Archive | February, 2009

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Elton John and Billy Joel In Concert @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 10 February 2009 by Lou

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The latest in the series of summer concert events at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs, was announced this week. Elton John and Billy Joel will grace the city of Chicago with their presence on Tuesday, July 21st in support of their 2009 Face 2 Face Tour. Elton John and Billy Joel will start of the concert on stage together. Each of John and Joel will perform a set on their own with their respective bands. And then the 2 will re-emerge together on stage for a grand finale performance. The 2 have played together a lot over the years since their initial performance together at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia back in July 1994. Although the 2 have not toured together since 2003, they have really developed a great repoire on stage. The show is sure to include some of their greatest hits, but will also feature a few surprise rock and roll classics that the 2 have perfected over the years.

Tickets to the Elton John and Billy Joel concert go onsale this Saturday – Valentine’s Day. There are 3 price levels for the event – $55, $95 and $175.

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Why Bako To Back-Up Soto?

Posted on 09 February 2009 by Lou

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I’ve been asking myself this question and it appears like it’s on other people’s minds too. Why didn’t the Cubs try to re-sign Henry Blanco to a 1-year deal? Blanco is one of the best defensive catchers in the game still, and he has been an invaluable mentor to Geovany Soto over the course of the last 2 years. The intangible with Blanco as a reserve catcher are almost irreplaceable.

It appears that the answer is a similar answer to the one we’ve received on other moves made by Cubs GM Jim Hendry this off-season. Bako is a left-handed hitter and Blanco is not. Money could not have been the reason – the San Diego Padres signed Blanco for $750,000 for the 2009 MLB season, while the Cubs are paying Bako $725,000 for the year.

I think Bako is a huge step down from Blanco. Let’s just hope it doesn’t stunt Soto’s continued growth or the growth of some of the young, talented pitchers that the Cubs have at their disposal.

For more details on the Bako/Blanco story and other potential moves, check the following link for the latest Cubs news.

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Cubs Look To South Korea for Baseball Talent

Posted on 08 February 2009 by Lou

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South Korean pitcher Dae-Eun Rhee excelled for Cubs Single-A affiliate in Peoria during the 2008 season. Rhee started 10 games during the season, going 4-1 with a sparkling 1.80 ERA. He won’t be the only South Korean in Cubs Spring Training Camp for the 2009 season – pitcher Su-Min Jung, outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha and infielder Hak-Ju Lee will also join Rhee for some fun Spring Training competition in less than 2 weeks.

While the Cubs continue to scout talent in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Japan, the Cubs have also made South Korea a key target, due in large part to the country’s recent success on the international playing field. Just this past summer in the Beijing Olympics, South Korea won the Gold Medal by beating powerhouse Japan in the semifinals and Cuba in the finals. The team went 9-0 during the Olympics. South Korea advanced to the semifinals of the 2006 World Baseball Classic, but lost to eventual Champion Japan. The South Koreans also won the Bronze Medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Even the younger 18 and under players from South Korea are showing serious talent that could translate into success at the big league level. Paul Weaver is the Cubs international director of scouting and Steve Wilson is based in Taiwan as the Pacific Rim supervisor of scouting. Both insist that these South Korean players can hold their own with the best players from anywhere else in the world, including the United States. Guess we’ll have to wait a few years to see how it all shakes out in the minor leagues and the big leagues. Keep your fingers crossed- maybe we’ll see one of these players grace the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field sometime soon.

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Cubs Reed Johnson Honored As Top Chicago Athlete by Comcast SportsNet

Posted on 07 February 2009 by Lou

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Comcast SportsNet will host its 21st annual Sports Award dinner on Monday night here in Chicago. One honoree is our very own Chicago Cubs center fielder Reed Johnson. Congrats Reed!

Cubs GM Jim Hendry made one of his best moves of the 2008 MLB season when he signed Reed Johnson to a 1-year deal after he was released by the Toronto Blue Jays in March. With the Cubs still uncertain about how Felix Pie would respond to being the Cubs everyday center fielder, Johnson was a relatively cheap alternative with extensive major league experience. And when Pie did in fact struggle early on, Johnson stepped right in played in 109 games for the Cubs throughout the season. Johnson batted .303 and hit 6 home runs while driving in 50 RBI’s. Most importantly, Johnson played spectacular defense and was a great presence in the Cubs clubhouse.

Players for other Chicago Sports teams will be honored at the dinner: Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks; John Danks of the White Sox; Greg Olsen of the Bears; Drew Gooden of the Bulls; and Brian McBride of the Fire.

