Results tagged ‘ Wrigley Field ’

From the “Eww” File

alexei ramirez smells good.jpgOn Wednesday, in his Bold Names column of sneezes from around the Major Leagues, Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Gonzales enlightened us on the snazzy stylings of White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez.  Gonzales wrote that Ramirez “opened some eyes among his teammates when he walked into the visitor’s dinky clubhouse at Wrigley” because he “sported a white Cuba jersey with his name and number on the back.”

Nothing wrong with that.  So Alexei is cool.  The Missile dons dapper duds.  I’m down.

Gonzales continued:

“Reliever Octavio Dotel, a native of the Dominican Republic, liked the jersey so much he wore it for a few minutes.  Unfortunately for Ramirez, Dotel said he might be subjected to a fine for not adhering to dress code rules on the road — yes, even at Wrigley Field.”

And after wearing Alexei’s jersey for a few minutes, Dotel told Gonzales:

“‘The jersey smells good… he’s [Ramirez] still learning and a young guy from Cuba but doesn’t know a lot of things about the States.’”

Yeah, you’re obviously dead on, Octavio.  I mean, I cannot think of a more common pastime, in the States, than going around sniffing your friends’ clothes.

That crazy Cuban Alexei… jeesh, he’s got a lot to learn.

Hate me ‘cuz I don’t sniff my buddy’s clothes, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Some Dogs Go to Heaven

bo-obama.jpgDespite their usual relegation to fodder for debates on controversial testing and (disputed) lack of souls, animals have recently clawed themselves into the news for other reasons. For instance, you had to have been living under a rock to have missed the news about the new dog in the White House. Economic meltdown and Limbaugh inspired populism be damned! There’s much more important news to be discussed.

But it seems that our quadrupedal mammalian friends take an interest in more than just politics. Various baseball curses have been blamed on various animals over the years and considering the superstitious lot that seems drawn to baseball, it should come as no surprise. And recently these curse carrying vehicles of diabolical providence have once again reared their frightening and yet oh so soft and fluffy heads.

On opening night at Citi Field, a cat stole the show as the Mets fell to defeat and fans wondered if perhaps this was a sign.

http://flash.fandome.com/sportsbox.swf

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

But even more disturbing for lovers of felines and haters of curses was the way a similar situation was handled at Wrigley Field this past week. Of course the video is no longer available as MLB, in its infinite wisdom, forced it off of YouTube but the controversy has continued as some objected to the handling of the animal by Wrigley Field security.

No matter what your thoughts might be on the rash of streaking cat incidents, it seems clear that these are not isolated events. Perhaps Douglas Adams had it wrong and it’s not the mice who are in charge, but rather the cats and they are trying to give us a sign. Either way, we here at RSBS will keep you posted on all important cat-based developments in baseball over the course of the season.

Happy Friday!

-A

Life in the Afternoon

Wrigley Field.jpgUnlike Ernest Hemingway’s poignant parlay into the world of non-fiction, mine hath not the slightest utterance of death today… unless, of course, you consider the thousands of Cub fans who felt stabbed through the heart after their sloppy loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

For today was a celebration, not only for the Redbirds’ ultimate triumph, but also for good company.  Indeed, dear readers, I have friends who don the Cubby blue, like one soon-to-be-wed Adam Marshall — talented author of Our Man In Los Angeles — who was crazy enough to arrange for 22 Cub fans and one Cardinal fan (me!) to stake our claim amongst the bleacher bums at Wrigley Field on what may have been the most beautiful day of the year.

Ozzie Smith Ryne Sandberg.jpgMy first stop was to pay homage to the wondrous artwork to the right, found at the Addison Red Line stop, depicting heroic Hall of Fame icons Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith in a too-close-to-call play at second base.  I scrounged through the melee of already drunk Cub fans and snapped this amateur photo, hoping it would bring me good luck.

It did.

Dear readers, I have been going to Major League Baseball games my entire life and I have never, ever caught one ball, be it foul, fair, or B.P.  Never. 

Once inside the cathedral dump also known as Wrigley Field, I went straight for the beer man, bought myself a cold one and swarmed through the slew of drunkards to find an open seat.  Entering to an onslaught of “F*** your mother”, “Go back to St. Louis”, and “Cardinals su<k”, I did my very best to make sure my Bud Light did not spilleth over.  While perfecting this baseball ballet, I noticed the crowd around me take to a chorus of oohs and ahhs, duck and spread.  I looked up and there it was: a ball coming straight towards me at a rifling speed.  With no time to react, I simply stuck my chest out, felt a thump, looked down, and in my left hand was a baseball!

