WBEZ | Opening Day http://www.wbez.org/tags/opening-day Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Wrigley Field-Chicago's gem needs some polish http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/wrigley-field-chicagos-gem-needs-some-polish-106527 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rsz_wrigley_nam_y_huh_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>All the chatter surrounding the future of Wrigley Field is almost smothering&nbsp;Opening Day and the ballpark. Let the politicians, the Ricketts family and the neighborhood slug it out and figure the steps of what will happen to this iconic stadium next.</p><p>After this year the face lift will begin in earnest. It is needed and will be welcomed by players, managers and the media. There have been some subtle changes as the park nears its 100<sup>th</sup> year, but it is still a place where the Cubs and the fans celebrate the game of baseball.</p><p>When the Chicago Tribune bought the team thirty years ago from the Wrigley family, they had a huge obstacle to face with their plans for the park. After a long, losing history, the Cubs made the 1984 playoffs, but the lack of lights became a rallying cry by team ownership. Major league baseball penalized the Cubs post season schedule against the San Diego Padres because they couldn&#39;t play night games. After the Illinois legislature finally gave the green light to the team, Wrigley Field finally turned on the lights in August, 1988. The first scheduled lit game was supposed to be August 8, 1988, but Mother Nature had her own idea, and rain postponed the game, so the actual first game under the lights was the next night, August 9th.</p><p>The uniqueness of this old ballpark is what makes it special to baseball fans, not just Cub fans. Boston&rsquo;s Fenway Park is the only baseball stadium that shares similar feelings for its field, structure and surroundings. Having been to both venues, the &ldquo;Friendly Confines&rdquo; gets the nod from me. But only to watch the game, the amenities need to be replaced and upgraded. The very small locker room for both the home team and visitors is one of the toughest to navigate. A bad rain can cascade into the dugouts and into the Cubs locker room. The media room for interview sessions behind the dugout is very cramped. It was priceless when former Cub Lou Pinella stepped into the room for his first press conference there, he couldn&rsquo;t believe it was that small. It was just one of many aspects of the old park he discovered would be an adjustment for him and any manager before and after.</p><p>Do you ever wonder why the managers are perched by the steps in the dugout? Their vision of the field is limited because of the deepness of the dugout.</p><p>The press box and broadcast booths are the smallest in all of the Major Leagues. It is always fun to hear the New York Yankee contingent come to Wrigley Field and complain about the working conditions and their seats. From their broadcasters to the working media, they gripe from the time they get there until the time they leave. Somehow they fault the Cubs staff for the conditions, and they think they can magically fix it.</p><p>These are some of the negative issues about Wrigley and there are more, but let&rsquo;s not dwell on it.</p><p>Here are some of the positives, the big manual scoreboard,&nbsp;the green ivy on the brick wall and the closeness to the field. If you are lucky enough to sit in the first row near the bullpens or near the on-deck circle, you can have conversations with the players and the sometimes the manager. It is Gary Pressey playing the organ and the celebrity-led 7<sup>th</sup> inning stretch (In my opinion, should be retired).</p><p>The bleachers are a special place in the ballpark and probably the most famous, as well as the&nbsp;favorite place for fans. You can rub elbows with regulars that have sat there for decades. Legendary broadcaster Harry Caray would broadcast from there. That area and the people that inhabited those seats were immortalized in the 1977 play, <em>Bleacher Bums. </em>Chicago native actor Joe Mantegna hatched the idea for the play and starred in the original production with another Chicagoan, Dennis Farina. &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;The Cub teams that have played year in and year out have not had the ultimate success at Wrigley. The last time they played in a World Series was 1945, and they lost, of course, to the Detroit Tigers. The famed 1969 team thrilled the Cub faithful throughout that year, only to fade at the end. Four members of that team made the Hall of Fame - Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ron Santo. There were several other players that enjoyed great careers at Wrigley, most recently, Ryne Sandberg,Andre Dawson and Sammy Sosa come to mind. There hasn&#39;t been much of a post season throughout the last few decades, the 2003 season being the closest the team has come recently. Five outs away and the world stood still as a foul ball changed the complexion of that playoff series. Wrigley Field never felt so down.</p><p>Even after losing 100 games last season, the park is still a place for baseball fans to congregate. My dear friend, Sue, lives in England, and when she makes her way &ldquo;over the pond,&quot; Wrigley Field is a coveted stop no matter how the team in playing.</p><p>Years ago I brought my favorite uncle to a game. I surprised him with a chance to go on the field and have his picture taken by team photographer Steve Green. Wrigley is one of the only places that can make grown people cry. My uncle certainly did that day.</p><p>It&#39;s Opening Day at Wrigley, with the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers facing off this afternoon. I&#39;ll be there along with thousands of others.