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Join “We Believe – – Chicago and its Cubs” And Help Charities

Posted on 06 February 2009 by Lou

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The documentary “We Believe – – Chicago and its Cubs” is set to be released in the Spring of 2009. Want to be a part of the movie – you can for just $100.00. With the “contribution” your name will appear in the theatrical credits in the last few minutes of the documentary in alphabetical order. Each donor will also receive a certificate of authenticity and a t-shirt that touts the “We Believe” film.

Now the good news – 50% of all proceeds will go to 2 charity groups close to the hearts of the Cubs organization and its fans. Cubs 1st baseman Derrek Lee has formed Project 3000, a charity that helps people who are struggling with the blinding eye disease Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). Lee’s daughter Jada was originally misdiagnosed with LCA, and his family was informed there was no cure for the inherited disease. Lee knows exactly what it is like for families to have to struggle with the LCA disease, and he has been strongly committed to finding a cure for the disease.

The other charity that will benefit is the non-profit Little Cubs Field – a kid-sized park in Freeport, Illinois carved in the likeness of a scaled-down version of Wrigley Field. Little Cubs Field had its grand opening on June 14, 2008, and the crew for the “We Believe” movie was on hand to partake in the ceremony.

There are limited spots open for the credits opportunity. Please go to www.webelievethemovie.com if interested in contributing to these worthy organizations.

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Get Ready Cubs Fans – Cubs Tickets On Sale Friday, February 20th!

Posted on 05 February 2009 by Lou

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The wait is over. With the 2007 AND 2008 playoffs sweeps behind us, now it’s time to get ready for your 2009 Chicago Cubs. There are some old faces and some new faces, and one tough, yet lovable Manager in Lou Pinella. The Cubs will surely be considered a heavy favorite to win an unprecedented 3rd straight NL Central Division title. But we all know that predictions and favorites mean nothing when you are dealing with the Chicago Cubs franchise.

Will Milton Bradley endear himself to the right field bleachers fans in 2009? Will The Ricketts family finally bring that elusive World Series Title to the North Side of Chicago? Will Ronnie Woo-Woo still make it to every game inside the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field? Unfortunately, we probably only know the answer to one of those questions, so we’ll just have to wait and see for ourselves during the glorious 2009 MLB season.

Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday, February 20th at 8:00AM at the Wrigley Field Box Office. A random wristband lottery system will be used to determine the order in which Cubs fans will be able to purchase tickets to the upcoming season.

At 10:00AM on Friday, February 20th, tickets will go on sale through the Cubs website at www.cubs.com and over the phone – 800-843-2827 for Illinois callers and 866-652-2827 for out-of-state callers.

Chicagoland Tickets.com outlets will also be authorized to start selling Cubs tickets at 10:00AM on Friday, February 20th.

There will be a 42-ticket limit for Cubs tickets sales during the opening weekend of sales. Customers can purchase up to 6 tickets per game, with a maximum of 7 games purchased.

*** And don’t forget - MyCubsToday will be offering free Cubs tickets for 1 game of every weekend series (Friday-Sunday) during the course of the 2009 MLB season. So be sure to check the Your Free Cubs Tickets Offer page often in order to sign up for your chance to win. ***

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Cubs Unload Rich Hill On McPhail and Orioles

Posted on 04 February 2009 by Lou

It was about time. The Cubs finally dealt frustrating southpaw Rich Hill to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later. Hendry largely made the move to the Orioles so that Hill could be reunited with Rick Kranitz and Alan Dunn who worked with Hill in the Mets minor league system. Kranitz and Dunn are both on the Orioles’ coaching staff and could try to re-gain Hill’s form that made him so effective during the 2007 MLB season. That year, Hill finished the season with an 11-8 record and a 3.92 ERA. His sweeping curve ball fooled countless hitters throughout the season, and he even led Cubs pitchers in strikeouts. Hill was penciled in as the Cubs 4th starter for the 2008 MLB season, but he struggled with his control during the entire month of April and was sent down to Triple-A Iowa on May 3, 2008. In 19 2/3 innings at the big league level in 2008, Hill walked 18 batters and struggled with a 4.12 ERA in 5 starts. After dealing with some back issues, Hill continued to struggle with his control in the minor leagues and in the Venezuelan Winter League this past off-season, and the Cubs knew it was time for Hill to get a change of scenery.

Hendry and the Cubs wish Hill the best of luck. Hill was a big part of the Cubs 2007 NL Central Division title, and they hope he can make a fairy tale ending after a frustrating 2008.

