An early post I wrote recanted my first Cubs game at Wrigley Field this past September. I was lucky to have such an experience. The organization had set the bar pretty high, how could any game ever compare to this?
I recently gave into joining the Twitter community, after having ‘bucked’ the system for the past year or so. I began by following Cubs players, following Kerry Wood, Ian Stewart, David DeJesus, Paul Maholm and others. Paul tweeted he would host a trivia giveaway on 22 March 2012. The last question Paul asked was who had he [Paul] hit his only career home run off of and where. He also stated the first correct answer would win two tickets for the Cubs home opener. Within seconds I answered. This is the response I received:
I arrived to the game at the game early to pick-up my tickets. I fully expected for the seats to be in the upper section of the stadium, which would have been fine as they were free tickets, but the tickets had a surprise of their own:
We went into the stadium and found our seats, which were on section up from home plate; a great view:
As we’re sitting, waiting for the opening day ceremonies to begin, I check my phone and notice I have a direct message from Paul. He said he was about to come onto the field and would look for me; I figured a friendly wave, head nod or something to that effect. A few minutes later, a gentlemen in a suit approaches us, ask if I am Josh and says Mr. Maholm would like to meet us. We are ushered to a sectioned area and Paul is already there waiting. We shake hands, exchange pleasantries; I wish him luck during the season, he thanks me for my service:
Unfortunately, I have only been to two games at Wrigley Field. However, both games have been experiences that I will never forget. The Cubs’ players and organization have been great to this fan. I’m not sure how many other organizations are the same way, but for these experiences I am grateful!
I was fortunate to attend Cubs’ Opening Day for the start of the 2012 MLB season (a great recap of the game can be found here). While driving back to Fort Knox, I listened to ESPN 1000 to catch highlights of opening day from around the league. Instead, what I found myself listening to was disheartened Cubs fans angry and bitter about the Cubs opening day lose. I had to turn off the radio, I felt so betrayed.
Fans commented on many aspects of the game: stating this was typical Cubs fashion, a sign of things to come throughout the season, terrible pitching from the bullpen, poor decisions from Sveum, a lackluster ball club, Theo should become accustom to these events and many others. These were not the same Cubs fans I have read and listened to throughout spring training. Where was the excitement, the hope, the understanding that the organization is in a revamping stage?
Consider the following factors:
1) Before Wood/Marmol gave away the Cubs’ lead, Dempster pitched an impressive game (7-2/3IP, 2H, 3BB, 1ER, 10SO). However, it took Dempster three innings to adjust to the weather conditions (explained in my next point) and to the home plate umpire’s strike zone. Dempster struggled with his command early (his three walks were in the first/third innings) and gave up two big hits (which could have resulted in seven runs for the Nationals, but thankfully the wind was blowing into Wrigley). Wood had 25 pitches and Marmol had 16 pitches to make adjustments; it took Dempster 54 of 108 pitches to make these same adjustments before he ultimately gained his composure and retired the next 11 batters. Wood also had 41,000 fans chanting on opening day with a 1-0 lead, which would shake any vets’ nerves.
2) The drastic change in weather conditions between Mesa, AZ and Chicago was evident for Dempster and Wood. Granted, the weather in Chicago has been above average this spring, the average temperature throughout March in Mesa was 77 degrees (84 degrees the last 10-days of March). Yesterday’s high temperature was 49 degrees with winds bellowing between 17-22mph during the game. The cold was obviously hindering Dempster and Wood’s grip and control of the ball as they both blew hot air on their pitching hand in attempts to warm-up.
3) Yes, the Cubs have struggled with base running and the coaching staff indicated they worked on this area throughout the spring. Joe Mather’s performance yesterday has fans scratching their heads in wonderment, thinking “Really!?” Understand, Mather came into the game as a pinch runner, standing on third, representing the tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning, on opening day. Should he have run? No. Why did he run? More than likely the excitement got to him. This is in no-way shape or form an indication of unimproved base running.
Granted, Cubs fans have every reason to be disgruntled with the organization throughout the past 103 seasons. However, if I felt that the true blue Cubs fans were betraying their team after just one game (the first game) of the season, I’m sure the Cubs players/organization feel the same way. My advice to Cubs fans: remain loyal to your team; don’t go off the deep-end after the first blown game of the season (it happens in 162 games!); and have hope, understand the organization is revamping and look forward to the next few seasons – we’re moving in the right direction.
IN THEO WE TRUST!
Do you have “opening day blues” because you are unable to attend the Cubs 2012 home opener at Wrigley Field? Are you hoping for some “opening day miracle” to occur with tickets falling into your lap (like the author of this post; having won two tickets from Paul Maholm)? Are you chancing catching the game by scalping tickets in front of Wrigley Field April 5th? If you feel as if all hope is lost and your 2012 MLB season is ruined, don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
Having been a Navy brat, and now enlisted in the Army for the past 10 years, I have moved frequently and often. I have had many different opportunities to experience baseball on TV. But no broadcast equals that of a Cubs game live on WGN.
One of my fondest memories from my youth, and still occurs to this day, is summer time baseball. Having the windows open in my house, a warm/humid breeze blowing around me, the smell of hotdogs and hamburgers cooking on the grill, opening a cold beverage of my choice (a few additional choices became available once I came of age) and watching Chicago Cubs baseball recreates a romantic nostalgia that many fans look forward to after a long cold winter. Especially if you’re from Northern Illinois.
Len and Bob (Twitter: @LenandBob) conduct a very entertaining broadcast for our beloved Cubs. They talk of past, present and future Cubs, the current game, upcoming games and MLB news. They discuss game day events from around the ballpark, respond to emails live on TV and even encourage “tweets” from followers during live broadcasts. Their commentary is upbeat, joyful and clever.
The production staff does a great job of showcasing not only the game, but the players, the fans, the atmosphere and Wrigley Field. Each and every game I have watched, I have felt as if I was at the ballpark without even leaving the comfort of my home. They really do an amazing job of highlighting the entirety of Cubs baseball.
So I encourage you to hold your head high if you are unable to attend the Cubs Opening Day at Wrigley Field. With the unseasonably warm weather around the nation, invite friends over, bust out the grill, open a few cold beverages of your choice (responsibly), bring out the Corn Hole boards/bags and tune in to WGN on April 5th at 1:20pm CST to experience the beginning of the Cubs 2012 season. You’ll be happy that you did.
And if all else fails, you can follow this author on Twitter @Helms83 as I will be at Wrigley Field for the home opener and posting tweets/pictures. I’m just saying…
Go Cubs, Go!
The Cubs organization met on Wednesday evening to determine the Opening Day 25-man Roster. On Thursday, the organization announced their decision:
While the fielders have been announced, Cubs beat reporters have stated that the bullpen is still undetermined. However, the Starting Roatation has been set and the Opening Day Pitcher has been announced. Here are the pitchers still in contention:
Ryan Dempster (First in Rotation)
Matt Garza (Second in Rotation)
Paul Maholm (Fifth in Rotation)
Jeff Samardzija (Third in Rotation)
Chris Volstad (Fourth in Rotation)