Jake Arrieta has been in this position before. Call it being the ace of the pitching staff. Call it being the Opening Day starter. Call it being the team leader. He was all that a couple of years ago with the Baltimore Orioles. And he’s all that again now with the Chicago Cubs.
A lot has happened in the intervening time, of course, including a trade from Baltimore to Chicago and some time in the minor leagues, as Arrieta attempted to add a little more polish and command to his outstanding pure stuff. It’s all led to a dramatic career renaissance that once again has Arrieta acting as the No. 1 starter on a big league pitching staff.
We sat down with Arrieta to talk about his career path and what’s changed this season. Pick up the September issue of Vine Line for the full cover story on Arrieta’s development.
Things should get interesting for the Cubs as the season draws to a close, especially with some heralded prospects from the farm system getting late-season call-ups. When we sat down with manager Rick Renteria the day before the trade deadline, the Cubs were already getting strong performances from rookies Arismendy Alcantara and Kyle Hendricks. We talked to the skipper about the team’s youth movement, dealing with the deadline doldrums and squaring off against newly minted Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.
Despite hailing from the Boston area, Lennie Merullo is a Cub through and through. The spry, 97-year-old former shortstop is the last surviving link to the team’s most recent World Series appearance in 1945 and is the oldest living Cub. After his seven-year playing career ended, Merullo remained with the organization for decades as a scout and said he truly bleeds Cubbie blue. He still watches every game, and his house is filled with memorabilia from his years on the North Side.
Vine Line caught up with Merullo when was honored at the park in early June. To read the complete interview, pick up the August issue.
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.
The heart of the Cubs order will be on hand for Tuesday night’s 2014 MLB All-Star Game in Minneapolis, as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo will represent the North Siders in the Midsummer Classic.
Despite just being 24 years old, Castro is already participating in his third All-Star Game. After struggling for much of 2013, the shortstop has bounced back this season, hitting .276/.326/.440 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 11 home runs and 52 RBI.
Joining Castro in the NL dugout is first baseman Rizzo, who is making his first All-Star appearance. The National League’s Final Vote winner has hit 20 home runs (third in the NL) to go along with his .275/.381/.499 line and is quickly earning comparisons to some of the game’s top first basemen.
Castro and Rizzo spoke to Vine Line this week about what it means to be selected to the All-Star Game.
Cubs manager Rick Renteria is all about forward momentum. He doesn’t waste time worrying about trade rumors or other distractions. Instead, he’s focused on creating a positive learning environment and developing the team’s young major league talent. When we sat down with the skipper during a three-game sweep of the Mets in mid-June, things seemed to be heading in the right direction. We talked to Renteria about the team’s learning curve, Anthony Rizzo’s development as a hitter and the bullpen’s burgeoning youth movement.
To read the full interview, pick up the July issue at the ballpark or at Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line, the official magazine of the Chicago Cubs, for just $29.95.
By the numbers alone, the start of Rick Renteria’s first managerial season with the Cubs looked much like the start of the 2013 campaign. The rotation was solid, but the record left something to be desired, and the bullpen struggled to find consistency. Still, there have been many positive signs in 2014, including the phenomenal start of staff ace Jeff Samardzija. We sat down with Renteria during the Crosstown Classic in early May to talk about pitching, Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday party and going home again.
To read the full interview, pick up the June issue at the ballpark or at Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line, the official magazine of the Chicago Cubs, for just $29.95.
Rick Renteria definitely hit the ground running in the first month of the season. The rookie major league manager was the first to use expanded instant replay and the first to be ejected from a game in 2014. He’s also shown a propensity for playing the matchups and an unfailingly positive disposition. For the May issue of Vine Line, we talked with Renteria about playing at Wrigley Field, using platoons and fighting for the name on the front of the jersey—not the one on the back.
To read the full interview, pick up the May issue at the ballpark or at Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line, the official magazine of the Chicago Cubs, for just $29.95.
It’s not every day people get to attend a 100th birthday party. On Wednesday, Vine Line was on hand with the rest of the Cubs faithful to celebrate Wrigley Field’s centennial and to be a part of the Party of the Century. The first 10,000 fans received cupcakes as they entered the stadium, and the first 30,000 took home a replica Chi-Feds jersey. The Cubs wore 1914 Chi-Feds throwback uniforms, while the Diamondbacks dressed as the Kansas City Packers (the Federal League club the home team faced 100 years prior).
The pregame ceremony included former Cubs players Ernie Banks, Glenn Beckert, Andre Dawson, Bobby Dernier, Ryan Dempster, Fergie Jenkins, Gary Matthews, Milt Pappas and Billy Williams; Chicago Bears Hall of Famers Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers; members of the Weeghman family; and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. During the fifth inning, fans sang “Happy Birthday” to the ballpark, and Dutchie Caray and a group of Cubs Hall of Famers led the seventh-inning stretch. If you missed the event, here’s our tribute to 100 years at the Friendly Confines.