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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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#
Friday 31 May 2013

The Cubs have won the last five complete games, and were ahead when Tuesday got rained out. They swept the White Sox, and just today beat the Diamondbacks 7-2. In fact, in their last six games, the Cubs have gotten 36 runs to their opponents' 12.

Here's how the season looks at the end of May:

The orange line tracks their position in the division. With their 23-30 record, the Cubs are now 3.5 games ahead of the last-place Brewers (19-33), but fully 9.5 games behind the third-place Reds (33-21).

There's really no hope of a pennant this season, but it's great to see them finally winning some games.

Friday 31 May 2013 16:40:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#
Saturday 11 May 2013

Chicago Tribune op-ed writer Marty Sandberg thinks so:

Ricketts has done one thing successfully — creating the most apathetic, undemanding fan base possible. Over the past few years third-generation die-hards have quietly been returning their season tickets. The knowledgeable, fun and sometimes offensive regulars that used to pack the park and make game day such a raucously enjoyable experience have disappeared. In their place, we find a ballpark full of expense-account-toting managers, teenage girls posting self-portraits on Facebook and a few drunken college bros confused by the ramp system. And let's not forget the legions of first-timers still traveling to Wrigley from out of state, somewhat disappointed by the lethargic atmosphere they encounter. But don't worry about them — they'll stop coming soon, too.

Ricketts loves to repeat that he "just wants to run his business like a business," because he "bought a private business, not a museum." Spare us the act, Tom. When you purchased a community institution like the Cubs, you were never naive enough to think you were buying an Al's Beef franchise. The Cubs have thrived for generations because of devoted fans. Professional sports is a give-and-take relationship — Ricketts can't expect to get whatever he wants without repercussions, simply because he bangs his spoon on the table loud enough.

Does Wrigley need a little face-lift? Most definitely. But the proposed alterations to Wrigley go beyond what is necessary or even tolerable. They discard the very atmosphere the Cubs spend so much time promoting. The renovations gut the soul of a stadium that has survived so long because of its character, not in spite of it.

I've been to 24 ballparks, including Fenway and the old Yankee Stadium, and on that basis I agree with Sandberg on the value of Wrigley Field. I don't agree entirely that one or two upgrades to Wrigley would kill its character. Jumbo-Tron in Left Field? Meh, as long as it's not too big. The old scoreboard will stay there above the bleachers, right? How about a hotel across Clark St.? Almost anything would improve the current situation of a temporary sports clothing store and a McDonald's.

He's right that the Cubs need to start winning games again. They've been in last place since April 16th, and just lost their 22nd game (out of 35) yesterday.

Maybe Tom Ricketts will surprise everyone and invest in the Cubs. I don't believe Ricketts would abandon or destroy the biggest asset the organization has. We'll see, though. It's already been 104 years; what are a few more?

Saturday 11 May 2013 11:17:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#
Thursday 9 May 2013

The Chicago City Council could ratify a proposal allowing 46 night games as early as next month:

The proposal also would permit the Cubs to host four concerts and to make changes to its schedule as soon as next month. It allows for six Friday afternoon games starting at 3:05 instead of the traditional 1:20. The Cubs would like to move back some Friday afternoon games this season if the City Council approves the night-game plan.

The changes are consistent with a tentative agreement struck last month involving Emanuel, Tunney and the Cubs. The introduction of the night-game ordinance is the first legislative step in a process to renovate historic Wrigley Field.

Cubs' ownership has proposed spending $500 million to make extensive renovations to the ballpark and develop surrounding property in the North Side neighborhood. But before the Ricketts family, owners of the team and Wrigley Field, makes the financial commitment, it asked the city to ease regulations that limit night games and advertising signage in the ballpark. The family says more night games and signage would allow the team to generate more revenue that would be used to pay for the park restoration and field a more competitive team.

I would, of course, go to more games if the ordinance passes. I used to live three blocks from Wrigley, though, so I understand the deleterious effects more night games could have on the neighborhood. Still, if Ricketts' improvements actually help the Cubs win games, I'm in.

Thursday 9 May 2013 13:54:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#
Thursday 2 May 2013

I find it fascinating when someone whose entire brand rests on its association with a particular place makes this kind of threat:

"I'm not sure how anyone is going to stop the signs in the outfield," Ricketts said upon the unveiling of drawings of his renovation plan, "but if it comes to the point that we don't have the ability to do what we need to do in our outfield then we're going to have to consider moving."

