teams that played at Weeghman Park when it opened on 23 April 1914: the Chicago Federals and the Kansas City Packers. Here's the scoreboard:

And here's first baseman Mark Rizzo in his historical uniform:

The Cubs lost, of course, 7-5. Some things really never change.

Thursday 24 April 2014 10:14:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Wednesday 23 April 2014

The park is 100 years old today:

The ballpark, which opened April 23, 1914, and celebrates its centennial Wednesday, is a quintessential Chicago building: practical, quietly graceful, a creature of function, not fashion. Despite those rationalist roots, it's a vessel for human emotion: hope, dreams, escapism, nostalgia, wonder — and, as Cubs fans know all too well, disappointment, disgust and bitterness.

Only a smattering of those fans, I suspect, could name the original architects of Wrigley (Zachary Taylor Davis — who also designed Comiskey Park — and his brother Charles). Fewer still would be able to tell you that the ballpark actually reflects the hand of many architects, including the designers of the eclectic Wrigley Building and the art deco Chicago Board of Trade Building.

What those architects wrought, working in a sequence that now covers 10 decades, is remarkable: a building shaped by many different hands that still hangs together beautifully. It helps us hang together, too, creating a shared, almost familylike experience that's all too rare in a world where people devise their own reality on smartphone screens.

Yes, Wrigley needs help; some fans call it a dump. The ballpark is rich in lore but poor in amenities, and its bones have shown inevitable signs of age. Netting prevents chunks of concrete from falling on fans.

A planned revamp, part of a $500 million redevelopment of Wrigley and its environs, promises to finally bring the ballpark into the 21st century. But it's stalled by a bitter dispute between the Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs, and the owners of rooftop seating perches that peek into the ballpark. Work isn't expected to start until next offseason. So with Wrigley in limbo, here are five reasons why the ballpark captivated us in its first century...

Naturally, as an involuntary season-ticket holder, I'm going to the game, and possibly some of the pre-game festivities. And because it's a beautiful, sunny morning in April, I'm wearing long johns, heavy wool socks, a long-sleeve shirt, an undershirt, a warm hoodie, a winter coat, and fleece gloves. How else would someone dress for a game at Wrigley before Memorial Day?

Game-time forecast: sunny, breezy, 6°C. Brrr.

Wednesday 23 April 2014 08:05:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Saturday 5 April 2014

The Cubs lost 7-2 yesterday, and we didn't even stay to the end. It was depressing. Here's the happy scene before play commenced:

You can't quite see the 40 km/h winds blowing in from left field, nor can you see how I was in long johns, four layers, a winter coat, hat, hoodie, scarf, and gloves, because it was 3 frickin' degrees C.

Today and tomorrow should have better weather, and we should actually have spring weather by Thursday. And the Cubs, having now won only 25% of the games they've played this season, might win a game.

Then, while walking home from the game, I discovered what we in software might call a "human-factors" failure. Note to the City: you may not want to pour fresh concrete walking distance from Wrigley on opening day during high winds that might knock down the barriers. Otherwise you'll get a permanent record of (a) a barrier having fallen into fresh concrete and (b) that drunk people were nearby at the time:

Don't get me wrong; I'm not blaming the victim, who in this case would be the City of Chicago. But, come on, that concrete was practically asking for it. Maybe it shouldn't have gone out alone in Wrigleyville on opening day.

Saturday 5 April 2014 08:30:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Friday 4 April 2014

A little. Not a lot:

Today: A 20 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 7°C*. Windy, with a south wind 24 to 32 km/h becoming west southwest 40 to 48 km/h in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 72 km/h.

So, high winds blowing straight out? Probably won't exactly be a pitchers' duel then.

Photos and details coming after the game.

* Did you know you can hover over these dashed lines to see the Imperial conversions? I've been doing this for years, but not everyone seems to know about the feature. Enjoy.

Friday 4 April 2014 07:43:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Thursday 3 April 2014

And sometimes, it rains. That's the forecast for tomorrow's opening day at Wrigley Field.

So far the Cubs haven't won, though. They're 0-2 for the season, starting their third game at Pittsburgh in just a few minutes.

Stay tuned.

