Archive for the ‘ Experience Wrigley Field ’ Category

Cubs, Giants set to resume Tuesday’s suspended game Thursday afternoon

RainDelay
As announced today by Major League Baseball, the Tuesday, August 19, game against the San Francisco Giants is scheduled to resume tomorrow at Wrigley Field.  The game will resume at 4:05 p.m. CT with the Cubs batting in the bottom of the 5th inning.  Following the conclusion of the game, the Cubs and Giants will play their regularly-scheduled game at 7:05 p.m.

Ticket holders from the Tuesday, August 19, game may redeem their tickets for tomorrow’s 4:05 p.m. game and remain for the regularly-scheduled 7:05 p.m. contest against the Giants.  Ticket holders for tomorrow’s 7:05 p.m. game may also attend the 4:05 p.m. game from their ticketed seats.

To redeem tickets, fans must present the Tuesday, August 19, game ticket at the Wrigley Field Ticket Office. Tickets may be redeemed for the best comparable seats and are subject to availability. They cannot be refunded or exchanged for cash value.

Tuesday, August 19, ticket holders who cannot make tomorrow’s  game may opt for a complimentary weeknight game at Wrigley Field during the remainder of the 2014 season as announced today by the team.

1990s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 8/19/14-8/24/14

Wrigley Field Tote Bag
This Wrigley Field 100 tote will be given to the first 10,000 fans on Saturday, Aug. 23.

The 1990s marked the arrival of Sammy Sosa, a stretch of continued excellence by Mark Grace, a dazzling performance by Kerry Wood and a Wild Card Tiebreaker win for the ages. Starting Tuesday, Aug. 19, the Cubs welcome the San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles to town for a 1990s-themed celebration. Fans can relive the decade along with Chris Chelios, Gary Sinise and many more.

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

1990s Homestand Recap, August 19-24

Tuesday, August 19, Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Floppy Hat presented by Pepsi and Jewel-Osco (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: Members of the WNBA Chicago Sky basketball team
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Wayne Messmer, longtime Cubs national anthem singer
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, August 20, Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Star Wars Night
  • First pitch: Mark Duplass, actor from The League and The Mindy Project
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Chris Chelios, former Blackhawks player
  • Broadcast: WCIU-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, August 21, Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Social Media Night
  • First pitch: Social Media Night winner
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Friday, August 22, Chicago Cubs vs. Baltimore Orioles, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Kerry Wood 20-Strikeout Bobblehead presented by Budweiser (first 10,000 adults 21+)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Gary Sinise, actor, producer and director
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, August 23, Chicago Cubs vs. Baltimore Orioles, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Wrigley Field Tote Bag presented by Starwood Preferred Guest (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and Seventh-inning stretch: John Groce, Fighting Illini basketball coach; Members of the band O.A.R.
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, August 24, Chicago Cubs vs. Baltimore Orioles, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1994 alternate uniform
  • Promotion: ’90s Throwback Gracie the Swan Beanie Baby (first 5,000 children)
  • First pitch: TBD
  • 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 wrigleyfield100.com.

 

Wrigley and the Cubs set to celebrate the 1990s

Gracie

Mark Grace led the 1990s in both hits and doubles. (Getty Images)

The 1990s at Wrigley Field featured some of the most memorable moments in franchise history. Mark Grace was a hit machine, Sammy Sosa bashed his way into MLB history, and the young Kerry Wood made his heralded rookie debut during the decade. The Cubs will celebrate the 1990s at Wrigley Field when they host a six-game homestand against the Giants and Orioles from August 19-24. The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty concessions and entertainment will all mirror the sights and sounds of the 1990s as part of the season-long celebration of the ballpark’s 100th birthday.

The Cubs’ promotional schedule includes four giveaway items: a Cubs Floppy Hat, a Kerry Wood 20-Strikeout Bobblehead, a Wrigley Field Tote Bag and a ’90s Throwback Gracie the Swan Beanie Baby. The team will host two special events, offering fans a chance to attend a game with others who share the same interests along with an exclusive promotional item and fan experience. This homestand, the Cubs will host the team’s first ever Star Wars Night on Wednesday, Aug. 20, and their annual Social Media Night on Thursday, Aug. 21.

