The Last Time... (Cubs Opening Day Edition)
"Why, I remember when my father and I used to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and watch the season start in Japan."
--The Onion ("On Baseball's Opening Day")
Has Opening Day lost any of its luster since Major League baseball trash-canned the quaint tradition of starting every season with a single game, played in Cincinnati, the home of the game's first professional team, where the occasion was celebrated with a parade down the city's streets? Is the day less magical now that it has unfolded in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Japan, and the weekday game in the Queen City has given way to a made-for-ESPN event played on Sunday night? Of course it has.
But the thing is, it's still a damn special day on the baseball calendar and in WAY too many of the past 99 Cubs seasons, it has been the one and only day of the season when Cub fans' optimism was in full bloom.
So in honor of a day so wonderful that even Allan Huber "Bud" Selig, Jr. can't completely desecrate it despite his very best efforts, here is a list of Cub-relevant Opening Days of the past, specifically, the last time...
...the Cubs opened the season at Wrigley Field: 2001, when they lost 5-4 to the Expos.
...the Cubs opened the season at Wrigley Field and won: 1996, when the home side beat the Padres, 5-4.
...someone other than Carlos Zambrano was the Cubs' starting pitcher on Opening Day: 2004, when Kerry Wood went five innings and earned the victory as the Cubs beat the Reds, 7-4
...the Cubs started a rookie catcher on Opening Day: 1989, when 24-year-old Joe Girardi went 2-for-3 against the Phillies.
...someone other than Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez started at the
corners of the Cub infield on Opening Day: 2003, when Hee Sop Choi and
Mark Bellhorn had the honor.
...the Cubs were shut-out on Opening Day: 1993, when the Braves' Greg Maddux and Mike Stanton whitewashed the Cubs, 1-0.
...the Cubs won by shutout on Opening Day: 1974, when Bill Bonham blanked the Phillies, 2-0.
...Ernie Banks--whose Wrigley Field statue will be unveiled Monday--appeared in the Cubs' Opening Day lineup: 1970, when Banks had one of only five Cub hits in a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia's Chris Short.
...the Milwaukee Brewers opened the season in Chicago: 1990, when they lost 2-1 to the White Sox.
...the Cubs opened the season against the Brewers: never.
...the Cubs opened the season in the month of March: 3/31/03, when they crushed the Mets, 15-2, at Shea Stadium. (The only other time the Cubs opened in March was on March 29, 2000, when they beat the Mets, 5-3, in Tokyo.)
...a Lou Piniella-led team won on Opening Day: 2004, when Piniella's Devil Rays beat the Yankees, 8-3.
...the Cubs drew fewer than 38,000 to Opening Day at Wrigley Field: 1991, when only 31,622 showed up to see the Cardinals beat the Cubs, 4-1. It was 45 degrees and cloudy that day.
Real pussies, those 1991 Cubs fans.
Arizona Phil 8 min 1 sec ago (view)
The Cubs have released minor league catcher Rafelin Lorenzo. He was selected from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the AAA Phase of the 2018 Rule 5 Draft and spent the 2019 season at South Bend. He was eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2020.
JustSayin' 1 day 9 hours ago (view)
The organizations will cut rosters down, as if the full-season teams were breaking camp to start the season, THEN pay the remaining minor leaguers $400/week or whatever. That's similar to what costs would have normally been but the "one last chance" players who got spring training invitations this year and didn't have an obvious roster spot won't be getting their last chance.
crunch 1 day 10 hours ago (view)
"According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, all minor league players will be receiving $400 per week from MLB through at least May 31."
so that's where that promise landed. the scary thing is that's still more than some in the low minors make on a weekly basis.
crunch 4 days 3 hours ago (view)
"Jeff Passan of ESPN writes that the players and league agreed that the 2020 season won't start until "there are no bans on mass gatherings that limit the ability to play in front of fans, there are no travel restrictions and medical experts determine games will not pose a risk to health of teams and fans." Passan does add that the two sides "will consider the feasibility of playing in empty stadiums" and also at neutral sites.
crunch 4 days 9 hours ago (view)
i miss baseball. it could happen in june...it may happen in late may...it might not happen either way.
there's so many things getting messed up right now i would get lost making a list. there's some college guys making a serious "okay, we need to look at that guy" push that's dead. former cubs draft pick russell smith (2017, LHP highschool) took last season off for injury (TCU college) and returned with a low 90s fastball, impressive control, and a MLB-quality changeup. his "comeback" was 4 games and done thanks to this current situation...
