Friday, April 06, 2012

Easter Weekend

May your Easter weekend be as fabulous as my dog Ivy's daily life. Lots of eating, sleeping, lounging, and running around the backyard protecting people from imaginary intruders.

Should the Cubs get public money to renovate Wrigley?

I was quoted in this AP article about the Cubs attempting to get public funding from the city of Chicago to repair Wrigley Field.

Cubs 365, April 6

On April 6, 1973, the Cubs won the opener 3-2 over the Expos in the bottom of the ninth, after the best relief pitcher in baseball, Mike Marshall, walked in two runs.

Ferguson Jenkins was the starting pitcher for the Cubs that day, and pitched a great game. He only gave up 5 hits and 2 runs, but didn't factor in the decision. It would be a microcosm of his 1973 season, his last with the Cubs. Fergie would fail to win 20 games for the Cubs that year for the first time since 1966. In the offseason he was shipped to Texas for Bill Madlock.

The winning run in this game, by the way, was historic. It was scored by a pinch runner named Tony LaRussa, in his only game as a Cub.

Opening Day at Wrigley with Johnny B

I was there taking photos and lending moral support to Tom Latourette, the man who sang the song I wrote called "We Can Wait One Hundred Years". He sang it live on the air with Tom Ricketts standing five feet away.

You can listen to that here, by the way. It's a little less than half way through this 7:00 Am hour.

Here are a few photos from the show...

From left to right, Steve Bertrand, Dave Eanet, and Jonathon Brandmeier

Johnny B interviews Cubs broadcaster Keith Moreland

Tom Latourette sings "We Can Wait 100 Years" live on the air. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, look at the audience in front of him. That's Tom Ricketts on the far right.

At one point of the song, Johnny B actually got behind the drums and drummed along.

Tom Ricketts with Tom Latourette

Johnny B and Tom Ricketts

The winners of the Cubs song contest, The Fold, along with the host of the festivities this morning, Jonathon Brandmeier.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A Programming Note

Four years ago when I created my website Just One Bad Century, I also wrote a song to fire up the troops. It was called "We can wait 100 years" and it was a parody of the Proclaimer's hit "I Can Walk 500 Miles".

It got a bunch of airplay on Chicago radio that season: John Landecker played it on WLS, and Johnny B played it on the Loop.

Well this year Brandmeier started playing it on his show again (he's now on WGN) when he was hyping the Cubs song contest. He mentioned on the air that he wished we would update the song for him, because it mentions people no longer around (Lou Piniella and Kosuke Fukodome).

So, I rewrote the words, and the guy that sings it, Tom Latourette, went into the studio to re-record it. (I'll be posting the new version on the website soon.)

In the meantime, you can hear it live on WGN radio tomorrow morning at 8:00. Tom will be singing it live on Johnny B's remote broadcast from outside Wrigley Field. I'll be on hand to lend moral support. Please tune in--it should be fun.

Here's the original song for those of you that don't remember it...

Cubs 365, April 4

On this day in 1994, the Cubs had a memorable home opener against the New York Mets. A little known player named Tuffy Rhodes hit three homers that day to power the Cubs to a victory.

Cubs fans had delusions of grandeur after that game, but Tuffy hit only five more homers the rest of the season. 1994 was also the year that Major League Baseball cancelled the World Series because the players were on strike. Not that the Cubs would have had a shot at winning it. When the league shut it down for the year in August, the Cubs were 15 games under .500 and 16 1/2 games out of first place.

Tuffy left the Cubs the following season. He eventually played in Japan, where he finally realized his full potential. In 2001 he tied the Japanese League record for most home runs in a season, a record held by the immortal Sadaharu Oh since 1964. Tuffy easily could have broken the record, but after he tied Oh, Japanese pitchers intentionally walked him the rest of the year.

Can't Get it Out of my Head

Ever since Mad Men aired the other night, I haven't been able to get this song out of my head. And then, this morning, while I was driving my son Johnny to school, Brandmeier had the original singer of the song on the air. Now I fear this one is stuck for awhile...

Here's the original...

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Cubs 365, April 3

On this day in 1987, the Cubs traded away their disappointing starting pitcher Dennis Eckersley to the Oakland As for three minor leaguers: Brian Guinn, Dave Wilder, and Mark Leonette.

Eckersley was coming off a 6-11 1986 season, and the Cubs brass believed that he was essentially done at 32 years old.

Needless to say, this trade didn't work out that well for the Cubs. The three players they acquired for him never made it to the big leagues, while Eckersley was moved to the bullpen by the A's and proceeded to save 390 games. He pitched another 12 years, and in five of those years he was an All-Star.

He also won a Cy Young, an MVP Award, a World Series, and a place in baseball's Hall of Fame.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Cubs 365, April 2

On April 2, 1917, less than one month after beginning his second term in office, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany to keep the world “safe for democracy.” Congress obliged.

The war didn't immediately affect the national pastime. At first the American public rallied around the flag, and enlistment in the Army was robust. The Cubs did their part too. They booked a demonstration at Wrigley by Canadian Highlanders to encourage recruiting. Recruiting booths were set up around the ballpark to facilitate the process.

The following season was a different story. Gruesome stories from the war started coming home, and people no longer wanted to enlist, so it became compulsory. Even though the Cubs were heading toward the NL Pennant, attendance hit an all-time low. That may have had something to do with the military's presence in the ballpark. By then Wrigley Field (still known as Cubs Park) had become a dangerous place for "slackers" (men who hadn't yet registered for military service).

They weren't just checking tickets at the gate, federal agents were standing by to check registration cards to make sure there were no draft dodgers attending the games. Anyone of draft age who didn't have a card was held for investigation. Scores of fans were led directly to military bases and inducted into the service.

It's funny how much that'll put a crimp into your box office receipts.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Father Knows Nothing

I just posted my latest "Father Knows Nothing" column at NWI Parent. This one is called "Mark Twained" and it's about my attempt at exposing my youngest son to a classic of American literature

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, April 1

On this day in 1978, the final "Bob Newhart Show" episode aired on CBS. The show was set in Chicago.

Bob, of course, was a Chicago native and a life long Cubs fan. He doesn't get back to town very often, but the last time he did, he told the Tribune there was a special location he was definitely going to visit: "While I'm downtown, I also want to get over to LaSalle Street where in 1945 I stood as we welcomed back the victorious Chicago Cubs for winning the National League pennant. I guess that was the last time we did that."

Bob furthered showed his Cub colors in his television show. It featured an entire episode about a forlorn Cubs pitcher. You can watch that episode on Hulu.

Bob may be living in LA now, but his favorite color blue is definitely not Dodger Blue.