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Wrigley Field A Staple of Iconic Sports Stadiums

By bullpenbrian - February 27, 2013 - 10:25 am. Leave a comment

Wrigley Field
Freelance writer Erica Walsh wrote an article featuring three iconic stadiums sports fans should consider visiting.

 

Wrigley Field makes her list as well as Boise State University’s Bronco Field (where my Ohio Bobcats rallied from 13 points down to defeat Utah State 24-23 in the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl!) and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Erica Walsh comes from a family that is dedicated to playing and watching sports. She was a sports reporter for a local paper until she decided to freelance, and she’s so glad that she did.

Wrigley Field, Chicago

One of the most iconic stadiums in the country, the Chicago Cubshome field is not just a ball park but "It’s a Way of Life." Major League Baseball’s website provides details of its rich history. Nicknamed the Friendly Confines, you will recognize the stadium because of its lush ivy-covered brick outfield wall and hand-turned scoreboard. The red marquee over the entrance has been a popular image in the eyes of young and old, women and men.

  • Built in 1914, it’s the second oldest baseball park in the country (first is Fenway Park in Boston)
  • It was named after chewing gum magnate, William Wrigley, Jr., who was the team owner in the 20s
  • From 1921-1970, Wrigley Field was the NFL Chicago Bears’ stadium, as well
  • Famous Cubs players: Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Andre Dawson

Wrigley Field | Cubs Win

Bronco Stadium, Boise State University

In 1986, Boise State covered their regular old field with a very blue artificial surface (Astro Turf), creating a challenge to opposing teams, according to BroncoSports.com. Could the field be the reason the Bronco’s home record is 87-4 since the 1999 season? The team had an unbelievable 65 home game winning streak until beaten one time in 2011 by TCU.  Also, whenever you’re in the home of the Bronco’s, it’s easy to rent one of many Boise apartments for your stay while you enjoy the big game and beauty of the outdoors through hiking, horseback riding and river activities.

  • Notable players currently in the NFL: Doug Martin — RB (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Shea McClellin — DE (Chicago Bears), Chris Carr — CB (San Diego Chargers)
  • "The Blue" added 3,500 seats in the summer of 2012 in a recent expansion raising the capacity to 37,000 total seating capacity and costing over $13.5K, reported by BroncoSports.com
  • Appropriately home to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

Home to the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, "Ray Jay" is large enough to house 75,000 people for special events like NCAA bowl games, grand-scale concerts, USA equestrian show jumping and monster truck jams. Erected in 1996 and opened in 1998, the stadium has already been the site of two Super Bowls due to the city’s fair winter temperatures and overall attraction to visitors. Because Tampa sits near the Gulf of Mexico, there are endless entertainment opportunities. With the bustling downtown area of Ybor City as well as St. Pete and Clearwater beaches just over the bridge, it’s a great city to visit and live. RaymondJamesStadium.com offers some of the stadium’s highlights:

  • Features a 103-foot, 43-ton replica buccaneer pirate ship. It has all the bells and whistles and cannons that fire soft-rubber footballs and confetti, as well as hoisting flags. It has a remote-controlled talking parrot and when fans hear the song, "Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)," people onboard the huge steel and concrete ship deck throw beads and t-shirts.
  • Stadium has some of the largest video displays in the league at 92-feet wide.
  • Patrons can find concessions and restrooms in Buccaneer Cove, a weathered fishing village facade that is two-stories high.
  • The stadium was publicly funded and built with $168.5 million.

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Chase Field Resodded In 2:00 Minutes

By bullpenbrian - February 27, 2013 - 9:00 am. Leave a comment

It took 10 days to lay 100,000 square feet of sod at Chase Field in Arizona. The cool part is USA Today Sports posted a time-lapse video of the recent event, and who doesn’t enjoy a little time-lapse baseball video?

From what I gather, the diamond needed a makeover after hosting a Monster Truck Rally in January, and I’m sure MLB wanted the field to present well for the the World Baseball Classic, which gets underway next week.

Group D of the tournament (USA, Canada, Mexico, Italy) begins play at Salt River Fields in Talking Stick on Thursday, but then switches venues to Chase Field Fri, Sat & Sun.

More time-lapse videos below (hooray!).

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What’s Happened With Former Cubs Ace Ted Lilly?

By bullpenbrian - February 26, 2013 - 11:00 am. 2 comments

Ted Lilly Chicago Cubs

Jim Hendry’s trade of Ted Lilly to the Dodgers in 2010 was my coming to Jesus moment–the Cubs’ organization was truly taking a turn for the worse.

Here was a quality, left-handed starter, who for my money was the staff ace since 2007, being shipped to southern California (with Ryan Theriot) for Blake DeWitt. Holy hell.

I wouldn’t go as far to say Lilly was underappreciated during his tenure in Chicago, but I do think it’s fair to say he didn’t get the recognition he deserved.

Ask Cubs fans who the staff ace was during the back-to-back division titles in 2007-08 and most will give top billing to Carlos Zambrano or Ryan Dempster.

For certain, both guys had their moments, but neither was as solid as Lilly during his 3.5 seasons on the North Side.

