Archive for the ‘ Experience Wrigley Field ’ Category

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.

From the Pages of Vine Line: Our July Q&A with Ernie Banks and Derek Jeter

JETER_ERNIE_BANKS_JP-9994
(Photo courtesy New York Yankees)

Mr. Cub and Mr. November. When it comes to playing shortstop in the major leagues, it’s hard to do better than Cubs legend Ernie Banks and all-time Yankees great Derek Jeter.

Between them, they have 28 All-Star appearances, two MVP Awards (with 10 top-10 finishes) and six Gold Gloves. They have also amassed nearly 6,000 hits and 800 home runs. Banks was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. Assuming Jeter holds firm on his decision to retire after this season, he just needs the calendar to turn to 2019 for his certain enshrinement.

Both enjoyed long and distinguished careers with one organization; both spawned memorable moments and were the faces of their respective franchises; and both became great ambassadors for the game.

When Derek Jeter made a rare interleague appearance in Chicago this past May, Vine Line and Yankees Magazine couldn’t let the opportunity to get the two iconic players together slip away.

Yankees Magazine Editor-in-Chief Alfred Santasiere III spoke to the man affectionately known as Mr. Cub and the Yankees captain about playing a demanding defensive position, spending their entire careers with a single team, playing at the Friendly Confines and more.

For baseball fans, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Vine Line: First of all, it’s an honor to be here with two of the greatest shortstops the game has ever seen. Thank you both. Mr. Jeter, how did Mr. Banks, who is over 6 feet tall, impact the future of the position?

Derek Jeter: I’ve had the opportunity to meet Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese, who were two of the other great shortstops from Mr. Banks’ era. Those guys epitomized who played that position back then—shorter guys without a lot of power. Mr. Banks redefined the position, and he really paved the way for taller players like me to get the opportunity to play shortstop.

Ernie Banks: Who were the shortstops you watched when you were growing up?

DJ: I was a big Cal Ripken Jr. fan. He’s 6 foot 4, and he played the position as well as anyone I had seen. I also liked watching Barry Larkin, who played his college ball in my home state of Michigan. Alan Trammell played for the Detroit Tigers, and they were on TV a lot in my house when I was growing up, so I got to see him play frequently.

EB: Why didn’t they ever move you to third base?

DJ: I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out.

VL: Mr. Banks, what are your thoughts on Mr. Jeter’s ability to play such a demanding position so well for nearly two decades?

EB: Well, he’s a remarkable player, and that’s proven by the fact that he is still playing shortstop. We all slow down a little as we get older. I moved to first base after about 10 seasons at shortstop. But Derek has done what no one else has, and that’s remarkable.

VL: How much does it mean to each of you to have played for one team your entire careers—and to be synonymous with those teams?

DJ: Playing my entire career in New York has always been important to me. I’ve been fortunate because in this day and age, it’s more difficult to stay with one team than when Mr. Banks was playing. With free agency, there is so much player movement, and teams get rid of players when there are younger players available who can play the same position a little better. But I can’t imagine playing anywhere else.

EB: It means the world to me. We played all day games in Chicago back then because they didn’t have lights at Wrigley Field until 1988. That was something I got used to and really enjoyed. The only night games we played were when we were on the road. Like Derek said, I couldn’t have imagined what it would have been like to play for another team. If I had played for another team and I had to play most of the games at night, it would have felt like every game was an away game for me.

VL: How would each of you describe your respective fan bases?

EB: The fans here are loyal. When I was playing, I got to meet a lot of fans, and that was a lot of fun. I signed autographs for as many kids as I could because I thought that one day I might be asking one of those kids for a job. Cubs fans aren’t as loud as Yankees fans though. The first time I met Derek, I asked him what it’s like playing in New York. He looked at me and said, “When you win, it’s loud.”

DJ: That’s a great story. Yankees fans follow the team closely, and there’s a lot of energy in Yankee Stadium every time we take the field. The expectation level is high, but there’s no better place to win than in New York.

