The Face: We could be looking at a brand new face of the franchise. Truly what the front office was hoping to get when they asked Mr. Fukudome to signed on the dotted line. The guy is showing amazing discipline with his patience at the plate, toughness with his ability to get hit by a pitch and keep on ticking, strength in poking his first HR of the spring out of the park today against the Brewers (nice touch), and an overall strength in numbers with an OBP of .600, a SLG% of .700 and a batting average so far this spring of .400. *****, that is a great start Kosuke. Keep it up buddy.
The Brace: After today’s marathon 10-6 loss against the Brewers in 10 innings, we should all brace ourselves for what should be a very interesting division race this year between the two teams. It was only Spring Training and there weren’t any signs of letting down on either side, both teams simply wanting to beat their rival whether it counted come Opening Day or not. Very exciting to see the guys keep coming back…even had bases loaded when the game was over, tying run at the plate. Considering we used some guys we never would have out of the bullpen (of course they did too), I feel real good about where we stand against them right now (especially since there was no sign of Soriano or Ramirez in the lineup).
The Pace: Now they’re talking about Soriano needing up to two weeks to come back healthy enough to hit and field without any complications. I had a feeling their initial comment of 3-5 days wasn’t going to hold up. Let’s hope the trainers and the coaching staff manage guys like Soriano, Ramirez and Derosa and make sure they aren’t pushed to come back during Spring Training earlier than they should. Piniella keeps talking about how worried he is about our depth…I hope that’s taken into consideration when deciding when these guys get back on the field.
The Place: Wrigley. Saw a report that stated the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority will be making an offer in the next couple weeks to buy Wrigley. Their still assessing costs in fixing up the joint, but said ‘the beloved Wrigley name will almost certainly be part of the new name.’ Something to the effect of "Wrigley Field at XYZ Plaza". OH, C’MON!
Where is Chris Crocker when you need him?!
The Ace: Big Z. So far this Spring, Zambrano is off to a good start. 2.0IP, 2H, 0ER and 2K’s. Arizona on Wednesday…keep it up big fellah. Carlos "Numero Uno" Zambrano: our ace. GO CUBS GO!
Today’s game is against the Brewers, one of two teams I believe will challenge the Cubs for the Central. Now I’m certainly not stating anything new there. Lots of experts have it coming down to the Brewers and the Cubs in the NL Central. Not that I’m an expert either…although I might as well be since the minute those season preview magazines come out with all the ‘expert’ opinions 99.9% of them are wrong. You might as well have bought the 2008 Weatherman Fantasy Preview Issue of Weather Predictions Digest. Regardless, I, like many other baseball fanatics have it coming down to the Cubs and the Brewers in the Central (the other team I’d watch out for is the Cardinals).
Because of this fact, I’m very much looking forward to listening to today’s game. Dempster is making his second start of the Spring after an impressive first impression as a starter for 2008. I like Dempster and I am predicting a starting rotation of Big Z, Lil’ ly, Hill, Marquis and Dempster come Opening Day. It’ll be fun to see how he does against one of our biggest rivals. It will also be interesting to see if Fielder takes his contract dispute and uses it as a motivation tool to play for a huge contract next year (likely on another team) or if it simply becomes to much of a distraction, ultimately helping the Cubs repeat as division champs. Not sure if he’s playing today or not, but either way, I’m sure there will be lots of chatter about the situation in the broadcast.
Rivalries help make the game what it is. As does tradition and history. That’s why it bothers me so much that Wrigley could be renamed. I read that the Red Sox are adding over 400 seats to Fenway by adding a section called Coca-Cola Corner. Considering corporate ads and money are such a part of today’s game, especially when it comes to paying some of the salaries today’s players are making, I understand its a necessary evil. HOWEVER, I think the Red Sox got it right on this one. You don’t need to rename your entire stadium…sell out on the inside of the park not the outside by going corporate…and in turn, you’ll keep your fan base happy and continue to sell out the other way as well. Now of course, I realize that Cubs fans would show up no matter what, no matter whether the confines were called Wrigley Field or something horrible. But its the happy part that would be different. And I believe Mr. Zell should keep that in mind. Keep your clientelle happy…if baseball is truly such a business for you, then do what businessmen do…look to make a profit while keeping your customer happy. Come up with corporate named segments of the park if you need to like the Delta Upper Deck, the match.com first-second-third base, the tasteful ExxonMobil concession stands. You get what I mean. You can still make money off corporations without selling the NAME OF THE STADIUM! Coca Cola Corner will be in the team colors, sodas are completely associated with the baseball experience as much as beer, hot dogs, peanuts and cracker jacks so it doesn’t look like you’re selling out and it doesn’t take away from the ballpark’s atmosphere and historic vibe in a way that makes you cringe.
My point: I understand baseball is an expensive business and you want to be able to feed your family, but let’s either try doing so with the billions you already have…or find a way to do so by creatively enhancing the inside of the park as opposed to completely wiping away one of the most historic names in baseball. Thanks for reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter and your own solutions to this problem. And with that, thanks to The Page Crew for this hilarious video (also found in the Sites for Sore Eyes section listed in the righthand column of this blog):