December 11, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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Thursday, August 08, 2013
25 years ago today, the Chicago Cubs finally entered the 20th century. Over a half-century since night baseball first came to the major leagues and 40 years since all other teams played under the lights, Wrigley Field finally, belatedly hosted its first night game.
OK, so the game was rained out. Still, it was the first night game.
It was a mess getting there. When the Wrigley family owned the team, they didn’t try to get lights in. Supposedly Phillip K. Wrigley looked into getting lights after the 1941 season, but then Pearl Harbor happened, and he opted not to do so. For 40 more years, the Wrigley family had the Cubs play all of their games in the sun.
The Chicago Tribune Company purchased the Cubs in 1981, and then wanted to put lights in. Their initial moves to add lights backfired, though. A neighborhood backlash caused the city to pass an ordinance banning lights from Wrigley. So things stood for a few years.
But the Tribune Company wasn’t going to take it lying down. They hinted that they might move the team out of the city and into the suburbs. That was a lot more common back then, and Wrigley Field hadn’t yet become the perennial draw that it would. Major league baseball helped, decreeing that if the Cubs made it to the World Series, they’d have to play in a stadium with lights. Eventually, local government acceded to reality and let the Cubs build lights and play a limited number of day games per year.
On Aug. 8, 1988, the Cubs hosted the Phillies at night. 91-year-old Cubs fan Harry Grossman, a man whose life went back to the days of Cap Anson, did the honors of flipping the switch and bringing the Cubs into the era of Thomas Edison.
In the top of the first, former Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe took the hill for the Cubs, and surrendered a home run to the leadoff batter, Philadelphia’s Phil Bradley.
The Cubs quickly recovered, though. They scored three runs, with I believe team star Ryne Sandberg launching one of his own over the fence. That wasn’t all. The first inning also saw one of the last (the last?) major league appearance by Morganna the Kissing Bandit, who ran onto the field in the first inning, but security got to her before she could get to a player.
However, all the early fireworks of the game were soon overshadowed by fireworks from Mother Nature. In the third inning, the skies unleashed a tremendous rainstorm. I remember being in the car with my father and brother and the rain came down so heavily that we had to pull over to the side of the expressway, as did many other cars. It was one of the most ferocious rainstorms I’ve ever seen.
Did God not want the Cubs to have lights? Nah—the next night the Cubs played another night game, and then went off without a hitch, with the Cubs topping the Mets. But while Aug. 9, 1988 might be the first completed night game at Wrigley Field, it was Aug. 8, 1988—25 years ago today—that the lights first went on at the old ballpark.
Aside from that, many other baseball events have their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
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All kinds of comebacks on Wednesday. Let's call it "Comeback Wednesday!" -- wait, what? Really? OK, sorry folks. The people in the marketing department said that's impossibly lame. They're working on something centering on the idea of "Extreme Comebacks" but they want to focus group it first. We'll let you know.
White Sox 6, Yankees 5: Alejandro De Aza smacked a game-winning triple in the 12th. Mariano Rivera blew the save in the ninth, the Yankees blew another lead in the 12th and with it they were swept by a White Sox team that came into the series on a 10-game losing jag. This pretty much has to be what rock bottom looks like, right? Oh well, on the bright side Rivera's blown save was significant: with it he tied Trevor Hoffman on the all-time blown saves list. When you think about it, you gotta be pretty good to blow a lot of saves.
Mets 5, Rockies 0: Matt Harvey shut 'em out on just four hits and 106 pitches, striking out six and walking no one. On the year he's 9-3 with a 2.09 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 178/29 K/BB ratio in 159 2/3 innings. Tough stuff.
Orioles 10, Padres 3: Chris Davis absolutely crushed a baseball -- sending it 453 feet -- for his 41st homer during Baltimore's four-run eighth inning. They tacked on three in the ninth. After the game Bud Black said "[w]e had a little bit of a breakdown in our bullpen." Gee, ya think?
Reds 6, Athletics 5: Bartolo Colon got roughed up pretty good, surrendering five runs and failing to escape the third inning. After the game he said he had some stomach trouble. That's no small concern when Colon is involved. A homer and three RBI for Jay Bruce.
Mariners 9, Blue Jays 7: A couple of comebacks. The M's were down 7-2 when they came to bat in the fourth and were up 9-7 after five. That made for a rough return to action for J.A. Happ, who had been out since being struck by a batted ball and suffering a fractured skull back in May. Better a bad comeback from that than no comeback at all.
Tigers 6, Indians 5: It took them 14 innings, but the Tigers continued their mastery of the Tribe and collected their 11th straight win. Eleven of 12 over Cleveland. Miguel Cabrera with a big two-run homer in the eighth and Prince Fielder with the ultimately game-winning two-run double in the 14th.
Braves 6, Nationals 3: That's 13 straight wins for Atlanta, as the Braves complete the sweep of the Nats. Justin Upton doubled and homered. After the game Fredi Gonzalez revealed that for every win he has been given some protein drink by Braves players and superstition obligates him to continue drinking it. What is it? He doesn't know. "They may be giving me poop. I don't even know what it is," he said. It's poop, isn't it? Tell me it's poop.
Cubs 5, Phillies 2: Hero of the game, Donnie Murphy, who hit a three-run homer in the ninth to go with an earlier solo shot. He had one the day before too. What the heck, man?
Royals 5, Twins 2: Danny Duffy couldn't make it out of the fourth inning, but he and five relievers combine for 16 strikeouts of Twins hitters.
Pirates 4, Marlins 2: Charlie Morton started rough but settled down and ended up throwing seven strong innings. He also Helped His Own Cause with an RBI single. The Pirates continue to maintain the best record in baseball.
Red Sox 7, Astros 5: Stephen Drew hit a three-run homer in the ninth to bring the Sox back from behind. A five-run comeback on Tuesday night, a three-run comeback last night. Indeed, it was the sixth time in its last seven wins in which Boston has come from behind.
Rangers 10, Angels 3: And with that, the Rangers are back atop the AL West. Well, tied. One behind in the loss column, but they do have a share of the lead for the first time since July 1. A homer and three RBI for Adrian Beltre.
Dodgers 13, Cardinals 4: All kinds of bad for the Cards as they get their clock cleaned and they lose Shelby Miller after just two pitches. Good news: he says he feels OK and should make his next start. As for the Dodgers, Andre Ethier and Skip Schumaker each had three hits and four RBIs while Carl Crawford had four hits and a walk.
Diamondbacks 9, Rays 8: A double comeback as the Snakes found themselves down 3-0 and then 8-7 late. Martin Prado won it, though, with a two-run double in the ninth. On the day he was 4 for 4 with a homer and four driven in.
Brewers 6, Giants 1: Marco Estrada was excellent in a spot start, shutting out the Giants for five innings on one hit. This one was 0-0 into the seventh inning before the Giants scored to make it 1-0, so I guess we can say there was a comeback here as well.
Still waiting to hear from the focus group, but I'm really liking the branding opportunities from last night.