VL: The enthusiasm that both of you have for the game is well documented. What makes playing baseball for a living so enjoyable?

DJ: Every day is a new day. It’s kind of like life in that you wake up and you never know what’s going to happen when you get to the ballpark. Regardless of how you played the day before, you come to the ballpark with a clean slate the next day. I like that about baseball. I have enjoyed competing and being around my teammates as well. That’s why I have played the game for as long as I have.

EB: It was fun being out there every day. That’s why I said, “It’s a great day for baseball. Let’s play two.” I especially enjoyed playing the shortstop position. For me, making adjustments to where I was going to play in the field depending on who was on the mound and who was at the plate was part of the game I relished. I got as much fun out of the strategy of the game and making sure I was in the right place to turn double plays as I got out of hitting the ball out of the park.

VL: Mr. Banks, what were the most challenging aspects of going directly from the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues to the Cubs at a time when there were very few African-Americans in the majors?

EB: As far as being discriminated against, that’s all I knew since the time I was growing up. But the hardest thing about leaving the Monarchs for the Cubs was saying goodbye to my teammates in Kansas City. I liked being around those guys, and I didn’t want to leave them. They were like my family.

VL: How did you adjust to life in the big leagues?

EB: I played for [legendary Negro Leagues player and manager] Buck O’Neil in Kansas City, and I played alongside Gene Baker and Tony Taylor, who knew a lot about the game. I learned how to play the game from those guys. They taught me about the intricacies of the game and the shortstop position. That along with some God-given ability made it so I was prepared to play in the big leagues when I arrived in Chicago.

VL: Mr. Jeter, how was your career impacted by what Mr. Banks and others did in breaking the color barrier in the early 1950s?

DJ: It’s unimaginable for me. Mr. Banks is one of the players who paved the way for all African-Americans to play the game. I’m grateful to him for what he did on the field, and I also appreciate the way he has treated me since I was a young player.

VL: Mr. Banks, what stands out about Mr. Jeter’s accomplishments and the way he has represented himself and his team over the years?

EB: I really admire him. He’s accomplished so many great things. He’s knowledgeable about every aspect of playing the game. He studies the opposing pitchers, and he learned how to hit the ball to all fields at a young age. He’s an amazing young player. When he got his 3,000th hit on a home run, that was really special for me to watch. What was that like for you, Derek?

DJ: Well, I appreciate you referring to me as a young player. Hitting that home run felt great. More than anything, I was happy that it happened in front of our fans in New York.

EB: How did you do that?

DJ: I closed my eyes and swung the bat.

VL: Mr. Banks, what makes Wrigley Field such a special baseball destination?

EB: It’s special because it has been here for 100 years, and we’ve had some great teams. It’s a beautiful place, and so much history has taken place on this field. Babe Ruth stood a few feet from where we are sitting, pointed to the seats and then hit the ball out of the park. More than 80 years later, Derek Jeter will come up to the plate in the same place. That’s an amazing thing. Also, the fans are very close to the field, and that makes it an intimate setting for baseball. There’s no better place to watch a game.

VL: Mr. Jeter, how exciting is it to visit Wrigley Field in your final season—and during the stadium’s centennial?

DJ: I like being a part of history and tradition, and I’m thrilled to get one last chance to play here—especially since I was on the disabled list when we played here in 2011. I drove here with my class on my last day of high school, and that is a great memory. If I could have written a script for my career back then, I would have included a trip to Wrigley Field during my final season.

EB: You’re not really going to quit, are you?

DJ: After this season.

EB: You can’t do that.

DJ: Yes, I can.

EB: I wish guys like you never had to quit.

DJ: Well, let’s just say I’m moving on.

