Most people who throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field worry about just getting the ball to home plate. Former Scrubs star John C. McGinley worried about getting the proper movement on the pitch. The character actor and big-time sports fan has been gracing screens big and small for more than 20 years. He recently played iconic broadcaster Red Barber in the movie 42 and was on hand at the Friendly Confines for Jackie Robinson Day on April 16.
To read the entire interview, pick up the June issue of Vine Line.
In an era in which professional sports owners tend to make news for all the wrong reasons (see: Loria, Jeffrey) or are faceless corporations that acquired their team as an asset in a larger deal (see: Liberty Media), Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts is something of a throwback. He has always seemed more like a fan than a high-powered, cold-hearted executive. Perhaps that’s why he relates to Cubs fans so strongly. For the June issue of Vine Line, we spent a few days following Ricketts around the Friendly Confines to get a sense of what it’s like to be the Cubs owner for a day.
Ernie Banks or Luis Aparicio? Sammy Sosa or Frank Thomas? Anthony Rizzo or Paul Konerko? When it comes to Chicago baseball, loyalties run deep. Every year, Chicagoans are divided by their ties to the Cubs or the White Sox, as they fight for bragging rights and a claim to the Crosstown Cup. And allegiance isn’t always a matter of geography. Vine Line was out at Wrigley Field Wednesday for Game 3 of the Cubs-Sox home-and-home series to talk to friends and families who are divided by their split baseball loyalties.
This spring, manager Dale Sveum talked at length about the newfound depth in the Cubs system. That depth was tested early when the team suffered a rash of injuries and endured some early bullpen struggles. But the addition of players like Carlos Villanueva and Nate Schierholtz—and the emergence of Welington Castillo and Dave Sappelt—has made the Cubs a much more versatile team. During the first homestand of the season, Vine Line managing editor Gary Cohen talked to the skipper about dealing with injuries, platooning in the outfield and restoring Wrigley Field.
To read the full interview, pick up the May issue of Vine Line, on sale at select Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line, the official magazine of the Chicago Cubs, for just $29.95.
Prior to the Cubs’ home opener, starter Edwin Jackson probably could have learned a thing or two from the man taking the mound before him. Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins was on hand, along with fellow Hall of Famer and former teammate Billy Williams, to throw out the first pitch of the season at Wrigley Field. Arguably the best Cubs pitcher of all time, Jenkins tallied six consecutive 20-win seasons for the North Siders and won 284 games in his 19-year career. He talked to Vine Line about the enduring allure of Wrigley Field and getting back on the mound for the first pitch of the season.
To read the entire article, pick up the May issue of Vine Line.
Last month, the Cubs and Chicago Cubs Charities held their annual Bricks and Ivy Ball at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom. Now in its third year, the event has become one of the key fundraisers for Chicago Cubs Charities. It helps support numerous organizations and programs targeting youth sports access and improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk.
More than 840 guests helped raise $1.2 million at the Ball to benefit Chicago Cubs Charities, thanks to the generosity of Cubs owners, managers, players, front office associates and fans. As the program began, Chairman Tom Ricketts addressed the Cubs’ commitment to supporting Chicago’s children through community outreach and charitable programming.
“Our goal is to make life better for the youth and families of Chicago by doing our part to improve health, fitness and educational opportunities for those at risk,” Ricketts said. “Whether it’s a hospital visit, holiday toy drive, serving lunch at a USO or Thanksgiving dinner to homeless teens, our team is there donating their time and resources.”
During the evening, Chicago Cubs Charities introduced a video featuring some All-Star youth who have benefited from grants, including Cubs Care grants, a McCormick Foundation Fund. The video also featured Cubs players Darwin Barney, David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija.
If you didn’t get a chance to attend the Bricks and Ivy Ball, you can check out the video here. Special thanks to the charities, Cubs players and Len Kasper for helping make this possible.
Reading a pitcher’s move is an essential part of facilitating the running game and jump-starting the offense. According to Cubs first base coach Dave McKay, proper execution of the skill comes down to three key elements: establishing a fixed spot to observe the pitcher, knowing the pitcher’s habits and extending the coach’s box.
“I heard it said one time, ‘This guy’s as boring as a first base coach,’ but not anymore,” McKay said. “First base coaches, they have a job to do over here.”
For the May issue of Vine Line, McKay showed us what he watches for from a pitcher and how he helps Cubs base runners. For more insider access to the team, subscribe to Vine Line. And read the complete story in the May issue, which also features articles on the Cubs core, Carlos Villanueva and the Committed campaign.
There’s nothing like a fresh start to the season at the Friendly Confines. Though the Cubs ninth-inning comeback attempt fell short and the team ultimately dropped their home opener 7-4 to the division rival Brewers, it was still a beautiful day for baseball at Wrigley Field. After a rainy morning, the clouds miraculously parted, and the game-time temperature was in the mid-60s. Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins were all on hand, along with Chicago dignitaries like Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Tom Tunney. Vine Line shared the Opening Day festivities with Jenkins, Anthony Rizzo and several of the newest Cubs players.
For Chicago residents, it can be a long, cold winter. One of the first signs that spring is finally on the way is the crack of the bat at Cubs Spring Training camp in Mesa, Ariz.
The Cubs played the first games of their Cactus League schedule over the weekend, giving fans a glimpse of future stars like Jorge Soler and Javier Baez, in addition to regulars like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. If you can’t wait for Opening Day (and you shouldn’t), all of the Cubs 37 remaining Spring Training games will be broadcast on radio, TV and the Internet.
We sat down with broadcaster Len Kasper just before the Cubs final home opener at HoHoKam Stadium to talk about the season ahead, getting his voice into game shape and the difficulties of calling Spring Training games.
Here are the other videos from out Spring Training series:
The major league season can be a grind. Playing 162 games takes a toll on an athlete’s body and mind. That’s why downtime is so important. Some players play video games; others spend time with their families.
This week, Vine Line had some fun with the team to dig up a few facts you won’t find on the back of a baseball card. In the last installment of our spring Kicking Back video series, we talk to Cubs players about how they spent their offseason, what they do to kill time on the road and who is the worst dresser in the clubhouse.
Here are the other videos from out Spring Training series: