Tag Archive | cubs

RIP Orange

This will be a total stream of consciousness, but I just have to tell about grandma. My grandma died early Wednesday morning November 13, 2013. I miss her terribly. She had been sick recently, but only the way that elderly people are sick. I never really thought of her as elderly because she never acted that way. She was just this lady who went about doing her thing. It was always strange to me that she would get a senior citizen discount because she just wasn’t old to me. She didn’t even look like she was anywhere close to being someone 65 years of age or older.

Orange (yes, that is my grandmother’s name) is the reason I love baseball. She was a Cubs fan and just like all the fans before her, never saw them win it all in her lifetime. However, while I saw plenty of Cubs games while growing up, I didn’t become a fan of her favorite team. In fact when I say I saw plenty of games, I mean most of the baseball watching I did as a kid was at her house. And the only things on her television were the Cubs games or her “stories” (i.e., soap operas) and if we were in the house instead of outside, that was the choice of stuff to watch. I’m not so much into daytime soap operas much, but I’m sure if I ever turned one on, it would be the same people I saw as a kid. Continue reading

Best of

It is the baseball off season and it can be a lonely time in the world of sports for baseball fanatics like me. Fortunately, in January of 2009, the MLB Network was launched and that was something to pacify my time until real games began. It became a place where if I were not watching a hockey game (my “winter” sports obsession) or some tv show, my tv was usually on this network.

Surprisingly, there is a lot of good stuff on the network and over the past two years it continues to evolve and get better. Aside from having shows that tell you the latest goings on with the Hot Stove, there is also original programming.

One of the shows I have come to enjoy a lot is called Prime 9. It is a show that does a countdown of the top 9 whatever in baseball. Some of the subjects include best pitching seasons, best short stops, left fielders, cinderella season, etc. There are usually ground rules as to how they went about assessing things and they even say the point is not to make a definitive list, but to start debate.

This past week’s episodes were the best double play combos and (unique) worst uniforms. The episode about the keystone corner duos was fun to see. Only 2 of the combos on the list have i actually seen in action and from what I remember, I understand why they were listed. The other 7 in the list, I have only seen highlights from. The show also does a good job of not only showing highlights of those who played before I was aware of baseball, but also having others explain why those made the list.

The list of best double play duos is

9.  Joe Morgan and Dave Concepcion

8. Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese

7. Lou Whittaker and Alan Trammel

6. Roberto Alomar and Omar Vizquel

5. Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio

4. Joe Gordon and Phil Rizzuto

3. Bill Mazeroski and Gene Alley

2. Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker

1. Bobby Grich and Mark Bellanger

The uniforms episode was awesome to see.  This was a chance to look back at some of the fashion choices that teams have had over the years.  Of course, most of these choices came from the color tv era.  Some of the uniforms you just couldn’t appreciate unless you saw them in full technicolor glory.  And at times, it would look like your tv was puking with all the fanciful choices made.  Of course as I watched this, I was wondering who on earth the owners of the teams at the time consulted in coming up with the particular colors, etc.  It was also interesting to hear what some of the players had to say about wearing some of the worst uniforms that could have ever been thought of.  This show also reminded me of some teams, like the Dodgers and Yankees that have only had a couple uniforms throughout their history and imagining those teams wearing anything other than their normal uniforms would probably cause me to keel over from shock.  Camouflage uniforms were not included because those are to honor the troops (and I am all for doing whatever can be done to honor them and what they do for me.)

The most unique (worst):

9. San Francisco Giants and their orange jersey (back when it was a regular part of the rotation and not just on fridays) and the orange stockings.

8. Florida Marlins (in particular, the teal colored sleeves when they first came into existence)

7. Anaheim Angels (this was the uniform pre-2002 that had the wings, pinstripes and the periwinkle blue sleeves)

6. Cleveland Indians and the RED uniforms of the 70s.  The players they talked to about this uni were united in their dislike of looking like giant peppers or ketsup

5.  San Diego Padres’ uniforms from the 70s that were brown and mustard colored.

4. Kansas City / Oakland Athletics.  These uniforms were due to Charlie Finley with the Gold and Green and it sort of fit in with his marketing of the players and various nicknames they had.  Seems to have worked as there is still the green, gold and white that you see in Oakland.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates.  These uniforms were from the 70s and while the Yellow and Black colors wasn’t a big deal, the sheer number of uniform combinations was mind-boggling.  Their poor equipment guy

2.  Houston Astros of the late 70s / early 80s.  These uniforms had a bit of a rainbow look to them.  Surprisingly, it is one of the common ones for throw-back uniform looks and you can see a lot of people wearing them in the stands at times.

