Archive for the ‘ Cubs and the Community ’ Category

Hot Off the Press: The November issue goes inside Wrigley Field’s 1060 Project

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On April 23, 1914, a new and thoroughly modern ballpark opened up on Chicago’s North Side. When the gates were flung wide on the Federal League’s crown jewel, Weeghman Park, fans were treated to their first look at a beautiful steel and brick structure that was designed to stand the test of time. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t need a little help.

Over the last 100 years, the iconic ballpark at the corner of Clark and Addison has gone through countless enhancements, modernizations and expansions. The game moves fast, and major league teams need to keep pace. In 1914, Weeghman Park had only one level, the press box was on the roof, and the facility seated just north of 14,000 people. Not much of that would fly today.

Since then, Wrigley Field has been updated with everything from a second deck, to a hand-operated scoreboard, to new bleachers, to stadium lights, to an improved field drainage system, to a right-field video board. At every step along the way, the Friendly Confines has retained its charm and feel—and has been better off for the additions. A ballpark doesn’t get to be 100 years old without evolving to meet the demands of its sport.

There are pros and cons about playing in a landmark, century-old facility. On the plus side, there is no more beautiful place to watch a Major League Baseball game than the Friendly Confines, from the bricks and ivy of the outfield wall to being ensconced in a thriving urban neighborhood. But there are things the park is missing too, from both a fan and player perspective.

Most fans wouldn’t argue with more and better food options or a few extra restrooms here and there. The players could use a larger clubhouse facility, a better strength and conditioning center, and underground batting tunnels to use during games. And the front office would love additional revenue from things like new video boards and advertising to help keep the Cubs competitive for the foreseeable future.

Every other team in the fiercely competitive NL Central has opened a new facility since 2001, and, make no mistake, they all have these things.

This offseason begins the next, and most ambitious, step in the evolution of Wrigley Field. Over the next four years, the Cubs plan to preserve the beauty and historic features fans have cherished about the ballpark for decades while updating and improving the gameday experience for everyone.

In Vine Line‘s November issue, we get a first look at The 1060 Project and how the plan will come together between now and 2018. We talked to the people who are making the restoration happen, from Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein to the project team, so fans know what to expect as the ballpark is enhanced.

“Wrigley has a very special vibe,” Ricketts said. “It’s a special place. We respect that. We think we understand what makes it so special, and all the things that people associate with this beautiful ballpark will be preserved. It will just have better amenities and better services and more information.”

We also jump into the 2014-15 offseason along with the Cubs players. After more than seven months of continuous routine and rigorous training, it’s an unusual experience for them to suddenly have so much free time on their hands. We stopped by the clubhouse in the season’s final days to find out how the Cubs handle the transition to the offseason.

Finally, for our monthly Wrigley 100 feature, we look back at one of the most beloved Cubs figures of all time, Harry Caray. The legendary broadcaster and Hall of Famer died in 1998, but he more than left his mark on the franchise in his 16 years in (and out) of the booth.

We’ll spend this offseason keeping you up-to-date on all the details of The 1060 Project in the pages of Vine Line, on the Web and on Twitter at @cubsvineline. Here’s to the next 100 years at Wrigley Field.

The 1060 Project breaks ground at Wrigley Field

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The restoration of historic Wrigley Field is officially underway. On Saturday, Oct. 11, the Chicago Cubs and the Ricketts family hosted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig, former Cubs pitchers Milt Pappas and Kerry Wood, city and state officials, community and corporate partners, and representatives from the project team at the groundbreaking ceremony for Wrigley Field’s long-awaited expansion and restoration, now titled The 1060 Project.

More than 200 people joined the team for the event, which included a ceremonial dig with special Cubs-themed shovels and a backdrop of construction already underway in the outfield.

“After years of working on a solution to save and improve Wrigley Field, we are thrilled to break ground on The 1060 Project,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. “This day marks a significant milestone in our quest to provide our players and fans with the best facilities in baseball.”

The 1060 Project will ensure the viability of the 100-year-old ballpark for future generations of Cubs fans, while preserving the beauty, charm and historic features fans have come to know and love.

“When you think of a baseball park that embodies its city, its community and its fans, there is simply no more powerful example in baseball than that of Wrigley Field and the profound bond it continues to inspire with Chicago, Illinois,” Selig said.

