Mike Canter just got back from his nationwide birthday party and has a good deal of info from around baseball in The Rundown, but I had come across a few ancillary products I wanted to cover in brief.
I saw the sign
Fans all knew the Cubs were going to have a good team so, naturally, they needed to find a golem into which to place their surplus of anxiety. Enter the historic Wrigley Field marquee, that crimson beacon of Cubdom. People freaked out at the thought of it being removed and refurbed, not to mention the addition of a new LED video board (which won’t be available right away). Updates were delayed last season, further legitimizing fear that the sign would be missing when the Cubs open at home on Monday.
Ah, but the marquee is back, just a day after the statues of Billy Williams, Ron Santo, and Harry Caray returned. Ariel Chung covered the installation for DNAinfo:
The marquee, which got a facelift in the off-season, now has a new LED video board beneath it, a strip of technology that can feature color, video and graphics that are better then the ones served up by the old black-and-white video board beneath the marquee, Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Wednesday.
Those new options, however, won’t be visible on Opening Day, Green said. While it was “prudent” to add the options for down the road, there are currently “no plans” to enable the new features at this time, Green said.
By 2 p.m., the marquee’s Toyota ad and the LED signboard were back atop the ballpark’s main entrance. It took another five hours before the famous part of the marquee — the red and white sign that declares: “Wrigley Field Home of Chicago Cubs” — had returned.
In a cool twist, the back of the sign was painted green, a nod to the original 1930’s design. I’m not sure whether they can flip it around for special events, but the green is visible from inside Wrigley.
Brian Casella of the Chicago Tribune has a great time-lapse video of the project if you’ve got 61 spare seconds.
Bob is bitter
In what I’m sure most thought was just an off-the-cuff joke, Bob Brenly took a little time during the D-backs broadcast Wednesday to razz the Cubs with some sarcastic “Don’t you know they’re winning the World Series” comments. If this came from anyone else, I’d be willing to let it slide. But we’re talking about a guy who has been known to carry a chip on his shoulder and who is largely responsible for either instigating or fomenting the mistaken notions that guys like Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro were lazy.
I generally liked Brenly during his time in the Cubs broadcast booth, though there was always this underlying sense that he had sour grapes about never really getting serious consideration for the manager role. Maybe that’s just me though. The D-backs color man did go on to say that the Cubs were, in fact, very good and that they’d be tough to beat. Still, his comments irked me.
Starlin is darlin’
That was the tagline in the MLB.com recap of the Yankees’ 16-6 blowout win over the Astros Wednesday in which Starlin Castro went 4-for-5 with a home run and 5 RBI. That followed two-run double against Dallas Keuchel on Opening Day.
Castro’s seven RBIs are the most by any Yankee in his first two games with the club, and he joined Babe Ruth (1932), Yogi Berra (1956) and Tino Martinez (1997) as the only Yankees to collect seven or more RBIs in the first two games of a season. Castro started the night with an RBI single, hit a three-run homer in the second, doubled in the sixth and lined a run-scoring hit in the seventh. Castro also had a two-run double off Dallas Keuchel on Opening Day.
“Starlin Castro is playing tee-ball right now,” Beltran said. “He’s just seeing the ball good and hitting the ball where it’s pitched. It’s good to see him swinging the bat like that. He’s a big, big key in our club. It’s fun to watch him play. We just hope for him to stay healthy and continue to do what he does well.”
I am not a Yankees fan by any stretch of the imagination, but it makes me smile to see my dude playing well in New York. I also understand the reasons for the trades and I don’t disagree with the Cubs moving him. That doesn’t mean I’ve retired the shushing meme, though.
He wasn’t the guy we thought would earn a roster spot. He wasn’t a guy I thought should have earned a starting role on Tuesday. But Matt Szczur has looked really good in two games so far, following a bases-clearing double in his only at-bat Monday with a 2-for-4 Tuesday that included a home run on the first pitch he saw. Szczur could probably give Jake Arrieta a run for the title of most physically fit player on the team, but his skillset seemed pretty expendable heretofore.
The Cubs still have a couple weeks to figure out whether and how to keep the extra outfielder around. Once Javier Baez comes back from the DL, however, some questions will have to be answered. Barring another injury, the most likely casualties of Szczur’s continued presence on the roster would be Neil Ramirez and Tommy La Stella. Give the latter’s remaining options, I’d think he gets the demotion. Of course, there’s also the possibility that Szczur himself is exposed to waivers.
While I could spend a lot more time breaking down the merits of each player and trying to figure out how this all shakes out, I’d prefer to focus simply on the fact that the Cubs are already getting big results from the last guy on the roster.