1. AND THE MOST UNIQUE / WORST UNIFORMS?????  Feel free to guess.  As I was watching the episode, I was thinking the entire time, if this particular team’s uniform didn’t appear on the list, the people who put the list together really just did a huge injustice with the concept.  Seeing it as the worst however, I couldn’t agree more with the list makers.  Fortunately, on throwback uniform days, this team has NEVER sought to resurrect these uniforms, which is the best thing ever.

Fan complex over attendance?

Clearly, I have been highly neglectful of my blog.  Why?  Because of being busy at work doing stuff and watching baseball.  In any event, I have to talk about a few things that bugged me this past season in baseball and there were a few.  Sorry if the next few posts will be about old things, but once I get those out of the way, I hope to have new opinions and perspectives on things.  So much has gone in the world of sports, so I need to get caught up so I can stay on top of the sports happenings.

The week of August 9th was interesting. My White Sox began a 6 day home stand against our biggest division rivals: the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers. These series were both huge in terms of standings. The White Sox had gone on a tear in early June and by the All-Star break were in first place. After the break, they continued playing relatively well and winning games. At the start of the current home stand however, they had fallen into a tie for 1st place with the Twins because of the Twins having a hot streak and the White Sox losing 3 of 4 to the Baltimore Orioles, the WORST team in baseball. The O’s however, had gotten a new manager, Buck Showalter and had been playing their best ball of the entire season.

In any event, during the 3 game set against the Twins, a curious thing happened.  Instead of people talking about how 2 teams were battling it out for first place and focusing on the baseball, were more into discussing the lousy attendance at the games.  Truth be told, the sad attendance we had at those games was appalling to me, especially since I attend most games and the more fans that are there, the more fun games CAN be at times.  In listening to sports talk radio (which probably is not good for my sanity), I heard lots of interesting excuses for why fans were not going to the games.  These ranged from: the only seats available are in the upper deck and those seats are horrible, the tickets cost too much, the team is bad, food and drink costs too much, there is nothing to do around the park after the game, etc.  I will be the first person to NOT argue with a person who does not feel a need to spend the extra income they may have on a baseball game.  In this economy, the money spent for a ticket and food / drink could easily pay for a meal for a family.  Not to mention, there are many who don’t even have a job to think about going to a game.
To the fans who complain about the bad seats, I would guess those are people who have not been to US Cellular field since the renovations in 2003.  Before the renovations and the ball park was a pitcher’s park, the upper deck was not a great place to see a game.  The area was very steep (although, not steep like Soldier Field where the Chicago Bears play) and you felt very far away from the game.  Now, however, it is not nearly as steep, unless you are in the very top rows, and that only happens for sold out games.  I have heard some complain about the price that is charged for tickets in the upper deck.  When people complain about that who say they would go, except for the amount of those tickets and they can’t sit in the lower deck, I don’t feel bad.  Make no mistake that I am complaining of how people are spending money.  This irritation is directed at those who would go, but for inability to sit in the lower deck.  First of all, there are no bad seats in the upper deck.  In fact, I think you have a BETTER view of the game because you can see everything happening on the field.  You also get a better read on balls hit so you know whether it will be a home run or not.  I’ve sat all over the ball park and really the only bad seats are in the LOWER DECK near the foul poles because you have an obstructed view there. I know some like sitting there because you are “closer to the action” and I don’t begrudge that, but don’t say you won’t go to games because you think the upper deck is so bad, especially if you haven’t sat there since before 2002.
As for ticket prices keeping you away, well, the cubs actually cost more.  I recently went to a cubs game (because I am an awesome friend) and purchasing tickets for the 400 level was nearly $55 dollars going through the cubs website.  Luckily I saved a lot of money because I went on stubhub to get the tickets for at least $25 less.  In any event, I do think it is ok for people to say “i prefer to watch the game at a bar or in my living room than going to the ball park” rather than coming up with some excuse that when really examined is just lame.  Own up to real reason for not going to the games.  If the sox can only draw 20,000 fans regularly, so be it.  Eventually they will find a way to draw more fans and sell out when there are huge series against a division rival when the division lead is on the line.  Maybe not while things are bad, but eventually.  at least i can hope.

Sandy K’s Brothers (or why i suck at fantasy baseball)

Fantasy Baseball. Ah, that game that allows you the fan to play GM / Manager and put together a team that is the best in the majors. It actually took me a few years to get into fantasy baseball. Mainly because I had heard more about fantasy football and since I don’t make it a point to watch or keep up with football, I had no interest. However, a few years ago when starting a new job, one of my friends / co-workers was running a fantasy league and needed some new owners. He was surprised that I had not been playing fantasy baseball given how much I would end up talking about baseball. At one point he said “if i had a dime for every time you mentioned baseball, i’d be at least a millionaire.”

Anyway, I decided to give it a go and join the fantasy league. The initial players I had on my team were Johann Santana and Jim Edmonds. I could have gotten a team with a couple of other big bopper bats, but since I LOVE pitching and defense, I had to take the team with Johann Santana. Anyway, the league cost money to join and for some reason this didn’t stop me from crafting the worst fantasy team ever. I didn’t think I would actually win or come close, so I decided to put together the All Jewish Team. At the time that I joined fantasy, there were not many good Jewish players in the game that you would actually use in fantasy baseball. The ones available were on the back end of their careers.

Anyway, my first team had the few Jews in the game and a bunch of guys with names that might be mistaken as possibly Jewish. The craziest thing I did was to draft Adam Stern (where is he now?) in the 3rd round. The guys in my league (and i do mean guys; it was a league of 12 teams, me and 11 men playing) were beyond puzzled and just couldn’t understand how i got in to play. In honor of the concept of my team, I decided to name them Sandy K’s Brothers in honor of the great Sandy Koufax, only one of the greatest pitchers ever and a Jew! Needless to say, with the team I drafted, I managed to set league lows. My team was son bad, that many of the guys in the league thought that my friend who got me into fantasy baseball put me in on purpose so that he could win because we were in the same division. They also were annoyed because they assumed I was a “typical” girl severely lacking in sports knowledge, let alone baseball knowledge.

The second season it took me a while to draft any jewish players and they were wondering what was up. Some had come to realize over the first season that I actually did know something about baseball, but they were still skeptical. I actually came pretty close to making the playoffs but the fact that I was able to prove I knew baseball was even better.

Fast forward a couple of years, I am now the commissioner of the league. The guys know I actually do know baseball because of pulling off some trades that they saw as ridiculous only to later realize were brilliant. However, I am still unable to get to the playoffs and actually win. There is a good reason for this. It is because, when I play the game, I think about it more in terms of some of my favorite players, pitching and defense (things I value greatly, but in fantasy only in certain ways) and because I refuse to draft or pick up players that have played for certain teams.

The last reason is the biggest problem. I refuse to put anyone who has played or currently plays for the cubs on my fantasy team. I’ve also done this with players from the Yankees as well, but I have not done that in recent years anymore. In fact, my current team has 4 Yankees on it (Swisher, ,Gardner, A-Rod, Sabathia). With the cubs, this presents problems because a LOT of players on other teams who are fairly decent have cubs stench as i like to call it on them. This automatically disqualifies them from being a member of Sandy K’s Brothers. In past years, some of those players could have helped get my team over the hump and into the playoffs and possibly winning.

Generally, I enjoy playing fantasy baseball because I can put together a team and see how it would do. And it has forced me to learn more about other teams and in particular the NL since I mainly watch AL teams given where the Sox play. One drawback though for me is the joy I feel when I see a player doing well in my fantasy lineup, but then being irritated if he is on the team opposing my white sox that day. This was the case early on when I had Johann Santana and he played for the Twins. My hope was usually for a great pitching performance for 8 innings of 0-0 baseball and then in the 9th when the twins would have to bring in someone else, the White Sox would go to town and win. That would be a win-win in fantasy, even though i wouldn’t get the fantasy win, i’d get the stats. Some day I hope i can get over my cubs aversion as i did with the yankees, but something tells me that just won’t happen. I have gotten over the opposing player thing however.

Interleague Play

This weekend begins the annual fest of AL teams playing NL teams. There was one Interleague Series Weekend in late May, but the real “fun” begins today. Frankly, I hate it. This could be because I live in Chicago and the White Sox play the Cubs in 2 series. When Interleague started, it was to help drum interest in the game because attendance was down and fans were going to the park. In cities that do not have 2 teams, it is a good way to see how the other league plays ball. If you live in a city with 2 teams or teams that are very close that are in different leagues (San Francisco, Oakland), you can easily see how the other league plays if you are inclined to watch.