From his first season with the Cubs in 2007 to the eventual July 31st trade in 2010, the southpaw managed 47 wins in 113 starts while posting a 1.114 WHIP and a sparkling ERA+ of 122.

Lilly not only proved to be a terrific ‘stopper’ when the Cubs were coming off a loss, but he was regularly juggled in the rotation to pitch in the Cubs’ most important series.

Theodore Roosevelt Lilly was the Cubs ace.

Unfortunately, that’s not how most Cubs fans remember him. Instead, it’s the memory of Lilly’s mound tantrum during Game 2 of the NLDS at Arizona, when Chris Young lit him up for a three-run HR in the second inning, prompting Lilly to slam his glove to the ground in frustration.

Granted it was the worst timing for a poor outing, but Cubs fans overreaction to Lilly’s brief loss of composure would’ve made one think he fired a ball into the stands, punched a teammate in the dugout or bumped an umpire…or any number of episodes Big Z was actually guilty of while acting in the roll of the Cubs’ staff ace (rolls eyes).

Still, nothing compares to Lilly being snubbed by Lou Piniella during the 2008 NLDS when the skipper went with Dempster, Zambrano and Rich Harden to start Games 1-3. The series was over before Lilly could throw a single pitch.

Meanwhile, since the trade Lilly has put up respectable numbers with L.A. He made 12 starts to finish out the 2010 campaign with a record of (7-4, 3.97 ERA). The following year, his first full season with the Dodgers, Lilly made 33 starts, pitched 192.2 innings and won 12 games with little to no run support. A nagging shoulder injury, however, limited him to just 8 starts last summer, although he still managed a (5-1, 3.14 ERA) record.

After three months of rehabbing, Lilly ultimately opted for arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in Sept., resulting in the Dodgers placing him on a modified throwing program this spring.

At 37-years-old, and in the final season of his contract, this may be Lilly’s last hurrah in the bigs. Los Angeles has a crowded rotation as it is, and any setbacks in Lilly’s recovery during spring training could see him as the odd man out in what would be his 15th major league season—the best of which took place with Chicago.

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Playing Pepper Cubs Style

By bullpenbrian - February 26, 2013 - 3:00 am. Leave a comment

Sammy Sosa Cubs
Daniel Shoptaw is the lead writer at C70 At The Bat: a St.Louis Cardinals blog (gasp!). He’s also the founding father and former president of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, of which I’m a member of the Cubs chapter.

For the past five seasons Daniel’s run a series called ‘Playing Pepper’ that previews the league’s 29 teams aside from those damn Redbirds.

It’s a simple format: Daniel relies on team specific bloggers to answer a few questions about their respective team’s offseason moves and expectations heading into the season.

His latest post tackles the Cubs, and I’ve posted my answer’s to Daniel’s questions below. To read the full article, which includes answers from several other Cubs bloggers, click here.

  • Playing Pepper: How would you grade the offseason?

Bullpen Brian: Grade: B. Solid upgrades to the rotation and outfield depth. Third base and center field remain sub-par.

  • Playing Pepper: What are your thoughts about the suggested Wrigley Field improvements?

Bullpen Brian: Long overdue and much needed. Wrigley Field has been updated many times, all for the better. These improvements should be the best yet.

  • Playing Pepper: How long do you expect to see Carlos Marmol wearing the Cubbie blue?

Bullpen Brian: Not long. Marmol could be dealt by the end of spring training, or by July 31 at the latest.

  • Playing Pepper: What rookie will make the biggest impact in 2013?

Bullpen Brian: The hope is it’s CF Brett Jackson, who struggled after his MLB debut last August: .175 avg, 59 K in 142 plate appearances.

  • Playing Pepper: What will be the final record of the team and where will they finish in the division?

Bullpen Brian: 72-90, 5th Place. The Cubs’ record, I’m afraid, will depend heavily on what happens at the July 31 trade deadline.

  • Playing Pepper: What one thing from your team are you most looking forward to watching?

Bullpen Brian: Player development: Is Jeff Samardzija No.1 material? A sophomore slump for Anthony Rizzo? Breakout year for Starlin Castro?

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Name That Cub!

By bullpenbrian - February 25, 2013 - 1:15 am. Leave a comment

Name that Cub!
Finished 2nd in 1989 ROY balloting.
Converted from starter to reliever with Boston.
He pitched on ‘both sides’ of Chicago.
Spent 2001-02 with Cubs totaling 27 saves.
Set an MLB record with 54 consecutive saves.
Only pitcher in MLB history with 100 wins, saves & holds.
His son is an infielder with the Dodgers.
Name that Cub! (Answer after the jump)

(more…)

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Cubs have 5th youngest roster in Major League Baseball

By bullpenbrian - February 25, 2013 - 1:00 am. Leave a comment

The Sandlot

Paul Schneider of Suicidesqueeze.com posted a list of the average ages of each major league team. The Cubs have the fifth youngest roster in the majors with an average age of 26.6.

