Results tagged ‘ Derrek Lee ’

Front office road trip

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ON LOCATION LOGO.jpgThough our team might be out of the playoff hunt that didn’t exclude the Cubs front office from enjoying a road trip up the interstate to Miller Park, the home of the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers.

About 60 front office employees and their guests made the two-and-a-half hour trip up to Milwaukee. For the last three years or so, we’ve made a trip of some sort like this. Last year it was to Peoria, to see our Class-A Chiefs and then-skipper Ryne Sandberg.

Decked out in our best Cubs blue or some facsimile thereof, we cheered on our team to a 7-1 win. The enthusiasm was overwhelming….The staff bonding was palpable….We saw a great night of hitting from first baseman Derrek Lee and a solid outing from
front office.JPGright-hander Randy Wells. Also, rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin made a spectacular catch in the ninth inning, robbing the Brewers of a home run. Colvin then caught another running line drive to center to end the game. An auspicious start for the 2006 first-round pick, indeed.

But the main attraction was Miller Park’s famous Klement’s Sausage Race. The contest traditionally pits five cased meats against one another in a foot race that can only be described as whole-hog chaos.

Unbeknownst to us, however, our own Hayley DeWitte and Vijay Tekchandani were participating in the race! They successfully kept it quiet until it started filtering out into the stands where we were sitting. For those of you who don’t

HVJ Sausages.jpgknow, Vijay serves as a community affairs assistant and Hayley is general manager Jim Hendry’s executive assistant. Hayley donned the “Hot Dog” costume, while Vijay became the “Polish”.

And they were off!

Out of the gate, Vijay the Polish had good position in the middle of the pack, but the Italian Sausage blew right by him, along with the Brat. Hayley the Hot Dog pulled up the rear of the pack. Down the home stretch, Vijay maintained his lead on the Chorizo, but the Italian and Brat were just too many lengths ahead to catch.

Alas, try as their little legs might, Vijay the Polish came in third and Hayley the Hot Dog came in a distant fifth.
race2.JPGAlas, try as their little legs might, Vijay the Polish came in third and Hayley the Hot Dog came in a distant fifth.

Despite coming up short of victory, the experience was “wurst” remembering.

“It was awesome,” Vijay said. “I was on Cloud 9. I actually false started before they said go, so I took a step back right from the start. But I was really concentrating on not falling, to be honest.”

MIke Huang


North, South, left, right

It’s drizzling a bit at the ballpark right now, but we should be getting the first of three games against the White Sox underway just fine today.

Soriano, LF
Theriot, SS
Bradley, RF
Lee, 1B
Soto, C
Johnson, CF
Fontenot, 3B
Miles, 2B
Zambrano, RHP

Lefty John Danks (4-5, 4.81 ERA) will pitch for the White Sox.

Crosstown, split town

The Cubs and White Sox are at a dead-even split through 66 regular-season head-to-head games since interleague play began. And the White Sox have the slightest of advantages in runs scored, 323-322.

On a roll

Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee is sporting a 1.018 OPS (.456 OBP + .562 SLG) since May 16 … prior to this stretch, Lee had begun the year with a .607 OPS in his first 26 contests, recording a .270 OBP and .337 slugging percentage.

Making an impact worthy of No. 42



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“A life is not important except in its impact on other lives.” — Jackie Robinson

Yesterday, the Cubs’ community affairs department hosted four local Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars — (from left to right) Troy White of Northern Illinois University, Jasmyne McDonald of Northwestern University, and Artis Lewis and Lauryn Nwampka of the University of Chicago. They were an impressive bunch of students, all articulate and passionate about Robinson’s impact as well as active themselves in social causes.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgWhite even was drafted by the Indians, in the 48th round last summer, but instead decided to pursue a college education that might allow him to someday play professional baseball or bring an academy to inner-city youth. His scholarship is now sponsored by MLB and the Chicago Cubs.

And they all were thankful for the scholarships, networking and educational opportunities afforded to them by the organization, founded by Robinson’s widow, Rachel. All four scholars were honored on the field prior to yesterday’s game along with Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley and Joey Gathright.

