Hello 2009! I hope all of you had a great holiday season. It won’t be long before the next season is upon us…The Spring Training season! That’s right. Pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Fitch Park here in Mesa in just over five weeks.
A new year and, once again, we are gearing up for the Cubs arrival; the Boys of Spring website will be your Chicago Cubs information headquarters for the spring season. This year’s spring training season is a full seven weeks for the Cubs, from February 14th to the final spring exhibition game against the Yankees on April 4. The reason for the extended length of spring training is due to this year’s “World Baseball Classic“.
2009 will mark our 5th season as your number one Cubs spring training resource and to celebrate, we have many exciting changes coming to the Boys of Spring site. The changes begin with a redesign of our website. Along with the new look, you can access many new features including a weekly CubsAZ video webcast hosted by yours truly with interviews from current and former Cubs, highlights and features from camp, as well as some surprises. Our site will be more interactive and user friendly, without losing any of the photos, video, and inside information on Cubs spring training you’ve grown accustomed to here at Boys of Spring. Our new look will arrive just ahead of pitchers and catchers in mid-February.
Milton Bradley brings bat and attitude to Cubs
Many personnel moves have happened with the Cubs since I wrote last, with goodbyes to Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa, and Jason Marquis, and hellos to Milton Bradley, Kevin Gregg, Joey Gathright, Aaron Miles, and Luis Vizcaino. I’ll write and talk more about the changes as the roster solidifies closer to the start of camp. As a fan, I want to see improvement that helps the Cubs get better so they can win that elusive World Series title. As a fan, it’s also hard to watch some of my favorite players leave the team.
I can’t picture Kerry Wood in another teams uniform after being a part of the Cubs for the past decade. Wood may never have quite lived up to the hopes some of us had after that magical 20 K day in May 1998, but he showed perseverance and heart in overcoming many obstacles and injuries. Never a rah-rah guy, the soft spoken Wood grew into a leadership role over the years, leading by example. His teammates really enjoyed Woody’s great sense of humor. He will be missed.
Kerry Wood Spring of 2006
This year’s spring schedule has many interesting facets, including an abundance of games at Hohokam Stadium. The Cubs will open the spring schedule against…I’m having a hard time even writing it…The Dodgers at Hohokam on February 25th. O-kay…it’s a new season, Tim. Let it go. This will be the Dodgers first season in the Cactus League, and there’s no better way to start than playing the Cubs in Mesa. The White Sox also come to Mesa on Saturday the 28th , making an interesting first weekend. And if you’re really into the Cubs/Sox match-up, head to Vegas March 4th and 5th where they will play a pair of games.
On March 12th, the schedule says Exhibition vs WBC team, which could be pretty cool. What I’ve been told is that the Cubs will play the winner of the Asian pool play. Most likely Japan or Korea. The game will not count in the WBC standings. The Asian team will be on the way to California for the semi-finals and are looking to stay sharp playing some games in Arizona.
The expansion of the Cactus League in 2009, adding the Dodgers and Indians, brings the total number of MLB teams using AZ as spring training headquarters to 14. Next year with the addition of the Cincinnati Reds, Arizona and Florida will have an even 15-15 split. The Cactus League has come a long way from the 8 teams only 15 years ago. What this means to the Cubs is, they will play host at Hohokam to the White Sox, Dodgers, Mariners, Angels, and the Indians, twice each, while hosting the Diamondbacks, Rockies, Athletics, Rangers, Royals, Giants, Brewers, and Padres, at Hohokam only once this spring.
The Cubs close the exhibition season against the Yankees April 3 and 4 in New York inaugurating the new Yankee Stadium. While it’s an exciting match up and great to play in the new stadium, the travel and weather may be less than ideal right before the start of the Cubs regular season.
If you’re in Arizona now or plan to be here during spring training you will want to visit the Mesa Historical Museum’s new exhibit, “”Play Ball, the Cactus League Experience”,which opens this Saturday, January 10th. The Historical Museum is just up the street from Hohokam Stadium and is an ideal stop before or after a Cubs game.
If you are a baseball fan or history buff, this exhibit is for you. The museum has many unique items including a massage table from Mesa’s Buckhorn Baths used by Ty Cobb, a Prickly Pear cactus autographed by Sammy Sosa, also fun for the kids as they can play Wii Baseball. You can sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” along with Harry Caray as you watch him on video at Old Hohokam Stadium in 1994. Along with a wealth of historic photos and information this is a must see. Stop by this Saturday and meet Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry!
I will be updating this blog regularly from now through spring training, so be sure to stop by and see what’s new.