Thursday 3 April 2014 12:34:14 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs | Weather#
Wednesday 2 April 2014

It's official: the meteorological winter (December 1 to March 31) that just ended was Chicago's coldest winter in history:

The impressive cold this past winter continued during March...with a monthly average temperature of only -0.2°C for the month. this ranks as the 19th coldest march on record in Chicago. however...of even more interest is the fact that with the abnormally cold March across the area...this made the average temperature for the December through March period in Chicago -5.6°C ...which is the coldest such period on record for Chicago dating back to 1872!

On the other hand, the same period was one of the warmest winters ever globally. Both things are likely related, but we won't know for a while until more data comes in.

Meanwhile, here's the forecast for opening day at Wrigley the day after tomorrow:

A chance of rain and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 8°C. Breezy, with a south wind 25 to 30 km/h becoming southwest 35 to 40 km/h in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 60 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

At least our seats are under the awning.

Wednesday 2 April 2014 08:17:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Monday 31 March 2014

The Cubs will start the season in Philadelphia this afternoon, so at the moment they have a perfect record. That will likely change within the next 36 hours, so we're not to jazzed about it in Chicago.

When they open at Wrigley Field on Friday, it may be cold and drizzly according to the National Weather Service forecast this morning, but at least they'll finally have good beer:

After 25 years, Goose Island finally has a home field advantage at Wrigley Field.

Chicago’s longest-tenured beer maker will be abundant at Clark and Addison this season for the first time, with both 312 Urban Wheat Ale and the newly released 312 Urban Pale Ale to be sold by vendors throughout the stadium, according to the Cubs.

Goose’s Green Line (a pale ale available only in Chicago and on draft), Matilda (a Belgian-style pale ale) and Sofie (a saison) will also be available at Wrigley in 2014.

The reintroduction of Goose Island and departure of Old Style will come about because InBev now owns Goose Island. InBev also owns Budweiser. So Goose Island isn't by any stretch a craft brewer anymore, but they still make better beers than MillerCoors.

Still, it pains me to quote the end of the Tribune article: "U.S. Cellular Field will again be dominated by MillerCoors products (Miller Lite, Coors Light, Blue Moon and Redd’s Apple Ale), but will again feature a solid and varied lineup of craft beers that includes Bell’s Oberon, Revolution Anti-Hero, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Lagunitas Daytime and Sierra Nevada Pale."

And there's Wrigley Field for you: Loser team, loser beers, sells out every home game. There is no god.

Monday 31 March 2014 09:21:27 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Kitchen Sink#
Saturday 1 March 2014

Parker, 14 weeksI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 7½-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in September 2011, more than 1,300 posts back, so it's time for a refresh.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than 13 years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago (the greatest city in North America), and sometimes London, San Francisco, and the rest of the world.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until early 2011 when I finally got the first digital camera I've ever had whose photos were as good as film. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.

I also write a lot of software, and will occasionally post about technology as well. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got more than 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Saturday 1 March 2014 14:27:44 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Biking | Cubs | Geography | Kitchen Sink | London | Parker | Daily | Photography | Politics | US | World | Religion | Software | Blogs | Business | Cloud | Travel | Weather | Windows Azure | Work | Writing#
Sunday 8 December 2013

My cousin and I, who have season tickets to Wrigley Field, went to the park on Thursday to see what other seats were available. Last season we were in section 518:

After walking around a bit, we decided on a change of view, to Section 524:

The seats are nearly equivalent, just rotated 90° to the south, and without the foul ball catcher between us and the pitcher's mound.

We're not optimistic about the Cubs' chances this season, but we'll be there anyway. Opening day against the Phillies on April 5th.

Sunday 8 December 2013 10:26:11 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Cubs#
Saturday 30 November 2013

In just a few days, back in the real world, my cousin and I will troop over to Wrigley Field to see if we want to move our season seats. Tribune reporter Josh Noel will not be there:

I signed up seven or eight years ago, back in the carefree days of the Cubs hovering closer to the orbit of playoff contender than worst team in baseball. Sure, they hadn't won a championship in nearly 100 years, but (cue the Cubs fan delusion) I'd grown up blocks from Wrigley Field and seen countless games in what remained one of baseball's most pastoral settings. The team was a free-spending, major-market bunch, and eventually the corks would start popping. When they did, I would be there.

