Almost Time…

Posted in Sports on March 18th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Well, baseball season is almost upon us finally, and I’m really starting to get the itch – not that I’ll be able to watch many games anyway since when we’re actually home to watch tv it’s dominated by Noggin and the Disney Channel…  but I can dream, right?

So the other day, I did a search on youtube.com for “Cubs baseball” so I could give my son an early taste of what he’ll hopefully enjoy watching with me all summer.  I found a gem of a song by Steve Goodman, a grammy-winning artist who passed away from leukemia at the age of 36.  Mr. Goodman was a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan his entire life, and sadly, his favorite team never made it to the playoffs during his lifetime.  They appeared in the World Series in 1945, 3 years before Goodman was born, and then they clinched the Eastern Division title for the National League in 1984 – securing a place in the post-season just 4 days after Steve Goodman passed away.

I always knew about Steve Goodman from the awesome song, “Go Cubs Go”, a song they play at Wrigley Field after every Cubs win.  I seem to remember hearing the song over the intercom at the end of a school day one year when I was growing up – principal must have been a Cubs fan…

But anyway, in addition to “Go Cubs Go”, Goodman penned and performed other musical works of art; some about the Cubs, some about Chicago, and some about neither.  Here is the one I found today and enjoyed, however bittersweet its title and message “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request”.  I chose to post this version of it, rather than the one that shows Steve Goodman singing it on the rooftops of Wrigley – that’s just too sad.

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And just so that this post doesn’t end on a down note, here is the old favorite “Go Cubs Go” – let’s hope this is the year the Cubs make Steve Goodman proud!

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CUBS OPENING DAY – 17 DAYS, SOME ODD HOURS – GO CUBBIES!!!

A Patch Of Blue In A Sea Of Black And White

Posted in Sports, Travel on June 29th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We took a fun little excursion to Chicago this past weekend and had a few adventures!  More about those later (if I get to them – my time to blog has dwindled A LOT lately!).  What I want to write about now is the Chicago Cubs game.  Let me begin by escorting the elephant from the room – the Cubs got creamed by the White Sox yesterday.  There, I said it.  And I’m just stating fact, unfortunately.  We were lucky enough to have tickets (happy birthday to me from Hubby – THANK YOU!!!!!) for Sunday’s game – the final game of a 3 game series between the cross-town MLB rivals the Cubs and the White Sox.  This game was to be the “rubber match” – with both teams tied at 1 win apiece for this series, Sunday’s outcome would decide the series winner.  But the Cubs lost.  Miserably.  It was almost like they didn’t show up to play baseball – which is something I and probably at least a few other Cubs fans lovingly yelled from the stands.  We got to watch Carlos Zambrano, the Cubs famously hot-headed starting pitcher, take the mound – and consequently lose his control and get booed off the field.  And let me say it wasn’t just Sox fans who were booing Zambrano.  But I think it was awesome that he was the starting pitcher the day we got to go watch the game live, and he was really fun to watch.  It was frustrating to see the empty bullpen across right field though – it seemed empty forever.  My husband and I really thought Lou Pinnella should have made the call  to the bullpen a little bit sooner and at  least get someone throwing balls down there – Zambrano does not recover his game often once he loses it.   We were both watching for Lou’s call, and finally Zambrano made his trademark nasty move – the guy gets so angry that he beans someone.  He throws a 90ish mph baseball AT the batter!  So then he stalks off the field, gives the fans a one-finger salute (I don’t think it was THAT finger), and goes into the locker room to pout by himself.  He didn’t throw down any water coolers on  the way this time as he’s also been known to do, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t have liked to see that.  As lucky as we were to get to see Big Z pitch, he didn’t do very well and we were happy to see him go.

But alas, Zambrano was not the only problem yesterday since the Cubs’ bats haven’t produced much of anything for weeks, and our game day was no exception.  Thus we witnessed a shut-out on the Cubs.

