The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Cubs win 5 in a row; trend looks up

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.

Is Tom Ricketts destroying the Cubs?

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?

More night events at Wrigley

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.

<strike>Honey Badger</strike> Tom Ricketts Don't Care

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.

Wrigley Field renovations redux

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.

The long night of Dale Sveum

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:

Anno Catuli

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.

Wrigley Field open house

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.

Chicago in the spring

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.

Stealing first base

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.