—Alfred Santasiere III

Now Playing: Stretching Out with Jeneane Lesko of the AAGPBL

Some say throwing a baseball “like a girl” is a bad thing; Jeneane Lesko begs to differ. Vine Line caught up with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League president and former left-handed pitcher when the AAGPBL was being honored during the 1940s celebration at Wrigley Field in early June. It’s worth noting the 79-year-old southpaw toed the major league rubber for her ceremonial first pitch and fired a heater right into the catcher’s mitt.

To read the complete interview with Lesko, pick up the August issue of Vine Line.

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

PEARL_JAM-CONCERT-071913-017

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.

Cubs set to host a 10-game, 1970s-themed homestand

Brickhouse

The Cubs kick off their first homestand of the second half with 10-games against the Padres, Cardinals and Rockies at Wrigley Field from July 22-31. The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty food and beverage offerings, and entertainment will all mirror the sights and sounds of the 1970s as part of the season-long celebration of the ballpark’s 100th birthday.

This homestand’s special event is Cubs Girl Scout Night on Monday, July 28. The team has worked with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana to host the special event for Girl Scouts, family and friends, with attendees receiving a commemorative Cubs-themed Girl Scout patch. In addition, $3 per each ticket sold will be donated back to the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, July 27, the Cubs will wear a popular throwback, light blue road uniform from 1978 to honor the Cubs of the late ’70s. The Cardinals will participate as well by wearing 1978-inspired throwback uniforms.

Promotional Giveaways:
Fans coming to the ballpark will have the chance to collect unique promotional items at various games of the homestand, beginning with a special Cubs Wine Tote presented by E&J Gallo Wine for the first 10,000 adults 21-and-over on July 22. On July 24, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Cubs T-shirt. On July 25, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Jack Brickhouse bobblehead with an audio chip of Brickhouse calling Ernie Banks 500th home run. On July 26, the first 10,000 adults will receive an Ernie Banks replica statue. The first 5,000 children on Sunday, July 27, will receive a ’70s Throwback Cubs Magic Baseball. The following evening, 5,000 fans will receive a Northwestern football magnet schedule when they depart the ballpark, while attendees of the Cubs’ annual Girl Scout Night will receive a commemorative Cubs-themed Girl Scout Patch. On July 29, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Mobile Device Power Bank, and the first 10,000 fans in the ballpark July 30, will receive a Cubs T-shirt.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1970s homestand features a Kraft Breaded Chicken Parmesan Sandwich with herb-breaded chicken breast, house-made marinara sauce and melted Kraft Provolone Cheese, served on a toasted hoagie roll. Fans can also try the Classic Tuna Melt homestand special, which includes Levy Restaurants’ signature tuna salad served on toasted rye bread with aged Kraft Cheddar Cheese and sliced tomatoes.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving the 1970s Pulled Pork Dog, a Vienna Beef hot dog topped with pulled pork, barbeque sauce and coleslaw. The Pulled Pork Dog is available all season.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy a Cooperstown Iced Tea, made with Captain Morgan’s Ready-to-Drink Long Island Iced Tea Mix. The cocktail is a variation on Long Island Iced Tea, which surged to popularity during the ’70s.

Historic Moments:
Wrigley Field hosted noteworthy baseball and non-baseball events during the 1970s, including Ernie Banks’ 500th home run and the Chicago Bears’ last game at Wrigley Field.

In 1970, Mr. Cub Ernie Banks connected for his 500th home run off Pat Jarvis to help beat the Braves, 4-3. He would end his career with a franchise-record 512 home runs.

Seven months later, in the Bears last game at Wrigley Field, Jack Concannon passed for four touchdowns and ran for another in a 35-17 victory over the rival Green Bay Packers.

On a frigid day in April 1972, Cubs rookie Burt Hooton threw a no-hitter in his fourth career start to beat the Phillies, 4-0. He was the first National League rookie in 60 years to throw a no-hitter. Five months later, Milt Pappas nearly threw a perfect game, as he retired the first 26 Padres batters. He ended up walking Larry Stahl with two outs in the ninth on a questionable ball-four call, but he retired the next batter to complete the impressive no-hitter and beat San Diego, 8-0.

