A Tale of Two Ballparks
On Monday, June 28 I watched the Cubs snap the Pirates’ 17 game road losing streak from the vantage point of Bob Uecker seats in the last row of section 506 at Wrigley Field. They didn’t look any less ugly from there than they would have up closer.
Five days later was my maiden voyage at sparkling new Target Field in the Twin Cities. What a contrast of premises AND tenants.
The Twins’ game against the Rays, a team still mired in a warehouse of a home ballpark, had some other factors going for it besides the venue: two teams in contention; real star power in the persons of Mauer, Morneau and Longoria; 4th of July hoopla courtesy of a team of Navy SEAL paratroopers who dropped in during pregame festivities; historic home runs by Jim Thome, who tied and passed none other than Twin immortal Harmon Killebrew on the all-time long ball list with his first two swings of the day.
But mostly, curiosity about the ballpark drew me there.
We had seats in an area called the Legends Club. They were parallel to 3rd base, about the distance from the field that Terrace Box would be in Wrigley and at a mezzanine level, with upholstered cushions and easy access to a spacious, air conditioned concession area that offered everything from Killebrew root beer and excellent ice cream cones to pricey multi-course meals.
As in the modern world generally, there was almost too much information provided by the park’s bells and whistles. Looking around the place in search of stats during a game is like fanning through a fantasy baseball magazine. And of course the obligatory Jumbotron loomed impressively over the proceedings.
The carved limestone roofs on the dugouts caught my eye and I also appreciated that we were able to see the logo sign on top of the scoreboard from the rooftop of the ramp we parked in and from which we skywalked in less than ten minutes to the plaza and the grand entrance of the joint.
I must say that I was pretty thoroughly dazzled by the time we left and it was nice not to care too much when the visitors came from behind to win in the late innings. Plus, a Twins game is cheaper in terms of both time and money for me. I think I may have found my first official designated AL favorite team. They also happen to run a perennially good organization.
The week had started at a kegger and ended at a cocktail party [yes, you can even order drinks from your seats in the Legends Club tier and have them delivered].
Wrigley’s engine still purrs. The bricks and ivy and scoreboard and neighborhood vibe are forever. But the passengers might appreciate some upgrades. I don’t know how you piecemeal an extreme home makeover on an outdoor facility that’s only idle during seasons not conducive to outdoor work. But it will behoove the Ricketts clan to keep going beyond the spit -and-polished pee troughs as fast as they can; paying top dollar to sit behind poles and beneath structural hair nets while watching an also-ran is starting to lose its charm. If I peel away what romance remains in my long running relationship with the Cubs all that’s left is neurosis.
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).