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.
I think while I get what you're saying with moving around a lot of baseball is very rhythm based and for many players moving around a lot could disrupt that. It's the same reason many players aren't cut out for phing or dhing since they need to be in the rhythm of the game to hit.
Of course then you have players like LaStella who are terrible as starters and should only PH. Really hope Madden doesn't get enthralled with him starting too much.
The players are required to perform with minimal thinking, relying on reflex, reaction, and muscle memory (or, as you say, rhythm). I think this point of view doesn't lend itself well to changing things up. Wearing Zany suits, on the other hand, does sound like fun and definitely keeps things interesting.
Scared me for a minute with your anagram for "Almora".
KKVG: Among the players at Extended Spring Training, Isaac Paredes is the most-impressive position-player from the Cubs 2015-16 IFA class (I'm not including OF Eddy Julio Martinez, because he skipped EXST and began the season at South Bend). Paredes has legit game power and handles himself well at SS, although I think he will likely eventually end-up at 2B or 3B (maybe not this year, but down-the-line). It is possible that Paredes will get assigned to Eugene (and skip AZL) next month, and I would say he's the only one of the Cubs 2015-16 IFA position players who could.
Having been a mediocre HS player, I would think at a professional level - and in their 20's - doesn't it sound actually FUN to have a chance to play different positions in a 162-Game, uber-long season?
It has to take some of the monotony out of the job and keep you on your toes.
In fact, the best manufacturing floor job satisfaction training theories include job rotation as a way to improve employee satisfaction.
I hope Maddon can keep it going.
(It's usually KK, because his DNA is more like ours.)
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.