Friday, December 31, 2010

Cubs 2010 in Review: February

February 2FOXSports.com briefly mentions that the Cubs were interested in Kris Benson, which allows me to mention his wife, Anna Benson and show a picture of her.


February 3 – Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman called the Cubs offseason the second most disappointing ahead of only the New York Mets. In the course of explaining why he thought that, he said, “Alfonso Soriano proved to be even more untradeable than [Luis] Castillo” despite neither player actually getting traded. So it seems to me they are equally untradeable.

February 3 – Jim Hendry signs Kevin Millar upon realizing that the Cubs were dreadfully thin in clutch dick joke making and to make the Chad Tracy and Xavier Nady signings look good by comparison. It also served to prove Jon Heyman right.

February 3Angel Guzman has secret knee surgery that isn’t revealed until two weeks later, leaving the Cubs without their one real set-up man for Marmol. I’m sure that won’t present a problem later on.

February 4The Cubs and closer, Carlos Marmol, avoid arbitration when Marmol agrees to sign for one year and $2.125 million while Ryan Theriot steadfastly refuses to sign for less than $3 million. There’s no joke there. That really happened.

February 6 – The Cubs sign Jason DuBois which was the first indication that he had not been in the Cubs system all along.

February 7 – Part of the plan to stay in Mesa, Arizona for Spring Training would involve a new tax on Cactus League games to help pay for the venture. Jerry Reinsdorf very politely implies to the Cubs that they can take their new tax and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

February 7 – Carlos Zambrano selfishly reports to Training Camp ten days before the mandatory pitchers and catchers report date.

February 8 – Tom Ricketts talks about his team’s payroll saying,
“The dollars leaving the door is not the issue,” Chairman Tom Ricketts said. “It’s the third-highest payroll (in baseball). The issue is getting the right performance for the number of dollars you spend.”

This is widely believed to be an indication that Jim Hendry will be fired if the season does not go well.

February 10 – The then hilariously titled and now fairly presciently named, “Cubs Anal,” became available for sale and did nothing to derail the belief that Cubs fans are morons.



February 11Dave Kaplan outlines the changes the Ricketts want to make to Wrigley Field, thus beginning an odyssey that will end with bathrooms that may or may not be cleaner than they were before, a giant noodle, and a team that sucks because everyone is too busy talking about urinal troughs.

February 15 – The Cubs debuted a pre-sale for single-game tickets where fans could pay a 20% premium to get ahead in line of people who only wished to pay face value for the privilege of watching the team suck.

February 17 – The official day for pitchers and catchers reporting arrives with most pitchers, both Soto and Hill, and quite a few position players already in camp after following the terrible, selfish example of Carlos Zambrano.

February 17Bud Selig joins forces with Jerry Reinsdorf to oppose the Cubs Tax in the Cactus League and becomes the scariest couple since Tom Arnold and Roseanne.

February 18 – Carrie Muskat reveals to a shocked populace that Carlos Silva is fat.

February 19 – Single game tickets go on sale and most of the tickets for the season are sold. Based on the late season gaps in the seats throughout the park, we presume they were used for bookmarks or something. The Ricketts family was on hand to pass out coffee and Dunkin Donuts for people waiting in the cold. This set a record for the nicest thing the Cubs have ever done for their fans.

February 19 - The Cubs and Ryan Theriot actually go to the arbitration hearing to present their cases and the Cubs win when they present a montage of Theriot’s baserunning gaffes using Yakety Sax as the soundtrack and immediately resting their case.


February 22 – Position players all report to camp and it is revealed that Alfonso Soriano’s surgically repaired knee isn’t 100% healthy yet and he has not pushed it full speed in the off-season, prompting media and fans to question Soriano’s dedication despite Carrie Muskat explicity reporting:

“The Cubs' medical staff advised Soriano to not run full tilt this winter to avoid any setbacks.”

What a lazy son of a bitch.

February 24 – Lou Piniella discusses using Mike Fontenot as the back-up shortstop to Ryan Theriot in an effort to make Theriot seem competent at the position.

February 25 – Brett Jackson reveals that he enjoys having his blood drained for testing, which is appropriate for a Cubs fan, but maybe not so much for a Cubs player.

February 26Angel Guzman is shut down after having problems with his shoulder while rehabbing from his secret knee surgery earlier in the month. The only person happy about this news is Esmailin Caridad.

February 26 – The Cardinals sign utility infielder, Felipe Lopez, and are crowned the National League Central champions by the media without having to play a game.  Congrats, Cardinals!

Coming next in March, Ozzie Guillen's acorn doesn't fall far from the won't-keep-his-mouth-shut tree and it turns out Jake Peavy hates the Cubs.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cubs 2010 in Review: January

The Cubs were determined to rebound from all the clubhouse chaos and injuries that torpedoed the 2009 season and began the year of 2010 with fresh new owners, a new spunky good guy centerfielder, fewer pounds on their torsos, and a lovely new marketing slogan that is unfortunately sadly true.  Let's see how such a tried and true formula for success went awry:

January 1 - Cubs fans basked in the glow of the Marlon Byrd signing on New Years Eve, and nobody would ever speak of Milton Bradley ever again.  Except for every single media member who always mentioned him as a comparison to Byrd in every story where Byrd is mentioned.

January 4 – Ken Rosenthal’s imaginary friend whispers to him that the Cubs are the front-runners to sign Ben Sheets and he writes a piece for FOX Sports that he would have undoubtedly ripped as irresponsible if it had been written by a blogger.

January 5 – The Ricketts discussed the structure and potential ramifications of the financing for the purchase of the Cubs in the Investment News:

The Ricketts’ spokesman says that converting the term loans into private placement notes with longer maturities provides “flexibility” for the family, and he insists that despite the heavy debt load, the team won’t cut payroll.

These people clearly had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

January 6Andre Dawson finally got elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and for some reason Cubs fans became irritated that he might not get to wear a Cubs hat because his most consistently successful years happened in Montreal where nobody noticed.



January 8 – A Cubs ticket representative said “thank you” to me upon dropping off my check for my season ticket package. It is assumed that representative was fired shortly after.

January 9 – The Cubs sign minor league first baseman Bryan LaHair, thereby supplanting Micah Hoffpauir as the crappy AAAA minor leaguer that sports radio callers are obsessed with “giving a shot to see what he can do.”

January 11 – Former slugger and newly hired batting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, Mark McGwire, tearily admitted to Bob Costas in a live interview on the MLB Network that he always wished he had a cool nickname like “The Situation.”



