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It’s one of the longest home runs in the 13-year history of PNC Park, and the longest home run of Rizzo’s career. His previous high was a 432′ blast off the Pirates’ Jared Hughes on Sept. 16, 2012.
Rizzo’s opening day smash is the second longest in the big leagues this season, behind Braves outfielder Justin Upton, who hammered a 460′ shot off Cole Hamels at Turner Field on Monday. (video here)
Meanwhile, three former Cubs have registered some of the longest tape measure shots in PNC Park’s history (which, unfortunately, I was unable to locate an up to date list of the park’s longest home runs as of 2012). To the best of my knowledge, Sammy Sosa remains atop the list with his 484′ smash that landed near the base of the flag poles in deep left-center field on April 12, 2002.
Three months later, Daryl Ward, then playing for Houston, crushed one 479′ on July 6, 2002. It remains the only home run to reach the Allegheny River on the fly.
Matt Stairs, as a member of the Pirates, cleared the right-center field seats with a 461′ blast that rolled into the Allegheny on July 21, 2003.
This is it, folks. One more week of spring games before the lid lifter at Pittsburgh on April 1st. And somewhat surprisingly, this year marks the first time since 1978 the Cubs will open on the road against the Pirates. Who knew?
Meanwhile, this time next weekend the Cubs will be in Houston for two exhibition games against the Astros to wrap up the spring. Entering this afternoon’s Cactus League contest against the Angels at HoHoKam Stadium, the Cubs are (14-15) overall having won 9 of their last 14 games.
Minutia of note:
Ernie Banks narrates the 30-second spot reminding us “it’s time to get young again.” No doubt the Cubs have a youthful roster, the fifth youngest in the bigs to be exact.
But I’m already looking forward to next year’s “it’s time to get good again” campaign. Is that jumping the gun? Either way, this spot gets the juices flowing.
We’re now just 20 days out from opening day (April 1), and 27 days away from the home opener against Milwaukee (April 8). Can’t wait.
— Len Kasper (@LenKasper) March 12, 2013
I had the wonderful privilege of joining staff sergeant Josh Helms as his honorary guest for Opening Day.
He’s a proud father of two, loving husband and member of our armed forces, including having served three tours of duty in the Middle East.
Of course, I’d be remised not to point out Josh’s faithful commitment to Cubdom, of which we discussed at length while eating hot dogs, drinking Old Style and shivering our way through the Cubs lid-lifter–despite the outcome, as Pat Foley would say.
The tickets, behind home plate in section 120, came courtesy of Cubs left-hander Paul Maholm, who raffled them off through Twitter last Thursday.
Maholm was also kind enough to speak with Josh & I beforehand this afternoon near the Cubs dugout. A class move from the southpaw, indeed.
As Bill Murray whipped the fans into a frenzy with his ceremonial first pitch sprint around the bases, I knew we were in for an unforgettable day at Wrigley.
The Cubs and Mets made baseball history in March of 2000 playing a two-game series in Tokyo, Japan. It marked the first time major league baseball opened the season outside of North America.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who had previously skippered the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1995 (he would later return to manage the Marines from 2004-2009).
Mike Piazza was the other star attraction for the Mets, but both Metropolitans paled in comparison to the excitement surrounding the arrival of Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa.
Sosa, like Valentine, was also making a return visit to Japan. He had previously headlined an MLB All-Star cast that toured Japan following the 1998 season–when Sosa was fresh off his thrilling home run chase with Mark McGwire.
Sosa’s glowing smile was plastered on posters that covered Tokyo hyping the series on subway signs and store front windows.
After an 18-hour flight from spring training in Mesa, Arizona, the Cubs settled in for two exhibition games against the Tokyo Giants and Seibu Lions. Then it was time to face the Mets on March 29.