After 30 years, folks,  I finally caught one.

A Colby Rasmus batting practice homerun at Wrigley.

And my beer did not spill one drop.

Colby Rasmus Homerun.jpgFrom there I knew it was going to be a good game.

And it was, if you consider sloppy defense good.  In fact, Cardinals left fielder Chris Duncan put on a clinic of how not to play the position.  Then again, so did Alfonso Soriano.  And in the end, Duncan’s bat powered the Redbirds to a win.

Of course, no Cub game would be complete without crying; and Milton Bradley came on late with the bases loaded, looked at six straight pitches without swinging the bat, then whined like the spoiled brat child he is before getting tossed.

Cards win.  Cubs lose.  I live.

Oh, and those crazy bleacher bums oft known to take an afternoon dip down the urinal trough?  They were out in full force.  There were a few tiffs and tussles, some skiffs and struggles.  They were loud.  They were obnoxious.  They were obscene.  Business as usual… like this clever diva who scribbled out some nonsense on a piece of cardboard and passed it off as truth:

Cards Suck Nuts.jpg(If you look closely, you’ll see it says: “Cardinals su<k nuts”)

Apparently she was too intoxicated to realize that the Cardinals won the game… or the fact that Wrigley Field’s peanuts are quite savory and that any Redbird would be a fool to not at least try them… just once.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Why Not Invoke Thy Holy Goat?

bishop tom burns.jpgVerily!  Every baseball season I, Jeffery Lung, walk through the valley of the shadow of death… also known as Wrigley Field.

I have been punched in the back of the head.  I have been called a f^g.  I have been kicked in the legs while relieving myself in the men’s room in between innings.

I have been told my mother will rot in hell.  I have had beer thrown on me.  I have been spit on.

So it is certainly no surprise to me that a bunch of Wrigleyville yahoos placed a severed goat head atop the infamously scary Harry Caray statue on the corner of Sheffield and Addison yesterday.

The curse of the billy goat — still haunting the not-so-friendly-if-you-wear-Cardinal-red confines — lives on, dear readers; and apparently, people still take it seriously.  Very seriously.

They take it so seriously that they are willing to act like bigger a-holes than they are already perceived to be.  

But such is life as a “lovable loser”, I suppose.

Impressed was I last year, before the National League Division Series, when the Cubs went for a more subtle approach to ending their poor luck: praying to God.  After the Greek Orthodox Reverend Father spread holy water throughout the clubhouse, Ryan Dempster responded by quickly walking seven batters; and the Cubs went on to lose three straight lackluster games to the Los Angeles (perhaps Holy) Dodgers.

Guess God don’t like no posers, ya’ll.

I was just thinking, Cub fans: perhaps ye should combine thy wasted efforts into one successful go-for-all.  Call on Bishop Tom Burns and his iconic regimental mascot (a goat no less) to bless thy dump of a field in that oh-so-vigilante neighborhood and ask him to pray for your forgiveness — for all thy slander-slinging, grudge-grovelling and curse-coveting. 

Couldn’t hurt, right?

Well… nah… I just realized, when your fan base is more known for this…

…than winning baseball games, you really don’t have a prayer, do you?

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Cub Slingin’

richard simmons cub fan.jpg

During a recent social outing, a Cub fan friend of mine (yeah, I know; I ain’t perfect, folks) mentioned how much he enjoyed RSBS now that I had seemingly lightened my unadulterated bashing and verbal vexing toward his beloved Northside team.

Upon reflection, I realized that I had indeed let my guard down… and noted that a good old Cub ego squashing was well overdue.

So in the confounded interests of being hack — carefully considering the fact that hack sells — I reluctantly invoke my inner Jeff Foxworthy in order to remind Cub fans just who they really are.  

I declare:

  • If you pop your collar, skip class and hang out at John Barleycorn with a pocketful of GHB, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you remind Southsiders about the 1919 Black Sox scandal at least once a day, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you think Wrigley Field is anything other than a dilapidated craphole with more falling parts than Amy Winehouse after happy hour, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you consider urinal trough diving an official sport, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you do not work yet can afford season tickets, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you are my brother-in-law and you made a baby with my sister, you might be a Cub fan (thanks a lot, Patrick, for ruining the Cardinal blood line).
  • If you think the word “choke” only applies to baseball teams and has absolutely no physiological connotation at all, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you think a baseball game is just an excuse to shotgun Old Styles and annoy anyone within ten feet, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you think Magellan is the name of a shoe insert, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If your team’s biggest fan is an impeached corrupt politician with Lego hair, you might be a Cub fan.