January 11 – The Cubs bring Greg Maddux back as an assistant TO THE General Manager, prompting a signal to the end of Jim Hendry’s tenure as the General Manager.

January 13 – The Cubs Caravan began their trip around Chicago and a few other non-Chicago locations. This annual trip is a great opportunity for the Cubs to give a glimpse of players and coaches to some school children that may not otherwise be able to afford tickets after the ticket prices went up again after a third straight .500 or better season.

January 14 – Bob Nightengale of USA Today helped put Cubs fans into a panic right before the Cubs Convention by predicting the Cubs would move their Spring Training facility to Naples, Florida, resulting in 80% of all questions asked by fans to revolve in some way around the Cubs staying in Mesa, Arizona.

January 15 - The Cubs Convention kicked off with a “slidr show” about the 2009 debacle of a season, which we should have all realized was a sign that the Cubs front office wasn’t exactly setting real high standards for results.


The Convention was the first real opportunity for the Ricketts family to interact with Cubs fans and they were treated like the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. Even Todd.

January 22 – It turns out the Cubs were just running one of Jerry Reinsdorf’s old plays by using a Florida community as a decoy to induce massive government funding to build a new facility in Mesa after all.

January 25 – The Cubs sign Chad Tracy as depth for third base on the strength of scouts’ raves that he is taller than Mike Fontenot.

January 26 – Xavier Nady is signed to play the outfield based on the logic that he can’t possibly throw worse with his surgically repaired arm than Juan Pierre or Willie Wilson could with their healthy ones.

Coming soon... February, when Ryan Theriot and the Cubs disagree on the value of scrappiness.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas From Todd Ricketts & Aisle 424

Christmas is Todd's favorite holiday and Aisle 424 is proud to have obtained some footage of him preparing to celebrate with his siblings.





(original photo by Kris)

By the way, you also need to go over to Adam's ...And Counting and see his masterful Christmas poetry.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Replacing Ron

I have no idea if this is real, but Twitter friend, @Eukadanz, posted a link to Career Builder today that brought up this ad:


You can click on it to enlarge it, but it appears to be an ad for the job opening in the Cubs radio booth created by Ron Santo's passing.  They don't list a lot of criteria except:

"Preferred candidate will have played with the Chicago Cubs - or played major league baseball with previous broadcast experience as a game analyst."

I e-mailed the Tribune's HR department to find out if this was a real ad or if someone was pulling a hoax.  If it is a real ad, I hope they are fulfilling some regulatory requirement that they publicly post all job openings.  If it is a hoax, I don't get it.  I'll update if I get a response. (Don't hold your breath for a response.)

Nevertheless, WGN Radio is going to have to move forward in a search for Ron's replacement now that they have locked in Pat Hughes until 2015.  Ed Sherman broke down a list of potential candidates on his Crain's Chicago Business blog:

Dan Plesac: The Gary, Ind., native was popular as the Cubs pre- and postgame analyst for Comcast SportsNet through 2008. He has continued to shine as an analyst for the Major League Baseball Network. He's funny and insightful and fulfills the ex-Cub factor, having pitched for them in 1993-94. Several broadcast people believe he is the favorite if he wants the job.

Dave Otto: Mr. Otto, a reliever for the Cubs in 1994, was solid during his many appearances filling in for Mr. Santo on WGN. However, does he have a big enough name to be the full-time Cubs analyst?

Keith Moreland: He got solid reviews while doing some fill-in work for Mr. Santo. He also has experience working baseball games for the University of Texas. He spent six seasons in Chicago and was a key player on the 1984 National League East champions. He will be a strong contender.

Todd Hollandsworth: Currently the pre- and postgame analyst for Comcast SportsNet, where he does good work. A Cubs role-player on the 2003 team, he could get a look.

Gary Matthews: Now a color commentator for the Philadelphia Phillies, "Sarge" has thrown his hat in for previous broadcast openings with the Cubs. Will he do it again?

Eric Karros: A popular player on the Cubs' 2003 team, Mr. Karros currently works the pregame shows for Fox's national games. A full slate of Cubs games could be enticing.

Wildcard: Will the Cubs and WGN pull a surprise move? It's hard to imagine considering there are many well-known and qualified contenders, but you never know.

Of these candidates, I heartily endorse Keith Moreland.  He had a laid-back charm and he actually brought some analysis to the position of analyst.  It was very enjoyable listening to Pat and Keith, even as they described excruciatingly dull games that seemed to be lost even before Wayne Messmer had gotten the word "brave" out of his mouth.

My conspiracy theory mind wonders if the next person to fill the chair will be more of a placeholder until another fan favorite becomes more readily available.  It seems the job of truly replacing Ron Santo can't ever happen without the transitional stage.  As in many painful moves from one long-term relationship to another, maybe the Cubs are looking more for Mr. Right Now to help pass some time from the Santo years.

It fits together since I wondered aloud to Kris the other night if there has been unofficial discussions with Kerry Wood where he agrees to pitch for the Cubs as long as his arm holds out.  Then when his playing career ends, he would move into another position with the Cubs or associated with the Cubs.  Obviously, if the radio gig was being considered, they can't tie one directly to the other since WGN Radio and the Cubs are not under the same ownership umbrella anymore (mostly), but I have to figure the Cubs would have some input into who broadcasts their games.

That $1.5 million for one year seems too low for Kerry not to get much more than watching his team lose 90 games from the bullpen bench in 2011.  There has to be more to it than that, right?  Maybe someone like Dave Otto fills in for the next year or two, takes all the hits and criticisms because he isn't Santo (and never will be), and then the radio job goes to Kid K as he begins his second career.

I've got no sources or real insight here, so I'm pretty much just thinking aloud in print.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Congratulations, Bears and Hester

The Bears won the NFC North by going up to Minnesota's makeshift stadium and doing a pretty decent Patriots impression on the Vikings.

As a bonus, the Bears may (I stress the word "may") have finally ended Brett Favre's career once and for all with a sack by Corey Wootton in the second quarter.

I don't know who did the photoshop, but this was making the rounds on Twitter shortly after:


That seems about right.

So what could possibly make a division-clinching game after knocking out their old nemesis any better?  A record-breaking return by Devin Hester, solidifying him as the best return man in the history of the NFL (as though there was any question lingering in anyone's mind).