But that’s enough of that.  It ‘s amazing how much fun we had despite the worst possible scenario for the game!  I LOVE live baseball, and MLB almost doesn’t compare to the smaller AAA and AA  leagues.  Those are fun too, but comparing those atmospheres is really like comparing apples and oranges.  It was kind of toasty in the sun, and my knees got burnt to a crisp; I’m dealing with that today.  For those of you who want to know the outrageous robbery they’re getting away with in MLB stadiums across the country, at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, it costs $23 to park, $6.75 for a 20 oz. beer, $4 for a bottle of pop or water (let me guess – they took out all the public drinking fountains, I sure didn’t see any), and $4.75 for a hot dog.  If you can keep yourself hydrated  during the game, you can save yourself $6 on 2 bottles of water by buying one before and one after the game from the street vendors – they  sell them for $1, which isn’t bad at all in that heat!  Originally I had planned to eat all day at the stadium, but I just wasn’t hungry in the heat.  There’s nothing like sitting there at a baseball game and cracking peanuts, but I actually passed on those too.  I certainly didn’t want to leave my seat much, and by the time the peanut vendor arrived, we no longer felt like sitting there calmly cracking peanuts while the Cubs played like you-know-what and gave the game away.  That reminds me – we had GREAT seats, upper-level, 3rd base side, right about even with the pitcher.  We had a bird’s-eye view of Zambrano’s animal-like pacing and stomping rituals on the mound.  I guess that’s enough about the game – interesting how we were ALMOST late…

Sox park (its real name is a tongue and finger-typing twister) is situated on I-90, one of Chicago’s expressways.  I was anxious to try Jill the GPS’s skills in a city environment since she had so failed us in Pittsburgh, but more so in the outskirts,  we weren’t really in downtown Pittsburgh.  Jill did fine in the big city of Chicago, but when we got off the expressway, it was chaos – and it wasn’t like Jill was programmed to guide us through the Sox’s bizarre parking system; red coupons, green coupons, etc.  We THOUGHT we had left in plenty of time for the game and might even see some batting practice, but we hit some traffic on the way down (did I mention this was also a weekend for the Taste of Chicago?!?  Oops – bad planning on our part; we couldn’t believe it.  The Taste draws millions!).  Anyway, when we arrived on the south side, we were confused about where to go for cash ($23!) parking.  There were people directing traffic (don’t know if they were cops or city workers or Sox park workers, but I might find out so I can file a complaint!), so we asked one of the ladies how to get to cash parking.  She said, “I’m going to let you make a U-Turn (we were heading east, toward the stadium), and you make the u-turn and go to 33rd street.  So we made the U-turn and headed west when we began to get a not-so-comfortable feeling.  Remember, we had seen the stadium, and we were now heading away from it, out of the city.  And usually numbered streets in cities are parallel to  each other.  So if we were looking for 33rd, most likely we should see 31st, 32nd, or 34th streets first – but we weren’t.  So we turned around, and an hour later, when we finally figured out where to  be, we had passed the “helpful” traffic person again and confirmed our suspicions:  she had tried to take us out of the city on purpose.  In fact, when we passed Ms. Directions again, there was a Sox parking pay lot one block in front of her.  I like to think the  best of people, but here it’s obvious that earlier, she had us make the U-turn rather than turn around so we wouldn’t be able to see that she was taking us the wrong way.  Rude isn’t even the word for that.  As most locals know, Sox park is not known for being nestled in safe neighborhoods – Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, is known as the “Friendly Confines” – NOT Sox Park.  We were fine, the area didn’t get too bad, my husband just got really upset that we might be late for the game.  Indeed, when we did finally find our lot, there was a big line and we sat in it for a long time.   I can’t help but wonder if maybe Ms. Helpful had noticed the color of our shirts – Cubbie blue- which isn’t exactly welcome on the south side of Chicago.  And those Cubbie blue shirts we wore (which ironically said “Cubs win!”, sheesh) were probably responsible for other rude behaviors directed our way.  For instance, my husband got bumped a little harder than regular crowd jostling, and some of his popcorn spilled.  Sox fans nearby jeered, and there were also the people who would walk by us up the stairs on the way to their seats (we were seated on an aisle) and feel  inclined to say “Cubs suck”.  Yesterday they may have had a point.

