Kris Bryant fills the Chicago River with baseballs

Kris Bryant, with his BP pitcher Juan Cabreja, survey the outfield. Which is actually the Chicago River.

As far as PR stunts go, this one wasn’t bad.

Kris Bryant of the Cubs put on his jersey and took batting practice on the lawn at River Point Plaza. With Chicagoans lined up along the Lake Street Bridge, Wacker Drive, and the Chicago Riverwalk, he took swings and launched fly balls into the Chicago River with River Point tower providing the backdrop. This was a Red Bull event, so there was plenty of pomp and circumstance, including reps with backpack coolers handing out energy drinks, and a hyperbole-obsessed MC who let the crowd know at least 174 times that this kind of thing had never been done before.

I was there, and I took some pictures and video from a distance.

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Heading into 2017 with an unburdened mind

Kris Bryant Championship Belt

I did *not* miss a smiling Kris Bryant as he wore the Championship Belt at the Cubs victory parade.

I thought I’d never admit this. Seriously. I didn’t want anyone to know. I was fully prepared to go to my grave with nary a soul finding out the truth behind one of the greatest moments in human history. But I need to get it out in the open, and let the healing begin.

I missed the final out of the 2016 World Series. You know, the one the Chicago Cubs won.

I missed Kris Bryant’s smiling, slipping throw to first. I missed Anthony Rizzo tucking the ball into his back pocket. I missed Ben Zobrist skipping in from left field like a child who just found a shiny nickle. I missed Addison Russell and Javy Baez meet in midair like a couple of Cirque du Soleil acrobats.

I missed it all.

There was a pitching change. Carl Edwards, Jr. was coming off the mound. Mike Montgomery was coming in to pitch. I needed to use the restroom. So I did what you do when you have to go: I went. I thought I had time while Montgomery warmed up.

I did not.

I was away from every television Moe’s Cantina had to offer. And the sound I dreaded, happened. First, a nervous cheer, then a quick crescendo into pandemonium.  And I knew the crowd wasn’t cheering for a commercial. I ran to the sink, did a less-than-thorough washing of the hands, and ran out into the restaurant in the hopes I hadn’t really missed the culmination of 46 years of Cubs fandom.

No such luck. I had missed it. And you know what? It bothers me. A lot. I feel shame.

Sure, we still got to celebrate, once I found Jen and assured her I hadn’t spontaneously combusted in the heat of the moment. And I got to watch, half-crying, half-laughing, as the Cubs players celebrated on the field. But I missed The Last Out. And I’ve still not quite forgiven myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In The Year The Cubs Finally Seem Ready, Wrigley Field Is Not

My brief article on Wrigley construction, as it appears on The Chicago Architecture Blog, with a few extra photos:

 

In The Year The Cubs Finally Seem Ready, Wrigley Is Not When I wandered around Wrigley Field (1060 West Addison Street) last fall, just after our beloved bleachers were reduced to scrap, I marveled at the task at hand, impressed such destruction could be rebuilt in time for Opening Day 2015. Well, send me to Triple AAA and call me naïve. Because sure enough, as you no doubt are aware by now, nary a fan shall catch a home run ball within the Friendly Confines until at least May. In The Year The Cubs Finally Seem Ready, Wrigley Is Not

In mid-January, someone at Lovable Losers HQ (Hey, I’m a Cub fan, and therefore allowed to mock my own fandom. Use that term loosely though, and I will fight you) looked out the window and realized the work wasn’t going to be done in time. And even then, the Cubs’ revised projected completion schedule turned out to be too optimistic.

Once thought doable in its entirety by the end of May, only the left-field portion of the stands will be ready for butts in seats by then, with right field completion coming some time in June. Which means someone in accounting is fretting over lost beer sales for close to half the season.

Keep in mind, this isn’t about just the bleachers. The entire $375-million project will take roughly the next 4 years to complete. Is all this worth the effort? I suppose that’s up to each of us individually.

As a Cub fan, I love it. I’ve been to new ballparks in Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, and they’re glorious places to watch baseball. But I’ll always love Wrigley, too. And anything that improves its appearance and ambiance is fine by me. And, as Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said himself, if you’re only going to fix up the old girl once every 100 years, you might as well take the time to do it right.

To get an idea of how much work remains, I took a recent stroll around the outfield perimeter. It may be, it could be, it is! loud, dusty, and very, very busy. No wonder the city struck out the Cubs’ request to labor 24/7. No neighborhood wants that going on at all hours.

The night Len Kasper mentioned Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo, and me during the Cubs broadcast

Cubs vs Brewers, 9/26/14 Miller Park Scoreboard

 

Moments after extolling the virtues of Milwaukee’s attendance, Len inexplicably asked JD if he knew how much Miller Parked weighed. Yes, Miller Park is a stadium, and Len asked how much it weighed.