Fast forward to the present. The Cubs are lousy again. Two of the team's best young players regressed last season. The manager picked to lead the team to a new era of respectability was fired after two seasons. Ownership is jockeying to turn a classic Chicago neighborhood into a giant Hard Rock Cafe (though to be fair, Wrigleyville's Hard Rockification began before the Ricketts family showed up).

Wrigley Field attendance has dipped five seasons in a row; last year's 2.64 million was the lowest tally in 15 years. Such decline, in theory, helps explain how my place on the waiting list finally came up. The Cubs ticket saleswoman laughed ruefully when I expressed surprise at her call.

So how did one of the most coveted tickets in town fall out of favor? Taylor has a theory: "Wrigley is fun, but winning is even more fun.

We went through the same calculation, but we decided last year to do it anyway. And who knows? They might win 70 games this year. Or 80.

Sunday 1 December 2013 06:46:13 KST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Cubs#
Friday 8 November 2013

Colin Cameron, owner of Duke of Perth (my remote office) told me a couple weeks ago that this was in the works, but swore me to secrecy. Now that it's in Crain's, it's out there:

If you've been mourning the loss of La Creperie since it closed Aug. 22 when its owner retired, take heart: The iconic little French bistro at Clark and Diversey is scheduled to reopen, most likely in December.

Duke of Perth proprietors Colin Cameron, his cousin Jack Crombie and Jack's wife, Pam, have purchased the property from Germain Roignant, who opened the restaurant in 1972 with his late wife, Sara.

Mr. Roignant's son, Jeremy, and his wife, Yasmina Ksikes, who'd managed La Creperie for the past five years, intended to take the concept and name with them to Los Angeles. That changed with Jeremy's death from a heart attack on Aug. 1.

Mr. Roignant, now 75, says that when Mr. Crombie first asked him about becoming a partner in reopening the restaurant, he was hesitant because he'd been planning to retire to his home in Brittany, France. “But I hadn't been happy about the place closing after 41 years,” he says, “and when we hinted on our Facebook page that it might reopen, we got a very positive reaction from customers.”

Now a partner, Mr. Roignant says he'll probably work the dining room Wednesday through Sunday evenings and some afternoons. He won't be the only familiar face—he estimates that four dining room staffers are returning. Juan Aranda, who started as a dishwasher/prep cook/busboy in 1991 and was promoted to head cook two years later, will be back in the kitchen. This is a plus, since he knows all the recipes, which haven't been written down.

One of my favorite pubs buying one of my favorite restaurants? Perfect.

Friday 8 November 2013 14:59:07 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Best Bars | Cubs#
Friday 4 October 2013

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones puts the shutdown in 10 sentences:

3. Democrats in the Senate have been begging the House to negotiate over the budget for the past six months, but Republicans have refused.

4. That's because Republicans wanted to wait until they had either a government shutdown or a debt ceiling breach as leverage, something they've been very clear about all along.

He sums up: "This whole dispute is about the Republican Party fighting to make sure the working poor don't have access to affordable health care."

In other bad news about numeric things, Monday was the official start of Anno Catuli 05, 68, 105. Someday...and that day may never come...it'll be AC 0, 0, 0. Someday.

Friday 4 October 2013 08:30:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs | US#
Monday 30 September 2013

Baseball in Chicago ended yesterday as both the Cubs and the other team lost to whomever they were playing. The Cubs ended the season 66-96; the South Siders, 63-99. Here's the miserable Cubs season in a single graph:

So I was shocked to find gambling in this establishment Dale Sveum got fired:

Sveum's dismissal comes 13 days after team president Theo Epstein declined to give Sveum, 49, a vote of confidence despite saying there were "no alarm bells to ring" regarding the manager. Epstein said Sveum's future was part of the annual process of evaluations throughout the organization and that the manager wasn’t to be judged on wins and losses.

