A Slice of Baseball History

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

Excited as always about heading to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game, I make the hour and a half journey via I-90. Cubs and Phillies. Arrieta vs. Hamels. The Cubs are in playoff contention, the Phils own baseball’s worst record. What could go wrong?

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Well, we all know how that worked out.

Having had a day or two to digest the historic game when soon-to-be ex-Philly Cole Hamels twirled the first no-hitter against the Cubs since Sandy Koufax was perfect against them in September of 1965, two things are forefront in my mind. First, if my beloved Cubs are to lose a game that I go to, witnessing history is a pretty good consolation prize. Second, with Philadelphia still dangling Hamels, he came up with a hell of an audition. [Read more…]

My Most Excellent Cub Game

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

Those of you who read my work with regularity know I am a huge, die-hard Cub fan. It’s either a curse or a privilege, depending on your point of view. So when I get the opportunity to head into the city and see a game at iconic, pastoral Wrigley Field, I leap at the chance. Friday was such a day.

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For those of you who have never been to the friendly confines, so named by Cubs legend Ernie Banks, God rest his soul, allow me to paint a picture of its setting. [Read more…]

Slow down. You move too fast. MLB wants to pick up the pace.

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

I understand the motivation behind MLB’s efforts to speed up games. Like everything else, it’s about money. The idea is to keep younger, ADD afflicted kids who need stimuli every second of every day in order to keep their attention. A younger fan base keeps the game fiscally healthy for generations to come.

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Here’s a thought…slow down. I’ve preached this before, and will continue to until someone listens. Baseball is a beautiful, nuanced game that requires appreciation. The poetic rhythm of a 6-4-3 double play, and the ability to notice the symmetry and the way each game and ballpark, while unique, are lost on most of today’s youth. [Read more…]

Another Twist in the Chicago Cubs’ Future

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

Occasionally something pops up and grabs my attention.

Here’s a snapshot into my day. I do a lot of work online, writing, applying for work. I have a monitor on with the sound down, which currently has the Cubs death spiraling to yet another defeat. I have the radio on tuned to my favorite sports talk station out of Chicago. I’ve been in and out all day, working on a column or two, trying to get back into the swing of regular writing.

During the course of my travels, I think I hear, though I’m not sure, that Joe Girardi, manager of the evil empire, is in line for the Cubs managing job for 2014. A Chicago Tribune baseball writer floated the leak, and the several writers and talkers that I listen to each day confirm that it’s more likely to happen than not. President Theo
Epstein, messiah in charge was asked the question at a news conference at Wrigley Field today and of course denied it. But, the thing that intrigues me is this; the Cubs offices are located about three buildings beyond iconic Waveland Avenue so why was Theo at the ballpark today? He is not there often, and the weather today isn’t exactly postcard worthy here in the Midwest. No Theo was there for a reason, and my antennae tell me it ain’t to catch up on the minor league season.

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Here is how it would play out according to my sources…Sveum would be freed of the last year of his contract, not a reach after watching the  last two years of pathetic baseball. The idea has always been for him to mind the club while Epstein, Jed Hoyer and company blew up the major league product and retooled from square one. Cutting fat payroll obligations, eating a bulk of the outstanding cash has trimmed the roster from overblown Soriano’s, then trading and drafting the future core, AKA Javier Baez, Alberto Almora and Kris Bryant as the centerpieces. [Read more…]

A Road Trip to Wrigley Field, Part 4

By Joshua V. Best
PSDC Writer

The itinerary for our second day in Chi-town included Gino’s East and a trip to Milwaukee, WI, for the Giants-Brewers game. Undeterred by the rain that had joined the cold temperatures, we headed out on the “L,” hoping our limited public transportation experience would be sufficient to locate the famous pizza place. The rain was still fairly light as we left the train station and made the three block walk to Gino’s.

We arrived to find a unique ambiance. Dark wood and low lighting revealed graffiti everywhere. Not only allowed, but encouraged, everyone who comes in writes on the walls here (and tables, booths, anything not marked with a sign requesting otherwise – requests that seemed to be marginally effective at best). You might say it is their “signature” feature.

We were seated next to another table of Rangers fans and before our dining experience was complete, several more Texas travelers had arrived as well.

“Do the Rangers always travel this well?” asked the waiter. “There have been more people from Texas here the last two days than locals.” Amazing – the once-lowly Texas Rangers and their fans had taken over Chicago. It brings smiles to our faces for our beloved team to be so well supported. [Read more…]

A Road Trip to Wrigley Field, Part 3: Freezing in Wrigley

By Joshua V. Best
PSDC Writer 

Having spent 13 hours together confined to the van, we wanted a simple way to get to Wrigley. The train offered the most efficient solution and we boarded around 3:15 to head to the ballpark. It was definitely a more open environment, but the odor wasn’t any better.

After we picked up our tickets, we looked around a bit and hung out near the executive parking lot where we caught a glimpse of the arrival of one Jesse Jackson. He stopped, signed a few autographs, recited a few verses of “Green Eggs and Ham,” and ducked into the building. Perkins was disappointed to miss a photo op with his “idol.”

Jackson was here as part of the Jackie Robinson ceremonies, and also because he doesn’t have anything else to do that anyone is aware of. [Read more…]

A Road Trip to Wrigley Field, Part 2

By Joshua V. Best
PSDC Writer

By the time you read this, our traveling party should be well into Illinois and eagerly awaiting the site of the Chicago skyline. As we prepared to leave last night, and with the forecast of temperatures in the 40s for the week, I learned a valuable lesson about baseball-related travel. Though a veteran of these kinds of trips (I have made four trips to Florida and two to Arizona for spring training games), this is our first such “regular season” excursion, and certainly our first time to venture north. I learned that you need a much bigger suitcase to pack for April baseball in Chicago. Cold weather clothes take up a lot more space. Actually, it looks like I have packed for the Iditarod.

As the time of our departure arrived, I reflected quite a bit on the way things have changed since my first spring training trip in 2002. Back then in my role as entertainment coordinator, I had to find a manageable way to travel with 500-600 CDs, DVDs and several large baseball and movie books for discussion and trivia. These items alone took at least one seat of space in our vehicle. Now, we just need an iPad, an iPod and my trusty Zune, and we will have more information and entertainment than we could ever digest over the course of four days.

I’m sure a lot of folks must wonder what we do to occupy ourselves on the long drives. It takes about 14 hours to drive from Longview, TX to Chicago, and with stops for bathroom or food breaks and the occasional caffeine super-charge, 15.5 hours is probably more accurate. So how do we pass that time? [Read more…]

A Road Trip to Wrigley Field, Part 1

By Joshua V. Best
PSDC Writer

The date was Wednesday September 12, 2012. The Rangers, who held a division lead for most of the season, seemed poised to return to the World Series. Fans remained unaware of the collapse that loomed, scarcely thinking they would blow their lead and barely make the playoffs as a one-game wildcard. Certainly none could fathom that their centerfielder would forget how to catch fly balls or to lay off of pitches two feet outside and in the dirt, much less that he would eventually blame it all on those same fans who supported him. And Red Bull. And Red Man. And dry eyes. And that his dress was too tight.

I digress.

On that date, I received an e-mail from Kenny Lattin – you know him as the Lizard. He was already looking over the 2013 schedule and something caught his eye. The Rangers would be playing the Cubbies at Wrigley Field 4/16-4/18. Almost three years had passed since we made our last baseball spring training trip, and the Lizard had an idea.

He proposed a road trip to the “Friendly Confines” to see the Rangers and Cubs. “Imagine how awesome it would be!” he wrote. Who am I to disagree? [Read more…]