I don't have any footage of the record breaking footage, but maybe whoever put this together, can add it to the montage. (Audio has some NSFW language - just turn it down. You don't need it to enjoy.)


There really isn't much left to say except.  BEAR DOWN!!



----------
UPDATE
----------

Turns out there is footage of the record breaking return available. (h/t Sarah Spain)

Pat Hughes Locked in Until 2015

While I'll often write here about people who do not do their jobs well (cough-Rosenbloom!-cough) because it isn't funny to point out things that are correct or well done, sometimes someone is so good, they just can't be ignored.  Pat Hughes falls into that category.

I sometimes think I don't give Len Kasper enough credit for being good at his job simply because he just can't reach the heights of Hughes in describing a baseball game.  It's kind of like how it took people a long time to realize that Scottie Pippen was pretty damn good too when compared so closely to one of the best ever.

Listening to Hughes on the radio is a fantastic experience.  He sets the proper tone without all the false-excitement that is so prevalent in the younger generation of play-by-play clones that are out there, but without falling off into tedium when things aren't going well (which is far too often).  When things are exciting, he manages to keep an even keel to describe the situation and rises to a crescendo as the play unfolds.

Check out this audio from 2001 from a game against the Rockies (h/t GBTS at ACB).  This was the game where Joe Girardi should have had a fairly simple (and exciting) game-winning single, but Ricky Gutierrez fell down coming around 3rd and then all hell REALLY broke loose:



I was at this game, and I was going nuts.  How Hughes coherently translated the pandemonium on the field into words on the radio with Santo screaming in his ear beside him is sheer brilliance.

Today, WGN Radio announced that Pat Hughes will remain the voice of the Cubs through 2015 and at least 20 years on the job.  Again, like the Wood signing, this doesn't do anything that will ultimately change the outcome of the 2011 season or any of the ones following, but it makes them all a little easier to endure.

Congratulations, Pat. 

I would have been happier if it had been through 2025, but it's a start.

Pat in one of his trademark sweaters, getting ready
to describe the uniforms of the players on the field

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cubs Get Wood Again

You may have seen the Dave Kaplan tweets indicating that Dave Kaplan originally broke the story that Dave Kaplan reported that Dave Kaplan confirmed that Kerry Wood is back with the Cubs.

Not only is Kerry Wood back, he signed a one-year deal for $1.5 million. 

Let's put that into perspective.  Jim Hendry once signed Aaron Miles for two years and $4.9 million.  He signed Xavier Nady and his one arm to $3.3 million.  He will be paying John Grabow $4.8 million this year alone out of the $7.5 million deal signed last year.

He will get paid less than the $2 million going to Jeff Samardzija. It is entirely possible the Cubs will end up paying Koyie Hill a million dollars this year.  Koyie. Hill.

Kerry Wood for $1.5 million is a friggin' steal.

Sure, it won't do a lick of good in the overall grand scheme of things, but what the hell.  Having Kerry Wood back with the Cubs just feels right.  I mean, I feel bad that Mark Prior has a better chance of winning a World Series ring than he does at the moment, but that is his decision.

I have a good four months to envision Cubs leads in the 7th inning completely safe in the hands of Marshall, Wood and Marmol.  The reality will then undoubtedly kick me in the groin, but the next four months just got a little easier.

Bitchin'!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Steve Rosenbloom Explains Why He Doesn't Care For Cubs' Latino Players

Steve Rosenbloom should not be allowed to type words into his computer or speak out loud to other people.  The fact that he is paid to do so as a so-called sports journalist is absolutely mind-boggling.

I've pretty much left Rosenbloom alone here in Aisle 424 because, frankly, his simplistic musings and childish name-calling are low-hanging fruit and just plain too easy a target.  What fun is that?  I mean, unless you are Steve Rosenbloom and that is as high as you can reach.

For instance, if I were Steve Rosenbloom and I were to use my Rosenbloom brain to make fun of a stupid fucking piece-of-shit blog that was named "Rosenblog," I would change the name to "Rosenbleargh" (vomit sounds are funny!) and then seemingly pause for laughter, but really I just won't have anything else to say.

But today, Steve turns his ire on Carlos Zambrano and turns up the "Lazy Latino" noise that the Chicago media loves.  But even for Chicago media, the line he draws between the white players and the Latino players in this post is staggering.  I found myself reading it in an Archie Bunkerish Brooklyn accent as a means to convince my brain it was simply parody rather than actual beliefs by a supposedly educated man who makes his living crafting words in the 21st century.

At the end of it, all I could think of was this:



But Steve is intent on sharing his irrationality and petty, juvenile jokes in an effort to run Zambrano out of town.

"Problem was -- and is -- Zambrano won’t waive his full no-trade rights. It’s the kind of contract perk that general manager Jim Hendry gave everybody who stopped by the Cubs money buffet, a clause that reeks of stupidity and weakness on the part of both the player and the team, and here’s why:

If a player is getting $91.5 million, he ought to be both good enough to earn it and strong enough to deal with the potential inconvenience of getting traded if, say, he really isn’t good enough to earn it, right, Carlos?"

First off, let's point out that Steve apparently doesn't know that ALL players, regardless of skin color, with ten years in the league and at least five with the same team have no-trade rights automatically.  Jim Hendry could have given Aaron Miles a full no-trade clause and it would have no bearing on whether Zambrano has the right to veto a trade or not.  He meets the 10-5 requirement, so he has no-trade rights. Period. It's in the contract with the players union.

Try Googling something once in awhile, Steve, and fuck you for making me defend Jim Hendry.

Secondly, if your employment status at the Tribune gave you the rights to veto being sent to cover a cow-pie hurling contest in Buttfuck, Alaska, you'd probably take it and use it, Steve.  By the way, I heartily encourage the Tribune to do just that since I don't think he has those rights, the Tribune's coverage of dung hurling has been lacking and Rosenbleargh (callback!) seems to be an expert at it (Hiyooo!).

There are then a lot more words bemoaning Zambrano's unwillingness to pack his family up and move to a new city just to make Rosenbloom happy, and then bewilderment over the Cubs signing a player for $10 million using only his batting average to make fun of it.  You know, like a reasoned, learned sports expert would.  
 