However, it was apparent that Epstein and his staff were disappointed with other areas in which Sveum was to be evaluated, such as the development of young players, in-game decision-making, use of the 25-man roster, the ability to “create a culture of accountability, hard work and preparation, and the ability to develop a strong trust with his players.”

In his defense, three of the five teams in the division clinched playoff berths. So maybe it wasn't that the Cubs sucked ass this year. Maybe they just had a tough division.

Nah. They sucked ass. And Sveum's out on his.

Monday 30 September 2013 13:08:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Wednesday 25 September 2013

The Cubs announced their 2014 schedule a few days ago. Assuming it holds up, it looks like the 30-park Geas will next year take me to Cubs away games in Phoenix in July, Denver in August, and Toronto in September. That will leave just four parks (Minneapolis, St. Louis, Texas, and New Yankee) to finish the Geas in 2015.

Wednesday 25 September 2013 13:28:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#

Last night my cousin and I went to Wrigley for the last time until next April. We wound up leaving after the 7th. Why?

Here's why:

In 2012, the Cubs set a franchise record for most losses on the road. On Tuesday, they lost their 50th game at Wrigley Field this season, establishing a club mark in that category.

The Friendly Confines have been anything but for the Cubs this year.

Rookie Gerrit Cole helped himself with a two-run single, Pedro Alvarez drove in three runs and Jordy Mercer added a solo home run to lift the Pirates to an 8-2 victory over the Cubs. With one game remaining at Wrigley on Wednesday, the Cubs now are 30-50 at home, and 35-43 on the road with three games to play in St. Louis. They will finish with more wins away from home for just the third time since 1996.

The Cubs are now 65-93, with just four games left in the season. At least they're not the worst in all baseball: the Astros have already lost 107 games, tying last year's franchise record for most losses, with four more chances to have their worst season ever.

Yeah. That's right. "At least we're better than the Astros" is the best I can say about the Cubs this season.

Wednesday 25 September 2013 12:35:34 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Tuesday 24 September 2013

Today, it turns out, is "National Punctuation Day;" however, that does not give anyone license—beyond whatever one's local political system grants him—to misuse one's keyboard/mouse/other text-entry device (including voice recognition tools) in furtherance of inappropriate text markings.

I'm hoping we can get a diacritical mass of people on board with this.

It's also the last night game this season at Wrigley, and therefore the last game I'll attend until next April. We won't see a lot of drama as the Cubs have already lost 92 games and the Pirates clinched the division wild card slot yesterday (at Wrigley).

If I care enough, I'll post pictures tomorrow.

Today, though: remember the difference between "let's eat, Grandpa" and "let's eat Grandpa."

Tuesday 24 September 2013 10:12:15 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs | Kitchen Sink#
Sunday 15 September 2013

The Cubs won on Friday, which pushed them over an important hurdle this season. After playing 147 games, it finally became mathematically impossible for them to lose 100 this season.

They've lost both games since then, and they're 63-86 for the season, putting them firmly in last place—but at least they can't lose 100.

Small blessings.

Sunday 15 September 2013 15:57:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Friday 6 September 2013

For only the third time this season, I got to see the Cubs win at home. They started strong and...well, that was all that they needed to do, because the Brewers are just as bad as the Cubs this year. Both teams are now tied for last place with 60-80 records. Whoever wins the next two games will be solidly in fourth place.

It was a fun game, though. And really great weather. I think I have only two or three more games on my list this season, and I hope this starts a trend.

Friday 6 September 2013 17:06:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Monday 19 August 2013

Yesterday the Cardinals spanked the Boys in Blue 6-1, and I got to see the whole thing. Here's Edwin Jackson:

I'll give him one thing, boy: he threw 117 pitches, the 113th at 160 km/h. Impressive.

Also, I got to sit in a different section than usual, because my cousin and I got our signals crossed on which games to sell. Apparently we broke even—including the extra fee for the better (section 430) seats.

Monday 19 August 2013 10:00:14 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Sunday 18 August 2013

After fending off the Brewers for 8 weeks, the Cubs finally slipped into last place last night by losing to the Cardinals 0-4:

I'm going to today's game. I am not optimistic.