Jorge Soler, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Sunday (Feb. 25), is the youngest cub on the 40-man roster. Starlin Castro, 22, whose birthday is March 24th, will likely remain the youngest player on the opening day roster.

As for the oldest player in the Cubs’ organization? It’s the soon-to-be, 38-year-old Hisanori Takahashi (April 2, 1975). The left-handed reliever was signed this winter to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

As for the current 40-man roster, however, it’s 37-year-old Shawn Camp (Nov. 18, 1975) who takes the Grey Beard Award. He’s roughly two months older than Alfonso Soriano, who was born on Jan. 7, 1976.

Seattle is tied with the Cubs for the fifth youngest roster, preceded by the Mets (26.4), Indians (26.3), Marlins (26.2) and Astros (25.7).

Interestingly, the oldest team in the league is the one with the highest payroll, the Dodgers, at 28.6. Former Cub, Ted Lilly, is the oldest player on their roster at 37-years-old.

Of course it’s possible the Cubs can make a push for the youngest team in the league by season’s end, if we see the departures of ageing veterans via trade such as Camp, Soriano, David DeJesus, Scott Hairston and Carlos Marmol.

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Chicago Cubs All-Seeing Eye

By bullpenbrian - February 24, 2013 - 1:00 pm. Leave a comment

Chicago Cubs prosthetic eye

I’ve seen this story making its rounds on the World Wide Web. But in case you’ve missed it, an Iraq war veteran chose a Cubs logo as the iris for his prosthetic eye.

The Smithsonian tweeted the story and there’s a picture of the ‘Cubs eye’ below. BuzzFeed Sports also took to Photoshop creating an image of what the Cubbie headlight might look like once implanted (photo above).

Perhaps this could only be more fitting if it were a Pirates logo, but unquestionably, what an honor for the Cubs to have a military hero showing his team spirit with such pride.

Red, white and blue, indeed!

Chicago Cubs prosthetic eye

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Former Cubs lefty Rich Hill signs with Indians

By bullpenbrian - February 23, 2013 - 9:00 am. 2 comments

Rich Hill Cubs

In a very Cub-like move, the Indians have signed former Cub Rich Hill to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Hill underwent Tommy John surgery in June of 2011.

Boston, however, deserves credit for saving Hill’s once promising career as a starter. The Red Sox lowered his arm angle and transitioned him to a full-time reliever in 2010. *(Hill did pitch some relief innings at Triple-A with St. Louis, but never reached the majors)

During the past three seasons, all with Boston, Hill is (2-0, 1.14 ERA) in 40 games–including 25 games last season after recovering from TJS. 

Despite a solid season with the Cubs in 2007, in which Hill made 32 starts, pitched 195.0 innings and won 11 games, he lost the confidence of Sweet Lou the following season by walking 18 batters in 19.2 innings of his first five starts. The Cubs subsequently optioned Hill to Triple-A Iowa, where he finished out the ‘08 season, and his career with the Cubs.

Baltimore took a flyer by purchasing Hill from Chicago in Feb. 2009. But the southpaw pitched even worse with the Orioles, winning just three games in 13 starts while posting a 7.80 ERA. Then Boston came calling, made a few alterations and wound up with a decent bullpen arm.

It’s a bit surprising Boston let the 32-year-old go, which could now prove a big steal for Cleveland, if, in fact, Hill has fully recovered from his elbow injury. And that’s exactly what the Cubs are hoping for with recent Tommy John Club members Scott Baker, Arodys Vizcaino and Chang-yong Lim.

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Offseason pics Wrigley Field

By bullpenbrian - February 22, 2013 - 5:00 pm. 2 comments

I snapped a couple of pics around Wrigley Field Thursday afternoon. Two maintenance trucks, at least that’s what they appeared to be, were stationed at the corner entrance of Addison & Sheffield.

Farther north on Sheffield was a crane assisting with what I assume is a rooftop project. But I couldn’t quite tell what improvements were taking place, and it was too cold to just stand around waiting for the blasted thing to show its hand.

What I do know is opening day is only a few short weeks away. Can’t wait to get back to the yard—even if it’s still freezing out.

Bullpen Brian 

Bullpen Brian

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Wrigley Field Renovations Early 1920s

By bullpenbrian - February 22, 2013 - 8:00 am. Leave a comment

Wrigley Field | Chicago, Illinois

“Children have sat at the knees of their grandfather and listened to him tell of the time the Cubs were in the World Series. And they have marked it off to just another fantasy by the old gaffer, like the depth of the snow fall in the year of the great blizzard.”
-
Jack Griffin, Chicago Sun-Times

In 1918 the Cubs stormed their way to the NL pennant.
But little ‘ol Wrigley couldn’t accommodate the growing fan base.
It became evident Wrigley Field needed to expand seating.
William Wrigley came up with an unspeakable plan…
He moved the Cubs’ home World Series games to a larger Comiskey Park!
By 1922 renovations on Wrigley Field were underway.
This included moving the entire field 60 feet southwest.
Later, in 1923, bleacher seats were added behind the outfield wall.
The additions increased Wrigley Field’s seating capacity to 20,000. 

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