And of course, the most obvious sign can only be this:

If you sincerely hate my guts, you must be a Cub fan.

Go ahead and hate.

Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

I Got ‘Em, but I Ain’t Happy About It

cardinals fan.jpgBefore interleague, before realignment, the St. Louis Cardinals and
Chicago Cubs used to battle; they decimated each other in a bonafide on-the-field theatre of war much like the Yankees/Red Sox and
Dodgers/Giants do today.

But with six teams crammed into the
National League Central, each vying for a top spot with Selig’s odds
stacked against them and the unnecessary evil of force-feeding a
delusional I-70 rivalry that requires the Cardinals to play the Royals two
times a year, what was once the toast of classy baseball rivalries has
been diddled down to a mere four series a season, which allows me the
opportunity to see my ball club make a trip to my home (Chicago) just twice.

Didn’t Selig get the memo?  I thought the world revolved around me.

Guess not.

So
like all loyal Cardinal fans living in the Chi, I too was first in the
interweb line to purchase tickets for the Cardinals/Cubs series: one
four game set in April and one three game set in July.

I logged
on to cubs.com and was told to “Please be patient. We are experiencing
a high volume of requests at this time. You will be notified when your
spot in the queue is ready.”

Besides being impressed that Cubs personnel could spell “queue”, I sat patiently, waiting my turn.

For an hour.

And then another hour.

And then another… and another… and another…

After waiting patiently for five and a half hours, I was told it was finally my turn. 

BUT,
I could not buy tickets for the July 10 game (sold out) or the July 11
game (also sold out) or the July 12 game (it’s f***ing sold out, dude)
or the April 18 game (goddamn it, it’s sold the **** out, man!).

I
bought tickets for the Sunday night ESPN game on April 19.  And then,
before I could celebrate even the smallest of victories, I was booted
out of the ticketing system — the online equivalent of having been peed
on.

wrigley_field.jpgImmediately, I ventured on to Stubhub were I was delighted
to see that I could buy tickets to all of those games I wanted to see
for the same price my health insurance company rapes me for every month. 
In other words, a $22
upperdeck-there’s-a-giant-metal-column-blocking-my-view ticket at
Wrigley starts out at $125 a pop.  Two tickets, do the math, is $250.

Boom.

Better not get sick this summer.

Maybe
it is for the best though.  It is no secret that once I step in that
dilapidated craphole cathedral known as Wrigley Field, donning my
Molina jersey in all its 2006 WS Championship glory, my Old Style
soused tongue and seedy underworld presence tend to get me trounced
more often than I would like.

But you can bet I’ll find a way.

So don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

The Unforgotten

rod_blagjojevich.jpgWhen Chicagoans have lost interest in a political scandal, then it’s safe to say, so has the rest of the country.

Anything wrong with that?  Not in my opinion.  In a world full of greed, hate, debauchery and Cubs baseball, I find solace knowing that even the tireless spin-doctoring and smoke-screening of Rod Blagojevich eventually falls on the deaf ears of a nation distracted with the task of rebuilding itself.

Blago’s days as governor are as numbered as Joe Morgan is annoying; and soon, he will just be another political coelacanth — a footnote in the oppression and wasted tax-dollars of a people.

Good riddance.

In my fervent bidding adieu, I refuse to let Blago’s self-indulgent, gloomy demise get me down.  The older I get, the more I realize how little my brain can actually remember if not trained otherwise; thus, I find it best to replace negativity with post-partisan positivity.  So it is, on this four degree Sunday afternoon, with a broken heart and three cups of coffee too many, that I find grace in the baseball-politico memories dearest to me.

Of course, there are always the Joe Carters, the Kirk Gibsons, the Ozzie Smithsthe inauguration of a new hope for my country… those are all givens.  Today I focus on the obscure, the seemingly minute, the more poignant personal moments that help me to forget about what an awful place this earth can be sometimes.  And so I begin…

Ozzie Guillen Goes to Bobby Jenks
A move he’s made several times, but never as interesting as it was during the 2005 post-season when Ozzie motioned for Jenks by extending his arms out sideways as if to say: “Bring in the fat fella.”

