Opening Day Traditions

Cubs-Opening-Day-2012
The annual tradition in our household is to celebrate opening day by taking off work and having a party. We call it our, “Cub’s Day.”
It’s not really about watching the Cubs play(Yeah, it is)it’s more about saying,”See ya!” to another Canadian Winter and as many of you know, it’s been a struggling winter throughout our beloved countries.
We enjoy the first BBQ of the season which in the past involved ribs, burgers, steaks and other mouth watering char broiled delicacies. We also have ballpark snacks like nachos with cheese dip and peanuts and caramel corn.
This year, we’re going to try to bring Chicago to our household by having authentic Chicago cuisine. I’ve never been to the city but I believe that Italian sausage is a delicious tradition.
I found a recipe online and here it is:
Chicago Style Peppers and Sausage
It calls for Jack Daniel’s but we’re going to try it with beer.
If anyone has other recipes or suggestions let me know.
A lot of people scratch their heads as to why we take off Opening Day, especially in this country, but I think part of it is spending the day with the family and the other part of it is taking the day off of work to watch the Cubs!

Here’s a little taste of Spring Training.


Play Ball!
–Mark

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This is great to see. I’m too young to remember Sandy, but looking through his stats is amazing what he’s acomplished. Way cool!!!!!

Dodger Blue World

When the Dodgers posted the first picture of Sandy Koufax suit up in Dodger Blue, I got excited!  I had seen him Sunday at Camelback Ranch with a white long sleeve t-shirt and jogging pants.   Unfortunately we had to leave Sunday so we did not get to see him Monday all dressed in Dodger Blue.  But that is OK, just seeing the pictures,  I got super excited.  I could not wipe a big smile off my face while I work on President’s Day. 

The pictures below are from Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo who does an excellent  job.  check out all the photos here: 

http://dodgersphotog.mlblogs.com/2013/02/18/21813-something-current-monday-workout-by-jon-soohoola-dodgers/

LOS ANGELES DODGERS WORKOUT

Sandy Koufax working with Josh Beckett

LOS ANGELES DODGERS WORKOUT

Sandy Koufax greeted with applauses in the clubhouse at Camelback Ranch

LOS ANGELES DODGERS WORKOUT

Matt Kemp, Sandy Koufax and Stan Kasten

 LOS ANGELES DODGERS WORKOUT

Sandy Koufax and Tommy Lasorda

LOS ANGELES DODGERS WORKOUT

Sandy Koufax and Traveling Secretary Scott Akasaki

LOS ANGELES DODGERS WORKOUT

Shimada, the ever young Jim Hill and Sandy Koufax…

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WGN & A Shameless Plug

chi-wrigley-field-tradition-20130218

The Cubs deal with WGN is coming up for renewal at the end of 2014. Many Cubs fans, including myself or I did until recently, (but that’s another story) rely on WGN for the Cubs broadcasts. Many of you know that north of the border in Canada, baseball isn’t the hot commodity it is in the US. Ok, the Blue Jays are going to smoke this year in the AL East, but in order for my Cubs fix, I need to watch WGN on digital.

WGN is the oldest affiliation going back to 1948. Hockey Night in Canada goes back to 1952, so WGN has that beat. I think they have to renew their contract in order to keep their fans happy.

That being said; we got rid of cable. So no more WGN. I instead subscribe to MLB.TV This year, I can watch over 200 ballgames in my living room in HD! That’s right folks, we had an old 27inch tube tv and now we upgraded to 40′ of HD, I can see the blades of grass and the colour of Soriano’s spit out in the field. I’m excited about this because it’s the first time and I’m looking forward to using all the features and studying every single thing that happens on the field.

Thank you MLB TV!

WGN is also changing the way they handle the 7th inning stretch. Again, for those of you who don’t know, a celebrity comes in and sings,”Take me out to the ball game.” and proceeds to share in sometimes intelligent banter in the broadcast booth. Not anymore. Programming director Jim Oboikowitch says,

“I think we definitely want to focus on former Cubs players, people that are Chicago natives, people who know baseball and who are Cubs fans,”

No more Mr. T mumbling his way while Len Kasper and new braodcaster Jim Deshaies trys to call a Soriano Home Run.

Play Ball!

—Mark

Alfonso Sorry-ano Asks For A Trade

alfonso soriano---03

Alfonso Soriano is worth a lot of money. He’s been an albatross for the Cubs for the last few years. I mean this in a good way and a not so good way. He signed an 8 year contract worth 136 million dollars and the journey has been an up and down one. Yesterday, he said that he would ask for a trade if the Cubs can’t win.


“At my age, I don’t want to be a part of a losing team”
Soriano must have missed Theo’s meeting where he said they were going younger, building through the draft and it might take a few years.

The Cubs aren’t going to win. There,I said it. Alfonso, the Cubs aren’t going to win.

The good news is that Soriano had a great year in 2012. His batting average was .262 but he also hit 32 past the clock. not a bad season. Cubs fans are aware that his legs aren’t the same. Soriano is running towards 40 years old. He’s still capable in being a team leader and a great player but with that contract hanging around the Cubs’ neck, They’re not going to win.

Alfonso could have went to the Giants last year, but he nixed it. We know what happened to them.