On May 14, 1976, Dave Kingman of the New York Mets hit the longest home run in Wrigley Field history, driving the ball more than 500 feet. The ball traveled down Kenmore Avenue.

On July 28, 1977, the Cubs and Reds combined to tie the National League record for most home runs in a single game with 11. The Cubs beat the Reds, 16-15, in a 13-inning classic.

Tickets for the Padres, Cardinals and Rockies remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

Home Series 14 Preview: Cubs vs. Braves

Freeman

In his last 25 games, 2014 All-Star Freddie Freeman has hit .370/.434/.570. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty)

At the season’s outset, it appeared offense would be the Braves’ strength, as their lineup was littered with power bats, but they had numerous question marks in the rotation. As usual in baseball, it’s a good idea to expect the unexpected. The Braves pull into Wrigley Field tied with the Nationals for first place in the NL East chiefly on the backs of that suspect rotation, much of which was thrown together late in the offseason after the team lost two big arms to Tommy John surgery during Spring Training. But with some key players struggling, the offense has taken a step back from 2013, when it ranked fourth in the NL in runs per game. One veteran has already been displaced from his starting position.

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

The Braves lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgery before the season even began, but that hasn’t stopped the staff from being one of the best in the game. Aaron Harang has probably pitched above his head early in the year, but his performance has still been a revelation. Ervin Santana was another late-spring addition, and while he’s been inconsistent, he is still a reliable innings eater. The Cubs will see three young pitchers in this series in lefties Alex Wood and Mike Minor, as well as 2014 All-Star righty Julio Teheran. Friday’s starter, Wood, has shuttled between the bullpen and the rotation this year, but is back in a much more comfortable starting role, where he can use his full assortment of pitches and funky delivery to keep hitters off balance. The usually reliable lefty Minor has struggled since the end of last season and comes into Saturday’s start with a 2-5 record and 4.54 ERA. However, the biggest development this season has been Julio Teheran’s emergence as the staff’s ace. The 22-year-old currently sports an 8-6 record with a 2.57 ERA. The bullpen looks a bit different from previous years, but it’s still strong, with outstanding closer and NL saves leader Craig Kimbrel anchoring the back end.

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

Dan Uggla has never been a batting average guy, but that was always offset by his tremendous power. However, after the second baseman slugged just .362 in 2013 and suffered a continued power outage in 2014, the Braves finally called up youngster Tommy La Stella to take over the keystone in late May. La Stella doesn’t have the power Uggla displayed in his prime, but he has a great approach and can flat out hit. Unfortunately for Atlanta, it isn’t just Uggla struggling at the plate. Chris Johnson has failed to repeat his BABIP-fueled 2013 line of .321/.358/.457; the Upton brothers continue to strike out at an alarming rate; and former top prospect Jason Heyward hasn’t shown the power many expected of him when he first came up. The Braves are also without slugging catcher Evan Gattis for the foreseeable future. This offense was designed to be heavy on power bats, but it’s struggling to hit home runs and hasn’t yet figured out how to play small ball. So far this year, the Braves attack relies heavily on All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman. When he’s hot, the offense will score some runs. If you can hold him down, it struggles.

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.

Cubs set to honor the 1960s at Wrigley Field

BWilliams

It’s a shame the 1960s-themed homestand will only last only one weekend, especially considering the amount of success the home teams had at Wrigley Field during the decade. While the Cubs had a strong 10-year stretch, it was the NFL’s Chicago Bears that hoisted a championship trophy in 1963, winning the league behind players like Bobby Wade and Mike Ditka.

This weekend, Cubs will host a quick three-game, 1960s-themed series against the Atlanta Braves from July 11-13 leading into Major League Baseball’s All-Star break. The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty food and beverage offerings, and entertainment will all mirror the sights and sounds of the 1960s at Wrigley Field as part of the season-long celebration of the ballpark’s 100th anniversary. Each game in the series includes a promotional giveaway, offering fans a chance to collect an item commemorating the ’60s decade at the ballpark.