Sunday 18 August 2013 09:54:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Thursday 15 August 2013

After dropping 12 of their last 15 games, the Cubs are now tied with the Brewers for 4th (last) place. There are 42 games left in the season; the Cubs have to win 10 of them to avoid a 100-loss season. It's not going well.

At least they can't lose today—but they can drop into 5th place if Milwaukee beats the Reds tonight. This, by the way, is unlikely, since the Reds are doing just fine, and are tied for the National League Wild Card with St. Louis.

I'm going to the Cubs-Cards game Sunday to watch the Cubs lose again.

Thursday 15 August 2013 09:39:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Friday 9 August 2013

Today is the 25th anniversary of the first official night game at Wrigley Field. The night before, on 8/8/88, the Cubs turned on the lights—and got rained out:

Cubs right-hander Rick Sutcliffe threw the first pitch. Phillies left fielder Phil Bradley hit the first home run. Cubs second baseman and future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg stole the first base.

Officially, of course, none of that happened. Heavy rain interrupted play after 3 1/2 innings and the game was called after a delay of two hours and 10 minutes. Technically, the first night game came the following evening, when the Cubs defeated the first-place Mets, 6-4.

Details, details. Anybody who was there on 8-8-88 will tell you that's the date that counts. And they're probably right. Because that just might have been the most publicized, scrutinized, highly-anticipated, talked-about and written-about regular-season game ever. Especially for a dog-days matchup between a pair of second-division teams.

The theory was, of course, that night games would help the club. How have the Cubs done since? Well...they've played more night games, at least. They've probably helped make the neighborhood a party zone, too. It's hard to remember the Wrigleyville of the 1980s, which looked a little like Detroit does today.

The Cubs' next night game at Wrigley is next Monday. They have, at this writing, a 40% chance of winning.

Friday 9 August 2013 14:51:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Wednesday 7 August 2013

...and the Cubs still haven't won 50. With a 49-63 record going into tonight's game, after having lost 8 of the last 10, the team still has the mathematical possibility of losing 100 games this year.

Here's the chart:

Sad.

Wednesday 7 August 2013 14:25:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Friday 19 July 2013

Anyone who's paid attention to this blog knows I've gone to most of the ballparks in the country, Wrigley Field most often. As much as I love the place, Wrigley's age shows. I mean, poles, for crying out loud.

So, OK, the park needs some freshening, but on the inside. It does not need all this crap.

Yesterday, I and all the other fans of the park lost that fight: the pliant Chicago Plan Commission approved Tom Ricketts' renovation plan after a late-hour capitulation from 44th Ward alderman Tom Tunney:

With a unanimous vote at a hearing this afternoon, the Plan Commission moved the Cubs past one of the final hurdles before the entire project heads to the City Council for a vote, which could be on July 24.

The commission gave the Cubs the green light on construction of a plaza in its adjacent triangle property, a six-story office building and a boutique hotel across the street. The plan includes a pedestrian bridge over Clark Street and a main hotel lobby entrance facing Patterson Street as the team had planned, but the Cubs have "deferred" a planned patio deck over Patterson and hope to revisit the idea at a later date.

We don't need a frickin' Jumbotron. Really. Nor do we need a hotel at Clark and Addison. (And who's going to stay there on the 270 days when the Cubs aren't playing at home?) Oh, and the rooftop owners aren't exactly going to save the day, but their narrow self-interest will at least slow down the destruction:

With the Alderman on their side, the last remaining roadblock to the Cubs' plan could be the Wrigleyville Rooftop Association, which continues to threaten a lawsuit if their views are blocked by outfield signage that was approved last week.

The park has nothing to do with the team sucking like a Dyson; the bad playing does. I have no idea why Tunney is letting this go through or why Ricketts thinks he needs to build this.

Wrigley's biggest draw is its history. Ricketts and Tunney, who have attention spans only slightly longer than Parker's, can't understand this.

Friday 19 July 2013 08:04:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs | Politics#
Monday 15 July 2013

Today begins baseball's All-Star break, with the All-Star Game tomorrow in New York and 2/3 of the season behind us in purgatory.

