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Cubs Home Opener Countdown

By bullpenbrian - April 3, 2013 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

5 days

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Cubs Home Opener Countdown

By bullpenbrian - April 1, 2013 - 4:05 pm Leave a comment.

7 days

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Now Who’s Out of the Cubs Starting Lineup?

By bullpenbrian - April 1, 2013 - 4:00 am Leave a comment.

Darwin Barney

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.

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Cathedrals of the Game: Houston Astrodome

By bullpenbrian - March 31, 2013 - 11:00 am Leave a comment.

Houston Astrodome

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.

ASTRODOME
-
"The Eight Wonder of the World"
-Opened April 24, 1965
-Closed October 9, 1999
-Still Standing
-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

  • Hits: Edgardo Alfonzo (6) – 8.30.99
  • Triples: *tied first* Ernie Banks (3) – 6.11.66
  • Steals: Tony Gwynn (5) – 9.20.86
  • RBI: Pete Incaviglia (7) – 6.14.92

Pitching Performances

  • Scoreless innings: Randy Johnson (36) – 1998
  • Strikeouts: Nolan Ryan, Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson (16)

Career Leaders

  • Games: Jose Cruz (931), Biggio (857), Cesar Cedeno (791)
  • Plate Appearances: Biggio (3,686)
  • Hits: Jose Cruz (949), Biggio (913)
  • Runs: Biggio (535), Jeff Bagwell (465)
  • HRs: Bagwell (126), Jim Wynn (97), Glen Davis (72)
  • RBI: Bagwell (469), Jose Cruz (460)
  • OBP: Bagwell (.421), Joe Morgan (.404), Biggio (.383)

Pitching Leaders

  • Wins: Larry Dierker (87). Joe Niekro (73), Mike Scott (65)
  • Complete Games: Dierker (67)
  • Shutouts: Dierker (17)
  • Saves: Dave Smith (107)
  • Strikeouts: Nolan Ryan (1,004), Dierker (882)
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Cubs Home Opener Countdown

By bullpenbrian - March 30, 2013 - 2:00 pm Leave a comment.

9 days

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Fantasy Baseball Names for Chicago Cubs Fans

By bullpenbrian - March 28, 2013 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

Fantasy Baseball

Still in need of a team name for your fantasy baseball league?
Look no further than this list of 10 well suited nicknames for Cubbies fans.
Feel free to use, at your own risk of course!

Click here

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Late 1920s Wrigley Field Renovations

By bullpenbrian - March 8, 2013 - 9:30 am Leave a comment.

Weeghman Park

"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.

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Wrigley Field Bleacher Renovations 1925-26

By bullpenbrian - March 1, 2013 - 2:00 am 2 comments.

“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.

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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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