I then sent an equally inane tweet to Len and JD, obviously stunning Len…

Click the link to see the video (Thank you, Elizabeth Nystedt!)  You will need to crank the volume.

 

http://goo.gl/4embGQ

 

The Tweet

A New Wrigley Seating Chart

I’ve been to four Cub games at Wrigley this year. That’s my all-time high for a season since leaving PNC Park. Unless you’re a stickler for sound fundamentals, it’s tough not to enjoy yourself at the Friendly Confines. Depending on where you sit, of course. It’s time to stop letting fans choose their ticket by location, and give us the option of sitting in groups of peers.

The smoking factor was removed long ago. No more worries about getting caught downwind from the guy with the stogie. Those things can last an entire game.

An alcohol-free zone would be nice for those of us who can manage to make it through nine innings without a beer per. Pretty sure there are ballparks out there with “family friendly” sections, but I’d rather not have to choose between obnoxious drunks and fidgety children.

Set up a few “baseball expert” aisles, so those of us who know that a fastball is faster than a curve ball don’t have to listen to you explain the subtle nuances of the game to your girlfriend. Otherwise, stay home and watch a couple games on TV before you see one live. Bring along your copy of the Baseball Prospectus so she can read what the utility infielder’s high school’s mascot was. The rest of us don’t care, and don’t want to be escorted from the stadium for accidentally spilling six Pepsi’s on you.

Let the people who insist on complaining about their jobs have their own section. There are spectacular views from rock walls on the Lake Michigan shoreline where you can spout off about work for free, and no one else can hear you. You also won’t take the chance that the woman sitting right behind you is the sister of the boss you just tore to shreds because you couldn’t get your cat’s birthday off.

Set up a few seats near the restrooms for people with…medical issues. They always seem to get stuck in the middle or the row. My row.

Most importantly, and maybe the only one necessary, cordon off a section or two for the people who came to actually watch the game. Where the hot dog vendor comes by every half-inning, the outfielders toss baseballs into the stands, and the lights don’t interfere with the ISS passing overhead. That’s not asking too much.

Did I miss anything?

2011 Cubs. 2 Months In. More Good.

I left out Sean Marshall in the good section yesterday. My bad. He’s been our most effective reliever again this season. We’ve never heard a bad word from this guy about not getting another shot at the starting rotation. He takes the ball and throws lights-out every outing. He was a rock star at the Cubs Convention, hanging around for pictures and autographs when no one else was still on stage. He’s quietly become one of the most important members of this team, and one of my favorite Cubs. And I don’t even take tallness into consideration. Sorry for the slight, Sean. It won’t happen again.

2011 Cubs. 2 Months In. The Good-Byes?

Some of these players won’t be here at season’s end. I’ll miss most, if not all of them. because they wore the blue pinstripes.

Aramis Ramirez? He has one home run. He’s hitting .290, which is above his career average, but his slugging is just .379. That’s bad for a power-hitting corner infielder. Will anyone be interested at the trade deadline? I certainly don’t see any chance he’ll be back next year. Aramis was my favorite Pirate when I was in Pittsburgh. I loved him here too.

Carlos Pena? The April Carlos can please stay away. This May version ain’t bad at all. But with it looking like the Cubs won’t be playing in October, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to keep Pena here if someone comes calling. No way I can see the Cubs bringing him back for 2012 unless he goes on an absolute tear.

Koyie Hill? Will the Cubs try to shop Koyie to the Giants as a replacement for Buster Posey? Will Giants fans hate us if they do?

Kerry Wood? Kerry hasn’t pitched poorly, but he hasn’t been lights out either. Does any other team value him like the Cubs do? Will we bring him back next year? Is he really headed to the booth? We need more Kerry Woods in Chicago, be it pitcher or citizen. Still happy you’re home, 34.

Jeff Samardzija? I think he’s pitched well enough to merit some interest at trade time. Maybe even from the Bears. I don’t want to see him go necessarily, but get what we can if someone wants him.

Blake Dewitt? I’m too lazy to look up Blake’s contract situation, but he’s been a part-timer at best. No lasting impression for me. Don’t dislike him, but won’t miss him.

Kosuke Fukudome? The Cubs tried the Japanese import thing, and it just hasn’t worked out. Kosuke has always hustled, always played well in the outfield. But he was brought here for his bat, and it hasn’t produced. I will miss him. He seemed like a good teammate, albeit an invisible one. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him speak. Probably sounds like Jimmy Stewart.

Reed Johnson? Jeff Baker? Two veteran guys who have filled their roles admirably so far this season. I wouldn’t mind seeing them stay, but I bet some GM’s start calling about them by July.

Bob Brenly? Will he manage again? Does he want to manage again? Will he have to give up his mic to Kerry Wood? Or will Kerry go to the radio booth?

Mike Quade? Will he last 3 years? Will this team leave him a blubbering mess like they did to Lou? Doubt it.