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.
crunch 13 hours 31 min ago (view)
marvin miller and ted simmons are part of the next HOF class.
long time coming for miller.
crunch 18 hours 9 min ago (view)
things that are important to good on-field play like buying up all the property around wrigley field, from rooftops to acerage, isn't going to monetize itself.
i know some people would love to have a top tier pitcher, but i'm looking forward to more control of rooftop advertising and an open air beer garden near the team owned hotel and resturant complexes.
i know some people want a solid leadoff man, but i'm looking forward to seeing 10-20 concerts on off-days destroying the playing field so that extra revenue can help a polician in Nebraska or Iowa get some ad buys.
Hagsag 19 hours 15 min ago (view)
Their friend Donald will come through for them.
crunch 19 hours 38 min ago (view)
remember when the billionaire owners got a huge double digit tax cut?
maybe the city should do them a favor and give them more tax savings help to let them buy and build another 2-3 revenue projects outside of the park. that might help these struggling heroes find some extra loot.
i know this rant isn't fair, but my "dan winkler got a MLB contract fever" is dying down a bit.
crunch 19 hours 44 min ago (view)
f'real. i don't even know why they're going to bother playing games. i'm over here printing Cubs 2020 World Series Champs banners while others are sleeping on reality.
Dolorous Jon Lester 20 hours 51 min ago (view)
Just saw a fun report that the Cubs are telling even budget type free agents they can't currently negotiate until they clear some payroll. So that's a fun start to the winter meetings.
Dolorous Jon Lester 20 hours 55 min ago (view)
I'm with you 100% on that. Minor league retreads are fine and all but we don't need to be paying premiums for middle relief.
JustSayin' 22 hours 35 min ago (view)
The Cubs have 15-20 extra pitchers in their minor league system due to unbalanced drafting over the last few years. I am ready to see them err on the side of giving the internal guys too many chances as compared to signing AAA players who had short stints in the big leagues which didn't go too well. We don't know it the Cubs organization is just that bad at developing pitching, or has too many guys trying to prove themselves in a fixed number of minor league innings. Bad scouting/development or self-inflicted bottleneck?
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
Dan Winkler and Jharel Cotton wasn't enough for you? Tough crowd.
Hagsag 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
I think we all are ready for some action.
crunch 1 day 17 hours ago (view)
winter meetings start tomorrow...guys got into town friday/today.
the cubs are supposedly looking to tap the trade market for their major moves. this is the place where it gets done or seeds get planted.
also, the modern day HOF class will be announced. marvin miller will most likely get in. lou whitaker and ted simmons should have some heat, too.
crunch 2 days 6 hours ago (view)
semi-interesting winter league note...
trey mcnutt (yes, that guy) is having a hell of a winter league in mexico (one of the less talented winter leagues) so far as a closer. 15.2ip 8h 4bb 24k, 0.57 era.
giants signed him to a minor league deal a couple weeks ago. he never went anywhere. he's been consistently playing ball in the minors and indie league ball since he was last a noteworthy player. last season he played in the OAK minor league system. 30 years old now...
jdrnym 2 days 13 hours ago (view)
Brad Brach signs with the Mets for $850K but the Cubs are paying $500K, per Ken Rosenthal. Wasn't his 2020 club only supposed to be on the hook for league minimum?
crunch 2 days 14 hours ago (view)
when he got to the mets he suddenly learned how to throw with control (small sample size etc). last year was not a fun bullpen year...
crunch 2 days 16 hours ago (view)
Yeah, I've made myself familiar with a lot of the changes, but AZP's posts have both added more information and cleared up stuff I didn't fully grasp. I appreciate the hell out of it. Thanks Phil, thanks TCR.
bradsbeard 2 days 18 hours ago (view)
Looks like Savant has his breaking pitch classified as a curve while Fangraphs calls it a slider. Suppose by ST he could have made everything over in the pitching lab, so who knows!