The four-year plan—which includes structural updates; improved player facilities; new signage, including video boards in left and right field; expanded concessions; new and improved restroom facilities; and much more—will be rolled out in four separate phases, beginning in the 2014-15 offseason. This privately-funded, $575 million project will create approximately 2,100 jobs and generate $1.2 billion in net new revenue to the local economy over the next 30 years.

“This restoration project is a significant private investment that will create thousands of jobs, ensure Wrigley Field can be enjoyed by Chicagoans for generations to come, and help the Cubs toward their goal of giving their fans a long-awaited World Series championship,” Emanuel said. “With this project, the Cubs are investing in more than just their historic stadium. They will continue to be a good neighbor by investing in the surrounding area for traffic flow, security and public parks. This is a great step for the Cubs and for all of Chicago.”

The 1060 Project team includes Pepper Construction, a Chicago-based firm that has nearly a century of experience on large-scale projects such as the Merchandise Mart, Marshall Field’s and the Shedd Aquarium; VOA, a full-service international architectural firm that designed many high-profile projects in the Chicago area, including Navy Pier, the Old Town School of Folk Music and Prentice Women’s Hospital; D’Agostino Izzo Quirk Architects (DAIQ), a full-service architectural firm instrumental in restoring Boston’s Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium and The Rose Bowl; ICON Venue Group, a project management company that has produced more than $4 billion worth of home venues for franchises in each major professional sports league, and has worked on Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, Toyota Park in Bridgeview and the Cubs’ new Spring Training complex in Mesa, Arizona; and Harboe Architects, led by nationally known, Chicago-based preservation architect Gunny Harboe, who has had oversight of major restoration projects such as the Sullivan Center, the Chicago Board of Trade and the Field Building.

The primary focus of the project’s first phase, to be completed this offseason, is infrastructure work. The ballpark’s structural steel and foundation will be strengthened, and much of the concrete in the Budweiser Bleachers will be replaced. More than 50 million pounds of new concrete will be poured at the Friendly Confines during the course of the restoration.

The first phase also includes the expansion and improvement of the left- and right-field Budweiser Bleachers. This expansion will provide more room for fans in the concourse, additional concession areas, and new group terraces where fans can congregate during Cubs games and other events. Several new outfield signs will be added this offseason, including a 3,990-square-foot video board in left field and a smaller 2,225-square-foot video board in right field.

Subsequent phases will address the improvement and expansion of player facilities; new bullpens and batting tunnels; new restrooms, concessions, seats, luxury suites, clubs, restaurants, and retail and entertainment spaces for fans; additional commissary space for food preparation; and an improved press box. A separate Ricketts family development will feature a hotel, a fitness club, a retail space and an open-air plaza adjacent to the ballpark.

For additional information about The 1060 Project, please visit www.wrigleyfield.com. And watch for the November issue of Vine Line, which will have a cover feature with details on all four phases of the restoration.

Hot Off the Presses: October Vine Line featuring the Cubs’ young talent

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It’s not always easy to stick to your guns. Especially if the decisions you’re making aren’t all that popular.

When Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod first came aboard with the Cubs, they were hailed as conquering heroes who could do no wrong and would soon (and inevitably) carry the organization to the promised land. The Chicago Sun-Times even ran a tongue-in-cheek image of Epstein walking on water.

The new baseball operations men quickly laid out their plan, set a clear course of action and got to work. Their stated goal was to hire the best people in the business, stockpile young talent and build a player-development machine to get that young talent on the fast track to Wrigley Field.

Once the brain trust started making their first moves, the fan base gave them the benefit of the doubt. Not everyone loved seeing favorites like Andrew Cashner, Ryan Dempster and Sean Marshall go, but people figured everything the front office touched would turn to gold. On the plus side, the Cubs picked up first baseman Anthony Rizzo, signed Cuban free agent Jorge Soler and drafted outfielder Albert Almora, among other, less-heralded moves. Despite finishing 2012 with 101 losses, baseball ops stayed the course.

By the time the 2013 campaign came to a close, the voices of dissent were growing louder. The Cubs traded Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano and fired manager Dale Sveum after a 96-loss season. Yet, the front office remained steadfast. While people grumbled, the team acquired players like Jake Arrieta, Corey Black, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and Pedro Strop; drafted Kris Bryant; and locked up Starlin Castro and Rizzo with team-friendly long-term deals.

