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In my blog about the regular season opening last week I said this: “The young kids in the (Cubs) pen will be some of the most interesting players to watch as we move though the early phase of the season”. Perhaps what I should have said is: “The young kids in the pen will be some of the most unpredictable players to watch, sometimes frustrating and infuriating, sometimes outstanding and dominating”…Apparently the word “interesting” in my original statement means, edge of your seat nervousness hoping these guys don’t screw up a fine performance by a Cubs starting pitcher.
A nice home opening win at Wrigley yesterday, great to see the Cubs hitting the long ball. Now here we are with an off day and a victory tomorrow will give the Cubs a season high win streak of 2 games…Hey, it’s still early in the season. Too early to draw many conclusions at this point but the Cubs starting pitchers have been outstanding (outside of the Big Z first game “Mulligan”). The Cubs potential solid starting rotation bodes well for the long haul if the team can score enough runs and the relievers step it up (I know, if, if). So far it’s been a bit of feast or famine with the bats, game to game hitting consistency would be nice.
The Cubs opener at Wrigley also premiered many new improvements to the venerable ballfield (expended and improved rest rooms and a new luxury suite to name a few) but those improvements paled in comparison to the facility upgrade seen in Minnesota.
Watching the Minnesota Twins open up the new outdoor Target Field yesterday on ESPN gave a vivid picture of what a new facility can do for a team and fan base. After a nearly 3 decade hibernation in the crappy hermetically sealed concrete and plastic cave known as the Metrodome, Minnesotans and their team have emerged to find themselves in what appears to be one of baseball’s best new facilities. I say bravo, baseball was meant to be played outdoors! No retractable roof like Milwaukee or Arizona, however the notorious Minnesota weather may cool off some of the luster at some point, but the stadium was built with that in mind…the concourse and field both have underneath radiant heating.
With this new stadium the Twins are now in a whole new competitive era of marketing and revenue generation. Sure Wrigley Field is one of a kind and Chicago is a great baseball town but it’s not hard to envision the appeal Target Field and all its luxurious amenities will have on potential free agents. I know the Ricketts have already made many positive changes to Wrigley Field ($10 Million worth according to team officials) but at this point most of those are improvements for fan and player comforts and aesthetics. Revenue generating changes at Wrigley Field are going to be where the Ricketts are directing their focus now and some of those changes could prove more controversial with Cubs fans.
It was funny or pathetic but not surprising to hear ESPN’s John Saunders call Xavier Nady – Zah-vee-er Noddy on a Cubs/Brewers highlight cut-away from the Twins/Red Sox game. What do you expect from a Canadian born former college hockey player? Well, I expect if you work for “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” as ESPN bills itself and you’re a studio host that you know how to pronounce the name of a 9 year MLB veteran player who’s played for both the Yankees and Mets among other teams. Saunders was 0-2 not even getting one of Nady’s names right…Nice going, Jan Soundrez.
The Twins new home Target Field