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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

New Joe Maddon strategy comes out of left field

Posted By on 06.29.16 at 11:34 AM


A 15th-inning grand slam by Javier Baez helped the Cubs win Tuesday night, as did three pitchers who played left. - AP PHOTO/JOHN MINCHILLO
  • AP Photo/John Minchillo
  • A 15th-inning grand slam by Javier Baez helped the Cubs win Tuesday night, as did three pitchers who played left.
The Cubs and Reds were tied at two in the 14th inning Tuesday night in Cincinnati, and the north-siders were running short on players, when manager Joe Maddon's neurotransmitters began heating up in the dugout.

Maddon brought in Spencer Patton to pitch. Patton got an out, and then Maddon sent him to left and brought in Travis Wood to pitch. Wood got an out, and Maddon sent him to left and brought Patton back to the mound.

Patton got the third out, and then the Cubs' hitters went to work, plating five in the top of the 15th, highlighted by Javier Baez's grand slam.
  

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Cubs lost—but Chicago Baseball won

Posted By on 10.22.15 at 12:30 PM

Matt Smerge, back at his spot before Wednesday's game - DEANNA ISAACS
  • Deanna Isaacs
  • Matt Smerge, back at his spot before Wednesday's game

One small consolation at this week's National League Championship games: Chicago Baseball publisher Matt Smerge and his team in the mustard-yellow shirts were back on the sidewalks adjacent to Wrigley Field, hawking their alternative Cubs program, as they have through a slog of dreary seasons that preceded this year's delirium. 

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Cubs curse is goatshit

Posted By on 10.20.15 at 09:35 AM

Sam Sianis and goat at Wrigley Field in 1989, lifting the curse yet again - COURTESY BILLY GOAT TAVERN
  • courtesy Billy Goat Tavern
  • Sam Sianis and goat at Wrigley Field in 1989, lifting the curse yet again

Much has been written about the Cursed Cubs—maybe too much. Apparently only supernatural causes can be responsible for more than a century of World Series futility. Forget bad management, cheap and shortsighted owners, superstition, and maybe, just maybe, a fan base that actually enjoys the whole cursed lovable losers myth and wouldn't know what the hell to do if the Cubs suddenly became winners. Look what happened to the Red Sox post 2004 after they broke the curse Babe Ruth allegedly placed on them after he was sold to the Yankees. They went from charming and unassuming to the second-biggest assholes on the east coast. (The Yankees will always be the biggest assholes.) This cursedness has become almost as good a marketing ploy as Beautiful Wrigley Field. Especially that goat.

Where would the Cubs be without a curse? They would be like the Cleveland Indians or the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Philadelphia Phillies (the first MLB team to rack up 10,000 losses): losers, but not especially lovable to anyone outside their city. Or they would be like the White Sox, not even lovable to the majority of people within their city. Would we feel differently about the Sox if they'd been cursed instead of just bad?

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Six surprising things I learned at Wrigley Field this year so far

Posted By on 04.20.15 at 10:48 AM

Kris Bryant

Who knew?

1. You can put porta-potties right up close to food vendors in the concourse. So convenient!

2. We never really needed bleachers.

3. Pitchers can bat eighth.

4. Our new third baseman is a defensive star.

5. Lester's better at throwing a ball when the glove goes with it.

6. That giant left field sign might not ruin the game after all.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Riot Fest started out chilly, rainy, and muddy, but it had its highlights

Posted By on 09.13.14 at 10:45 AM

The crowd during Gwars set

Several faithful Reader staffers, deterred to varying degrees by chilly wind, persistent rain, and unavoidable mud, send fragmentary dispatches from day one of Riot Fest.

Molly Raskin: I've been excited for this year's Riot Fest since last year's ended. By 2:45 PM I was at the entrance, raring to go, wearing my finest black denim. And by 3:05 PM, I was hanging out with the medics, asking for Band-Aids for my blistered feet. Not that this validates everyone's claims that Riot Fest plays too much on nostalgia, but seeking out medical attention was totally my high school MO. I wasn't here to reminisce about my trips to the nurse's office, though. I was here to hear some bands, drink some beers, and compliment a whole lot of denim jackets.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Major League Baseball kills the umpire—and maybe the game

Posted By on 09.03.14 at 04:09 PM

Wrigley Field, 9/2/14

There is, as always, so much about the Cubs to bemoan.

The more-miserable-than-ever performance the last few years, the hideous new LED signs that are taking over the field, the ridiculous prices, the idiotic argument that they need to revamp the most popular park in baseball (and block its unique rooftop viewing) in order to produce a better team.

