The fans are bundled up but Wayne is nice and toasty behind the press box glass
April 13, 2009, 4:00 PM
By: Wayne Drehs
With the Cubs out to a comfortable 1-0 lead, let's take a reader question. Alex from Peoria wants to know if the weather is as bad as it looks on television.
The press box is quite comfy, Alex. But down below it looks awfully nasty. Everyone who is still here is covered in parkas, ponchos, garbage bags and blankets. In fact, the concourse below pretty much looks like a bag of jelly beans. There are red, green, yellow, orange, purple and even white jelly beans. (I like red the best.)
And what would a Chicago blog be without some Cubs-White Sox bickering? Two other readers pointed out in an e-mail that while I'm blogging about the "10,000 freezing drunks" -- as one of them put it -- Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye each hit their 300th career homer, and did it back-to-back in the White Sox 10-6 win over Detroit earlier today.
With the bases loaded and no one out, the Cubs only managed one run
April 13, 2009, 3:27 PM
By: Wayne Drehs
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Of course it's unfair to judge a player one week into the season, but so far, Aaron Miles is no Mark DeRosa.
Miles came to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the second inning Monday and innocently popped out to Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins. Koyie Hill followed with a walk, scoring Derrek Lee.
Ted Lilly and Alfonso Soriano then struck out. For Miles, the man who was brought to Chicago with the goal of filling the blue cleats left behind by fan favorite DeRosa, it was hardly the Wrigley debut he had hoped to make. Cubs fans, of course, remember DeRosa with a fondness usually saved for guys like Sandberg and Dawson. And his replacement is 0-for-4 as a Cub and has already begun hearing the boos.
From starts to homers to jersey numbers, Wayne wants your opinion
April 13, 2009, 2:58 PM
By: Wayne Drehs
AP Photo/Jim Prisching
Alfonso Soriano is on pace for 107 homers. How many will he hit?
Alfonso Soriano failed to homer in his first at-bat Monday, settling for a single instead. But with four home runs in the Cubs' first six games, he's on pace for 107 dingers. It's going to be close, but I'm guessing he won't quite get there. But what about the following predictions? If the magic number is 22, do you want the over or under?
Rich Harden starts?
Derrek Lee home runs?
Kevin Gregg saves?
Carlos Marmol saves?
Alfonso Soriano stolen bases?
Reed Johnson appearances on Top Plays?
Jake Peavy's jersey number after he joins the Cubs?
Wrigley has several new looks, but enough old memories that Wayne is recalling his childhood
April 13, 2009, 2:40 PM
By: Wayne Drehs
The Cubs are on the field. And for all the things that change at Wrigley -- a new advertiser on the rooftop behind the left-field wall, the Captain Morgan Lounge behind the Harry Caray statue -- some things stay the same, like the Cubs running onto the field to Van Halen's, "Jump."
From as early as I can remember, I correlated that song with Cubs baseball. And while I'm being nostalgic, I can't think of a better first pitch combination than Rick Sutcliffe throwing to Jody Davis. I almost want to turn and ask the guy next to me if I can have a pretzel. Only he isn't my dad. He's a writer from the Daily Herald. Oh well.
Game time temperature is 36 degrees, the winds are out of the east at 10 mph. And I can't see Lake Michigan from the press box. It's a soupy gray blob. There's a sideways mist blowing from right field to left. Yes, it's Bear Weather. About as bad as a home opener can get. Here are the temperatures for the last six Cubs home openers, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune and local weather guru Tom Skilling: 60, 43, 55, 61, 42 and 32 degrees.
And in the time it took me to type that, Ted Lilly goes 1-2-3 and Soriano leads off the bottom of the first with a single.
The home opener brings the goat-loving (or hating) crew
April 13, 2009, 2:06 PM
By: Wayne Drehs
Ed Weingartner of Wonder Lake, Wis., brought a goat to Wrigley on Monday in an effort to end the Cubs' curse. He talked to Wayne Drehs after being denied entry.
The rain has stopped, the tarp is off the field, first pitch is scheduled for 2:30 and WGN just replayed the 1984 N.L. East Division clincher against the Pirates. (Is there anything better than seeing Jody Davis pump his fist in the air after Joe Orsulak strikes out?) Things are starting to look up.
