Results tagged ‘ Lou Piniella ’

1000 Words: Farewell, Lou


Going into the books as one of baseball’s all-time great managers, Lou Piniella said farewell to Wrigley Field and to the baseball dugout yesterday. Piniella had intended to retire from managing after the season, but his mother’s recent health issues convinced him the appropriate time had come.

1000 WORDS LOGO.jpgFans gave Piniella numerous standing ovations, including one as he exchanged lineup cards with Braves legend Bobby Cox before the game. Cubs team photographer Stephen Green was in the huddle to capture the emotional moment.

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Fill up the Cup! Sponsored by BP

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgOn Monday morning, executives from both Chicago baseball teams unveiled the annual Crosstown Cup, sponsored by BP, at the Cloud Gate of Millennium Park. It was the perfect neutral site for such a partisan event.

From the North Side, on hand were Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, manager Lou Piniella, Cubs President Crane Kenney, Chief Marketing Officer Wally Hayward and Cubs players Marlon Byrd and Randy Wells.

From South Side, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Brooks Boyer, White Sox players Gordon Beckham and AJ Pierzynski were on hand. WGN on-air personality Dave Kaplan emceed the event.

BP logo small.JPG“It gives [the city of Chicago] two weekends where everyone is just focused on baseball,” Ricketts said.

The previous Crosstown Classic now will be known as the BP Crosstown Cup. Under these new rules, the team with the most wins in the yearly series will be formally awarded the rivalry’s namesake trophy. If the annual series is split 3-3, the BP Crosstown Cup will be awarded to the winner of the series’ last game.

“I’ve been here three years, so I know what this series means to the city of Chicago that has such great sports fans,” Piniella said. “Obviously my focus is winning games on the field, but it’s going to be hard not to think about winning that cup for the first time.”

Here’s a trio of photos from yesterday:

Lou Bean.JPG

Lou Piniella in front of the “Bean”

Tom Ricketts Cup presser.JPG Tom Ricketts and Randy Wells mug for staff photographer Steve Green.

byrd cup presser.JPG

Marlon, we know it’s a bit brisk, but a parka? You better get used to Chicago springs! 

  –Mike Huang

News and notes from Mesa

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ON LOCATION LOGO.jpgMESA, Ariz.–Just some observations from around Hohokam Park:

Manager Lou Piniella isn’t kidding when he keeps reiterating that “a couple of these young kids are going to win jobs.” With a camp filled with first-round draft picks, it’s easy to see why.

— Outfielder Tyler Colvin looks better than ever. I was remarking with a couple of other people during morning practice that Colvin looks like he’s put on 25 pounds. Sure enough, one baseball ops man verified that. This off-season was the first during which Colvin didn’t have an injury to rehab through. He made an impression on many last year with some great catches and timely hitting during a late-season cup of coffee. While he’s a longshot to make the team out of camp, because there’s simply no room for him, I don’t think it’ll be long before he’s back in Chicago. He’s still just 24–he was drafted out of Clemson at 20, not 21 like most juniors–and has three options left, so he’s a prime candidate to ride the shuttle back and forth from Iowa to Chicago in case something happens to an outfielder. It was pointed out to me that Colvin isn’t a guy who does well coming off the bench, so if he comes to Chicago, he will play. He hit a homer and a double in yesterday’s game.

— I am told that hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and outfielder Kosuke Fukudome have hit it off very well. While there was some reluctance at first, Jaramillo has helped Fukudome shorten his stride, like Soriano. This helped Fukudome stay balanced in the box, and prevents that “spinning” thing he does when things get out of whack. During BP before the game, Fukudome was solidly stinging line drives as well as hitting long home runs to rightfield. During the game, Fukudome had a solid double to centerfield.

— Rule 5 pitcher Mike Parisi gave up a homer to Chicago-native Adam Rosales.

Starlin Castro might be fast, but watching the position players work on baserunning, it’s easy to see just how fast is Brett Jackson. The two have different gaits–Castro has long strides and covers ground in a loping sort of way, while Jackson’s shorter stride is quickened by legs like a halfback.

— Got a real good taste of High Plains Bison meat. The company was giving away samples. It is owned by Ricketts family patriarch Joe Ricketts. I have to say, it’s pretty darn good. Had a sausage with mustard, and it’s better than any hot dog.

–Mike Huang

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Game 162

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgYesterday brought the 2009 season to a close, and despite the Cubs being out of it, the 162nd game reminded me why we stick it through to the end.

This time it was to see Sam Fuld pick up his first major-league RBI. And of course, he did it with some style, hitting a home run to deep rightfield to get it done all by himself. Fuld made a name for himself — and rewarded many of the organization’s scouts and minor-league coaches who have praised him for his baseball IQ and plate discipline — this season with a number of full-extension catches as well as a .299 batting average and .409 on-base percentage.

Being that it was Fuld’s first home run, it was worth paying close attention to the dugout’s reaction. Sure enough, the team gave Fuld the silent treatment while the outfielder beckoned them on a little bit. They held still until Fuld walked by Derrek Lee, who reached back to give him a big pat on the back.