Despite yesterday's 10-6 loss to St. Louis, the Cubs have improbably won 14 of their last 21 games, bringing them nearer .500 than at any point since the fifth game of the season back on April 6th, ending the first half of the season at 42-51 (.452):

So after 93 games, with 69 left to play, the Cubs are in 4th place, 4½ games away from a winning season, but unfortunately 10 full games out of 3rd place. With the Cardinals just ahead of the Pirates as the best team in all of baseball right now, and with both of those teams in our division, we have no hope of anything this year.

Last night was typical Cubs play, though. I went to most of the game, bailing after the 7th with the score 5-4 Cardinals. That became 6-4 Cardinals while I waited for the bus, so I guessed I'd made the right decision.

Monday 15 July 2013 12:05:41 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Thursday 11 July 2013

Because the world will end if 99-year-old Wrigley Field retains any of its historic character, at least according to its current owner, the Ricketts family have pushed the Landmarks Commission to approve an ugly Jumbotron in left field. It may get approved today:

At the strong urging of Mayor Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Commission on Landmarks is expected to approve the team's plans for a 6,000-square-foot electronic sign in left field and a smaller non-electronic sign in right.

[M]ultiple sources say that despite [the local Alderman's] opposition, and barring a last-minute surprise, the commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor, will give its assent. That will leave only approval by the Chicago Plan Commission, another body appointed by the mayor, and the City Council, which already has approved the Cubs' request for more night and late-start games.

Wonderful. I can't wait for a huge electronic monstrosity to erupt from the left-field bleachers next year.

Thursday 11 July 2013 11:42:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Politics#
Saturday 29 June 2013

The Chicago White Sox gave up 28 runs yesterday, losing both games of a double-header with the Indians, 19-10 and 9-8. While that went on, Philadelphia beat the Dodgers 16-1, and Milwaukee got spanked 10-3 by the Pirates.

In total, there were 171 runs in Major League Baseball yesterday. I don't know if that's a record, but an average of 11.4 runs per game seems a little high, doesn't it?

But, wow. Twenty-eight runs in one day against one team. That's the super-special kind of baseball they play on the South Side.

Saturday 29 June 2013 09:50:52 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago | Cubs#

Park #25 is in the bag.

The Seattle Mariners beat the Cubs 5-4 in 10 innings yesterday after being up by 3 in the top of the 7th. Because if you're up by 3 in the 7th, and you're the Cubs, you're probably going to screw up the 9th. And here is Mike Zunino hitting the 10th-inning single (with bases loaded) that won the game:

Sigh.

So I'm in Seattle, and I have a couple of hours of work to do before my flight to San Francisco. I need some coffee. Where to go? That's a no-brainer: I am under an obligation as a tourist to go to the first Starbucks:

More Seattle and game photos later.

Saturday 29 June 2013 08:51:02 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Cubs | Travel#
Friday 28 June 2013

It turns out, all of O'Hare has free WiFi these days, so I can do work right at the gate when my plane's delayed by several short intervals. (A long delay would have seen me in the club, what what!)

Tonight I'll be at Safeco Field watching the Cubs probably lose to the Mariners and taking in my 25th park. Right now, I'm at H11A waiting for them to clean the plane.

Pretty normal travel day, except for getting out of the Loop.

Friday 28 June 2013 12:49:29 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Cubs | Travel#
Tuesday 25 June 2013

Won, apparently:

The journey began with Jonathan Toews organizing informal workouts while the NHL lockout raged on and ended with the Blackhawks captain holding the Stanley Cup aloft.

The Hawks' magical 2013 season concluded with seemingly the only result Toews and Co. would allow — the franchise's fifth title and second in the last four years after a 3-2 victory over the Bruins on Monday night at TD Garden.

And like the first title, the second sparked a celebration that began on the ice, continued on the flight back to Chicago and showed no signs of letting up as the team partied first at Harry Caray's in Rosemont and then at a private gathering at The Scout bar in the South Loop.

Last night we had fireworks, a huge impromptu rally a few blocks from me, helicopters taking video of the huge impromptu rally, and a drunken neighbor having some difficulty getting into his apartment at 1:30 am that set Parker off.

Well done, Hawks. I'll have to watch the last 76 seconds of the game at some point.