Though the win-loss record didn’t improve dramatically in 2014, the Cubs’ collection of young talent—augmented by players like Billy McKinney, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber—hit critical mass. Now it’s undeniable the Cubs are coming fast, and people around baseball are taking notice. National columnists, local pundits and sports pages across the country are lauding the organization’s elite system.

For the past several years, if you were unwilling to look beyond the team playing at Wrigley Field, it was hard to see what the Cubs were building. When the major league team was losing, the idea of “top prospects” was too nebulous to provide much comfort. But once those same prospects started arriving in the bigs, it was hard to deny their energy, enthusiasm and raw talent.

Not every call-up posted huge numbers, but they all made strong impressions. Kyle Hendricks was occasionally dazzling, Jorge Soler demonstrated impact potential, and guys like Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara and Eric Jokisch all showed flashes.

Through everything—all the losses, all the complaints, all the stories about the Cubs’ struggles—the front office never wavered from their plan, even when it would have been easier (and much better PR) to hold onto some of their veteran talent and/or throw money at risky free agents. Now that patience is starting to pay off.

I’m in no way saying the Commissioner’s Trophy should be on its way to Clark and Addison next season. Baseball is far too random to guarantee anything like that. But it’s undeniable the Cubs have built a formidable foundation of talent that is the envy of the baseball world.

In the October issue of Vine Line, Baseball Prospectus’ Sahadev Sharma examines the work the front office has been doing to assemble the top system in the game. We also give readers a sneak peek into a true baseball treasure, as we take a tour through the famous Wrigley Field manual scoreboard with the men who work inside. Finally, we go back to June 23, 1984, when Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg made the entire baseball world and a national TV audience take notice with two memorable home runs in the fabled Sandberg Game.

You can always find news on Wrigley Field, the Cubs’ storied past and the organization’s bright future in Vine Line and on Twitter at @cubsvineline. And stay tuned this offseason—things are about to get fun.

—Gary Cohen

Final Homestand Promotions and Guests: 9/15/14-9/24/14

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The Final Cubs homestand will include Big Ten Rivalry Week.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already time for the final homestand of the season. From Sept. 15-24, Charles Barkley, Joakim Noah, Larry King and more will help the Cubs welcome the Reds, Dodgers and Cardinals to town for a last hurrah. If you’re a fan of the Big Ten, this is the series for you, as the Cubs will be hosting Big Ten Rivalry Week games the entire homestand.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines during the 10-game set.

Final Homestand Recap, Sept. 15-24

Monday, Sept. 15, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Big Ten Rivalry Week, Indiana vs. Purdue
  • First pitch: Shane Davis, Loyola University Chicago men’s volleyball coach
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Members of the 2014 National Champion Loyola University Chicago men’s volleyball team
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV+, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, Sept. 16, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Big Ten Rivalry Week, Minnesota vs. Wisconsin
  • First pitch: Charles Barkley, NBA Hall of Famer and current analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, Sept. 17, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Big Ten Rivalry Week, Michigan vs. Ohio State
  • First pitch: Joakim Noah, All-Star Chicago Bulls center
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, Sept.18, Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Healthcare Professionals Night
  • Pregame ceremony: Recipients of more than $330,000 in Diamond Project grants from Cubs Charities
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Big Ten Network’s BTN Live host Dave Revsine, analysts Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Friday, Sept.19, Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Travel Blanket presented by United Airlines (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: Larry King, host of Larry King Now on Ora.TV
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Nick Digilio, Pete McMurray and Patti Vasquez, WGN Radio talents
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, Sept. 20, Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Tumbler presented by Pepsi (first 10,000 fans)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: FOX-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, Sept. 21, Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 1:20 p.m.

