Results tagged ‘ Opening Day ’
Opening Day is just seven days away. As Cubs fans prepare for pitcher Jeff Samardzija and the rest of the squad to kick off the regular season, we here at Vine Line are counting down the days in a unique way. For every day remaining until the season starts—today’s number is seven—we’ll commemorate some of the best players to wear that number for the Cubs.
Two-time All-Star and former Gold Glove winner Jody Davis sported the No. 7 from 1981-88 with the North Siders. In that time, he hit .251/.313/.416 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 122 home runs and 467 driven in. Davis is still viewed as one of the franchise’s best all-time catchers. He wrapped up his career with three seasons in Atlanta.
Other Cubs greats to wear the No. 7 extensively include:
Joe Girardi, Gabby Hartnett, Rick Monday and Bobby Murcer. The number is currently worn by outfielder Brett Jackson.
CHICAGO—Win or lose, nothing beats Opening Day at Wrigley Field. Though the Cubs were unable to finish off Ryan Dempster’s 10-strikeout Opening Day gem, falling 2-1 to the Nationals, the excitement over the 2012 team was palpable. The Wrigley faithful packed the streets by 8 a.m. to check out the new offerings at the Friendly Confines, including the LED scoreboard in right field, the Budweiser Patio, and the Cubs Store on the corner of Clark and Addison. Vine Line was there along with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Hall of Famer Billy Williams and Manager Dale Sveum to kick off the baseball season in style.
Mesa, Ariz. — Cubs manager Dale Sveum named veteran right-hander Ryan Dempster the club’s Opening Day starter over the weekend.
The 34-year-old will start his second consecutive opener for the Cubs and fourth Opening Day start overall (Florida 2001-02) when he takes the Wrigley Field mound April 5 against Washington.
His 2011 totals of 10 wins and a 4.80 ERA are his lowest since the Cubs moved Dempster into the rotation in 2007, but Sveum ultimately picked the veteran for his consistency. The two-time All-Star fanned 191 batters last season, good for 11th in the NL. He also started a league-best 34 games and pitched 202 innings, good for top 20 in National League.
Dempster will face off against 23-year-old Nationals’ phenom Stephen Strasburg.
Should Opening Day be a holiday? Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny thinks so:
“If you love baseball, when Opening Day comes around, it’s a great feeling. It’s awesome for us as players. I think of when I was younger. I was always excited because I would try to get out of school and run home as quick as I can to watch baseball the rest of the day. That was a fun time. It was almost like a holiday for me. It should be a holiday.”
Here’s the day in photos, from the lens of Stephen Green.
Cubs tickets are still available for April and May games. Grab your seat at Wrigley Field on cubs.com. And don’t miss out on Stephen Green’s photos in every issue of Vine Line. Get your insider’s pass by subscribing today.
Gosh, I’m knackered.
You know that all-over body ache that you get after pushing yourself an extra few miles on a run? (No? Well, I don’t really, either, but can glimpse the day-after pain nonetheless.)
Capturing video of the Ricketts family’s first home opener has left me similarly exhausted but also buzzing from seeing the hands-on tour the team’s new owners took in and around Wrigley Field. Team photographer Stephen Green and I started at 6 a.m., when we gathered our gear for the first stop, Harry Caray’s Tavern. Tom and Laura Ricketts kicked off the family’s media tour there in front of a raucous, packed house on the Eric & Kathy Morning Show. Next were WGN Radio, ESPN’s Mike and Mike, as well as an appearance by Todd and Pete Ricketts on Lin Brehmer’s WXRT morning radio program. Total, there were about 10 interviews, all before 10 a.m.
The most frequently asked question went something like this: “Now, if I owned the Cubs, I’d be saying this guy is batting fourth and jumping out there to make pitching changes. So as Cubs fans, how are you going to handle daily operations?”
All of the Ricketts siblings laughed and then replied that, while it was a dream to own the team, they have developed a lot of trust in the people in charge and won’t be exerting any direct control over baseball operations.
That said, their fingerprints were all over the stadium on Opening Day. From the renovated stadium exterior and bathrooms to the expanded food options, there was a lot new and improved to the familiar “Friendly Confines.”
The Ricketts family also put a personal face to the team’s win, walking around during the middle innings to hand out autographed balls, shake hands, take photos and get first-hand impressions from fans. Steve and I followed Tom and Laura, as they split up the lower and upper decks and bleachers with Todd and Pete.
