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.
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...
I appreciate my friends getting 5th-row seats at AT&T park tonight. And yet, the Cubs still lost.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
If so, these are queued up:
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:
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.