To help Wrigley Field continue its season-long centennial celebration, rock band O.A.R. will perform an Extra Innings Show as part of a free music event presented by Budweiser. The event will take place Saturday, Aug. 23, from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. in the Red and Purple Lots on the west side of Wrigley Field. O.A.R. will take the stage for a 90-minute postgame set immediately following the conclusion of the Cubs’ afternoon game against the Orioles. Other live entertainment will be available throughout the day. Vienna Beef hot dogs, snacks and Anheuser-Busch products, as well as O.A.R. merchandise, will be available for purchase during the event.

Special Event tickets for Star Wars Night and Social Media Night can be purchased at cubs.com/specialevents.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, Aug. 24, the Cubs will wear a popular throwback alternate uniform from 1994 with “Cubs” written in red script across the front of the jersey. The visiting Orioles will wear a throwback road uniform from 1994 as well.

Promotional Giveaways:
Fans coming to the ballpark will have the chance to collect promotional items throughout the homestand, beginning with a Cubs Floppy Hat, for the first 10,000 fans Tuesday, Aug. 19. On Friday, Aug. 22, the first 10,000 adults 21-and-over will receive a Kerry Wood 20-strikeout Bobblehead. On Saturday, Aug. 23, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Wrigley Field Tote Bag. On Sunday, Aug. 24, the first 5,000 children 13-and-under will receive a ’90s Throwback Gracie the Swan Beanie Baby.

Special Events:
The Cubs will host their first-ever Star Wars Night on Wednesday, Aug. 20. Fans can enjoy a night of baseball and intergalactic fun in the Budweiser Bleachers, Terrace Reserved Outfield or Upper Deck Box Outfield. Every ticket holder for this special event will receive an exclusive Jedi Rizzo bobblehead, with a portion of proceeds going to the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation.

On Thursday, Aug. 21, Social Media Night attendees will receive an exclusive #WrigleyField100 shirt and access to an interactive pregame filming of Comcast SportsNet’s Sports Talk Live at Wrigley Field’s Captain Morgan Club. One attendee will be selected to throw a first pitch before the night’s game (must be present for the drawing). Other exciting prizes, such as game-used and autographed memorabilia, merchandise and gift cards, will be available throughout the evening.

Additionally, during the night’s game, the team will rely exclusively on fan-generated images from selected Social Media Night attendees to populate the club’s social media channels, including photos and videos of the evening’s ceremonial first pitches, the seventh-inning stretch from the broadcast booth and other in-game content. Beginning Aug. 21 and continuing throughout the season, fans can submit images to a dedicated social@cubs.com email account or by using the #CubsSocial hashtag for publishing consideration on Cubs social media accounts. Fans submitting images via email can include their social media profiles in the note to receive a photo credit in the post.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1990s homestand features Kraft beef tacos with rice and beans. The tacos are made with seasoned ground beef topped with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, shredded Kraft Cheese and sour cream. Fans can also try the Salmon Burger, which is a house made salmon burger on a toasted sesame bun served with avocado, candied red onion and herb aioli.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving the 1990s Bagel Dog—a Vienna Beef hot dog wrapped in a warm bagel with deli mustard.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy a Home Run Hop. This Dominican-inspired cocktail is made with island flavors, including Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Meyers Silver Rum, pineapple juice and coconut water.

Historic Moments:
Wrigley Field witnessed several noteworthy events in the 1990s, including Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game, the unveiling of the Harry Caray statue and the addition of Jack Brickhouse’s “Hey, Hey” to the Wrigley Field foul poles.

On July 9, 1990, Ryne Sandberg won the Home Run Derby on a warm summer night at Wrigley Field. The next day, Wrigley Field hosted the All-Star Game for the third time as the American League defeated the National League, 2-0. That same year, after Greg Maddux had gone 13 starts without a win, manager Don Zimmer promised to swim across Lake Michigan if Maddux won his next game at Wrigley Field. Maddux delivered with a 4-2 victory over the Padres.

Though Zimmer showed up to the postgame news conference in a life jacket and sunglasses, he declined to make the 60-mile swim, claiming he “swims like a rock.”

On Opening Day in 1994, Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes hit home runs in three consecutive at-bats off the Mets’ Doc Gooden to become just the second player in major league history to hit three home runs on Opening Day.

On April 7, 1994, Michael Jordan made his Chicago baseball debut, playing for the White Sox and going 2-for-4 with two RBI in the Windy City Classic. The exhibition game ended in a 4-4 tie after 10 innings.

In 1997, Juniper bushes were added to the center field batter’s eye, replacing several rows of empty, deteriorating bleachers.

