‘Chicago’

My dad and stepmom came to visit this weekend.  They hadn’t come to visit for about eight years and it was great to have them here.  My dad especially always thinks the city is going to be too hot, too cold, too crowded, too…something. Lately it’s been beautiful outside.  60’s.  Upper 70’s.  Spring.  Baseball weather.  Beautiful.

And then came Sunday.  90 degrees beating down on the NYC pavement…and of course, the one day in nearly the past decade that my dad chose to visit.  Figures.

We had a great time regardless.  He and my stepmom had never been to Central Park so we took a long walk.  Beat the heat with some ice cream and waters bought at those carts you find in parks across the country.  I only just recently decided to eat hot dogs sold from a cart.  A baseball hot dog is a wonderful thing.  Something about buying a hot dog from a baseball vendor or at a concession stand at a stadium just feels right.  Buying a hot dog from a weird man with a dirty cart filled with old hot water…not quite the same appeal.  However, they are $2 and sometimes, especially lately, a two dollar lunch is just what the checking account ordered.

There were kids all over the Alice in Wonderland statue.  People driving remote controlled boats at the boat pond.  A Greek parade pouring down Fifth Avenue.  Lots of people out sunbathing and people walking their dogs everywhere.  A great Summertime scene in 90 degree weather smack in the middle of Spring.

We went out to eat for every meal which something I really only do when company is in town visiting.  My stepmom was talking about the Yankees/Red Sox games she caught over the weekend and how exciting they were.  Great games sure, but on top of that, the Red Sox won.  She’s one of those fans who have recently come back around to baseball.  She’s in her early 60’s and after the 1994 strike, she had had enough.  Too much focus on money and greed for her to respect the game she once loved.  Enough years passed though and she’s come around again.  Rooting for the Red Sox like she always has.  Of course for a while there it was because she liked to go sit in the outfield and check out Dwight Evans booty.  Now though, it’s simply for love the Sox and having something in common with her grandchildren who live in CT.

We had tickets to see ‘Chicago’ on Broadway Sunday night and she kidded about skipping it to watch the Sox/Yanks on Sunday night baseball.  She decided she could hang in there though (of course) and enjoy the show based on the movie she’s loved since she saw it.  I hadn’t seen the movie so I didn’t know what to expect.  Let me tell you…this show (and I’m sure film) does not paint a very pretty picture of Chicago.  Murders, crimes, lies, etc…I understand the city has a reputation for crooked politicians…but they sure didn’t try to shine a light on anything positive with regards to Chicago, that’s for sure.  I mean come on, throw a baseball fan a bone and mention Wrigley or something, ya know?  Of course with the way this show was going, if there had been a baseball reference, it surely would’ve been about the Black Sox scandal.

Anyway, the show was great.  Not one of my favorites of all the shows I’ve seen in New York, but up there among one of the better performances…especially when it comes to less is more.  They do a lot with hardly any set or stage frills and you’re entertained the whole time.  Which really, is a lot like the Cubs now that I think about it.  Wrigley Field.  Barebones.  Old school.  No real frills.  No cookie cutter park.  Bare essentials.  Few thrills or real ‘characters’ when it comes to our lineup.  Just hardnosed baseball that entertains you the whole time you’re at the park or following the season.  Pretty cool in that respect considering the show is called ‘Chicago’.

Some of the songs in the show remind me of some of the Cubs roster though.  Just for fun (considering we’re a few games in back of the Cards right now…not exactly the April I had hoped for) here are some of the songs that made me think of Cubs players and the players that match up:

“I Can’t Do It Alone” – Carlos Zambrano.  Ace of the staff.  No-hitter last year.  We know he’s going to bring it every time he takes the mound.  But he is not going to be able to do this thing alone. Demp, Lilly, Harden and Marshall are all going to have to step their games up if we want to repeat in the Central again this year.

“My Own Best Friend” – Aramis Ramirez.  Pretty much our only quality at third base.  Without a true backup, he’s basically his own best friend on the hot corner. Aramis goes down and we’re pretty screwed at third.  We need his glove and bat all season long.  Injuries will come and go…let’s hope Ramirez isn’t effected too often in ’09.

“Mister Cellophane” – Micah Hoffpauir.  This really applied stronger during Spring Training.  Lately Micah has been getting his share of at bats and his talent is no longer see through to Lou.  He’s giving him a chance to shine in the regular season like he did in Spring Training.  Not ready to give up on Lee by any means, but like DeRosa was great to have as a quality anywhere kind of guy, Micah is the closest thing we have to that right now on the ballclub and it’s good to see he’s finally getting noticed.