Ah, yeah. "Consider" moving. Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom scoffs:

Look, if you’re going to play the move card, then play it like you mean it. Ricketts didn’t. He came off like a guy who wanted nothing to do with those words in any order. It was done so weakly, in fact, that I’m surprised there wasn’t closed-captioning.

I can see how people got the wrong idea, though. Supporters were thrilled to have Ricketts hint even slightly that he knew how to play politics. Nope. Sorry. Not happening.

The only place anyone might believe Ricketts could move the Cubs today is Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the Cubs actually won last night, putting them only three games behind the 4th-place team. We can't even give our tickets away at this point.

Thursday 2 May 2013 14:40:45 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#
Wednesday 1 May 2013

Crain's has details this morning about what Ricketts wants to build at Wrigley:

Two weeks after the Cubs and city officials announced a "framework agreement" on a $500 million renovation of Wrigley Field and development of its surrounding property, the team has released images of its plans, which include a 6,000-square-foot jumbotron in left field and a horizontal 1,000-square-foot advertising sign in right field as the framework outlined last month.

With the images now complete (you can see them below and on Crain's Tumblr page here), the Cubs later today will formally file their planned development application with the city's Plan Commission, the first step in what could be a months-long public process to get approval for the entire project.

The huge Jumbotron in left field (below) probably won't happen exactly as Ricketts wants; the other stuff, including the hotel across Clark Street, probably will.

Wednesday 1 May 2013 09:35:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#

We went to last night's game against the Padres at Wrigley. It just never seemed to end:

After trailing 8-0, the Cubs rallied some with home runs from Luis Valbuena, Starlin Castro, David DeJesus and Cody Ransom. But [Cubs starter Edwin] Jackson put them in too deep of a hole to escape, and most of the crowd had departed by the seventh inning of the 3 hour, 28 minute game.

We stayed the whole game, though. The weather was gorgeous: 27°C with a few high wispy clouds, with a stiff breeze out of the south. The wind accounts for the high score; so does the Padres going through their entire lineup—with a lagniappe—in the fifth.

Here's the season so far; let's see if the line moves up at all in the next 136 games:

Wednesday 1 May 2013 07:30:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#
Tuesday 30 April 2013

That's "The Year of the Cub" in Latin. At the moment, that year looks like this:

The numbers—04, 67, 104—refer to the years since the Cubs' last division, league, and World Series championships.

They had to put another digit on it after the 2008 season. My guess is the current 7 digits will last about 33 more years.

At least they've won a few recently, and have gotten back up to .400. I'm going tonight; we'll see if they can make it to .423.

Tuesday 30 April 2013 14:48:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#
Sunday 28 April 2013

Being a season-ticket holder includes a "Rookie Day" open house at the park. Ours was yesterday. The open house included access to all the stands, the first-base-side warning track, the visitors club house, and the press box:

Visitors club house:

And the right-field wall, up close and personal:

More later or tomorrow.

Sunday 28 April 2013 09:52:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#
Tuesday 23 April 2013

As a large part of my brain noodles on how to get multiple IDPs to work with a single RP, a smaller part of my brain has looked out the window and realized Chicago is having a normally crappy April:

  • The are 5-13 after allowing a run in the bottom of the 13th last night in Milwaukee;
  • It's 13°C 7°C and raining, which is great because we need the rain and cool weather; and
  • ...well, that's all I got right now.

I had a third thing, but SAML got in the way, I guess.

Tuesday 23 April 2013 15:36:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Cubs | Security#
Sunday 21 April 2013

It can happen, if the fielders get complacent after a run-down:

When Braun and Segura both wound up at second base, Segura, as the leading runner, had the right to the bag, so Braun was out when he was tagged by Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena even though he was standing on the base. However, Valbuenna, though he tagged Segura twice, never tagged him off the base (if you pause the video on the second tag you can clearly see Segura’s left toe on the base), so Segura was able to retreat safely to first base, though he needn’t have done so. He was safe on second.

SI has the video.

The Cubs still lost, because as bad as their fielding was, their hitting was worse. Oh, and manager Dale Sveum got thrown out of the game, too. Awesome.

