Nat Bailey Stadium is ready to play ball

Sneak Preview of Nat Bailey Stadium for 2010

We stopped by Nat Bailey Stadium the other night to check out some promotional stuff that the Vancouver Canadians are getting ready in anticipation of their upcoming season. Along with their new scoreboard, the smell of fresh paint was everywhere while I had some freedom to take a few shots around the grandstand.

Sneak Preview of Nat Bailey Stadium for 2010 Sneak Preview of Nat Bailey Stadium for 2010
Sneak Preview of Nat Bailey Stadium for 2010 Sneak Preview of Nat Bailey Stadium for 2010

Baseball is summer. Looking forward to sitting in those seats a few times in the coming months.

Be kind to the baseball gods

Henry sent me a link to this story, and I completely forgot about it until reading this. And when you read the entire article, you can make sense of why in terms of the time line of historical events.

Long story short, this is a great story of two kids who faced each other in the Little League World Series in August of 2001. Cerda was the smallest and youngest player for the losing team, and Almonte was the dominant and menacing pitcher for the winning team, only to be found guilty of breaking the most elemental rule of little league baseball. He was 14, two years beyond the allowed age limit of 12.

Like I said, I forgot about this until now, but what a rebound for Cerda, going to my Cubs no less. What a dream.

Fenway Park cameraman shows off his expensive toy of a day job

This is pretty wicked. Found this via Robert Scoble who found it via Jakob Lodwick, and what we have here is an incredible video that was put together by Tom Guilmette who is not only an avid video enthusiast, but his day job is being a camera man in the outfield at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.

This short video is a small tour of the camera he uses to do his job, and the camera he used to make this video blog of sorts isn’t anything to sneeze at as well.

Fenway HD Camera – Sony HDC-910 – Canon 75x from Tom Guilmette on Vimeo.

I would love to be able to do something like this with my day job, but in all honestly, radio is not as pretty and it sounds. No seriously, it sounds way better than what it technically takes to make radio happen.

Best Len and Bob podcast yet

I just watched this episode of the Len and Bob’s Weekly Podcast from WGN, and you should know that this is a video podcast all about the Chicago Cubs. More so, it’s the two guys who do the TV play-by-play for the club, and I’ve been subscribed to it for a while.

Like all podcasts that are done by mainstream entities who have dove into the podcasting realm, it’s slightly rehashed formulas that are put to podcast. Big whoop, right?

But this is the stuff that I want to see more of! These guys walk through the tunnels of Wrigley Field, taking a dark tour of the route you have to make in order to go from the visiting team’s clubhouse to the dugout. Five minutes long, and now I am posting about it to help spread the word about this thing I just saw to the world. Now, you can go watch it, too. Can’t do that with live TV unless someone tapes it an tosses it on YouTube, but WGN is giving it to you in full, on demand quality. I like that a lot.

Opening day: 2007

CubsOfficially, the opening day for the season was yesterday. However, today is the first day for the Chicago Cubs, so that makes this the real opening day.

This year, I don’t know what to expect. Lou Piniella and a fleet of new faces are on the team this year. The same thing that has been said every year is happening again, but now we actually have hope. Not only that, but reason to hope. And not only that, but Ronny Cedeno made the opening day roster? The boy has become a man.

Fingers crossed, let the season begin.

A whole new ball club for the northside

So far, Lou Pinella has been a good addition to lure some big talent for the Cubs. GM Jim Hendry is doing his fair share, but I’m leaning towards Big Lou’s appeal as a guy who likes to win as to the reason for getting some of the new guys coming in, not to mention getting Ramirez to stick around.

Cubs complete blockbuster with Soriano

CHICAGO — Alfonso Soriano’s 40-40-40 season now equals $136 million.

The Cubs, who have been signing players at a dizzying pace, locked in the free agent outfielder on Monday to an eight-year deal believed to be worth $136 million. It’s the richest deal in Cubs history, topping the five-year, $73 million contract that third baseman Aramis Ramirez inked one week ago.

It’s also the fifth-largest package ever given to a Major League player, behind Alex Rodriguez ($252 million for 10 years), Derek Jeter ($189 million for 10 years), Manny Ramirez ($160 million for eight years) and Todd Helton ($141.5 million for 11 years).

The power has definitely shifted in the National League Central.

“They [Cubs] are stacking it,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “You look at Soriano, Ramirez and [Derrek] Lee, and they’re going to have quite a team. We’re not going to be able to match their thump, so we’re going to have to have good pitching and defense to compete. They’re looking pretty good right now.”

When general manager Jim Hendry named Lou Piniella the new Cubs manager on Oct. 17, he promised the team would provide the resources to turn things around after a 66-96 season and a last-place finish in the National League. He’s done just that.

So far, the Cubs have re-signed Ramirez, pitcher Kerry Wood (one year, $1.75 million), catcher Henry Blanco (two years, $5.25 million) and pitcher Wade Miller (one year, $1.5 million). The Cubs also have signed free agent infielder Mark DeRosa to a three-year, $13 million deal and traded for left-handed reliever Neal Cotts. They still have some issues to address, such as completing the starting rotation. [mlb]

Being a lifelong fan of baseball, it’s deals like this that make me shake my head at hockey fans complaining about how much money the guys in the NHL are making. You can’t even compare the two sports, but baseball is far less vicious than hockey. Some guys in the NHL get more injuries in a season than a baseball player will get in his whole career.