Personally, I think this doesn’t work because if I see an NL team playing at US Cellular Field against the White Sox, I don’t really see how that team REALLY plays. I see an NL team attempting to play the AL game. This is not interesting to me. Additionally, I really do not like seeing the white sox cubs series (aka the crosstown classic). The games are horrible to go to because passions run so ridiculously high and the fans are beyond ridiculous behaving. Behavior is so bad that the games are generally during the day, except the last couple of years, ESPN has taken a few games and this year, FOX is taking one of the games for primetime as well as ESPN taking a game for the sunday night broadcast. The last of these games I went to was in 2006 and it was the game when AJ Pierzynski got into a fight with Michael Barrett. It was bad and then I decided the best use of my tickets for those games was to sell them.

Another reason I hate interleague is because of effect it has on the schedule and potential playoff implications because of the number of wins a eam will get. Because the powers that be think these so-called “natural geographic rivalries” (mets-yankees; cubs-whitesox; dodgers-angels; giants-a’s) need to see each other so much, it forces other teams to play teams that they probably shouldn’t. For instance, the Philadelphia Phillies might end up playing the Baltimore Orioles 6 times. No offense to the Orioles, but they are a bad team and it would result in 6 relatively easy wins for Philadelphia. However, the Atlanta Braves might have to play the Boston Red Sox 6 times as well. This could result in 6 losses for Atlanta. Obviously, those 6 losses would have a huge effect since the Phillies and Braves are in the SAME DIVISION. And the Braves might not get to play an opponent that many times resulting in 6 easy wins to balance things out due to the way scheduling is in baseball where it is division weighted (i.e., playing the teams in your division more than in other divisions). If it came down to the end of the season that those 6 wins / losses respectively made a difference, how is that really fair? (and I know life is not fair). I can’t say I have an answer for this, but it is something that at times can be annoying. Not to mention that for the 5th straight year, I have to see a White Sox – Pirates game and no offense, bu the Pirates are a bad team and I don’t need more bad piled on more bad. The White Sox are terrible now.

If MLB really feels the need to keep interleague around, then the least they could do is change the rules so that the game is played with the visiting team’s league rules. Then you would really see how an NL team plays baseball instead of watching them try to play with AL rules. I’m not the only one who’d like to see this. Bob Costas and Alyssa Milano would also like to see interleague played this way as well. Not to mention, it would be fun to see an AL team playing NL ball and not just when it is in an NL ballpark for the World Series (i don’t count the all-star game because i have issues with the all-star game; another post for another day).

For the love of the game

“The Cubs make my ass tired,” said my Grandmother one summer afternoon while at her house. I spent many of my childhood days at her house and as usual, watching the Cubs. My Grandmother is a baseball fan and when she wasn’t watching her stories (read, soap operas), the tv was tuned to Cubs baseball. I am sure they were probably losing and not going anywhere, as usual, but I fondly remember her saying this. She unfortunately is a long suffering cubs fan.

I suppose my love of the game came from just watching it at her house and eventually catching any games I could find on television. No one really ever explained anything to me, other than listening to the guys call the game. And while I am a crazed White Sox fan, I did see a fair number of cubs games. And Cardinals as they were and still are the biggest rival for the cubs (save chicago city bragging rights). Most people usually say they had a relative teach them about the game, but I think I just absorbed it. Watching on tv, listening to things that happened and having them explained, and eventually playing the game myself.

Theoretically, I should be a cubs or cards fan because of where I grew up. In east central Illinois, you either root for one of those teams for the most part. Rarely does anyone root for the White Sox. However, I feel it is perfectly fine and acceptable that I became a White Sox fan because of some of the games I saw as a child. For some reason, I saw a ton of Cincinatti Reds games growing up as well. (maybe i should be a reds fan). There was a TV station out of Indiana that would broadcast the games and somehow, my house was able to get the channel. When I wasn’t at my grandmother’s house, I would watch these games. Of course, when we got cable tv and ESPN was on with the games of the week, that opened up a whole new world of baseball for me. So many games, so little time. I actually did fight with others in the house to watch the games.

Over the years, the love affair with the game itself has just grown deeper. More of an appreciation for different teams, in addition to the first love of the White Sox. An appreciation for suffering that may occur in other towns with bad teams or teams that truly disappoint. In any event, now in for the long haul of the season and what it will entail.