_S8O2431BLOG.jpgRead the scholars’ own words on Jackie Robinson’s impact:

“It’s a game I love to play. [Robinson] talked a lot about life. There’s a lot more important things in life than just baseball. … In a way, he’s helped me be drafted. There are not many black athletes playing baseball. I feel a sense of pride to go out and play baseball and play it the best I can and conduct myself with dignity and pride off the field.” — Troy White


Viva Las Vegas

Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpg
Though we’re working busily on the April issue of Vine Line and the first edition of CUBS2009, the game-day program, that doesn’t mean we won’t tune into WGN and watch our team in Las Vegas.

In what has become an annual ritual, the Cubs made the trip to Sin City last night to take on our South Side rivals, the White Sox. It looked windy and cold last night; even during Lou Piniella’s interview with Len and Bob, Lou had to shield his eyes from the blowing dust.

Well, it is a desert, after all.

In any case, Las Vegas happens to hold a special place in my heart, being that my wife and I got married at the Monte Carlo.This is also the first time in nearly five seasons I haven’t followed the team up to Las Vegas from Mesa. Obviously, the trip is much earlier in spring training, so it wasn’t possible.

Cashman Field is an older ballpark by minor-league standards, and it is, like Len said, a bandbox. Home runs fly out easily with the wind and dry air doing nothing to keep fly balls in the park (more on that later). But it is quite roomy for spectators.

And every year Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman (below with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and Cubs skipper Lou Piniella) prances out to the mound with his two showgirls to throw out the first pitch. No wonder he’s the “Happiest Mayor in America.”

Ozzie Lou and Goodman2.jpgLast year I had a chance to talk to Goodman while I was there to cover the Cubs as they took on the Seattle Mariners. A very close friend of mine who was heavily involved with the Nevada Easter Seals introduced me to Goodman, whose effervescent personality was infectious. I asked him if he thought Las Vegas would see a Major League Baseball team.

“Absolutely. Someday we’ll see it here,” Goodman said. “But right now our job is to convince the powers that be that Las Vegas can be a viable city from a fan standpoint.”

My friend Scott reminded me that there are a lot of transplants in Las Vegas, from all over the country. Provincial team alliances will travel with these people–would they back a team in a city in which they did not grow up or value?

My feeling was yes. However, former Cubs president John McDonough once told me when it came to a city’s viability for a major-league team, it wasn’t so much the fan base, it was the corporate sponsorship base. If a city doesn’t have the corporate base to purchase all of those sky boxes, all of those sponsorships, all of that concourse and outfield signage, the team will have problems. But I think Las Vegas could do it.

D-Lee and D-Ganz

Danny Gans5.jpgOne of the most popular acts on the Las Vegas Strip is the 1000 voices of Danny Gans, at the Mirage. A talented singer and impersonator, Ganz also is a former minor-league and 
 college baseball player. In 1997, when Derrek Lee was a top prospect of the San Diego Padres and Las Vegas was the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, as a stadium promotion, both Gans and Lee agreed to participate in a home run contest, mano a mano.

That year, Lee was the Padres’ Minor-League Player of the Year. The derby consisted of two rounds, 10 swings each. Lee hit four homers in his first 10 swings. Gans, who most did not know had previous baseball experience, surprises everyone with three bombs of his own. After the first round, Lee walked over to Gans and joked: “Don’t make me look bad.”

Lee Candid2.JPG

Lee goes on to hit two more in the second round for a total of six. Gans, down by one, hits two more homers. On his last swing, Gans sends it deep to left center where it just bounces off the top of the wall and drops back into the outfield.

Final score: Lee 6, Gans 5.

“It was really the talk of the town for a while,” Gans said. “The [then-] Stars actually signed me to a contract. The way it was structured, I could come in and DH. You know, if they were ahead, they’d put me in. I was thrilled. However, the Mirage didn’t want me to do that because if I got out there, they were afraid some cocky pitcher would throw at my head.”

Ah, show business. Only in Las Vegas.

–Mike Huang

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