Maybe Epstein had a head to head with him and said it’s for the best, I don’t know. When Alfonso is gone, then the Cubs will win.
–Mark

Starting Lineups

Part of the fun of a baseball fan is projecting who will lead off and the rest of the batting order. Last year, David Dejesus was their lead off man. This year I’d love to see if Starlin Castro will lead off. He’s a good kid and although his defense lacks discipline, his plate skills are good. He led the club with 183 hits. See, the thing is he’s good wherever he is in the lineup. So, here’s how they’ll stack up in my opinion:

  1. Starlin Castro
  2. David DeJesus
  3. Alfonso Soriano
  4. Anthony Rizzo
  5. Darwin Barney
  6. Ian Stewart
  7. Wellington Castillo
  8. Nate Shierholz
  9. Pitcher

Dale Sveum looks on at pitchers.

Not that this matters much, but I feel that this is a solid lineup that can do some damage this year. Of course, we’ll see Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters and Jorge Solar somewhere in the lineup this year. The Cubs need to utilize these young players this season to keep butts in their seats and I’m not talking about the long days of August and September either. It’s going to be a long season this year so why not make it exciting? Dale Sveum has some tough decisions for sure.

–Mark

Making a Case For SaberMetrics

I try to watch the game differently each year. This year I signed up for MLB.TV(gee, there’s a plug) which I’m enjoying last year’s Cubs games. My wife is waiting to watch Breaking Bad. Little does she know that there’s plenty of months of baseball. I guess, I just love the HD. Awesome!!!!

This is the year I learn the SaberMetrics of the game. Traditionally, I’m a basic baseball watcher. Give me the RBI’s H, HR, R and AVG. anyday. To me, the mark of a great ball player boils down to the Hits and Runs-everything else is gravy. As the Great Wayne Gretzky said,”The more times you shoot on net, the more chances you’ll score.” basic hockey. Speaking of hockey, I’m a little disillusioned with the game like most fans north of the border. The lockout put a dent in the passion.

Ok, SaberMetrics. I was reading an interesting article about Mike Trout vs Miguel Cabrera.  Is Trout the better player? Perhaps, but maybe Cabrera was more consistant. Who knows? For example, let’s look at their averages. Cabrera had a batting average of .330 in 2012 while Trout batted .326. Pretty close.

Mike Trout

GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
2012 Regular Season 139 559 129 182 27 8 30 83 67 139 49 5 .326 .399 .564 .963

Miguel Cabrera

GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
2012 Regular Season 161 622 109 205 40 0 44 139 66 98 4 1 .330 .393 .606 .999

Look at the RBI totals of Trout vs Cabrera. Mike had 83 while Miguel had 139. This means more points on the board. A no-brainer for sure, but where SaberMetrics is involved, Trout had a WAR(Wins Above Replacement) total last year of 10. First player since Barry Bonds.

Miguel Cabrera’s WAR was 6.9. Trout was a better defensive player.

Now, take a look at

Andrew Mcutchen

GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
2012 Regular Season 157 593 107 194 29 6 31 96 70 132 20 12 .327 .400 .553 .953

Just like anything, progress happens. So does statistics. Andrew is a definite MVP

Whichever way you might look at it, SaberMetrics or the traditional; the best case is baseball is and always will be a game of numbers.

By the way, Andrew Mcutchen is bad ass.

—Mark

Chicago Cubs 2013 Edition

Play Ball!

Welcome Back! There’s been plenty of moves around baseball but few within the Cubs organization.

The Chicago Cubs have decided to rely in the system of the ,”Youth is our future” motto. This is a good one. Nobody is saying they’re the Nationals, but then again, there’s only one Stephen Strasburg. However, this is a new direction.

Last year wasn’t that kind to the Cubs finishing with a 61-101 record. This year won’t be that much different. The good news is that Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the rest of the front office staff know this as well as the fans. That’s me and Cubs Nation everywhere.

2012 offered some bright spots as well as some not so bright spots. Alfonso Soriano had a monster year, popping 32 dingers over the ivy. That’s right, not bad for an old guy on the trading block. You better believe, Fonzi will be traded this year. Not because we want him to but because he needs to be traded for the Cubs to have any kind of success in the future.

There was a Gold Glove for Darwin Barney. This won’t be the last for the phenomenal 2nd baseman who made an attempt to snag the error streak record. I expect big things for him in the future and wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up in Cooperstown.

Anthony Rizzo had a stellar season with the Northsiders. He’s going to be outstanding in his first full season with the Cubs.

Which brings me now to the Cubs’ once again Rising Star in Starlin Castro. Look, I love this kid, but while his offense is great, he’s got to watch those pesky errors. He’s got the tools but this is the year he grows up. Stop being a lazy player and be that guy the Cubs hope he’ll be.

Dale Sveum has his hands full for 2013, but if he stays away from quails and educates this young Cubs roster, he’s the right man for the job.

Speaking of young players, there is plenty of them to go around and we’ll be seeing many of them coming up this year. The highly touted Jorge Solar who hit .338 in Peoria will get his shot this year as well as Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson. Yes, 2013 will be an experiment and an exciting one. Will the Cubs win 80 games this year? No. I’m predicting 70 maybe 75 but one thing is for sure and that is they won’t go down without a fight.

I’m making my case to put Castro in the lead-off. He’s got a great OBP. Not as good as David DeJesus, but if Starlin wants to mature, he needs to get in the frying pan.

It’s going to be a great year, so welcome back and Go Cubs Go!!!!!!!!!!

—Mark