Talking to Carlos Lee Outside Wrigley Field
Having gone hitless against Ted Lilly that night, I was stunned to see a smiling Carlos Lee on the corner of Sheffield and Addison waiting to get on the Astros player’s bus.  I approached him — all gargantuan 230 plus pounds of him — and flippantly asked: “Caballo, what happened?”

“Ball move too much, man.”

I’m still laughing at that one.

“Yes We Can” Viral Video

Sure, I admit I’m a sucker for inspirational acts of creativity… this one still gets me.

Brian Anderson’s Catch
Picture it, October 1, 2008… a one game playoff between the White Sox and Twins to crown the AL Central winner, and a Jim Thome homerun is all that separates the two when we reach the top of the ninth and two outs.  A sharp flare streamlines to right center field, in comes Brian Anderson… instant party on the Southside.

Bill Clinton on Carroll Quigley, DNC 1992

As a young, impressionable, questioning 12 year-old, this quote pushed me in to politics… to stay.

Adam Wainwright’s Curveball
Whether it was striking out Carlos Beltran looking or Brandon Inge swinging, I’ve never seen a more devastating hook — ever.

Barack Obama’s 2004 DNC Keynote Address
I thought a change was a comin’… didn’t know it was going to take so long, but it got me revved up nonetheless.

Yadier Molina Hitting .304 in 2008
After the rocket homerun he hit off Aaron Heilman to beat the Mets in the 2006 NLCS, Molina became my indisputable hero.  To see him blossom into a true hitter in conjunction with his unrivaled defensive skills just makes me want to hug the guy any chance I get.  Yadi, you out there, pal?  Let’s hook that up.

Grandma Lois Talking Baseball
May she rest in peace, my beloved grandmother was talking Cardinals baseball like no other 84 year-old I knew.  Before the 2004 season, she told me: “It’d be nice to see Edmonds and Rolen have really good years.”  She died on April 20, 2004; Jimmy and Scott both put up career numbers and vied for the MVP.  I know she’s still smiling about that one.

Post 9/11 Baseball in New York

I’d be hard pressed to find a more inspiring, more electric, more communal surge of patriotic energy and overall bipartisan goodwill towards all through the greatest game on earth than what took place in New York City that fall. 

I still get goosebumps just thinking of it.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Oh, Rickey, He’s So Fine

rickey henderson.JPGThe only disappointing thing about Rickey Henderson being admitted to the Hall of Fame is the fact he’ll be going in alongside long-time Red Sox fan favorite Jim Rice.  Don’t get me wrong, dear readers.  I have absolutely nothing against Jim Rice, as a person or as a player; in fact, I would even say he deserves to be included in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.

Thing is: I feel sorry for him and the subsequent upstaging he’ll be forced to endure come July.  I mean, Rickey Henderson is the “greatest of all-time”. 

Okay, well, maybe he meant he was the greatest base-stealer of all-time.  In any case, I think we all know how much swagger Henderson brings to any field, locker room, podium.  The man has always been the cynosure of self-confidence, the quintessential self-promoter, the Barack Obama of baseball perhaps.

And that’s why I’m already salivating at the unscripted heroics of his forthcoming acceptance speech this summer.

Verily, I think we all have our favorite Rickey Henderson story.  Whether it’s his persistent third person self-references, sliding into home plate after hitting a homerun or his penchant for talking to himself in the most supportive of ways like “Don’t worry, Rickey.  You’re still the best”, I think we can all agree that his undying, unwavering, unparalleled belief in all-things Rickey Henderson made him the greatest lead-off hitter of all-time and an icon for baseball fans like myself.

I, too, have had the luxury of owning personal Rickey Henderson memories — memories that I will always hold dear to my heart.  Henderson’s career started the same year my life did and I can’t ever remember not being mesmerized by his speed, his bat, his patience at the plate.  For someone so fast, I never could get over how many pitches he was able to take in order to wear a pitcher down early.  And though I had no affiliation to the teams with which Henderson played, I remember coveting his baseball cards and having the sudden need to check box scores of A’s (and later Yankees) games to see how many bases he’d stolen, how many homeruns he’d hit.

So when I finally had the chance to see Rickey Henderson play in person during the 2003 season while living in Los Angeles, I told my buddy before the home half of the first: “Wouldn’t it be something if Rickey led off with a homerun?”