“I kind of sniffed out what they were doing when I got back in there,” Fuld told reporters. “But it meant a lot to me.”

Once again, Cubs fans, you showed why you are the best in baseball. After Derrek Lee’s eighth-inning flyout, the near-sellout crowd gave him a standing ovation for his outstanding season.

“I wasn’t expecting it; I didn’t know how to react,” Lee told reporters after the game. “I appreciate it. It was really cool.”

Thanks to all of our fans who supported us at the ballpark or across the nation by subscribing to Vine Line this season.

Seen around the ballpark this last weekend:

The Alfonso Soriano promotional poster from 2008 hanging in the clubhouse, with a bandage stuck over his left knee.


? Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster continuing to go on runs together, even after Lilly had thrown his last pitch in 2009.


? Top Cubs prospects Brett Jackson, Casey Coleman and Kyler Burke wearing eager smiles as they were taken through the Cubs clubhouse to meet the big-leaguers and on the field for a ceremony with Double-A manager Ryne Sandberg (right).


? Sandberg and Lou Piniella talking Cubs baseball in the home dugout, minutes before the national anthem on Saturday.


— Sean Ahmed

Lineups and happenings

Johnson, CF
Theriot, SS
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Bradley, RF
Soriano, LF
Baker, 2B
Hill, C
Zambrano, RHP

Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (10-6, 2.72 ERA) pitches for the Astros.

Homestand happenings

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpg? Milt Pappas was at Wrigley Field on Friday, the day after Mark Buehrle threw an exciting perfect game down on the South Side. Pappas, of course, narrowly missed his own perfect game Sept. 2, 1972, on a controversial ball-four call with two outs in the ninth. He did finish with a no-hitter, the last until Carlos Zambrano’s last season.

? Today, Chicago Cubs Charities will be presenting a $50,000 check to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). A total of $150,000 raised in connection with the recent concerts at Wrigley Field will be donated to organizations serving Chicago.

? Yesterday was Lou Gehrig Day at the ballpark, hosted by the Les Turner ALS Foundation. Lou Piniella, who himself lost his father-in-law to ALS, annually does public-service announcements and hosts a charity golf tournament for the organization. A few weeks ago, I talked with Lou about the organization’s charitable work, and here’s what he had to say:

“[Community work is] one of the things we do here, and I like this aspect of the organization a lot. And we adhere it, and we’re happy to do so. Family is so important. The health of a family and well-being of a family is so important. So we bend over backwards here to make this as family friendly as we can. We recognize that baseball games are important, but we recognize la familia is the most important.”

? Tying into Chicago’s 2016 bid, Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Shawn Johnson will be singing the stretch tonight.

Drawing closer

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgI just sat down with Lou Piniella for our “In the Dugout” Q&A, a first-half wrap-up to appear in the next issue of Vine Line. With one game remaining here before the All-Star break, Lou talked about the whole gamut: the Cubs’ injuries, depth, hitting struggles, success in the rotation, training staff and more.

One interesting note from our sit-down is Lou’s self-identification as a managerial “pragmatist.” He brought that up when discussing the recent success of Alfonso Soriano batting third, fifth and sixth in the order. Lou has seen a difference in Soriano’s at-bats — a patience and selectivity that wasn’t there before — and it sounds like Lou will go with what works. He didn’t necessarily expect the change to affect Soriano’s plate discipline, but Lou has been encouraged by the result.

Certainly it’s been a season that has demanded pragmatism, considering the litany of injuries that have struck the Cubs. It’s a situation Lou calls “almost comical” in a half-joking, half-disbelieving sense. He pointed out the really impressive work by Jake Fox as one of the things he looks forward to seeing continue in the second half.

For more, I’d encourage you to pick up the August issue of Vine Line. You can subscribe online or by calling 1-800-248-9467.

Fox won’t be starting tonight — at third base or behind the plate — as regulars Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez man the corners.

Fuld, CF
Theriot, SS
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Soriano, LF
Bradley, RF
Baker, 2B
Hill, C
Wells, RHP

Right-hander Adam Wainwright (9-5, 3.09 ERA) pitches for the Cardinals.

And we have a late addition to the lineup: Punk rock band Green Day will be singing the seventh-inning stretch.

— Sean Ahmed

So you had a bad day….

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpg   It has been a rocky start for Cubs rightfielder Milton Bradley. Between a groin and calf injury as well as struggling at the plate, Bradley has certainly not begun his Cubs career the way he envisioned it.

On Friday, his struggles came to a head after he lost a ball in the sun in the seventh, then later in the eighth, after catching a fly ball, he threw it into the bleachers thinking there were three outs instead of two. He immediately knew what he had done, and put his hands on his head in remorse.

Milton Bradley flub.JPGObviously the batter was out, and a run scored on the sacrifice fly, but there was a runner on first who was awarded two bases when the ball went into the stands. However, there was no damage, as the runner was stranded on third at the end of the inning.