But after rushing through all the back alleys of Wrigley Field to get to the press box in time for the family to conduct the seventh-inning stretch, it hit us just how neat this day was. We got to trail four big Cubs fans throughout a day that amounted to the celebration of another spring, a Cubs win and a new era in the team’s storied history.
And it’s pretty amazing that they seemed to have enough energy to “play two.”
– Sean Ahmed
Ah, Opening Day. No matter if it’s played on March 31 (like last year) or a full two weeks later, on April 13, that first game always seems to bring out the worst in Chicago weather.
But an impressive turnout of Cubs fans endured temperatures in the 40s and the constant misty rain, all after a one-hour, 12-minute rain delay. And they were treated to a great home opener:
? The crowd gave a standing ovation to National Guard Specialist Eunice Hernandez, an honored guest of the Cubs’ community affairs department. Hernandez, 22, became nationally known when, during the Commander-in-Chief Inaugural Ball, she answered President Barack Obama’s question of “White Sox or Cubs?” with “Cubs.” Hernandez was visiting the ballpark during her couple weeks in between tours of duty in Afghanistan.
? The Captain Morgan Club was at capacity the couple times I walked by in the late innings. And the crowd inside was as much a part of the Wrigley experience as any, joining “Sut” for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
? Ted Lilly took a no-hitter into the seventh inning despite the wet mist that wreaked havoc on pitchers’ command. He said after the game that he wasn’t thinking about maintaining the no-hitter but rather that the conditions forced him to focus only on making quality pitches. Lou Piniella raved about Lilly’s performance under tough conditions.
“It was a cold, raw day, and Lilly really mastered the weather,” Piniella said. “He threw strikes, changed speeds, got his curveball over … really an outstanding pitching performance.”
? General manager Jim Hendry was his typical, enthusiastic self after the game. Aside from a brief stop in the office last Friday morning before heading to Milwaukee, Jim hasn’t been in Wrigley Field for over two months. Glad we got this first one today.
– Sean Ahmed
First pitch is less than two hours away in Houston, where the Cubs will be taking on the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Tonight’s 6:05 p.m. game is on Comcast SportsNet and WGN Radio. So, Cubs fans, where will you be watching the official start to the 2009 campaign? Start the discussion in the comments.
Courtesy of cubs.com beat writer Carrie Muskat, here’s the Cubs lineup:
LF Alfonso Soriano
CF Kosuke Fukudome
1B Derrek Lee
RF Milton Bradley
3B Aramis Ramirez
2B Mike Fontenot
C Geovany Soto
SS Ryan Theriot
RHP Carlos Zambrano
Click the jump link below for the complete 2009 Opening Day 25-man roster.
Enjoy Game 1!
It’s not quite Opening Day for us at Wrigley Field, but that’s a good thing – freezing winds along with yesterday’s mix of hail and slushy snow would have made this a miserable afternoon game. In fact, today’s game on the South Side already was postponed.
Today we welcomed back a few of our clubhouse personnel, who will be busy setting up both the home and visitors locker rooms as well as moving in equipment trucked back from Arizona. It’s a big task, and I’m sure the staff is happy that they have a few extra days before things start here at Wrigley Field.
Some of our baseball operations department has returned to our cozy front office — always a nice welcome back and an opportunity to wish the best for the 2009 season. Our player development personnel have stayed in Arizona or moved on to our affiliates’ sites, as minor-leaguers receive their assignments for the start of the season. Of course, general manager Jim Hendry and assistant general manager Randy Busy have accompanied the team for the first road trip.
In Vine Line land, we’ve been hard at work producing the array of official Cubs publications that will be hitting next Monday. I recently traveled to the Kansas City area to supervise our official souvenir program, CUBS2009, going to print. We also wrapped up our monthly game-day Scorecard EXTRA, which you can pick up every day at the ballpark for opponent previews, short features and, of course, an official scorecard. Now it’s back to preparing our next issue of Vine Line along with wrapping up a number of Opening Day projects.
That has kept the blogging light for the past couple weeks, but we are happy to now expand on some of the features we debuted during spring training. What have you enjoyed of our content this spring? What features would you like to see added? Let us know all season long. And most of all, enjoy your 2009 Chicago Cubs!
– Sean Ahmed