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Name the Cubs opening day first baseman last year. Anthony Rizzo? Bryan LaHair? Nope, try Jeff Baker.
LaHair was a late scratch with a tight back (if I remember correctly). Baker stepped in nicely going 1-for-3 with a walk in the Cubs 2-1 loss vs. Washington.
Thankfully, however, LaHair was back playing the next game, albeit off the bench, and returned to the starting lineup by the third game of the season.
LaHair went 2-for-4 with two doubles in his first start to began his tear of batting .390, 5 HRs, 14 RBI during the month of April (a hot streak that essentially made LaHair an NL All-Star).
It appeared whatever back troubles LaHair suffered on opening day were minor, if that, and may have simply been the result of the cool weather at Wrigley Field during pregame warmups. Ultimately, it was no biggie.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case with Darwin Barney this year, who’s looking at a possible 15-day DL stint after suffering a knee injury during the Cubs final exhibition game on Saturday.
Barney, chasing down a popup, gashed his left knee to the bone after colliding with a concrete slab in foul territory. The cut required five stitches, and likely has Darwin out of game action for the next several days–at best.
So yeah, losing your Gold Glove second baseman right before opening day is definitely a biggie.
In the meantime, newcomer Brent Lillibridge will make today’s opening day start at second base in place of Barney. And if Darwin does, in fact, get placed on the DL, another journeyman, Alberto Gonzalez, 30, could also see playing time at second.
If we’re lucky Barney will be back soon, and possibly soon enough for us to forget 12 months from now he ever missed the 2013 lid lifter. Chances are, though, we won’t forget if Mr. Gold Glover starts the season on the DL.
One of the special treats about being a Cubs fan is the beauty and charm of Wrigley Field. It’s one of the most cherished ballparks in baseball, and especially to those rooting for the Cubs.
Of course not all baseball fans have the privilege to grow up enjoying the gem of a ball yard at Clark and Addison. Instead, for many youngsters the greenest grass on earth may have resided at one of the rinky-dink stadiums of the 1950-60s, or in other cases, there wasn’t any green grass at all, but the shine of green Astroturf in the multi-purpose, cookie cutter parks from the 1970-80s.
At any rate, they’re all cathedrals to budding baseball fans dreaming of playing in the major leagues. It’s where heroes play and where hearts jump out of chests the moment the field comes into view after passing through a turnstile.
This season I’ll be writing about the many cathedrals of major league baseball; young and old, good and not so good, and all those in between. Particularly, I’ll look at some (not all) of the best performances in each stadium. Who had the most career hits? Who stole the most bases in a single game? Which pitcher collected the most strikeouts? etc.
With the opening of the 2013 season in Houston, I begin this series with the Astrodome, the former home of the former National League Astros.
-"The Eight Wonder of the World"
-Opened April 24, 1965
-Closed October 9, 1999
-Key Feature: Air conditioning
-Originally the park was to have natural grass growing beneath the more than 4,000 clear plastic panels on the roof. When that didn’t work, it lead to the birth of Astro Turf.
Top Individual Performances Single Game
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"If they ever cut the ivy down, they’ll find a hundred baseballs
in there." -Andre Dawson
-Wrigley Field underwent more changes in 1927.
-Upper deck seating became available, but only in left field.
-A year later the right field seating was completed in 1928.
-In turn, the Cubs began setting attendance records.
-1,485,166 fans set a new team attendance record in 1929.
-Attendance June 27, 1930 vs. Brooklyn Robins: 51,556
-Still the largest crowd ever for baseball at Wrigley Field.
“There are millions of Cubs fans who did not grow up in Chicago. Why? It’s Wrigley Field. You see that great old ballpark on television–the ivy on the walls, the people on the rooftops, the bleacher bums, the old stadium–and it’s everything you ever dreamed baseball could be.” -Randy Hundley, former Cub
In 1925 more renovations took place at Cubs Park (Wrigley Field).
The left field wall was moved back at the request of the Cubs’ pitching staff.
This mid-season change created the ‘jury box’ look, still present to this day.
In 1926 Cubs owner William Wrigley attached his name to the ballpark.
Shortly after he began the construction of upper deck seating.
Wrigley hired the architecture firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White.
The same firm which designed the Merchandise Mart and the Wrigley Building.
* Photo: Temporary bleachers over Waveland Ave for the 1929 World Series.
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.
One of the most iconic stadiums in the country, the Chicago Cubs‘ home 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.
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.
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:
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!).