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sun, 07 Apr 2013 15:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/wrigley-field-chicagos-gem-needs-some-polish-106527 What does 2013 look like for the Cubs and White Sox? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-03/what-does-2013-look-cubs-and-white-sox-106386 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_spring_training_gene_j_puskar.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Spring training is just about over. (AP/File)" /></div><p>Both the White Sox and the Cubs have left Arizona and played their final spring training games. Opening Day is Monday with all its splendor and hopes that the day brings for baseball fans. Here are some news and notes about the impending 2013 season.</p><h2><strong>New Faces for the Cubs</strong></h2><p>The one major free agent signing by the Cubs was often-traded pitcher Edwin Jackson. The 29-year-old right hand starter inked a 4-year, $54 million contract. Jackson had &ldquo;a cup of coffee&rdquo; with the White Sox a few years ago and will pitch plenty of innings for second year manager Dale Sveum.</p><p>Veteran Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa will be part of the bullpen. The Cubs signed the 32-year old pitcher for need and to possibly replace Carlos Marmol if he is traded. Of course, if the team tanks this year, Fujikawa may have trade value at the deadline.</p><p>In right field, the Cubs brought in Nate Schierholtz with a one year deal. He played for Philadelphia and San Francisco.</p><p>The Cubs also signed a few veterans to the pitching staff: Scott Baker (former Twin), Carlos Villanueva (former Blue Jay/Brewer) and Scott Feldman (former Ranger). Baker&rsquo;s surgically repaired elbow flared up in his first spring training appearance. The Cubs are expected to shut him down for at least a month. Feldman was a reliever that converted to a starter six years ago.</p><p>Trying to stabilize the young starting catcher Welington Castillo, the Cubs brought in eight-year veteran Dioner Navarro.</p><h2><strong>Cubs departures</strong></h2><p>It was sayonara to Bryan LaHair. Last year he was an All-Star player who lost his starting job to Anthony Rizzo. He is now in Japan.&nbsp;The team also parted ways with third base coach Pat Listach.</p><h2><strong>Front and center for the Cubs</strong></h2><ul><li>Wrigley Field issues will loom over this team until an agreement is made between the team, neighborhood and the city.</li><li>On the field, the Cubs will try to avoid a hundred losses and continue the path to success with young players in the Cubs&#39; minor leagues.&nbsp; Darwin Barney&rsquo;s play at second earned him a Gold Glove in 2012; shortstop Starlin Castro hopes to improve on his defense too.</li><li>The Cubs front office signed many stop gap players to try to have a competitive team.</li><li>Despite what his critics think, Alfonso Soriano has proven to be a leader and did produce very solid numbers at the plate.</li><li>The star in the making is first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He has all the tools.</li><li>Pitcher Matt Garza strained his left side but&nbsp;is expected to improve soon. Garza could be an important to help the club on the mound or a deal.&nbsp;</li><li>Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija needs to remain consistent.</li><li>Unfortunately for the Cubs this year, Houston is now in the American League. The NL Central cellar may be where the Cubs may finish.</li></ul><h2>New Faces for the White Sox</h2><p>The biggest change came in the front office. Rick Hahn is now the team&rsquo;s general manager as Ken Williams moves up the ladder. Hahn didn&rsquo;t make any wholesale moves. He did re-sign Jake Peavy to an extension.&nbsp; To fill a hole left by the departure of Kevin Youkilis (we barely got to know you), Hahn signed former Tampa Bay third baseman Jeff Keppinger to a three-year deal. He is a career .288 hitter. Keppinger makes contact and does not strike out. He is just getting back into action after injuring his shoulder during training camp.</p><p>Just before spring training, the Sox acquired 25-year-old third baseman Conor Gillespie from San Francisco. He has been fighting all spring to make the roster.</p><p>One more new face with the Southsiders is actually a familiar face: Bobby Thigpen. The former White Sox closer has been working with the minor league teams. He will now handle the bullpen duties after Juan Nieves departed to become the Red Sox pitching coach.</p><h2><strong>White Sox departures</strong></h2><p>Catcher and most hated player in baseball, AJ Pierzynski is now a Texas Ranger. Phillip Humber (remember he had a perfect game) pitches for Houston and third baseman Kevin Youkilis signed with the New York Yankees (not a big loss since he really didn&rsquo;t want to be here).</p><h2><strong>Front and center for the White Sox</strong></h2><ul><li>Last year under rookie manager Robin Ventura the team flourished and was competitive all year. The club ran out of gas, they had many young inexperience players that were tired at season&rsquo;s end. Also a so-so bench hurt them.</li><li>Alejandro DeAza developed into a nice lead-off hitter and played well in center field.</li><li>The young guns in the bullpen were a real strength: Nate Jones, Hector Santiago and Addison Reed. They learned quickly in the majors. With Matt Thorton, Matt Lindstrom and Jesse Crain (he is dealing with right adductor strain) the bullpen can be one of the best.</li><li>John Danks will begin the season on the DL as he continues to recover from his shoulder surgery.</li><li>Dylan Axelrod will be given an opportunity in the rotation.