On May 6, 1998, in one of the most dominant pitching performances in big league history, 20-year-old Kerry Wood struck out 20 batters to tie a record and beat the Astros, 2-0, in his fifth start. Wood allowed just one hit—an infield single. That year, Wood earned the National League Rookie of the Year Award.

On June 5, 1998, the Cubs and White Sox played their first Interleague game at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won on a Brant Brown home run in extra innings and completed a sweep of the Sox two days later.

On June 30, 1998, Sammy Sosa hit his 20th home run of June against the Arizona Diamondbacks, earning Player of the Month honors and setting a major league record for home runs in a month.

In 1998, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire staged a memorable home run chase, culminating with Sosa earning the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

On Sept. 28, 1998, the Cubs went head to head with the San Francisco Giants in a Wild Card Tiebreaker Game. Steve Trachsel pitched a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and the Cubs beat the Giants 5-3 to claim the National League Wild Card spot on a Gary Gaetti home run.

On April 12, 1999, the Cubs unveiled a statue of Harry Caray at the corner of Sheffield and Addison and added Jack Brickhouse’s iconic “Hey, Hey” to the Wrigley Field foul poles.

Finally, On Sept. 25, 1999, the Cubs honored their All-Century team before a matchup against the Pirates. Twenty players and one manager were elected by fan balloting. That same year, Mark Grace went 2-for-4 in the final home game of 1999, finishing the decade as the major league leader in hits (1,754) and doubles (364).

To learn more about these historic moments and others, visit wrigleyfield100.com. General tickets for the Giants and Orioles series remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

O.A.R. to perform a free show at Wrigley Field

OAR

O.A.R. performing during the 2006 MLB All-Star Game. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

To help Wrigley Field continue its season-long centennial celebration, the Cubs will host rock band O.A.R. for a postgame Extra Innings Show on Saturday, Aug. 23.

The free show will take place from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. in the Red and Purple Lots due west of Wrigley Field, with O.A.R. taking the stage immediately following the end of the Cubs’ afternoon matchup with the Orioles.

This summer, O.A.R released their eighth studio album, The Rockville LP, and recently played at the 2014 All-Star game in Minneapolis. They are known for hits including “Love and Memories,” “Lay Down” and a Friendly Confines favorite, “This Town,” a track played as the Cubs are introduced before every home game this season.

Fans will also have the chance to enjoy live entertainment starting at 11 a.m. until the beginning of the game, and after O.A.R.’s postgame set.

Available for purchase during the performance will be ballpark food and beverage options, including Vienna Beef hot dogs, snacks and Anheuser-Busch products, as well as O.A.R. merchandise.

The event is free to the general public and limited to a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please visit cubs.com.

Home Series No. 18 Preview: Cubs vs. Rays

Archer

(Photo by Marilyn Indahl/Getty)

After making the postseason with a young and talented nucleus in 2013, the Rays got off to a terrible start this year before rebounding around the trade deadline. But even with their improved play of late, they still sit four games under .500 and 10 games back in the AL East entering the series with the Cubs. A combination of injuries, underperformance, and plain old bad luck has left Tampa Bay looking more like the team that was consistently among the worst in the game for a decade than the last few seasons’ perennial playoff contenders. However, unlike previous struggling Tampa teams, the 2014 Rays had actual assets to sell off at the deadline. The Rays rotation took a big hit last month when the team moved longtime ace and former Cy Young winner David Price to Detroit.

PITCHING
(3.9 RA/G, 5TH IN AL)

The Rays’ real strength this season lies on the mound. Things haven’t gone as expected, but with a core of former Cub, and Friday starter, Chris Archer, Alex Cobb (Saturday) and Jake Odorizzi (Sunday), the future of the pitching staff appears sound. Add to that a healthy Jeremy Hellickson, and Matt Moore, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and there is plenty of hope for the Rays to bounce back strong in 2015. Grant Balfour’s struggles in the closer role have just added to the list of things that haven’t gone right for Tampa Bay in 2014. Jake McGee has recently taken over that role.

HITTING
(3.9 RS/G, 12TH IN AL)

Tampa Bay’s offense has never been a world beater, but this year it has been particularly poor. Wil Myers has been hurt, but even when healthy, he hasn’t lived up to the hype that accompanies being a reigning Rookie of the Year. And Desmond Jennings is in the same boat. For some reason, the Rays consistently struggle to develop their own hitters. Perennial MVP candidate Evan Longoria has proven to be the exception to that rule, but even he has been unspectacular this year. Ben Zobrist has provided his valuable versatility in the field along with a solid hit tool, and Matt Joyce has been one of the Rays’ best offensive weapons. James Loney continues to hit better with Tampa than he did with the Dodgers, but the Rays’ offense is still something less than formidable.