I'm not going there.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bill Cahill, and a glorious day at Wrigley, RIP

Posted By on 03.13.14 at 09:00 AM

Wrigley_Field.jpg

Today, with a new shroud of snow topping the remains of a winter that refuses to let us out of its grip, the late-summer day last year when I met Bill Cahill seems like a dream.

The sky was blue, the breeze at Wrigley Field was a gentle caress, and the Cubs were winning.

Cahill, sitting next to me in the stands, talked about seeing his first Cubs game with his father. That was in 1929, when he was eight years old. And he talked about his days as a journalist, before he turned to financial public relations.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why the Bulls traded Luol Deng for a player they didn't want

Posted By on 01.07.14 at 02:33 PM

Luol Deng is heading to Cleveland. In return, the Bulls will eventually wind up with...someone.
  • Michael Jarecki/Sun-Times Media
  • Luol Deng is heading to Cleveland. In return, the Bulls will eventually wind up with . . . someone.
Pro basketball is a complicated sport, and I'm not talking about the three-second violation or the two kinds of flagrant fouls.

Late last night, the Bulls traded all-star forward Luol Deng to Cleveland for Andrew Bynum and three draft picks. Bynum, 26, is a seven-foot, 285-pound center, talented but often injured. At this writing, Bynum's career with the Bulls is in its twilight: the team is expected to drop him by 4 PM. Bynum, in other words, is the player-to-be-waived-sooner.

Why did the Bulls trade for a player they intended to dump? In order to get the highly sought Cap Room.

Cap Room cannot jump and has never nailed a three-pointer, but is always in great demand, especially among teams like the Bulls, whose best days are in the past and possibly the future. Cap Room refers to the NBA's salary cap, which is designed to promote parity in the league and save the owners money. The current cap is $58.679 million. In some instances—it's complicated—a team exceeding the cap pays a "luxury tax" to the other teams.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chikaming Country Club at 100

Posted By on 09.24.13 at 09:32 AM

Replace divots!
  • Replace divots!
Jane Addams founded Hull House, was a crusader for the poor and women’s suffrage and world peace, and won the Nobel Peace Prize. But more importantly, could she stiff it dead to the pin from 100 yards with a niblick?

Sadly, Addams's handicap is not revealed in the recent book 100 Years. 100 Stories. A Centennial History of Chikaming Country Club. It's not even clear if she played golf. But she was one of the club's original members.

The club is in Lakeside, Michigan, where Addams owned property and spent the summer months, along with a number of other prominent Chicagoans. Other notable visitors and/or members included Chicago Bears founder and coach George Halas, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Luis Alvarez, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and Oriental Institute founder James Henry Breasted.

Carl Sandburg was another. He had a home in nearby Herbert. Sandburg was a Pulitzer-winning poet at the time, but "for those who knew him at the club, he was simply someone who played golf, gave occasional readings of his poetry, and showed up at social events from time to time." I like to think that Sandburg may have flung magnetic curses when he missed a two-foot putt for par.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Riot Fest recap: Rain, the Replacements, and wrestling with nostalgia

Posted By on 09.16.13 at 02:52 PM

Crowd surf toward the light. Youre going to a better place.
  • Alison Green
  • Crowd surf toward the light. You're going to a better place.
Rain fell for most of Riot Fest's final day, though the weather began to clear up around the time Brand New took the stage and stayed relatively dry until the final minutes of the Replacements' headlining set. The Mats' vigorous performance almost made me forget about the Pixies' nearly catatonic appearance one set earlier; and at one point during "Debaser," what were supposed to be howls from front man Black Francis sounded more like garbled yawns. Pretty soon I had trouble holding back yawns myself.

The uninspired parts of the Pixies' set were a low point at a festival whose bookings leaned heavily on bands beloved for their bygone days. The people wanted the Pixies, and for some of them, any version of the Pixies would do, even one without Kim Deal or a flicker of passion. (Seriously, Pixies, even Peter Hook could muster some fire doing live-band Joy Division karaoke with the Light.) Nostalgia also gripped fans of groups that hadn't even formed when the Pixies and the Replacements broke up. Hours earlier I'd been surrounded by kids who stood unmoved when Brand New opened their set with caustic tunes off 2009's Daisy, but as soon as the Long Island band dropped some early material ("Sic Transit Gloria . . . Glory Fades," "Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don't"), practically everybody I could see began singing along to every word. This made me a bit cranky (I prefer the band's later output), but I'm sure those fans felt the same way about me when I pumped my fists to "Gasoline." Most everyone watching Brand New sought a cherished version of the band, and not all those versions overlapped—so I have to give them a hand for making an effort to draw on their entire catalog.

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