“All I Care About” – Chicago Cubs fans.  While the character that sings this in the show is rather sarcastic in singing that all he cares about is love…I think Cubs fans would be genuine.  Sure we want the trophy after all these years…but there has to be a reason we come back year in and year out.  For love the Cubs, we wouldn’t come back if it was all we really cared about.  Championships are nice and a World Series title would be insane, but be honest, you’ll keep coming back regardless.

All in all it was a great weekend.  Took my dachshund to the dachshund festival on Saturday and it was hilarious.  Dad and stepmom came in on Sunday and we had a blast in the big city, can’t wait for them to come back again.  The show was a great time and a real treat for them to take us.  Chicago needs to do something to change that rep though, it really doesn’t come off all that great in the show.  Maybe something big is needed to make people think about it differently…like I don’t know…a Cubs championship perhaps?

Couldn’t hurt.  Go Cubs Go!

AUDIO POST: Prose and Ivy on the United Cardinal Bloggers Hour!

Below is the podcast recording of my guest appearance on the United Cardinal Bloggers Hour Wednesday night.  The hosts were real welcoming, knowledgable and great to have a conversation with regarding Cubs and Cardinals baseball.  With the series coming up this weekend it was a great opportunity to pick each other’s brains about the respective opponent.  They said they’d keep things civil in enemy territory more or less and they did.  I had a blast and would look forward to appearing on the show again if invited back in the future.  Some of the highlighted topics of the conversation, among others:

  • AC000000 – please explain for Cards fans what that’s all about
  • The DeRosa trade
  • Expectations of the 2009 Cubs
  • ’07-’08 Playoffs
  • Injuries and other Potential challenges to the Cubs in 2009
  • (and from Tom @ CardinalsGM.com) What’s your perception of how Cubs fans feel about D-Lee?  Are they ready to sit him and bring in Hoffpauir to start at first?

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/BTRPlayer.swf?file=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eblogtalkradio%2Ecom%2FUCB%2DHost%2Fplay%5Flist%2Exml%3Fitemcount%3D4&autostart=false&bufferlength=20&volume=77.7777777777778&borderweight=1&bordercolor=#999999&backgroundcolor=#FFFFFF&dashboardcolor=#0098CB&playlistcolor=#999999&playlisthovercolor=#333333&cornerradius=10&callback=http://www.blogtalkradio.com/FlashPlayerCallback.aspx?referrer_url=/Profile.aspx

(NOTE: As of 4/27/09, the show I was on is the fourth one down on the list of shows.  If you don’t want to listen to the whole show and only tune in to my appearance, after hitting play, click inside the play tracking bar right above the middle of the envelope icon.  That should take you right to where my interview started.)  It was a great experience.  Great meeting Kathy from Redbirdchatter.mlblogs.com who was on as a guest as well.  I put it out there that I predict the Cubs take 3 out of 4 this weekend.  Cards take game one and the Cubs take the next three.  We’ll see.  Go Cubs Go!
 

Listen tonight as I guest on the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour

I’m going in.

Cardinals/Cubs series this weekend Thursday-Sunday at Wrigley.  The Cubs will have home-field on their side…I won’t be so lucky come this evening.

If you get a chance tonight, listen in to the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour (link here) and hear me guest as we chat about all things baseball, including this weekend’s Cubs/Cards series.  Not so sure that there will be any other Cub fans included as guests so Cubs fans should feel free to call in and back me up!  (Actually, the guys mentioned that they’d keep it civil…but you never know when it comes to this rivalry!  I’m definitely looking forward to it so if you get a chance, dial it up on-line.  Also on tonight as a guest is fellow MLBLogger Redbird Chatter.  Should be a great time and an even better series this weekend!

Had a chance to watch today’s game on-line and man…does it hurt to get beat by Marquis!  Losing at Wrigley is always a horrible feeling…but having a cast-off and lay down the beating?  Not cool.  And Marquis and his stuff?  Please.  That was pathetic.