I can't rehash the whole thing without going clinically insane so I'll do us all a favor and skip down to where Steve paraphrases Steve Stone's comment on WSCR as a means to explain how the signing of Carlos Pena to a supposed ludicrous contract (it isn't) is somehow Zambrano's fault:
 
"The Cubs signed Pena to provide a strong Latin presence in a clubhouse screaming for something more adult than Zambrano’s screaming. But it’s more than Zambrano. There’s Alfonso Soriano, who supposedly ruined Felix Pie by teaching him every bad party habit. There’s Aramis Ramirez, who refuses to dive for balls, and isn’t that a great example? There’s a history here that goes back to kicking out Mark Grace and turning over the clubhouse to Sammy Sosa, the ultimate team play -- no, wait, never mind."


Uh, no intense offended there.

So even though Rosenbloom is attributing the racially charged accusations to Steve Stone, he gloms onto them and gives them his full endorsement. What's more, he takes one bitter, angry man's opinion and runs with it like it is a cold fact. Somewhere even Al Yellon is surprised at the lack of journalistic methods and ethics.

You won't find many bigger critics of Alfonso Soriano than Dave Kaplan, but I have heard Kaplan say on numerous occasions that the players all love Soriano because he has a tremendous work ethic and is a great guy in the clubhouse.  The only thing that ruined Felix Pie was his inability to judge a ball from a strike.

But yeah, Aramis Ramirez, that lazy fuck.  He never dives for a ball.


Except when he does and tears his shoulder out of his socket in the process, you dickbag.  You know who dives a lot?  Ryan Theriot.  You know what else?  Ryan Theriot fucking sucks.  I hate you so much. 

Take a look at that photo of Ramirez sprawled on the ground in Milwaukee in 2009, Steve.  When was the last time you were in that much agony while in the process of doing your job?  Try reading your old posts and you might get an idea.  That usually does it for me. Boom! Roasted!

Remember when the Cubs turned the clubhouse over to a guy that ended up finishing second to Barry Bonds in total WAR and had the statistical best season of his career in 2001 instead of letting an aging, womanizing, bar-hopping white guy run out the clock?  What stupid morons they were!

If you're going to talk about Hendry's stupid contracts, why not trot out his signings of mediocre-to-crappy middle relievers to multi-year deals?  Oh yeah, they were all white guys.  I bet when Hendry gives Marmol a huge extension, you'll be the first to jump up and down screaming and yelling when Marmol walks the bases loaded, hits a batter to tie the game, and then gives up a bases-clearing bloop double like it's a big fucking surprise.
 
So Rosenbloom's whole point is to make a point of telling people that Hendry signed Carlos Pena to be a baby-sitter for the younger Latinos so they won't turn into the lazy, selfish jerks that those people seem to become.
 
I bet if you asked Rosenbloom, he would call Carlos Pena a credit to his race.

Cubs Fans' Worst Nightmare

First Kerry Wood got traded to the Yankees last year, did extremely well, and is a candidate to return to their bullpen.  THEN Larry Rothschild got hired away to be the pitching coach of the Yankees, leaving the Cubs with someone whose name I don't remember and don't feel like looking up.  THEN the Yankees signed Mark Prior to a minor league deal.  THEN the rumors about the Yankees being interested in pursuing a trade for Carlos Zambrano started making the rounds.

Granted, Wood may still land with a team that isn't the Yankees, Prior may never throw another major league pitch in his life (for the Yankees or otherwise), Rothschild may get run out of town because he can't fix whatever the hell is wrong with A.J. Burnett, and Zambrano could cling to his no-trade rights like Kate Winslet hanging onto the floating door after the Titanic went down... but things seem to be conspiring to bring them all together in the Bronx.


I can't decide if I REALLY want it to happen or if the horrible reality would cause me to take my own life.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Cubs are Misfits

The Phillies signed Cliff Lee, the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford and traded for Adrian Gonzalez.  Now even the Yankees have made a lesser move in signing Mark Prior that would have made sense for the Cubs, given their budget restrictions and their belief they need additional starting pitching.

Meanwhile, the Cubs have signed a stop-gap first baseman that is already set up to fail since Chicago media (and fans by extension) are obsessed with batting average as a key evaluator of player performance, and his won't be good.  Cue the boos.

It occurred to me that the Cubs have been scouting the Island of Misfit Toys in an effort to make those two or three magical moves that Jim Hendry keeps talking about.  So I found the clip on YouTube so I could post it as a half-assed joke on Twitter, and then I saw something that disturbed me to the core of my superstitious being.



Did you see it? At around the 1:10 mark, the camera starts panning out to show more of a crowd shot of the misfit toys and what is right there in the middle of the misfits?


Looks familiar doesn't it?


The bear in the Cubs logo came from the Isle of Misfit Toys!

This explains so much.  It's a Way of Life.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Final Goodbye to Ronnie

There isn't much else I can say about Ron Santo because after Pat Hughes' eulogy there is just no point:

“Many words and phrases come to mind when I think of Ron. Let’s start with unique, unforgettable, amazing, courageous and inspirational. Natural, genuine and real. Generous, charitable and kind. Loyal, strong, tough, optimistic, iconic. Outrageous, hilarious, fun, loud, self-deprecating. Forgetful, nosy, a fashion cop, a food cop, a backseat driver, the No. 1 Cubs fan ever, a partner and a friend.”

 

My mother, Kris and I went over to Wrigley to see the funeral procession to say a final goodbye to Ronnie and Kris captured some great photos that don't need any commentary.










Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Getting to Know: Carlos Pena

Name: Carlos Pena

Position: 1st base

Batting Order Position: 4th?

Bats/Throws: Left/Left

2011 Opening Day Age: 32

Uniform Number: He's been #23 the last 3 years, so he'll need to find a new one.

Has he ever autographed a taco?: Yes.

According to the Chicago Tribune, it is the strangest thing he has ever autographed.  I don't want to know what one does with an autographed taco.  Do you use a Sharpie for that? Sour cream?

Will he be able to fix Zambrano's computer when he gets a virus?: Probably.

He apparently studied computer engineering at Northeastern University in Boston.