That being said, why in the world did they resign Wade Miller? He barely played last season, but the guy can pitch well when he’s healthy. Kind of sounds like another guy that they resigned, but could this coming season be the beginning of seeing Kerry Wood in a closer roll? That makes me excited, but I must be missing something about Miller.

Most off seasons for Cubs fans, we’re excited about a single, big trade that is bound to make this year the year. And as we all know, that goes to crap. I’m not singing that tune just yet, but these movements leave my mouth hanging open a little bit. I’m not used to this.

Now they just need to play some interleague ball in Seattle so I can bleed some Cubbie blue on the west coast.

The strange fate of Shoeless Joe Jackson

I was raised within an easy drive of where the Field of Dreams[imdb] was filmed, and the ballpark in the middle of a cornfield is still there, albeit a tad bit of a tourist trap.  This post on BlogCritics addresses one of the key characters of the film.  It’s an interesting background about why Shoeless Joe Jackson was banned from baseball for life.

We all remember the movie Field of Dreams. Shoeless Joe Jackson comes back from the dead to stroll around in a cornfield and play a little ball. He’d been banned from the sport in the infamous 1919 Black Sox scandal, but was now being portrayed by Ray Liotta as representing the heart and soul of our national pastime. In reality, the 1919 Chicago White Sox were one of the greatest baseball teams ever to take the field, and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson was their superstar left fielder. But when the team made it to the World Series, two gamblers — “Sleepy Bill” Burns and Billy Maharg — backed by gangster Arnold Rothstein, bribed eight players with $100,000 to throw the championship.

The fix was a success: the Sox lost, and nobody really suspected a thing until late in the next season, whereupon the eight players were indicted. Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis suspended them all from baseball for life — a justified punishment, as they were all guilty. All but one, that is. Shoeless Joe, for his part, did all he could to avoid being involved He told Sox owner Charles Comiskey about the scam, but was ignored; he asked to be benched for the Series, but was refused; he even batted .375 for the Series, with the only homerun and 12 base hits (then a Series record), but was still considered guilty. The official judgment against Jackson has never been overturned and he’s still barred from the Baseball Hall of Fame — a sad fate for a player who could hit the dickens out of a Kevin Costner curveball.  [blogcritics]

Lifetime ban from baseball means lifetime.  Even after death, you can still be a star on the big screen.

Lou, Lou, Lou for the Cubbies

Lou PiniellaI’m totally late to the game here, but the baseball season, for me, was officially over on September 30th. Technically, you could say, as a Cubs fan, the season was over in July. Whatever.

The point is, Dusty’s out, Lou Piniella is in. I take his three year contract in Chicago with mixed feelings, mainly because he’s replacing an outstanding guy like Dusty Baker. Lou is a much different manager, and that’s probably why the Cubs went for him. We want to win, and that can’t be said more than getting this guy to take the helm.

When I think of Lou Piniella[wiki], I always picture him getting pissed off and yelling until his face goes blue. You can tell me that I’m completely off base on that remark, but these are the things that I remember growing up as a kid. What you can’t argue with is the fact that he is the most ejected manager in the history of baseball. This should tell you that 2007 is going to be quite the ride in the friendly confines.

Maybe things have changed. Maybe Piniella has aged like fine wine, and conniption fits will be kept to a moderate level. I really doubt it, but I’m envisioning a vastly different look on the bench next season compared to the smooth look of Baker gnawing on a toothpick. And those rumors of Alex Rodriguez[wiki] wanting to leave the Yankees to come play for Piniella, for the love of god, better not be true. A-Rod can keep his pepsi loving butt in the Bronx.

Oh, and the Cards won the series. Good for them.

Welcome to the world of baseball 2.0

This video report from CNet truly scares me. In case you don’t feel like watching it, I’ll do my best to sum it up.

Cisco demoed new technology to “enhance” your ballpark experience, focusing mostly on the new stadium that is being pushed for the Oakland A’s. Electronic tickets on your cellphone or PDA is alright, but the idea of letting video screens detect you in the proximity of their display and then changing to specifically target you based on what your wireless device says about you is a bit on the tacky side. Of course, it’s all technology meant to get more money out of your pocket.

The other thing that left me not liking what I saw was the concept of using mobile PC’s while watching the game from your seats. Score keeping goes digital, get instant replay as it happens, or get an alert that you were on the fan cam on the scoreboard. You see the picture as well as the many ways that you can purchase the picture, much like going on amusement park rides.

There is something to be said about the simplicity of just enjoying a day at the ballpark, and the last thing that I really want to do is have a whole bunch of gadgets getting in the way. Don’t forget about the dude behind you who just dumped his beer on your mobile PC. The first thing I want to do when it comes to enjoying a baseball game is turning off the rest of the world.

Oh, and don’t think that this is just limited to the ballpark experience. They mention that this is a new concept in the way of enjoying professional sporting events in general. Once again, when I go to GM Place for a Canucks game, I’m all for getting alerts about better seats for a game. After that, I just want to be in my seat and enjoy the atmosphere that is hockey.