Opening Day on the other hand was awesome.  Cubs have opened the first week of the season up strong going 5-3, currently in second place behind the Cardinals.  Lilly was amazing through seven delivering the goods no one is to speak of until it’s over (you know what I’m saying) and it’s great to see him come out strong.  Not concerned at all about Zambrano, can’t wait to see him this weekend.  I feel bad for teams who don’t have that ace that makes you believe every five starts you are going to win.  Great fun in having that with Zambrano…wish I could make the Apr 21 game against the Reds to get the Zambrano no-hitter statue.  That thing is pretty cool and a great symbol of an amazing pitching performance.  Love Dempster and expect great things from him this year.  Harden got roughed up today but again, it’s early, not concerned.

Soriano is having one of his best Aprils so far ever, especially in the past few seasons and Fukudome seems to be in his April zone like last year.  With Bradley injured with a bum groin (surprise) it’s going to be important he performs like he’s capable of.  I love the balance in the lineup Bradley brings, but this injury is a great opportunity to see Reed play a whole lot more. Nothing wrong with that.

Hopefully Soto comes around.  Sore shoulders and catchers?  Not a good mix.  If Soto is healthy I don’t foresee a sophomore slump so hopefully his body holds it together.  Same with Ramirez and Gregg actually.  Injuries could be a huge problem for this team this year, something that could ruin plans we’d all love to make come October.  Ramirez’s bat and glove don’t have the back up Gregg does.  Marmol can step up and close I feel without a real problem…backing up Ramirez?  That’s much tougher.  Miles at 2B and Fontenot at 3B isn’t exactly the ideal.

Lee on the other hand.  Aside from today’s solo shot, it’s been a slow start and really the only weak link in the healthy part of the Cubs lineup right now.  I’m kind of hard on Lee because I expect a lot from him.  He needs to step it up and be his a Cardinal killer this weekend.  Any time we get the Cards at Wrigley, we have to take advantage of it.  Playing in St. Louis is never easy…need to get these four games this weekend while we’re inside the Friendly Confines.

We’ll see how friendly the podcast/radio hour confines are this evening.  Can’t wait to talk Cubs baseball with hard-core baseball fans.  Again, call in if you get a chance and say hey.  Come back soon for a new post recapping the experience!

Go Cubs Go!

Are we there yet? YES!!!

Thankfully, yes…FINALLY.  Tomorrow is:
And the games finally count!!!
Huge changes this year.  No DeRo.  Milton Bradley’s bat balances the lineup.  Gregg as our closer.  A possibly recently disgruntled Marmol as our setup guy.  More playing time for Fontenot and a new guy named Miles.  Soto with a solid all-star season under his belt raring to go in an effort to avoid the sophomore slump.  All this and more equals a very interesting prospect that is the 2009 Chicago Cubs MLB season.  And I am ready.
I got my new gear:
I got my new Cubs Club card:
I got my MLB.TV:
I got my New York Chicago Cubs Fan Meetup group:
And the Opening Day roster is set:
I’m ready.
I decided at the end of 2008 I would no longer expect anything, simply enjoy the ride.  That’s exactly what I’m going to do in ’09.  I have no expectations.  Zero.  Simply go out and enjoy the season, all of it’s ups and downs and bumps and bruises and highs and lows.  Come October, we’ll see where that brought us.  It will be hard to maintain this mindset for sure, but it’s my new approach to being a Cubs fan.  I think we have a great chance and I wouldn’t devote as much time to the team if I didn’t always think this was the year.  However, after 101 years of it not, it’s time to stop expecting a change and simply enjoy the ride no matter the outcome.  That’s going to be tough like I said, but it’s definitely worth a shot.
That being said, here are my 2009 MLB Predictions.  Predictions that is.  Not expectations.
AL EAST
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Toronto Blue Jays
AL CENTRAL
1. Cleveland Indians
2. Minnesota Twins (WC)
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Detroit Tigers
AL WEST
1. Los Angeles Angels
2. Oakland A’s
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Texas Rangers
NL EAST
1. New York Mets
2. Philadelphia Phillies
3. Atlanta Braves
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals
NL CENTRAL
1. Chicago Cubs
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. St. Louis Cardinals
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
NL WEST
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants (WC)
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres
ALDS
Red Sox over Indians
Twins over Angels
NLDS
Cubs over Giants
Mets over Dodgers
LCS
Red Sox over Twins
Cubs over Mets
World Series
Cubs over Red Sox
And there you have it.  Your 2009 MLB World Series Champions, the Chicago Cubs.  Streak dead.  AC000000.  No expectations.  Simply a prediction.  Go Cubs Go!!!