  • Special Event: Big Ten Rivalry Week, Maryland vs. Rutgers
  • Promotion: Lunch Tote presented by Jewel-Osco (first 5,000 children)
  • First pitches: Actors Jason Beghe and Eamonn Walker from Chicago P.D. and Chicago Fire
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Monday, Sept. 22, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Big Ten Rivalry Week, Michigan State vs. Penn State
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Tom O’Reilly, Cubs Charities Bricks and Ivy Ball auction winner
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, Sept. 23, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Big Ten Rivalry Week, Iowa vs. Nebraska
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Tom Dreesen, comedian, Chicago native
  • Broadcast: WCIU-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, Sept. 24, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Big Ten Rivalry Week, Illinois vs. Northwestern
  • Pregame ceremony: Military Take the Field
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Wrigley Field grounds crew
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

2000s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 9/1/14-9/7/14

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Mark Prior and the Cubs celebrating after they clinched the 2003 NL Central Division. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The 2000s saw three first place finishes at Wrigley Field and dazzling performances from players like Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Starting Monday, Sept. 1, the Cubs welcome the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates to town for a 2000s-themed celebration. Fans can relive the decade along with Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt, Jon Lovitz and many more. And on Labor Day, the Cubs will celebrate the U.S. Little League Champion Jackie Robinson West All-Stars.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines during the six-game set.

2000s Homestand Recap, Sept. 1-7

Monday, Sept. 1 (Labor Day), Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 1:20 p.m.

  • Special Event: Salute to Armed Forces Day
  • Pregame recognition, first pitch, seventh-inning stretch: U.S. Little League Champion Jackie Robinson West All-Stars
  • Pregame ceremony: Salute to Armed Forces Day guests
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, Sept. 2, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Gatorade Protein Bars (postgame distribution to 5,000 fans)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Jimy Sohns, lead singer of Chicago-native rock band The Shadows of Knight
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV+, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, Sept. 3, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Oktoberfest Celebration
  • Pregame performance: Jesse White Tumblers
  • First pitches: Actor Chris Pratt from Parks and Recreation; Vicki Santo and Logan Burke, guest of Ron and Vicki Santo Diabetic Alert Dog Foundation
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV+, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Friday, Sept. 5, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Greg Maddux 3000th Strikeout Bobblehead presented by Bank of America (first 10,000 fans)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Cast members from the NightBlue Theatre show Clemente: The Legend of 21
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, Sept. 6, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 3:05 p.m.

  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: John Lovitz, actor and comedian
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, Sept. 7, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: 2008 home uniform
  • Promotion: 2000s Clark Build-a-Bear presented by Bank of America (first 5,000 children)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

 

A Cubs fan is living the dream in the MLB Fan Cave

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(Illustration by Jerry Neumann)

Michael Bolling isn’t sure what he wants to do next year, but for now, he’s already got most baseball fans’ dream job.

The 24-year-old multimedia journalism graduate from Lewis University is the first-ever Cubs representative in the MLB Fan Cave in New York City. That means he’s spending this year meeting MLB superstars, blogging and tweeting on behalf of MLB and the Cubs, and—first and foremost—watching every big league pitch thrown in 2014.

The MLB Fan Cave debuted in 2011, putting its Dwellers “at work” from noon, when the first pitch of the first afternoon game is thrown until about 1:30 a.m., when games wrap up on the West Coast. They also conduct public tours of the space and participate in the filming of MTV2’s weekly Off the Bat show.

“It actually really hectic,” Bolling said. “There’s a ton of stuff going on, but the main focus is when there are games on, we’re in front of those television sets, and we aren’t missing any pitches.”

The Fan Cave first came to Bolling’s attention during the 2013 World Series, when he saw last year’s Dwellers covering the games and getting premium media access. He ultimately hopes to have a career in sports, so when he saw the link to apply online, he was all in.

“I felt like it would be a good opportunity to at least find the door—and maybe even get my foot in the door—and that’s something that probably doesn’t come around very often,” he said. “I figured if I got anywhere near the last few cuts, and they were thinking about bringing me in, I was going to drop everything to do it.”

Bolling, who spent much of his childhood living about six blocks from Wrigley Field, has been a Cubs fan since birth—his mother is from the Dominican Republic and was friendly with Sammy Sosa’s family. He and a friend even drove from Chicago to Anaheim, California, in 2010 to watch Marlon Byrd represent the Cubs in the All-Star Game.

So far this year, Bolling has met countless major league players and even got a chance to play a Playstation MLB: The Show Home Run Derby with Dodgers star Yasiel Puig (for the record: Bolling won). But what he’s really looking forward to is when the Cubs come to New York to take on the Mets August 15-18, because that means some Cubs players will stop by the Cave.