The people directly  around us were friendly enough, a mix of Chicago fans, both north and south, Cubs and Sox.  Some people wore a Sox hat and a Cubs shirt, while there were families of people dressed for both teams, an interesting mix.  As I looked around the stadium, I saw mostly white shirts (the black shirts were hard to see) in the sea of people, although the sea was dotted with many patches of Cubbie blue, much like the blue patch the two of us created.  As rude as a select few Sox fans were though, I suppose they can’t be all bad…  on the way  in to the stadium, it was extremely windy and we both got our Cubs hats blown right off our heads – maybe it was a sign of things to  come…  But anyway, it was Sox fans who helped up retrieve the runaway hats.

Overall, a great day for some baseball; definitely something I hope to do  again.  Except next time, I think we’ll park far away and take the train to the stadium and forget trying to park in the city.  We hit traffic on the way out too, and an hour after the game had ended, I turned around and I could still see Sox park which was STILL within walking distance!  TOO MUCH TRAFFIC!

Happy New Year!

Posted in holidays on January 2nd, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy New Year!  Holy cow, 2009 already!  I hope you had a good New Year’s.  Ours was wonderul.  We hosted a bash, which is always great so that we don’t have to pack up the kids and all their luggage just to haul them out somewhere to stay until the wee hours of the morning.  We played charades and other games and ate lots of yummy treats.  Our kids – #2 and #4 in birth order – fell asleep way early.  The older one stayed asleep all night, but wouldn’t you know it – the baby woke right as we crawled into bed at 4 in the morning.  I was able to sleep for a few hours, but that’s more than I can say for my husband who woke with the baby.  But then he got a short nap while I ambled downstairs to do some much needed cleanup from the party.  After that, we were ready to drag ourselves over to a friend’s house for a New Year’s Day chili feast – I’m told the beans bring good luck in the new year.  More food, more fun, and we didn’t plan on staying long but ended up getting home about 7 in the evening.  I did miss the hockey game at Wrigley Field, but the Red Wings beat the Blackhawks anyway.  I’m not a big hockey fan; I just thought it would be cool to see Wrigley all decked out for hockey.  I wonder what they would have done if they had gotten some of that freak 60 degree weather again – how to maintain an ice rink in those conditions?  Oh well, that’s a tangent, good thing this site is called tangents.org

So the chili and rest of the food at our friends house was great, but I wish I could have enjoyed it more – seems I partied a little too hard the night before and felt a little tired and queasy come chili feast time.  But it’s my own fault – I should know that I’m getting older and can’t handle the late nights (or early mornings for that matter) like I used to.  But oh well – my friend did give me some delicious chili to take home, so hopefully it will be more enjoyable now that I was able to rest last night.  Now I’ll just have to get used to writing 2009 instead of 2008 all over the place…

Let There Be Lights

Posted in Sports on August 12th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recently there was an article on cubs.com about how it’s been 20 years since Wrigley Field started night games for the Chicago Cubs, i.e. got lights in their stadium.  That made me feel kind of old because I remember that event, and it was 20 years ago: 8-8-88.  Sigh.  Since when can I remember 20 years ago?  But anyway, I remember an elderly gentleman (turns out he was 91 in 1988 and actually remembered the Cubs winning the World Series in 1908 – a stark reminder that there is NO ONE left today who can say the same…) flipped the switch to turn on Wrigley Field’s lights for the first time ever.  Funnily enough, it was a bit too early in the evening, and many fans and spectators said they couldn’t see a difference in the lighting on the field.  But it was symbolic, and Wrigley Field finally had its lights, even if it was the last major league ball park to get them.  And the event was proven even more symbolic than functional that night when the game was postponed because of rain.  So the first FULL baseball game at Wrigley under the new lights was actually 8/9/88.

Apparently the lights were snuck into the field in the middle of the night, under cover, literally.  They were hoisted into place quickly by helicopters, for fear that protestors would shoot them in order to try to preserve the neighborhood’s charm and innocence.  But the plan was not foiled, and 20 years later, we still get to enjoy night games at Wrigley.  GO CUBBIES!!!

