The Cubs play the Arizona Diamondbacks this afternoon at Sloan Park in a nationally televised game on ESPN, today’s contest starts at 4:05 PM AZ time, 6:05 CST.
The Cubs have been up and down like a yo-yo this week, here are the scores of the last three games – Monday a 10-2 Cubs loss at Sloan Park to San Diego, then taking revenge in Peoria the next day (if such a thing is possible in spring training) by pounding the Padres 11-1, followed by a 10-0 loss to the Royals yesterday. As usual, there was both good and bad aspects of each game.
The most concerning unpleasant issue was the performance of Cubs closer Hector Rondon, especially yesterday, in 2/3 of an inning he gave up 7 hits and 5 runs. There’s still plenty of time until opening day, just under three weeks, so Rondon has time to get his game where it needs to be. However, it’s something to keep an eye on. The 11-1 beat down of the Padres was much more enjoyable as Jason Heyward had a couple doubles and drove in 3 runs, while the Cubs pitchers were solid that game.
I’m of Irish decent, so St. Patrick’s Day is always a festive occasion. It will be just a bit more enjoyable with the Cubs playing in front of 15K folks at Sloan Park along with a national TV audience watching.
In case you didn’t know it, the Cubs have actually played baseball in Ireland. It was in March of 1889 on Albert Spalding’s World Tour, when the team was called the Chicago White Stockings. If you like history and baseball, Mark Lamster’s outstanding book on the tour is a must read. In 1888-1889 Spalding took his Chicago team and another team consisting of All-Stars players on a monument globe trekking baseball promotional journey. Especially monumental given that train and steamer boats were the travel norm of the day.
The grand tour started October 20, 1888 in Chicago at the first West Side Park, then played 15 games across the western U.S. before leaving from Los Angeles to Auckland New Zealand. From there the teams traveled and played games in Australia, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Egypt, Italy, Paris, England, and Scotland, before finishing the European portion of the tour with two games in Ireland. The first game was in Belfast on March 24, and then Dublin at the Landsdown Road Grounds on March 27, 1889 before embarking back to America. To think that our Chicago ball club was playing in Ireland over 125 years ago is pretty amazing, and speaks to the longevity of the Cubs and baseball.
As we approach opening day of the 2016 baseball season with expectations sky high for the Cubs, an Albert Spalding quote seems appropriate ~ “Everything is possible to him who dares.”
I was lucky enough to journey to Ireland in 2008 and blogged about it…wow, can’t believe it’s already been eight years since that trip! John Antonoff photos from yesterday’s Cubs vs Royals game.