“I don’t care who comes through the doors. I’m going to freak out,” Bolling said. “I really hope we can get Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo through to the Cave just to show them around and interact with them a bit. But honestly whoever is wearing the pinstripes and comes through that door, I’m going to be so happy to see them. I can’t wait.”

1980s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 8/8/14-8/14/14

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The first night game at Wrigley Field on Aug. 8, 1988. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The 1980s brought Ryno, Dawson, the Boys of Zim and the first night game at historic Wrigley Field. Starting Friday, Aug. 8, the Cubs welcome the Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers to town for a 1980s-themed celebration. Fans can relive the decade along with Jody Davis, Bill Bonham, Fergie Jenkins and many more.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines during the seven-game set.

1980s Homestand Recap, August 8-14

Friday, Aug. 8, Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: First Night Game Bobblehead presented by Las Vegas (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Jody Davis, former Cubs catcher
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, Aug. 9, Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Retro Headphones presented by Athletico (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Digger Phelps, former Notre Dame men’s basketball coach and retired ESPN college basketball analyst
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, Aug. 10, Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: ‘80s Throwback Cubs Rubik’s Cube presented by Comcast SportsNet (first 5,000 kids 13-and-under)
  • First pitch: Bill Bonham, former Cubs pitcher
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Monday, Aug. 11, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:05 p.m.

  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Fergie Jenkins, Hall of Fame Cubs pitcher
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, Aug. 12, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Cubs Scout Night
  • First pitch: Willy Roy, two-time champion Chicago Sting coach
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Members of the Chicago Sting 1981 championship team
  • Military recognition: U.S. Navy Leap Frogs
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, Aug. 13, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:05 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1988 home uniform
  • Special Event: ‘80s Rock Night/Zubazpalooza 2
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Steve Trout, former Cubs pitcher
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, Aug. 14, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Fathead presented by Pepsi (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitches: Miss Illinois, Marisa Buchheit, and actor Joel Murray
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Joel Murray, actor
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

 

Hot Off the Presses: August Vine Line featuring Anthony Rizzo

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Last month, the Cubs kicked off the annual trade deadline frenzy with some big Fourth of July fireworks, sending starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics for infielder Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney, right-handed pitcher Dan Straily and a player to be named later.

In some ways, the trade was difficult for Cubs fans to stomach, as they lost two of the top pitchers from a team that was suddenly looking, dare I say, formidable. But it might also be the move that finally puts the team over the hump and on the path to sustained excellence at the big league level.

In exchange for a right-hander who was only under contract through 2014 (Hammel) and another under contract through 2015 and seemingly eager to test the free agent waters (Samardzija), the Cubs received the A’s top two prospects, including one of the best in the game, and an arm that could see time in the big league rotation this season.

No one likes trading proven talent, especially a longtime Cub like Samardzija. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein made it clear several times in his press conference following the blockbuster deal how hard it was to part ways with the Shark.

“Nothing would make us happier than being in the position Oakland is in, which is to aggressively add to the big league team and enhance the team’s chances of making the postseason and winning the World Series,” Epstein said. “Being sellers is not what we want to do, so if we’re going to do it, we need to make it count. And we need to get a player back who significantly impacts the organization, helps change the landscape, helps make our future a heck of a lot better.”

In the past, Epstein has said there are two great currencies in baseball: deep reserves of young talent and massive amounts of payroll flexibility. The Cubs now have both.

Admittedly, most of this talent is still percolating in the minor leagues, but it’s coming fast. A year ago, it was the Big Three: Albert Almora, Javier Baez and Jorge Soler. This year—thanks to strong trades, draft picks and development—the Cubs have a Magnificent Seven of gifted hitters, with Arismendy Alcantara, Kris Bryant, Russell and Kyle Schwarber added to that mix.

Since the end of the steroid era, the big league pendulum has swung back toward pitching dominance, and hitting is becoming a rarer commodity. In other words, the Cubs are stockpiling the most precious resource in baseball—and they’ve got more of it than almost anyone else. With this trade, the organization now owns the No. 2 (Bryant), No. 5 (Russell) and No. 7 (Baez) prospects in the game, as ranked in the Baseball America midseason top 50.