On Friday, July 11, Cubs fans will be able to congratulate 2014 All-Star representative Starlin Castro as he receives his All-Star jersey from Majestic. The team and its fans are pushing for Anthony Rizzo to join the festivities in Minneapolis through MLB’s Final Vote campaign. Fans can vote for Rizzo at mlb.com/vote or by texting N4 to 89269 until this Thursday at 3 p.m. CDT.

On Saturday, July 12, Cubs Charities and Kraft will extend the good feelings with a donation ceremony benefiting programs focused on health, fitness, and education for at-risk youth and families. In June, Kraft committed to donating $100 to Cubs Charities for every opposing batter a Cubs pitcher struck out at Wrigley Field. The Cubs pitching staff delivered 138 strikeouts at home (en route to a National League-leading 247 strikeouts for the month), resulting in a donation of $13,800.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, July 13, the Cubs will wear a throwback uniform from 1969 to honor some of the team’s most popular players from the era. That squad featured Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo and Billy Williams, as well as other Cubs legends. The visiting Atlanta Braves will wear a 1969 throwback uniform as well.

Promotional Giveaways:
Fans coming to the ballpark will have the chance to collect a unique promotional item at each game of the homestand, beginning with an exclusive Gale Sayers Bobblehead presented by Comcast SportsNet for the first 10,000 fans on Friday. On Saturday, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Billy Williams Retired Number Flag presented by Wrigley. On Sunday, the first 5,000 kids 13-and-under will receive a ’60s Throwback Cubs Etch-A-Sketch, and the first 1,000 kids in the park can run the bases postgame.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1960s homestand features a Kraft BBQ Pork Sandwich with Kraft Cheese and fried onions served on a toasted onion roll. Fans can also try the Traditional Buffalo Wings homestand special. These classic wings are tossed with Buffalo sauce and served with carrot and celery sticks along with ranch dipping sauce.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving the 1960s Buffalo Wing Dog—a Vienna Beef hot dog topped with diced chicken, buffalo sauce, crumbled bleu cheese and chopped celery. The Buffalo Wing Dog is available all season.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy an Alabama Ironman Cocktail. This modern twist on the Whiskey Sour, which pays homage to Billy Williams, is made with peach puree, lemon and lime juice.

Historic Moments:
Wrigley Field hosted many memorable baseball and non-baseball moments in the 1960s. The team also started an important tradition at the ballpark.

Wrigley Field hosted its final NFL Championship game in 1963 on a frigid, seven-degree day in December. The Bears beat the New York Giants 14-10 to take the title.

On Dec. 12, 1965, Gale Sayers tied an NFL record by scoring six touchdowns in a 61-20 rout of San Francisco on a muddy Wrigley Field.

In 1966, in his first game after being acquired by the Cubs, eventual Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins threw five scoreless innings in relief and belted a home run in a 2-0 victory over the visiting Dodgers.

In February 1967, the Cubs announced they would feature organ music and play the National Anthem before every home game. Before this, the National Anthem was only played on holidays and special occasions at Wrigley Field.

After completing a doubleheader sweep of the Cardinals on June 29, 1969, Billy Williams officially broke the National League record for consecutive games played with 896. His streak would eventually extend to 1,117 games. That same year, after tossing seven hitless innings against the Braves on Aug. 19, pitcher Ken Holtzman’s no-hitter looked lost as Hank Aaron connected on a deep fly ball. Luckily, a gust of wind knocked it down at the last second, and Billy Williams caught it on the warning track to preserve Holtzman’s career performance.

Tickets for the Braves series remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

 

1000 Words: A dense fog shrouds the Friendly Confines

Fog

(Photo by Stephen Green)

The last few nights at Wrigley Field have felt more like April than June, with temperatures in the low 60s. Thursday night’s game versus the Nationals was played under a heavy fog, captured here by team photographer Stephen Green.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,084 other followers