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Cubs Trade Michael Wuertz To A’s

Posted on 03 February 2009 by Lou

The Cubs continued to make some minor moves this week. The Cubs traded reliever Michael Wuertz to the Oakland A’s for 2 minor league players. Wuertz made 265 appearances over his 5 seasons with the Chicago Cubs. He compiled a respectable 3.57 ERA and went 13-7 with 1 save at the major league level. Cubs GM Jim Hendry stated that it was a good move for the Cubs, the A’s and for Wuertz too. Hendry felt that with the new pitching acquisitions this off-season, Wuertz might not be able to compete for a spot on the opening day roster. By moving him to the A’s now, Hendry felt like Wuertz would have a better shot at staying at the major league level for the A’s instead of having to spend some of his baseball season at the minor league level.

The Cubs acquired minor league infielder Justin Sellers. Sellers is only 23 years old and he batted .255, with 6 home runs, 46 RBI’s and 10 stolen bases in 123 games at the Double-A level.

The Cubs also acquired minor league outfielder Richie Robnett. Robnett is only 25 years old and he played in 82 games at the Triple-A level before having to undergo season-ending surgery to remove a stomach tumor. He is a career .256 hitter at the minor league level.

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Super Bowl XLIII – Steelers Top Cardinals 27-23

Posted on 02 February 2009 by Lou

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Figured we all might be getting a little sick of reading about the Cubs moves to trade proven major league talent for minor league talent this off-season. So here’s a little something about Super Bowl XLIII.

The Steelers beat the Cardinals 23-20. After leading for most of the game, the Steelers choked away a 20-7 lead with 8 minutes left to go in the 4th quarter. The Cardinals took a 23-20 lead with 2:37 left in the game, following 2 touchdown passes from Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald and a safety. But, in just under 2 minutes, Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led his team on an 8-play, 78 yard drive which culminated in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes. The game ended when Kurt Warner fumbled the football at midfield with 5 seconds left in regulation. The game ended 27-23.

Santonio Holmes was named the Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl. Holmes caught 9 passes for 131 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger also had a solid game and won his 2nd Super Bowl. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 256 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He had a 93.2 passer rating. Another key Steelers play involved NFL Defensive Player of the Year – James Harrison. As time expired at the end of the 1st half, Harrison intercepted a Kurt Warner pass at the goal line and returned the ball 100 yards for a touchdown which gave the Steelers a 17-7 halftime edge.

Two Cardinals players excelled in defeat. Kurt Warner put forth another solid Super Bowl effort – 31 of 43 completions, 377 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception and 1 fumble – good for a 112.3 passer rating. Warner now holds the 3 best passing games in Super Bowl history – and he also holds the record for most total passing yards of any quarterback in Super Bowl history. Larry Fitzgerald also continued his hot post-season. Although the Steelers defense did keep Arizona off-balance for most of the game, Warner and Fitzgerald connected on 2 key 4th quarter touchdowns to put the Cardinals in position to win. Fitzgerald finished the game with 7 catches, 127 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns.

The win marked the 6th Super Bowl Championship for the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise – the most in NFL history.

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Cubs Continue To Make Moves – Sign Bako To 1-Year Deal

Posted on 01 February 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs finally found their back-up to starting catcher Geovany Soto. Paul Bako, who played for the Cubs during the 2003 and 2004 MLB season, will return to the north side of Chicago and make his presence known in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field for a 2nd go-round. Bako signed a one-year deal that will pay him approximately $500,000. At the age of 36, Bako is more a defensive-minded catcher with a career fielding percentage of .990. The left-handed hitter hit only .217 for the Reds in 99 games during the 2008 MLB season.

Rich Hill, the frustrating 29-year old left-handed starter, may also be dealt soon. After a successful 2007 MLB season which saw him rack up 11 wins and a respectable 3.92 ERA in 32 starts, the wheels came off in 2008. Hill only started 5 games in 2008, walking 18 batters in 19 2/3 innings and was demoted to the minor leagues with a poor 4.12 ERA. After battling some back issues, Hill made 13 starts for the Cubs rookie-league team in Arizona, but was largely ineffective – 44 walks in 47 2/3 innings with a 5.85 ERA. Hill is now out of options and is not likely to make the Cubs roster coming out of spring training, so they will need to find something to do with him. The Orioles have expressed some interest in Hill, so there could be a deal on the horizon that will send Hill to the Orioles in the upcoming weeks.

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