Let me repeat that—the Cubs now have three of the top seven prospects in the game—and Baez is making his big league debut tonight in Colorado. Of course, prospects have a nasty habit of not always panning out as expected. But it’s important to remember all of these minor leaguers are essentially funneling into eight everyday major league spots. Two of those spots are already filled by 2014 All-Stars Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, while Alcantara and Baez are auditioning for two more.

This month, we look at cornerstone major leaguer Rizzo, who is having a terrific season on both sides of the ball and has taken a huge developmental step forward this year. We also say goodbye to Don Zimmer, a man who left an indelible mark on Cubs—and baseball—history over his 66 years in the dugout. Finally, we move off the diamond to the gridiron to remember what the Chicago Bears accomplished in their 50 years at the Friendly Confines, including Wrigley Field’s most recent championship in 1963.

To keep track of Cubs history—including history in the making—subscribe to Vine Line today and follow us on Twitter at @cubsvineline. With the way things are coming together for the team, the next championship season may not be far off.

—Gary Cohen

1970s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 7/22/14-7/31/14

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Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam playing at Wrigley Field in 2013. (Photo by Stephen Green)

Starting Tuesday, July 22, the Cubs welcome the Padres, Cardinals and Rockies to town for a 1970s-themed celebration at historic Wrigley Field. Fans can relive the decade of decadence along with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Rick Sutcliffe, Pat Fitzgerald, ESPN’s Mike & Mike, and many more.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines during the 10-game set.

1970s Homestand Recap, July 22-31

Tuesday, July 22, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Wine Tote presented by E&J Gallo Wine (first 10,000 adults 21+)
  • First pitch: Brad Guzan, USA World Cup team and Chicago native
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Mark Grant, San Diego Padres broadcaster and Chicago native
  • Broadcast: CSN+, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, July 23, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres, 7:05 p.m.

  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, July 24, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs T-shirt presented by StubHub (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitches: Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Harry Kane of English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Friday, July 25, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Jack Brickhouse Bobblehead with audio chip presented by Advocate Health Care (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Pat Brickhouse, widow of legendary broadcaster Jack Brickhouse
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, July 26, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Ernie Banks Replica Statue presented by Budweiser (first 10,000 adults 21+)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Rick Sutcliffe, former Cubs pitcher
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, July 27, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1978 road uniform
  • Promotion: ’70s Throwback Cubs Magic Baseball presented by Gonnella Baking Co. (first 5,000 children)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern University Head Football Coach
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Monday, July 28, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Northwestern Football Magnet Schedule
  • Special Event: Girl Scout Night
  • First pitch: NPR’s Scott Simon
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, July 29, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Mobile Device Power Bank presented by The Private Bank (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic
  • Seventh-inning stretch: ESPN’s Colin Cowherd
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, July 30, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs T-shirt presented by Benjamin Moore (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: Pete LaCock, former Cubs first baseman/outfielder from the 1970s
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Bill Madlock, former Cubs third baseman from the 1970s
  • Broadcast: CSN+, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, July 31, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 1:20 p.m.

  • Seventh-inning stretch: Fitz & The Tantrums
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

1960s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 7/11/14-7/13/14

Sayers

(Photo by Stephen Green)

A short, three-game homestand at Wrigley Field kicks off this Friday, July 11, as the Cubs welcome the Braves to town for a 1960s-themed celebration. Cubs fans can relive one of the venerable stadium’s greatest decades along with Hall of Fame Bears running back Gale Sayers, Rookie of the Year star Thomas Ian Nicholas and Cubs players from the 1960s.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines this weekend.

1960s Homestand Recap, July 11-13

Friday, July 11, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Gale Sayers Bobblehead presented by Comcast SportsNet (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: Carl Giammarese, Chicago native and original lead singer of 1960s band The Buckinghams
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Former Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, July 12, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 3:05 p.m. 

  • Promotion: Billy Williams Retired Number Flag presented by Wrigley (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Thomas Ian Nicholas, actor from Rookie of the Year
  • National Anthem: Derrick Mitchell, Out at Wrigley contest winner
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, July 13, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1969 home and visiting uniforms
  • Promotion: ‘60s Throwback Cubs Etch-A-Sketch (first 5,000 children)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Former teammates from the late-1960s, including Ernie Banks, Randy Hundley, Rich Nye, Paul Popovich and Ken Rudolph
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

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