Sunday 21 April 2013 09:20:56 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#
Monday 15 April 2013

For months, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, and 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney have wrestled over the scope and manner of making necessary renovations to 99-year-old Wrigley Field. They appear to have reached a deal:

The city and Mr. Tunney have agreed to allow the Cubs to erect a video screen in left field, as well as a right field advertising sign "in the style" of the existing Toyota sign that currently sits in left field. The Cubs will work with the city on placement of both signs "to minimize impact on nearby rooftops to the extent consistent with the needs of the team," according to a statement from the Cubs.

The Cubs will be allowed to hold 40 night games per season — up from the current maximum of 30, capped by a 2004 neighborhood protection plan — under a new special City Council ordinance that will allow for additional night games when required by Major League Baseball's national TV contract. The 40 night games do not include playoffs or other games that are not counted under the current ordinance. The Cubs will also be allowed to start six games at 3:05 p.m. on Fridays (unlike the usual 1:20 p.m. starts).

They'll also extend beer sales, build a hotel across Clark St., and put up more advertising.

Now if only they'd renovate the pitching staff, and possibly the hitting.

Monday 15 April 2013 09:46:28 PDT (UTC-07:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#

I think I had a better time than the people freezing to death at Wrigley:

Monday 15 April 2013 07:57:17 PDT (UTC-07:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs | San Francisco | Travel#

In my profession, I get to sit at Peet's Coffee at 6:30am and watch action-packed videos like this:


I know what you're thinking: "slow down, tigerblood. Slow down."

I'm also pushing a new build of customer software up to production, and waiting for my coffee to kick in.

At least I'm not blowing three runs in the 10th with a damned balk, like other people I could name.

Monday 15 April 2013 07:11:14 PDT (UTC-07:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs | Business | Cloud#
Sunday 14 April 2013

I used not having my charger with me as an excuse to leave my laptop off for 36 hours. That didn't prevent me getting email, of course. (Who can live without email?)

Because of some family scheduling, while I'm in the Bay Area this weekend the Giants are at Wrigley, meaning I'm missing games there and at AT&T Park.

I listened to the game yesterday driving down from the city to the peninsula, catching the Cubs 2-run homer in the 7th, followed by the nausea-inducing announcement that they brought Carlos Marmol in as a reliever. Yep: Cubs lost, 3-2.

Tomorrow I have an 8am conference call, and Tuesday I have a 7am call, but until then...I'm on vacation. I might even watch today's game on TV.

Sunday 14 April 2013 07:43:45 PDT (UTC-07:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Cubs | Travel#
Tuesday 9 April 2013

Well, the team has done better.

After graciously allowing the entire Brewers lineup to come to bat in the 1st inning, the Cubs managed to stagger through eight more innings before completely blowing it in the bottom of the 9th:

A wind blowing out at 24 mph turned Martin Maldonado's fly ball into a three-run double in the Brewers' four-run first off Edwin Jackson, but the wind changed directions in the ninth, just in time to foil the Cubs' rally.

Yes, it was well worth the many dollars we spent on season tickets this year, which—to remind folks joining us mid-game—we did because the waiting list is up to 125,000 names.

Here's the beginning of the game, all misplaced optimism and Friendly Confines:

And here's the end of the game, with none of the aforementioned:

Oh, well. Only 80 home games to go.

Tuesday 9 April 2013 13:02:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Cubs#
Monday 8 April 2013

Parker and I took our first walk in pouring rain, but things seem to have cleared up. The Tribune expects OK weather for the 1:20 start:

Despite a wet, gloomy and cool start to the day, conditions should improve dramatically this afternoon in time for the Cubs opener. Temperatures around 7°C this morning will rebound into the teens later today with the passage of a warm front.

The Cubs, now 2-4 for the season and having already replaced their benighted reliever Carlos Marmol, would at least not lose a rain-out...but I'm happy to see my first game in seven months at Wrigley.

Monday 8 April 2013 08:49:27 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Saturday 6 April 2013

Chicago has finally gotten up to 21°C for the first time since December 1st. My screens are back in, my dog got some good walks, and my apartment is fresher.

I just hope it's like this on Monday.

Saturday 6 April 2013 15:19:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Cubs | Weather#
Thursday 4 April 2013

ICYMI:

Back to the mines.

Thursday 4 April 2013 18:02:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Aviation | Cubs | Geography | Kitchen Sink#
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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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