1000 Words: Happy 25th to Anthony Rizzo

Cubs vs. Cardinals

(Photo by Stephen Green)

If you’re coming out to Wrigley Field Friday, make sure to wish Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo a happy 25th birthday. The 2014 All-Star is having a career year so far, posting a .281/.384/.506 (AVG/OBP/SLG) line with 25 home runs and 61 RBI in 111 games.

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

First-Night

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.

 

Cubs honor the 1980s with decade-inspired giveaways, events and food

Sandberg

Ryne Sandberg was a staple for the Cubs in the 1980s. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The 1980s in Wrigleyville will be remembered for Ryne Sandberg’s elite play, the start of Greg Maddux’s Hall of Fame career, a pair of postseason appearances and, maybe most notably, the introduction of night games at Wrigley Field. During the upcoming seven-game homestand against Tampa Bay and Milwaukee, the Cubs will honor the ’80s with throwback uniforms, giveaways and promotional concessions as part of the season-long celebration of the ballpark’s 100th birthday.

The Cubs’ promotional schedule includes four giveaway items, including a light-up bobblehead commemorating Wrigley Field’s first night game, plus two special events that offer fans a chance to attend a game with others who share similar interests. The team will host Cubs Scout Night in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America Chicago Area Council, as well as ’80s Rock Night/Zubazpalooza 2 featuring Zubaz pants for guests and opportunities for prizes from iconic rock bands KISS and Def Leppard.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, Aug. 10, the Cubs will wear a throwback uniform from 1988, which was the year the team first played under the lights at Wrigley Field. The visiting Rays have developed a retro-inspired road uniform to participate in the throwback day as well.

Promotional Giveaways:
Fans coming to the ballpark will have the chance to collect unique promotional items throughout the homestand, beginning with an impressive First Night Game Bobblehead with working lights for the first 10,000 fans Friday, Aug. 8. On Saturday, Aug. 9, the first 10,000 fans will receive Cubs Retro Headphones. On Sunday, Aug. 10, the first 5,000 kids 13-and-under will receive an ’80s Throwback Cubs Rubik’s Cube. The first 10,000 fans in the park Thursday, Aug. 14, will receive a Cubs Fathead.

Special Events:
The Cubs have collaborated with the Boy Scouts of America Chicago Area Council to host Cubs Scout Night Tuesday, Aug. 12, for Scouts, family and friends. Attendees will receive a commemorative Cubs-themed Scout patch, and $3 per each ticket sold will be donated back to the Boy Scouts of America Chicago Area Council.

On Wednesday, Aug. 13, ’80s Rock Night/Zubazpalooza 2 attendees will receive a pair of Cubs Zubaz pants featuring Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday logo. Thanks to a collaboration with rock bands KISS and Def Leppard, up to 100 attendees can win a pair of tickets to one of two local shows—August 15 at Alpine Valley Music Theatre and August 16 at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre—if they attend the game wearing KISS makeup or Def Leppard branded clothing (spiked apparel not permitted). Attendees may also win one of dozens of prizes including KISS and Def Leppard CDs, MLB-licensed T-shirts or concert tickets. Tickets for both concerts are still available for purchase.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1980s homestand features a Sloppy Joe topped with Kraft Cheese served on a toasted bun. Fans can also try the Blackened Tilapia Po’ Boy, which includes blackened tilapia seasoned with Cajun spices and served on a toasted hoagie roll with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and Cajun aioli.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving the 1980s Nacho Dog; a Vienna Beef hot dog topped with tortilla strips, nacho cheese, salsa and pickled jalapenos.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy an Electric Ryno Margarita. The cocktail features Don Julio Tequila, Blue Curacao, lime juice and agave nectar, served with a light-up straw.

Historic Moments:
Wrigley Field witnessed several noteworthy baseball events during the 1980s, including the Tribune Company’s purchase of the team and Wrigley Field, the installation of lights and the retirement of two Hall of Famers’ uniform numbers.

In 1981, the Tribune Company announced the purchase of the team from William Wrigley and 800 stockholders for $20.5 million. Three months after the sale, the Tribune went on to purchase Wrigley Field for a reported $600,000.