Windy City Classic

Posted in Sports on June 20th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , ,

Back in the days when it didn’t count, there was only one yearly face-off between the Chicago cross-town rivals, the Cubs and the White Sox.  It was called a number of things, but when I was younger, I remember it being referred to as the Windy City Classic.  No matter which side you cheer for, these games are important to every sports fan in Chicago.  I even remember cutting school one year to attend…

But now that there is something known as inter-league play, there are 6 of these games a year, and they do count.  Today was the opening game of one such series, and I am suffering through it.  One of the rare Cubs games I’ve actually gotten to watch on tv this year, it has to be broadcast by Sox announcers, even though the game is being played at Wrigley Field and the Cubs are the home team.  I cannot stand the Sox announcers.  Not only do they stink as announcers (I would be rich if I got paid for every time they’ve said “south-paw” – some diversity in your subject matter, guys, please?), but they are on their side.  So every time the White Sox make a play, even though the crowd is booing, the announcers get excited.  And I won’t even waste much time complaining about the shouts of “Put it on the Board!” I’m subjected to every time the Sox score runs.

There’s a lot at stake for this series – both teams are in first place in their respective divisions, even though it must be noted that the Cubs have a much better record – but I’m not really minding the errands I have to run that will take me away from today’s game.  Watching the Cubs lose to the Sox is one thing if that happens, but hearing these horrible announcers rub in every homerun or lucky play the Sox make is a new brand of torture of which I’m glad to be relieved!

Take Me Out to the Ballgame – Uecker Style

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1st, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, the Cubs lost their second series to the Brewers this season, but equally upsetting is what happened today during the 7th inning stretch.  Taking place at Wrigley Field, today’s game was the “rubber game” of the series.  Someone decided Bob Ueker, aka ‘the voice of the Brewers’ would be a good guest to come and lead the crowd in ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’.  Nevermind for a minute the events that took place during the song today; this decision doesn’t seem very wise to me from the get-go.  Bob Uecker was born and raised in Milwaukee.  He grew up watching the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers, and the first team he signed with in the major leagues was the Milwaukee Braves.  He’s been doing the play-by-play announcements for the Brewers on the radio since 1971, and still holds the job.  Why then, did someone deem it a good decision to have him come to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, to lead the crowd during the 7th inning stretch?  If we pretend the Chicago White Sox don’t exist 🙂  – the Cubs have their biggest rivalry with their neighbors to the north, the Milwaukee Brewers.  So why invite someone who has obviously been a lifelong Milwaukee fan to do the 7th inning stretch during a Cubs / Brewers game on Cubs turf?  I just don’t get it…

Here is a play by play of today’s incident.  Bob Ueker comes out to sing the 7th inning stretch.  Nothing seemed amiss, until the part in the song that goes, “root, root, root, for the Brewers”.  He actually said ‘root for the Brewers’ at Wrigley Field.  He was immediately BOOED LOUDLY by the crowd, of course, so then he sings, “you do the same for the Cubs” to the tune of the song, but by this point, the organist just gives up because now he’s out of tune and has lost the organist in the song.  In order to get back on track, he then proceeds to skip ahead, or maybe it’s because he realized it would be an even worse decision to say something like “if they don’t win it’s a shame” about the Brewers in Wrigley Field.  Either way, he skips ahead to “for it’s ONE, TWO, THREE (organist comes back into the song, hardly missing a beat except for the made-up lyrics) strikes you’re out at the old ball game!”  I had kids to tend to, so I didn’t see the entire fallout from the fiasco, but I did get back to the tv just in time to hear Ueker say, “I’m rooting for the Brewers, what do they want me to do, root for the Cubs?”  YES!  Of course the Cubs fans want you to root for the Cubs, especially at Wrigley Field!  And if you can’t do that, pretend!  And if you can’t pretend, then stay in Milwaukee!

Well, forget Bob Ueker and whoever invited him to Wrigley today – that person was probably fired before the beginning of the 8th inning anyway.  The Cubs are off to a great start this year, and I can only hope I get less busy so I can see more games because they are playing some great baseball, and it’s fun to watch!  I can only hope they beat the pants off the Cardinals who are in first place in the Cubs division by only a half game…  That series begins tomorrow and I will be watching – in between kid duties, of course!  GO CUBS!