Baseball-Reference.com's Most Similar Batter: Dick Stuart

Baseball-Reference.com's Most Similar Batters That You May Have Heard Of: Glenn Davis, Rob Deer, Pete Incaviglia, Adam LaRoche

Why We Might Like Him:
  • He can hit lots of homeruns - he tied for the AL homerun title in 2009.
  • The National League might agree with him.  He has a batting line of .259/.371/.526/.897 against the NL over his career.
  • He seems to be a genuinely good guy. He was the Roberto Clemente Award nominee from the Rays in 2008.
  • He actually hits well in April - .247/.379/.481/.859
  • He did not get a multi-year deal.
Why We Might Hate Him:
  • He will strike out many, many times.
  • His batting average will be crappy.
  • He does not hit well in September or October - .122/.258/.232/.489
If You Rearrange the Letters in His Name You Get: ANAL CORPSE

What Cubs Blogosphere Thinks of Him: 
  • Another Cubs Blog - "The Cubs got a good deal here, which isn't too surprising considering Pena's 2010 season. Some of the $10 million is deferred, but I'm not sure how much and when it will be paid. That makes $10 million overall worth less than $10 million right now of course so that's always a good thing. It's pretty sad that the Cubs have to defer money, but whatever."
  • Cubbie Doctor's Examiner - "You’re telling me that Jim Hendry couldn’t find a better option for $10 million?If that’s the case, Tom Ricketts should go down to Orlando right now and in front of everyone give Hendry his pink slip and then kick his ass out the door."
  • Cubs Stats - "I like Pena. Over at DRaysBay, we've joked for several years now that Carlos leads the team in :)% -- partly because he's a constant optimist and a funny guy, and partly because he gave us many reasons to smile. At the same time, though, he's approaching the finish of his career and he's extra weak against lefties. The dramatic infield shift the teams in the AL East used helped crush Pena's batting average and reduce his on-base abilities. If teams don't do shift on him, if the NL Central ends up having a weak crop of left-handed pitchers in 2011 (which they do right now), if wind in Wrigley smiles on Pena's towering fly balls, and if last year was more happenstance and less omen, then Carlos Pena at $10M is a great signing."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cubs Conundrum

Jim Hendry is down in Florida at the Winter Meetings and people are anxiously awaiting the results of all his wheeling and dealing.  Dreams of Adrian Gonzalez were smashed almost before they could pick up any steam with even the most optimistic dreamers.  Unfortunately, what a vast majority of Cubs fans seem to not grasp is that the Cubs will almost certainly not be a better team after the Winter Meetings are over.

This can best be illustrated by a little Venn diagram created by Adam Kellogg.



The two sets do not overlap.  Think about it.  What would help the Cubs contend in 2011?
  • Sign Cliff Lee - not possible
  • Trade for Adrian Gonzalez - not possible
  • Trade for Prince Fielder - not possible
  • Trade for Zack Greinke - not possible
  • Every team plane in the NL Central crashing into each other - probably not possible
What are possible things the Cubs can do?
  • Sign some of the flotsam and jetsam left to play first base to one or two year deals - doesn't help anything.
  • Sign one of the walking dead arms as an additional starting pitcher - doesn't help anything.
  • Trade Gorzelanny, presumably for prospects - doesn't help this year.
  • Trading any of the other veterans with big salaries - doesn't help this year.
  • Let the AAA players try to step up for really, really cheap - extremely unlikely to help this year. (As always, 1989 proved that anything can happen, but probably not twice in a generation.)
So the only thing the Cubs have left is to take options out of Group B of things that are possible, and try to sell them as things that also belong in Group A of things that will help them contend.  That is known commonly as lying.

They will parade out whatever new faces land in a Cubs uniform (it doesn't matter who they are) and put them on panels at the Cubs Convention (tickets still available!) where they can be given softball questions to answer and they can talk about how they are excited to win a World Series for the best fans in the world.

Tom Ricketts, Crane Kenney, and Jim Hendry will talk with straight faces about the intangibles these guys will bring into the locker room, how whatever health problems they may have had are in the past, and they are ready to take a step forward with the Cubs.  The crowds will cheer and start to dream about the possibilities and run out to get wristbands for the single-game tickets.

That is the plan, anyway.  Unfortunately for the Cubs, other teams are expressing interest in the players the Cubs were hoping would be at bargain basement prices.  Meanwhile, Jayson Werth signed a deal with the Nationals that rivals the national debt in size and got agents salivating over the money that should flow for this year's crop of mostly unexciting free agents.

So now the Cubs are looking at having even their most minor of moves being restricted because of cost and being juxtaposed against a team like the Nationals that is seemingly interested in signing every free agent available and even trading for Greinke.  Whether the moves are prudent or not, Nationals fans can easily be convinced the team is trying to win.  The Cubs are sticking to their plan of telling everyone to be patient.

We'll see how that works.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mark Riggins Picked to Be Blamed for Everything Wrong With Cubs Pitching

Don't anyone ever try and tell me that the Cubs aren't doing anything at the Winter Meetings.  Jim Hendry is working on his tan (the buffet table is outside this year) and they are picking some poor schlub to get blamed for their nearly inevitable decline in pitching performance this year.

Mark Riggins has been tabbed to be the heir to Larry Rothschild's pitching coach position and, presumably, all of the intestinal discomfort that comes with the job.  This is very exciting news that has everyone in Chicago deliriously running out into the snow in pure joy and exclaiming, "Who the hell is Mark Riggins?"

Luckily, Carrie Muskat is on the job:

The 2010 season was Riggins' second overseeing the Cubs' Minor League pitchers. He handled the same duties with the Cardinals for 12 seasons from 1996-2007, spending a total of 29 seasons in the St. Louis organization.

Riggins, 53, does have some big league time in the role, having served as the Cardinals' pitching coach under Joe Torre and Mike Jorgensen in 1995. He began his playing career in '79 in the Cardinals organization after signing out of Murray State. Riggins pitched five Minor League seasons.


A photo of Mark Riggins that appears to have
been taken from the Zapruder film. 
 
So when Carlos Silva keeps pitching like Carlos Silva pretty much always has except for two months to start last year, blame Mark Riggins.
 
When Carlos Zambrano walks everyone in the ballpark and then goes on a five-state killing spree, blame Mark Riggins.
 
When Casey Coleman remembers that he was never really very good in the first place, blame Mark Riggins.
 
When Tom Gorzelanny accidentally scares autograph seeking children at the Cubs Convention, blame Mark Riggins.
 
When the Cubs inexplicably add someone like the corpse of Vicente Padilla and he pitches worse than Aaron Heilman, blame Mark Riggins.
 
Good luck, Mark, whoever you are.

Cubs' Pre-Winter Meeting Strategy Session

The Cubs have lots of needs, both real (a living, breathing person to stand at first base) and imaginary (more starting pitching), so Jim Hendry will assuredly be working very hard to make those two or three magical moves that will turn the Cubs from an ever-declining suck-fest into a legitimate World Series contender.