“I hadn’t seen that one before,” manager Lou PIniella said. “Do we need to go over math? One, two, three,” Piniella said. “I don’t know what else to say. I’m sure he’s somewhat embarrassed by it. I’ve never seen it before. The only thing we can do is go over how many outs there are. You’ve got to keep your head in the game. Outside of that, look, it didn’t cost us a run but it’s embarrassing to the person it happened to.”

To Bradley’s credit, he nearly made an outstanding diving catch earlier in the game and went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

And afterward in the clubhouse, he faced the media and owned up.

“I caught it. I exhaled, and I was still seeing purple and green spots because I was looking into the sun,” Bradley said. “I sensed that something wasn’t right. My heart was in the right place, I tried to give a souvenir. It was messed up.”

And to the credit of Cubs fans, they tried to pick Bradley up. His very next at-bat, fans cheered him on as he worked a 3-2 count before lining out with a hard hit ball to left.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” –Mahatma Gandhi

It was a nice gesture on the part of the fans.

–Mike Huang

Classic rivalry

1000 WORDS LOGO.jpg

It’s Cubs/Cardinals, so it’s only fitting Vine Line staff photographer Steve Green offers not one, but two photos of the week for 1,000 words.

LarussaLou.jpgThis shot was taken during batting practice when the Cardinals had come out to take their turn in the cage, and the Cubs were making there way back into the clubhouse. Cubs manager Lou Piniella (left) and Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa came together and just started talking about baseball.

 It was one of those moments where you just wanted to stay quiet and unseen and observe two of the best in the business swap stories and obviously enjoy each other’s company. In only an hour they would be adversaries instead of compadres.

I kept myself turned sideways facing the batting cage and waited for the right moment and turned around and took three frames. I don’t think they ever noticed me. I like this one the best because of the smiles and the upbeat feel to it.


Ramirez walkoff.jpgAnd then last night Aramis Ramirez was up to his late-inning heroics. What a win. He has a knack for hitting walk-off home runs. In 2007, we used the home plate celebration of one of his walk-off homers for the cover of our 2007 National League Division Series program and 2008 schedule.

 –Steve Green

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East meets West


The Cubs were happy to see Kosuke last Thursday, March 12, when they took on Team Japan from the World Baseball Classic. Cubs players were greeting him in the clubhouse and on the field. Kosuke was hanging out with the Japanese team, and he was one of their stars.

1000 WORDS LOGO.jpgWatching Ichiro and Kosuke warm up with Team Japan before the game — they had a really different pre-game routine. They had full-time batting practice pitchers (instead of different coaches throwing). They had a catcher in the batting cage during BP.

Team Japan’s fans were just nuts over them. I’m told many of the fans came from the Valley area.

Lou_Japan.JPGIt was a competitive game that Team Japan ended up winning 3-2. They were playing hard. The Japanese wanted to beat the Cubs, and I think Lou Piniella wanted to beat Team Japan. He played it like a regular game.

Serendipity has its moments

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgThere are times when even the best laid plans don’t work out. Then there are times when serendipity serves as a savior.

While I won’t say finding this photo was something so dramatic like rescuing the April issue of Vine Line, but when you’re on deadline, there is a certain sweetness to finding the perfect photo, especially when that photo was impromptu and came together totally by luck.

In putting together our monthly Q&A with Lou Piniella, we always run a photo of something that Lou discussed to accompany the text. He spoke at length about two players in particular, Reed Johnson and Aaron Miles. He also discussed what the team needed to do to perhaps improve on 97 wins.

He said: “You don’t have to improve on 97 wins. You just have to figure out how to stay longer in the postseason. You know, 97 wins is a ton of wins–it was the second-best record in the big-leagues. And what we have to figure out is how to stay longer in the postseason, not how to play better in the regular season.”

97.jpgWell, as it turns out, during my first time at spring training (I leave for the second trip on the 21st–blog with me then!) staff photographer Steve Green and I just happened to be standing on Field 2 at Fitch Park when we heard the clacking of cleats pass behind us. It was Derrek Lee, Johnson and Miles. As the unpacked their gear to take BP, Steve and I continued to talk, when I saw Steve’s head turn.

Here is where having a veteran photographer like Steve is all the difference in the world. (Check out his 1000 Words entry today.)

“Hey, didn’t we win 97 games last year?”

“Yep. Why?”

“Well, look over there.” Steve pointed in the direction of the cage and standing waiting their turn while Lee took his cuts was Johnson and Miles standing next to each other just chatting, with their backs turned to us and their uniform numbers reading “97.” Steve’s camera already was clicking away, the players were oblivious.

“Steve, dude, you are awesome. That’s why you’re the best,” I said, jotting down the entire experience. We got the perfect photo without even trying.

And the funny thing is, if we’re going to win 97 games again, Reed Johnson and Aaron Miles are going to have plenty of say in that.

–Mike Huang

PS. And Vine Line passes on its condolences to Mr. Cub Ernie Banks who lost his mother earlier this week. Our hearts go out to you, No. 14.

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