Meanwhile, the Cubs and Brewers both had a day off yesterday, keeping them tied in 4th place. One of my friends has a bet going with a cheesehead that hinges on which team is ahead of the other by the All-Star Game on July 16th. The loser has to do something public and embarrassing: changing his or her Facebook picture to the winning team's logo. For my friend's sake, I hope the Cubs can stay in 4th place. (Third place is now an insurmountable 12 games away. We're in 4th this season.)

Tuesday 25 June 2013 10:01:14 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs#
Sunday 23 June 2013

Going into yesterday's game against the Astros, the Cubs and Brewers were tied for 4th place in the National League Central division, and the Astros were the second-worst team in all of baseball. (Miami, with a 24-49 record, is firmly in last place overall.)

So no one expected anything exciting in the game, and we got what we expected. Both teams played at a level familiar to parents with children in Little League. Baserunning mistakes cost the Cubs three outs in two innings; simple relays between fielders went all over the field like electrons in a cloud.

We did get to see a rare play when Houston executed a perfect suicide squeeze in the top of the 9th to score the winning run. With a runner on 3rd, shortstop Ronny Cedeno bunted the ball just to the left of pitcher Kevin Gregg, who got the ball in time—but with catcher Wellington Castillo infield of the plate, neither he nor Gregg saw Justin Maxwell barreling down the line from 3rd until his foot crossed the plate.

The park erupted with ennui. Not a peep. About half the fans had already left. When the Cubs went one-two-three in the 9th, we shrugged and went home.

With Milwaukee's win yesterday, the Cubs are back in 5th place, at 30-43. Houston rose to 29-47 with the win, and Miami rounds out the benighted trio of losers at 24-50. Yay, us.

Sunday 23 June 2013 09:33:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Chicago | Cubs#
Sunday 2 June 2013

After a two-and-a-half hour rain delay, last night's Cubs game ticked along with the Cubs ahead 3-1 until the last time I checked the score before going to bed.

This morning I woke up to a 12-4 Cubs loss. Why? Marmol, again:

After escaping two bases-loaded jams early, the Cubs were unable to do so when they needed it most, as D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt launched a tie-breaking grand slam off Carlos Marmol (2-3) in the eighth inning to make it 8-4.

"He's a good hitter," Marmol said. "I left one up there and he took advantage."

Marmol walked Willie Bloomquist and Didi Gregorius and allowed a double to Gerardo Parra before Goldschmidt's slam.

I'm going to the game today. The only good thing about Marmol's loss yesterday is that he won't pitch today's game.

Sunday 2 June 2013 08:24:54 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Search
On this page....
Cubs labor practices may have caused rare game review
Wrigley Field's "paid attendance"
The rain in Ohio lands mainly on the bayou
Photo from the game
How much did I spend on those tickets?
On Wrigley Field's upcoming "renovations"
Going dark, or maybe a little dim, for a couple of days
More about an ending I mentioned, plus a new one
Cubs season tickets are not an investement
This is my surprised face. I appear surprised.
Getting lucky on Hotwire
Early-morning walks
Ricketts tells the rooftop owners to sod off
Cubs beat Yankees in squishy game
Maybe I'll have free time later today
Who's a fan of whom?
Cool time at Wrigley
Happy Birthday, Wrigley Field
Opening Day 2014
Looking a little better for the opener
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose
Coldest. Winter. Ever. (But only in Chicago.)
Opening day
About this blog (v 4.2)
New seats
A guy who passed on tickets
La Crèperie to reopen thanks to Duke of Perth owners
America held hostage, day 4
Shocked to learn the latest Cubs news
My 2014 travel schedule shapes up
Last game of the season
It's national punctuation day!
Missed a Cubs milestone
Cubs beat Brewers in hotly-contested race to the bottom
Cubs record 70th loss
Back in the basement
Cubs barely hanging on to 4th
Twenty five years ago
Fifty games left
It's not the park, guys
Baseball takes a breather
Jumbotron likely to be approved; Wrigley cringes
Devastating day for pitchers
Cubs at Mariners: The Geas reaches 3rd on a single
In transit to Park #25
A Chicago team did what?
Battle of the Titans of Little League
Marmoooooooool!
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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