JustSayin' 4 days 11 hours ago (view)
COVID 19 + a short draft + Manfred's obsessive drive to shrink the minor leagues will change baseball forever. It WAS still America's grass roots sport. Where I live, from June through August, you could see a quality live game any day of the week, within an hour's drive. I believe that era is over. What's going on will have ripple effects, contracting serious college ball, college summer leagues and independent pro ball just as much as the MiLB systems. With those changes, some of the game's charm will also go. I've seen a kid from Cape Cod play in the Ca
crunch 5 days 9 hours ago (view)
fyi for anyone who bought MLB.tv
for "some reason" getting a cancel+refund via phone is like pulling teeth, but if you contact them via a webpage contact request many people are getting a cancel+refund confirmation within an hour or 2...
bradsbeard 5 days 16 hours ago (view)
I imagine because the new labor agreement freezes rosters as of whenever the agreement is approved by the owners and it might affect what those guys are paid under the agreement.
Hagsag 5 days 18 hours ago (view)
AZ Phil. what was the reason that a whole bunch of teams optioned or assigned players to the minor leagues yesterday on March 26 ? Thanks.
Arizona Phil 5 days 22 hours ago (view)
jdrnym: Ordinarily, players on an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) who are on Optional Assignment to the minors do not accrue MLB Service Time, are paid at the minor league rate rather than at the MLB rate if the player has a "split" contract, and if the player gets hurt or becomes sick after being optioned, he can be placed on a minor league IL instead of on an MLB IL (so that he cannot accrue MLB Service Time or be paid at the MLB rate while he is on the IL). Also, a player who is optioned to the minors for at least 20 days will burn an option year.
jdrnym 6 days 11 hours ago (view)
AZPhil, what are the technical ramifications of optioning/not optioning guys during this period of no baseball? Seems like some teams are more eager than others to trim their roster down.
crunch 1 week 14 hours ago (view)
"Major League Baseball has agreed with the MLBPA to grant a full year of service time to players in 2020 regardless of how many games the schedule includes.
Rosenthal adds, however, that the two sides have agreed to "table discussions" on how much service time the players would receive if the worst-case scenario plays out and the 2020 season has to be canceled entirely due to the coronavirus pandemic."
bradsbeard 1 week 2 days ago (view)
This one has me scratching my head too. Surely they knew Lakins would have a hard time clearing waivers. Hate to just lose Pereda like that. Feels like they gave up more for Lakins than for Sadler, and I'm guessing Sadler might have been slightly more likely to clear waivers since he's out of options.
Arizona Phil 1 week 2 days ago (view)
I think the most puzzling aspect to the Travis Lakins Caper is that the only plausible reason for the Cubs to have struck a pre-emptive trade with the Red Sox instead of waiting and hoping to win a waiver claim is that the Cubs believed that another club with a better waiver claim priority would almost certainly claim him. So to ensure that they would be able to acquire Lakins, the Cubs must have offered the Red Sox something more than the $50,000 waiver price, otherwise there would have been no point in the Red Sox agreeing to the deal.
crunch 1 week 2 days ago (view)
RedSox acquire catcher Jhonny Pereda from the #Cubs, completing the January 21 trade for RHP Travis Lakins
...cubs lost lakins on waivers to BAL, btw
erich081 1 week 3 days ago (view)
I wore my Rick Wilkins #2 shirsey today and kept thinking real baseball was only a week away. And then I remembered this weird alternate reality we've seemed to have slipped into. Hope everyone stays healthy and safe.