These meetings will be crucial, so it is good to see that Jim's boss gave him a quick pep talk before he headed on down to Florida.


It's a Way of Life.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cubs Lose a Legend - Farewell, Ron

Literally waking up to the announcement of Ron Santo's death has put me in a wholly depressed mood today.  I stirred in my bed and heard Mike Greenberg talking about Santo and how much he'd be missed.  I quickly logged on and immediately found my Twitter feed filled with people announcing his death and realized all too quickly that I wasn't having a bad dream.

The thing that I think I appreciate most about Santo becomes crystal clear when you see and hear the stories people are telling about Ron today, is that he was genuine.  He was who he was and that was so refreshing that you didn't care as much that he was moaning and groaning in the background before the first inning had ended.

I never met Ron Santo, but the number of stories that have always been told (and repeated today) painted the picture of a man who loved people, who loved the Cubs and baseball, and enjoyed life.  The stories about Ron when the microphones and cameras were off described a mirror image of the biggest Cub fan rooting on the team next to Pat Hughes.

But as I have listened to the outpouring of memories by just about anybody that ever worked with him at WGN, I have realized that Ron would not want us to be depressed.  Whenever someone expressed pity towards Ron's struggles with health, he quickly reminded them how great his life was and that his issues were just some inconvenient bumps in the road.

He didn't dwell on losing limbs to diabetes or his bouts with bladder cancer.  He dwelled on his love of the Cubs and being in the ballpark and interacting with the fans of the team he loved.

Despite knowing in our hearts that Ron's health problems would probably claim him too soon, it is hard to believe he is gone.  But I'm convinced he wouldn't want us to dwell on the loss, but rather celebrate his life and realize that our lives were a little better because we got to watch Ron play or listen to him yell in delight or agony (mostly the latter) as he broadcasted the Cubs.

Farewell, Ronnie.  We will miss you, but we will be happy to know you have probably already requested an audience with God to discuss a miracle or two for your beloved Cubs.




More memories of Ron from the blogosphere:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Theriot's Best Skill is Pandering

Ryan Theriot doesn't do much well on the baseball field. 

He can't hit worth a damn.  Of the players who qualified for the batting title last year, Ryan Theriot has a higher OPS than exactly four of them.  Four. Nyjer Morgan, Alcides Escobar, Jose Lopez, and Cesar Izturis.  Juan Pierre had a higher slugging percentage.  I'm not kidding.  Juan Pierre.  This is how bad he is.

That in and of itself is bad enough, but when you take into account his base running skills when he actually managed to reach base, he is even worse.  I always got the impression that a lot of Cubs fans were always kind of surprised when Theriot would get himself picked off, or if not surprised, thought he would eventually get better.  That mentality about Theriot always made me think of this:



Of course, on the defensive side, Theriot was average at best and always seemed much, much worse than that.  He had limited range, which didn't matter since he didn't have the arm to get off a decent throw on any ball he had to range too far for (not that he didn't throw the ball anyway).  His decision-making was also questionable as it seemed far too often that when presented with two possible plays he could realistically make, he would opt for the third choice where he had no prayer in hell of making the play.

But one area where Theriot has always excelled was his pandering to the crowd.  I'll give the guy credit, he must have sat and studied every single one of the cliches from Bull Durham like he would be tested on it because he had those down cold.  He knew what Cubs fans wanted to hear.  He knew what they liked to see.

So even though Theriot would have no chance in hell of of reaching a ground ball in the hole, he'd go diving after it anyway to get some dirt on his uniform because he knew the fans liked players who sacrifice their bodies for the team.  He'd wildly try to take an extra base and get thrown out by thirty feet, but damn if he wasn't hustling all the way.  Fans like players who hustle.

Off the field, he would plop himself in front of any camera he could find and spout off all of his well-learned cliches about hard work and determination and helping the team.  One of the best moments of Cubs Convention last year was when Dempster and Theriot were on a panel and Dempster said to the host, Dave Kaplan, "I appreciate you giving Theriot a microphone so he doesn't have to chase around a reporter to interview him."

Well, Theriot is taking his pandering talents to St. Louis and he has already gotten started.  Theriot did an interview with KFNS yesterday and immediately started ingratiating himself with the Cubs haters down there.  You can listen to the whole interview here, but thankfully Paul Sullivan pulled many of the highpoints out of it for us so we don't have to sit through the whole thing.

"I'm finally on the right side of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry"

On this much, we can agree.  Is anyone really shocked he said this?  What is he supposed to say?  "I'm glad to have a chance to play with the Cardinals, but I'll always bleed Cubbie blue"?  This is as standard and formulaic as when Jake Peavy, the new White Sox acquisition last year, said he hated the Cubs after singing "Go Cubs Go" in the Padres' locker room the year before when he thought he was getting traded to the Cubs.

Theriot went on to question the willingness of the organization to win a World Series, which I do all the time, but he was talking about the locker room.  I bet when they were winning 97 games in 2008, the World Series came up quite a bit.  My guess is the last couple of years were a little light on World Series talk since they were having trouble not losing series to the Pirates.

He managed to get a dig in at the Cubs' bullpen:

While complimenting the Cardinals' bullpen, saying it "seemed like everybody was throwing 100 miles an hour," Theriot asked a rhetorical question:

"Where's the guy that throws in the 90's, with a little sink right down the middle? He doesn't exist over here."

Making fun of the Cubs' bullpen is almost as easy as making fun of Theriot's baseball skills, but again, it will play really well down there where Cub Hating is as prevalent as mullets.

Theriot also mentions how hard he will play and refers to playing in St. Louis as "baseball heaven."  It's amazing how thick he laid it on, but the guys interviewing him ate it up.

I'm glad he turned on the anti-Cub sentiment so quickly because I no longer have to dread the standing ovations the guy would have inevitably received every time he stepped out of the Cardinals dugout.  Now he can enjoy his time down there in baseball heaven hitting in the second leadoff spot other wise known as ninth in the order.  The Cardinals fans can enjoy his mugging for every camera pointed anywhere close to his direction and all of his "skills" on the baseball field.

I'm sure he'll be very happy and will soon land some endorsement deals.

(Photoshop courtesy of @plamorte)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, I am giving thanks for a day where I won't be thinking about the Cubs at all.  So instead, I present highlights from the various Thanksgiving episodes of The West Wing that were among the best episodes of one of the best series of all time.









Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ricketts Wants to Vaguely Help Some Indeterminate Number of Black People

Tom Ricketts has not given up on his fight to get state funding to renovate Wrigley Field.  His first angle of announcing his intentions in a letter to season ticket holders without looping in the governor shockingly didn't work, so he is now trying to sell his scheme to the Black community.

According to the Chicago Defender:

Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs, addressed the Black business community and elected officials Tuesday about the sports organization’s plans to allocate a portion of the construction contracts and other workforce needs to Black contractors in the Cubs refurbishing efforts of its North Side ball park, Wrigley Field.

An overall plan or legislative proposal, hasn’t been finalized, but Ricketts said a “fair” number of business contracts, mainly infrastructure, will go to Black contractors.

This is an aspect that Tom has never mentioned before, so one has to wonder what he means by a "fair" number of business contracts.  Luckily, the Defender was also wondering:

While Ricketts couldn’t give specifics on what percentage of the pie Black contractors would receive, he declined to define what a fair percentage range would be.

“I’d rather give specifics instead of speculating. I don’t have any specifics available at this time,” Ricketts told the Defender.


"Trust me."

Well, I'm sure the African-American community will jump to support the rich white guy who makes a vague, non-binding promise to help their community when they help him get the means to get even wealthier.  That's usually how it works, right?

Somehow, I have a feeling that Tom might have to work a little bit harder to get the support he wants:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Joe Ricketts Implies Tom is OK with Losing

Joe and Tom Ricketts obviously had no idea what they were getting themselves into based on this little video of Joe talking about Tom and the new toy that Dad bought him. (h/t Cubs Fan Report)



First off, at about the 1:46 mark, Joe poses the question to his son, "Why would I want to buy the Cubs?"  Tom reportedly answered, "I'll tell you Dad, they sell every ticket, every game, win or lose."

Now, let's put aside the fact that Tom was salivating over the idea of selling every ticket in a 41,000 seat stadium no matter what kind of team is put on the field, and focus on the fact that he was just plain wrong.

Let's look at the Attendance and Win Pct. data for the years since Tom Ricketts became such a big fan of the team that he just had to own them:

(Attendance data from Another Cubs Blog, Win pct. from Baseball-Reference.com)

Notice that in almost every year, the attendance figure moves in the same direction as the teams' record that year.  I've highlighted the years where that rule didn't apply.  In 1983, major league baseball was recovering from the strike year of 1981 and attendance was generally up across the league, thus the jump in attendance was due to league factors and had nothing to do with Cubs fans turning out "win or lose."

1995 was the year following the strike where fans were boycotting games.  Again, this was true pretty much across baseball, so even though the Cubs would normally have had fans coming out of the woodworks for a .500 team, attendance was down.  Similarly, after Cal Ripken "saved baseball," the fans started coming back so even though the Cubs sucked again, they sw a small increase in attendance.

1999 and 2001 are the two instances where Cubs fans were turning out no matter the situation and that was the Sammy Sosa Effect.

2006 was the first year of the bleacher expansion, so raw numbers went up slightly that year, despite the season being a death march from beginning to end.

I think we can agree, that in all of the instances, there was something peculiar going on to throw the numbers off a bit, but as a general rule, when the team does well, attendance goes up.  When the Cubs suck, attendance goes down.  This took me about 20 minutes to research and put together and I don't have an $850 million investment riding on my decisions about the Cubs and their propensity to sell tickets.

So, Tom either didn't know jack-squat about the true nature of Cubs tickets and how well they sell, or he was selling his dad (who admittedly is not a sports fan at all) on the fantasy of a fool-proof product so that his dad would buy him his favorite team.

The second part of the video that worries me is around the 2:33 mark where Joe and Pete came to the conclusion that they were done messing around with Zell and his wanting to squeeze every last nickel out of the transaction, so they told Tom to tell the Trib to take it or leave it because they were done.  The Trib took it and they moved forward. 

I'm not a financial genius, but given the economy, how the current revenues in the park were pretty much maxed out, and how the minimum maintenance required to keep Wrigley viable was going nowhere but up, I thought at the time that the Ricketts paid too much for the team.  Now it seems like Tom was negotiating away and Zell knew he had a buyer that wasn't going to easily walk away, so he played hardball.  It sounds like this purchase was made more with the heart than by solid business decision making.

That makes no difference to me, but now the Ricketts are getting hammered with falling revenues, crappy facilities, and a horribly under-performing team and they are scrambling to find solutions so that they don't have to put the team right back on the market again.  Those solutions all involve getting more money from the fans and the State of Illinois and not by making the Cubs a winning team.  Imagine how badly the Ricketts would be jacking prices for a crap team if Joe hadn't slammed his foot on the brakes during the negotiations.  Would Tom have ended up paying $1 billion for the team?  It is scary to think about.

Finally, the part that is really eye-opening is around the 4:33 mark where Joe lauds his son's PR moves: "He's doing a wonderful job. He's making everybody love him and love being a fan... win or lose."  There's that win or lose mentality again. 

Can't anyone involved with the Cubs just decide that losing is for losers and approach it that way?  Why is losing even an option?  The Cubs are the only major market team in the NL Central and they act like they play in Kansas City.  There is absolutely no excuse for not dominating this division on a regular basis.  The Cubs losing the NL Central should be what is news-worthy, not when they happen to win it.

Holy crap, I just want to punch someone.  It makes me think the "It's a Way of Life" campaign was actually Tom's idea.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Yikes and Away! (WHOOMPF!)

Nothing is going right for the Cubs or the Rickettseses lately.  The whole off-season has made me think of this:



Yikes and away! We hired Mike Quade!

(WHOOMPF!) Everybody is pissed Sandberg left the organization.

Yikes and away! Todd Ricketts will be featured on Undercover Boss!

(WHOOMPF!) Todd can't do anything right and days after the happy-clappy ending is filmed, they fire members of their marketing staff and outsource the Wrigley publications.

Yikes and away! We're going fix up Wrigley!

(WHOOMPF!) Everybody is pissed that they want state money to do it.

Yikes and away! We're going to host a Northwestern/Illinois football game at Wrigley!

(WHOOMPF!) Everybody is pissed that they put up some signs and painted stuff purple.

Yikes and away! ESPN is sending the Game Day crew to Wrigley to give national attention to the special game!

(WHOOMPF!) After months of analysis and a walk-thru by officials that did not raise one speck of concern about the field layout, the Big Ten decides that the endzone near the bleacher wall is too dangerous, so all offensive possessions will face the west endzone in a bizarre NCAA version of "losers walk."