And by golly he did it.

Watching him jog around the bases brought an indescribable chill up my spine and a few man-tears to my eye.

I said a few.  Gimme a break.  I love this friggin’ game.

But that wasn’t the end of my personal Henderson drama.  Before a 2007 Saturday afternoon game at Wrigley pitting the Mets against the Cubs, I made it out to the left field wall for batting practice and was pleasantly surprised to see none other than Rickey himself shagging fly balls.

“Hey, Rickey, when ya gonna make another comeback?” I yelled from about 20 feet away.

“Hey, Rickey, you’re the greatest of all-time!”

“Hey, Rickey, you’re a first ballot Hall of Famer!”

After ten minutes of relentless hollers, Rickey finally acknowledged my existence with a simple yet earnestly eloquent: “Rickey fine!”

Indeed, Rickey fine.

So, so fine.

So don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Chili (and Change) We Can Believe In

obama_bens.jpgAfter barely surviving the sucker punch that was 2008, 2009 appears to be treating the Michigan diaspora a little better. For instance, this past week we learned that Curtis Granderson will be representing the USA in the World Baseball Classic. Now, I’m not saying that Granderson is the best center fielder out there but he has developed into a talent to be watched over the past couple seasons and it’s nice to see him get a little more recognition for that. It was also nice to see the Red Wings take down the red-hot Blackhawks on the ice at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day.

However, there was another red-hot piece of news that truly warmed my heart as an American and current denizen of our nation’s capitol. Although it was never really in doubt, President-elect Obama reconfirmed yesterday that that we truly share the same values. Now, I’ve mentioned the DC institution and National’s ballpark mainstay, Ben’s Chili Bowl, before but it bears repeating that this place is beyond amazing. And when I watched footage yesterday of Mr. Obama’s visit to Ben’s, I realized that here this man is in touch with the nation’s stomach in a way we haven’t seen since Clinton’s first term. I mean, here is a guy who appreciates the chili-cheese half-smoke and unabashedly supports a single baseball team. Could anything be more American?

Now, I know that the months ahead are going to be difficult for Obama and his team. In fact, one might even compare it to the torment that is the line at Ben’s around 2 in the morning on a weekend. But, if the past week is any indication, maybe we are seeing change we can believe in. I just hope that CG and the Tigers offer me a little of the same.

-A

My Invisible Hand Across Your Invisible Face

As Mr. Lung’s elder by some 12 days, it often falls to me to provide discipline when he goes off on his wild rants. However, I ask you the reader to please remember that I do this out of love; not because I want to but because I have to. And as my parents always used to say, this is hurting me more than it’s hurting you.

Where to begin? How about with the fact that Target’s interest in the game of baseball just shows how healthy the sport is today. After strike shortened seasons and steroid tainted stars, the game has reached ever greater levels of popularity. The willingness of big corporations like Target to put their name on a stadium just shows how far baseball has come. The legions of JDs, MBAs and PR men who have to put their stamp of approval on an undertaking like this means that these same corporations now have a stake in what happens to the game. They don’t want to see it fail any more than we do.

Lehman3.jpgGoing beyond that, corporate advertising has always been a part of the game. Wrigley Field got its name as much from the company as it did from the team owner who funded its construction. And I bet that if you could go back in time, you’d find that even the Roman coliseum was sponsored by some local entity. Maximus’ Chariots or something like that. As I’ve mentioned before in these pages, baseball, like all sports, is a business and in business you have to make money. If you don’t, you go the way of Lehman Brothers.

Now I’ll admit that baseball owners (along with owners of other sport franchises) get a pretty sweet deal. The team and the owners usually only have to front a small part of the tab and the city, state and county tend to get stuck with the rest. But once you figure in tax revenues, increased tourism and the implicit commitment from the team that they’re going to stick around, I don’t think you’ll find many people complaining. I’ll say it again. Baseball is a business and advertising is part of business. Corporations like Target, Comerica Bank and U.S. Cellular are just doing what they do best: looking at the demographics and then advertising to them in the best way possible.

However, I have to say at the end of the day, I love Target. I was there just this past weekend to pick up odds and ends for so much cheaper than it would cost to buy them at my local CVS. Maybe Target exploits its workers but compared to Wal-Mart and the fast food joints, they aren’t doing so bad. The only real problem is that it’s really hard to get the smell of children’s sweat out of the stuff I buy there. That’s the price of capitalism.

-A

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