</li></ul><p>If Jake Peavy, pitching phenom Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Gavin Floyd (and eventually Danks) stay healthy and produce, the Sox have a chance in the competitive AL Central. The bats of Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko and Alex Rios must anchor the offense. AJ&rsquo;s replacement Tyler Flowers is a better receiver behind the plate, it is yet to be determined if he can produce at the plate.</p><p>The White Sox may be bridesmaids to the Detroit Tigers again, but they should be a factor.</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a></p></p> Fri, 29 Mar 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-03/what-does-2013-look-cubs-and-white-sox-106386 Bill Savage on the similarities between sports, theatre and pornography http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-29/bill-savage-similarities-between-sports-theatre-and-pornography-976 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-27/6962936021_f35f29dde8.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-27/6962936021_f35f29dde8.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; " title="The Chicago Cubs at Spring training in Arizona (Flickr/Chuck Reynolds)"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-27/4097051427_908441630f.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; " title="Lookingglass Theatre, in downtown Chicago (Flickr/Ed and Eddie)"></p><p>Sports fans and theater fans appear to have little in common. But both celebrate a spring season, argues Northwestern English Professor Bill Savage (yes, brother of <a href="http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=13104081">Dan</a>), and we're on the brink of it. In fact, Savage says that&nbsp;"the fundamental nature of the theatre and sports and pornography is the same: People watching other people do something."</p><p>Savage explained the clear scientific reasoning behind his theory at <em>The Paper Machete</em> on Saturday. Read an excerpt, or listen below:</p><p><em>"Chicago is a tribal place, as is especially apparent right before baseball’s rite of spring, Opening Day. April 5 at Wrigley, Friday April 13 at Cellular One -- good luck White Sox! North Side v. South Side, Cubs fans v. Sox fans, all the dormant rivalries that sleep, even through the mild off-season like the one we’ve just had, awaken from their winter torpor and blink at the sunlight like sewer rats coming up the stairs at the Clark and Division Red Line stop. Or maybe like flowers blooming, Persephone returning from Hades, whatever vernal metaphor suits your fancy.</em></p><p><em>People who take baseball seriously often write about this seasonal cycle: Baseball begins with spring, the return of fertility to the earth, heats up through the summer, then with autumn’s harvest declines into the World Series--except at Wrigley Field. During winter, fans huddle around the 'hot stove</em>'&nbsp;<em>to discuss the season past and the one to come. Great baseball writer Thomas Boswell entitled one of his books </em>Why Time Begins on Opening Day.</p><p><em>People who don’t take sports seriously counter: </em>Why Time Slows Down to a Dead Stop And I Die Inside at the Very Thought of Having to Watch a Baseball Game.&nbsp;</p><p><em>This attitude brings us to another tribal division prominent in Chicago culture, and, I would imagine, in this very room, a divide bigger than the one between Cubs and Sox fans–who after all are both baseball fans, albeit of different combative sub-species, a divide bigger than the political one between the Schaumburg Tea Party Republican douchenozzle and the Occupy La Salle Street Pilsen-gentrifying crust-punk:</em></p><p><em>Sports fans v. theatre patrons."</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1333162438-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/bill savage.mp3">&nbsp;</audio><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a>&nbsp;<em>is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 p.m., it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.org/thepapermachete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 29 Mar 2012 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-29/bill-savage-similarities-between-sports-theatre-and-pornography-976 Opening Day video: Chicago's #1 Cubs fan (or at least the drunkest) http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-04-01/opening-day-video-chicagos-1-cubs-fan-or-least-drunkest-84624 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-01/cubs-fans.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>UPDATE: Listen to Colleen Henneman talk about Opening Day 2012 on <em>Afternoon Shift</em></p><p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1333732658-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Colleen%20Henneman.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div></p><p>I went up to Wrigley Field this morning to revel in another season of Chicago Cubs baseball. Wrigleyville comes alive (or dies a little) when the Cubs' season begins and Opening Day offers fans a chance to start drinking just after sunrise.</p><p>I caught up with one fan who claims she was the first person in line for bar time this morning. She also claims to be the biggest Cubs fan on the planet. And she has a pink Cubs hat, which separates her from the pack.&nbsp; Introducing...Henneman.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/21819920?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" frameborder="0" height="284" width="503"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;">It's <a href="http://www.twitter.com/sarahjindra">no Sarah Jindra traffic report</a>, but you gotta love Henneman.</p></p> Fri, 01 Apr 2011 20:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-04-01/opening-day-video-chicagos-1-cubs-fan-or-least-drunkest-84624