Unless you're a billy goat, that is. Opening Day apparently brings out all the curse-loving, publicity-seeking idiotic Cubs fans. Chicago police were called to the Wrigley Field statue just before 3:00 this morning after someone spotted a goat head hanging from the Harry Caray statue. The same thing happened prior to home opener in 2007.
Some nine hours later, Cubs fans Ed Weingartner tried to enter Wrigley Field with a goat he had rented from a farm near his northern Illinois home. Much to no one's surprise -- except maybe Wingartner -- he and the soaking wet animal were turned away.
"They didn't even ask if I had a ticket," Weingartner said. "They just told me 'no live animals.' I don't get it. I'm just trying to end the curse."
That will be the last mention of goats -- dead or alive -- in this blog today.
The tarp is now off the field and first pitch is slated for 2:30 p.m.
It's a date that has been circled on the calendar for Cubs fans since the first flake of snow fell some five months ago. And yet nobody's winter dreams looked like this.
Nobody slept away through December and January dreaming of a bone-chilling 36-degree afternoon with horizontal, wind-whipped rain biting at their cheeks.
No one dreamed of climbing the concrete stairs of Wrigley Field's lower concourse and setting their eyes on the blue "Van Kampen Investments" tarp.
And certainly no one thought they'd cover themselves with blankets and garbage bags and brave the elements to cheer for Kosuke Fukudome as the Cubs' No. 3 hitter.
But such is the case on the North Side. The weather is hardly ideal, but the tarp has just been removed and Fukudome, Public Enemy No. 1 during the 2008 playoffs, finds himself in the heart of the Cubs lineup.
Aramis Ramirez, Milton Bradley and Geovany Soto will all be sitting this one out due to various bumps and bruises, meaning the Cubs' emergency catcher, Aaron Miles, will be starting at second base. If the weather clears up, I'm seeing a Carlos Zambrano pinch-hitting appearance in the future.
It all should make for an interesting day. I'm in the Wrigley Field press box and will be here throughout the game to share my thoughts and take your questions. Send me an e-mail at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this space, the old rules of journalism will not apply.
April 3, 2009, 3:57 PM
By: Wayne Drehs
Nine years ago, when I first began writing for ESPN.com, the man who hired me offered some pretty sound advice: Work hard, play harder and don't ever write about yourself because, quite frankly, nobody cares.
But that man is no longer with the company. And this is no ordinary feature story. It's a blog -- by a Chicago sports fan, for Chicago sports fans. So in this space each week we will embrace rules Nos. 1 and 2 and blatantly ignore rule No. 3. Not because I think people suddenly care. And not because I think I know more than you. But because this is where my heart lies. This is what I'm passionate about. This is what I wake up every morning and read about -- before coffee, before cereal, before eggs. It's Chicago sports.
In the summer, it's the Cubs; in the winter, it's the Bulls. And in between, it's the Bears, the Blackhawks and extra helpings of Big Ten football.
I'm a western suburbs kid who grew up with the '84 Cubs, the '85 Bears and Michael Jordan's Bulls. My dad grounded me for dumping potato chips all over the house when the Cubs clinched the '84 NL East title. He grounded me again a year later when I slapped a giant Bears sticker on a blue marlin that was mounted in our living room after Super Bowl XX.
To this day, one of my most prized possessions is a cracked bat Thad Bosley gave me when I was about 7 years old. One of my greatest childhood memories is sneaking in to Comiskey Park and finagling my way into a pregame wiffle-ball-hitting contest.
Growing up, my walls were covered with posters of Jordan, Payton, Singletary and the Junkyard Dogs. Hell, my office now features pictures of Jordan, Urlacher and Wrigley Field. I'm not some cramming out-of-towner who just now figured out what "Windy City" truly means. I learned that in school, the same place where I got in trouble for listening to a Cubs game on a Walkman during class.
I know Alfonso Soriano isn't a leadoff hitter, Jim Thome strikes out too much and listening to Lovie Smith answer questions is about as entertaining as sitting on the Dan Ryan at 5 p.m. on a Friday. I know it's baseball that divides this city and football that brings us back together. I know we spend more time worrying about what's about to go wrong than we do celebrating what just went right.
So in this space each week, the old rules of journalism will not apply. The ridiculous "press" hat will be replaced by my Cubs cap. The stuffy green polo will be tossed aside for my Urlacher jersey. Together, we will cheer. And knowing the fate of most Chicago sports teams, we will boo. But we will do it with a huge smile. For we will have a Portillo's Italian beef sandwich sitting right next to us.