Yikes and away! The GM meetings have started and Jim Hendry will get to work on improving the team for next year!

(WHOOMPF!) Larry Rothschild gets hired away by the Yankees.

"What would it be like to win something?"

I'm expecting Tom Ricketts to have his beak blown backwards by a stick of dynamite at any moment.

--------------------
UPDATE
--------------------

Yikes and away! At least there is an opening for Greg Maddux to be the next pitching coach!

(WHOOMPF!) Carrie Muskat saysAmong the candidates for #Cubs pitching coach: Mark Riggins & Iowa coach Mike Mason. Greg Maddux is not in the mix

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cubs to Suck Money As Much As They Suck on the Field


The Cubs aren't giving up their fight to get public money to help with their fixer-upper project at Wrigley, which was news to House Speaker, Michael Madigan, who apparently didn't get the memo.  But there was Tom Ricketts at a press conference yesterday surrounded by a bunch of Grabowskis, or rather, unionized Grabowskis, who are in favor of the Ricketts' plan because it means they will put about 1,000 of their brethren to work for a few years.

Tom may have made a misstep by bringing up his scheme right after an election when everyone is probably most aware of how fucked the economy and the budget are because of all the attack ads that assaulted us for the last two months, but he went right to work to spin things back in his favor.  He wanted to show us how the "regular" people of Chicago and Illinois will benefit from his plan, and not just how much money he and his siblings will make without any risk.

At this point, I think anyone reading this knows how I feel about using government money to fund this project at this time, so I'm not going to get into it again here, but let's see what that $200-$300 million would buy ($400-$500 million if you include what the Ricketts will chip in).

Chad Yoder at the Tribune put together a nice summation that I'll break down a bit.  First let's look at the pretty pictures:

The grand plan. Notice lack of room for another noodle.
I'm not a landmark expert, but considering the trouble they had putting in a damn sign, it will be all kinds of fun changing the facade of almost half of the existing ballpark. So, even if they get funding, this is still nowhere close to happening.

Cubs Alley commemorating the 1942 and 1949 seasons when they finished a combined 50 games under .500


Notice the sign above the Concourse that talks about the playoffs beginning. 
This must represent the future MLB when every team makes the playoffs.


Yoder also breaks down the components of the plan:

Triangle building development

The triangle parcel would be developed to include retail, concessions, parking, outdoor dining and team offices.  A hotel and Cubs museum are also being considered.  The corner of Addison and Sheffield would be slated for expansion, possibly including the Captain Morgan Club.

I'm going to start referring to it as the Bermuda Triangle Building since that is where our money will be disappearing.  We don't see much in the renderings about the Bermuda Triangle because they haven't fully figured out what amenities would separate us from our money most efficiently.  The nice thing is that a trophy case won't take up very much room at all.

The Cubs are talking about how much all of this will help increase the revenues of the neighborhood, but since the seating capacity of Wrigley isn't going to increase in this overhaul, there won't actually be any additional fans in the neighborhood spending money.  The Cubs are actually building competition for Sluggers, Casey Moran's, Bernie's, etc. and selling it as something that will be beneficial to those places.

There is a finite number of people that come in to the neighborhood on game days and they all have places they like to be, and when those fill up, they go to Yak-zies.  If everyone is flocking to the Bermuda Triangle as much as the Rickettseses are claiming they will, it won't just be Yak-zies that can feature easy seating.

Cubs Alley

Between the triangle lot and ballpark would be a pedestrian walkway including shops, restaurants and a Cubs merchandise store under a retractable roof. No tickets would be required and no cars would be allowed.

I like that they are calling it an alley because people get robbed in alleys all the time and after a stroll through Cubs Alley, you'll probably feel like you had your pockets picked.  Still, the picture looks nice and it is a bit of an homage to the Red Sox closing down Yawkey Way on game days.  A nice gesture would be to allow homeless people to sleep there since there will probably be a few state employees added to their ranks by the time this thing is completed.

Underground clubhouses

Expanded home and visitors clubhouses would be built under left and right field. The team will soon start testing how deep it can dig.  Plans include new batting cages, weight rooms and an expanded training room.

So, the Cubs have this grand plan, they are already asking for money from the state to help fund it, and they don't know if the plan is even plausible?  What if they can't dig very deep?  Then what?  A whole team of Sam Fulds?  Also, how about saving a bit of money and just slapping some new paint on the visitor's side and call it rehabbed.  Why do they have to get such a nice expanded space?

Improved concourse

Ramps inside Wrigley would be removed to make a more spacious concourse, including new floors, ceiling and lighting.  Above the concourse, facing Clark and Addison streets, outdoor rooftop patios with concessions would be added.

Now that I think about it, the ramps do take up a good amount of space within the ballpark.  They really could open it up by getting rid of them.  But have you already gotten to where I'm going with this?  How do we get to our seats from the nice expanded concourse that has no ramps?  At some point, a few thousand people will escape from the Bermuda Triangle, Cubs Alley and the wide open spaces of the concourse and will attempt to watch the game (especially considering the Upper Deck seats will probably break the three digit mark in price by then).  How are they getting up there?

All in all, the pictures look really nice and I'm sure the actual result would be significantly better than what Wrigley currently offers.  But at a cost of up to $500 million to make the renovations, Wrigley will officially become a money pit. 

All of the renovations that they are talking about are basically changes to the structure of the park.  I remember when I was in college the Tribune ran a story about testing that had been done on the foundations and key structural areas of Wrigley and found that the core of the park's structural integrity was good for another 50 years or so.  Well, that was 20 years ago and we've already seen concrete falling from the superstructure of the upper deck.  This plan doesn't mention anything about that.

This plan also doesn't address the cramped situations in the seats or the fact that a good number of the seats out in the corners aren't angled towards homeplate.  Believe me, if ticket prices get boosted the way the Ricketts are planning, people are going to want to watch the game without getting a strained neck.  So then what?  More renovations?  More borrowed money?  How many more hundreds of millions?

If Wikipedia can be believed, there is a proposal for a new Marlins stadium that will cost $515 million.  A proposed new stadium for the A's would cost $400 million.  I found a story from 2007 that put the estimate for a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark at $450 million.

The Cubs are looking to spend about those amounts of money just to boost the parts of the ballpark that don't involve watching the games.  Probably because they know the games won't be worth watching for awhile.