That same year, the Chicago Sting of the North American Soccer League beat the Cosmos, 6-5, before 30,501 fans, the largest crowd at Wrigley Field that year aside from the Cubs’ home opener. Later that year, Jack Brickhouse made his final Wrigley Field broadcast as the regular play-by-play announcer.

On April 9, 1982, Harry Caray led the Wrigley Field faithful in his rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” for the first time. Four months later, fans packed Wrigley Field as uniform No. 14 was retired in honor of Mr. Cub, Hall of Famer Ernie Banks.

On June 23, 1984, in what is now known as the Sandberg Game, Ryne Sandberg hit two game-tying home runs off Bruce Sutter as the Cubs beat St. Louis, 12-11, at Wrigley Field. Later that year, Wrigley Field hosted its first postseason game in 39 years as the Cubs beat San Diego, 13-0, in the first game of the National League Championship Series.

On Aug. 13, 1987, uniform No. 26 was retired in honor of Cubs Hall of Famer Sweet Swinging Billy Williams.

On Aug. 8, 1988, night baseball came to Wrigley Field for the first time as the Cubs played the Philadelphia Phillies under the lights. Rick Sutcliffe made the start for Chicago, but the game was called in the fourth inning due to rain, resulting in the first official game being played one day later (a 6-4 win over the Mets). In September of that same year, Ronald Reagan visited Harry Caray for an inning in the booth at Wrigley Field.

To learn more about these historic moments and others, visit wrigleyfield100.com.

General tickets for the Rays and Brewers series remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

Hot Off the Presses: August Vine Line featuring Anthony Rizzo

001_VL1408_Cover_newstand

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

Home Series No. 15 Preview: Cubs vs. Cardinals

MattAdams

Matt Adams has been the lone consistent bat for St. Louis this season. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

St. Louis got off to a slow start this season, but as every Cubs fan knows, you can’t count out the Cards just because of a few rough weeks. The Cubs’ closest NL Central foe put a .500 April behind them thanks to some dominant starting pitching and a resurgent offense that is climbing the ranks after an uncharacteristically sluggish start. First baseman Matt Adams has poured it on, and Jhonny Peralta has added some much-needed pop to a relatively low-power offense. The team suffered a major blow when cornerstone catcher Yadier Molina was put on the DL, potentially for the remainder of the season, after thumb surgery. Third-year manager Mike Matheny often gets criticized for his odd decisions, particularly his bullpen usage. But despite his alleged missteps, the Cardinals never seem to miss a beat, proving once again to be one of the stronger clubs in the game.

PITCHING
(3.6 RA/G, 4TH IN NL)

Outside of a pair of rough starts against the Cubs, Adam Wainwright has been downright unhittable this season. The Cardinals ace and projected Sunday starter has been as impressive as any arm in baseball and anchors a very strong rotation. Friday’s starter Joe Kelly has been tough in limited action, but he’s dealt with hamstring issues. Lance Lynn has been solid as well. Though inconsistent, Shelby Miller, who will start Saturday, has displayed flashes of the talent that made him one of the game’s top prospects. Michael Wacha was continuing to build upon his late-season breakout in 2013, but a stress reaction in his shoulder will keep him sidelined until at least September. The Cardinals do run into some issues in the bullpen, especially in the base on balls department. Trevor Rosenthal is racking up saves, but his walk rate is approaching uncomfortable levels for a closer. However, right-hander Pat Neshek has been one of the better stories of 2014, posting a 0.68 ERA over 40 innings and a 9.0 K/9 ratio in his first All-Star season. If Jason Motte can return to his 2012 form and fellow fireballer Carlos Martinez can lower his walk total, St. Louis has the arms to end games quickly.

HITTING
(3.7 RS/G, 14TH IN NL)

With Molina potentially out for the year, the offense lacks the consistent bat that has driven the Cards for years. Adams is doing what he can offensively, and the always-producing and under-the-radar Matt Holliday has also bounced back from a slow start and is providing some power. But his season totals are hardly what’s to be expected from the six-time All Star. Peralta leads the team with 14 home runs, but is hitting just .256 (only he and Adams have double-digit home run totals). Prospect Oscar Taveras and offseason acquisition Peter Bourjos haven’t lived up to their hype this season, while second baseman Kolten Wong has also struggled to find his footing in the major leagues. It wouldn’t be a shock to see St. Louis add a much-needed bat before the trade deadline to continue their playoff push.

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