This Spring, Wendy and I decided to go to Phoenix, AZ for a short trip, mostly because I wanted to go see my beloved Cubs at Spring Training. I had never been to Spring Training, but I had wanted to for quite a while now. We were there from 3/28-3/30. It was a great time to go as the weather was on the verge of being too hot, but still nice, and it was towards the end of Spring Training, so the regular season players would be playing more and be taking it more seriously.

Our first stop after getting our rental car was to grab a bite to eat. We drove around downtown Phoenix a bit, but had difficulty finding reasonable parking near the pizza place we wanted to try. Wendy found a soda fountain (thanks to google maps on the cell phone) called MacAlpine’s nearby that we ate at for lunch. It was a nice little place. It was set in the 50’s. The food was good and the strawberry cheesecake milkshake we had for dessert was even better. According to their menu, they are the oldest operating soda fountain.

From there we headed to the Hall of Flame Fire Museum which was located next to the Oakland Athletic’s spring training field where they were playing a game as we drove by. The museum was great. It had a very impressive collection of old fire equipment and history. It had lots of hand drawn and horse drawn wagons as well as old motor driven fire trucks. It was very interesting to learn about the history of firefighting through the years. They had a section dedicated to wildland firefighting as well. I would recommend it to anyone who has the chance to go see it. Pictures

Next we went to the nearby Desert Botanical Garden. Wendy was excited to see wild flowers. I thought it was silly to have a botanical garden in the desert, but they had a lot of cool plants after all. Pictures

After the gardens, we went to check into our hotel. Wendy managed to find a great deal for us at The Hilton Phoenix East. Normally above our price range, but we got it for a great price. It was a nice hotel with large and comfortable rooms. The pillows on the bed were really soft.

While we were out that night we had stopped at a Target so I could get a baseball and sharpies. I hoped to get some autographs at the game. For dinner the first night, we ate at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. It was some great pizza. You have to build your own pizza, and it was a bit pricey. We got a pizza with pepperoni, Italian sausage, and onions.

Next day, we decided to try to get to the Cubs game early in hopes to get autographs. For breakfast we went to a nearby place called The Good Egg. Really good breakfast with lots of choices.

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Categories: Baseball, Cubs, Vacations
Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 18 Sep 2010 @ 10 43 PM

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 08 Jan 2010 @ 9:45 PM 


It’s been 9 years, but former Cub great, Andre Dawson, has finally made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I am very happy about the news. Last year, I posted about my disappointment that he didn’t make it.

Dawson’s numbers were not staggering, especially when compared to the juiced ball era that we are coming out of. His lack of any dominating category explains why he wasn’t a first year Hall of Fame player. He got in by how he played.

Dawson began his career in Montreal with the Expos, now the Washington Nationals. Early in his career, Dawson was known for his speed and great hitting. He and Tim Raines were a lethal pair. Unfortunately, the artificial turf in Olympic Statium destroyed his knees, and he was unable to run like he did in his early years. Throughout the rest of his career, his knees bothered him. Dawson’s problems with his knees started from high school football. He added power to his skill set to offset his lack of speed.

After playing on the turf for 11 years in Montreal, he had to move. Montreal was not going to resign him as they were afraid of the condition of his knees. Most teams were unsure of his knees and were hesitant to sign him. Dawson also knew he had to get back onto playing on the grass. He talked with the Cubs to ask if they would sign him, and they did. He just wanted to play, and he told the Cubs he would play for what ever they wanted to pay him. He got paid $500,000 that year, compared to $1.2 M the previous year. That season (1987), he then went on to turn in his MVP season for a Cub team that went on to be last place in their division that year. That year he led the league in Total Bases (353), HR’s (49) and RBI’s (137). MVP’s typically get picked from winning teams, but Dawson played so well, he was able to secure the honor despite his team’s lack of success.

I can remember watching him play on WGN as a kid. He was a great player, a steady clean up hitter. He struck out a lot, but could hit. My favorite thing about Dawson was watching his fielding. He played right field in Wrigley. The winds in Wrigley make it one of the toughest right fields to play. I remember watching him throw runners out with is powerful arm. My favorite was when he would charge a hard hit single and throw out the runner at first because the runner wasn’t hustling. The Wrigley faithful respected him. The bleacher bums in right would bow down as he would take his position.

Dawson’s teammates spoke highly of him. Although his knees hurt constantly and limited his potential, he didn’t complain and he didn’t let his knees stop him from giving 100%.

Dawson played for the Montreal Expos (76-86), the Chicago Cubs (87-92), the Boston Red Sox (93-94), and the Florida Marlins (95-96). His highlights are as follows:

His career numbers:

Batting Average: .279
OPS: .806
HR: 438
RBI: 1591
SB: 314
Fld%: .983

Now, to find out what cap he is going to wear when he is inducted this summer. I’m hoping they chose a Cubs hat. Way to go Hawk!

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Categories: Baseball, Cubs
Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 09 Jan 2010 @ 09 31 AM

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 11 Aug 2009 @ 10:09 AM 

I recently got to attend all four games of the Rockies vs Cubs series here in Denver. I was quite disappointed with it. Below is a letter I wrote to the Cubs, not that I expect to hear anything back.

Dear Cubs, I have been waiting with anticipation all year for my beloved Cubs to come to Denver to play baseball. I even took time off from work just so I could see all four games of the series. And I paid a lot of money for some of the tickets I got. Imagine to my surprise throughout this four game series, I didn’t get what I paid for. I paid to watch a Major League Baseball team play world class caliber baseball. What I got instead was a bunch of bush league baseball play that certainly was not the product I paid for. I only got to see one major league starting pitcher, Ryan Dempster, pitch well. Zambrano was scratched and the starter for that night only lasted two innings. Randy Wells, a rookie, was beaten up. And Gorzelanny couldn’t get out of the second inning before he got injured. He was then replaced by some minor leaguer. The defense was atrocious. It looked like the bad news bears out there. Do the Cubs even understand that the large brown leather thing on their hand is where the ball is supposed to go when the ball is hit at them? Do they understand that when runners are on base, they are supposed to drive them in? Does Soriano understand that he is paid to hustle, not lollie gag around the outfield chasing butterflies and hopping every time he makes a catch? And if the Cubs are so interested in winning, then why in the top of the 9th inning while the Cubs were rallying did Lee get lifted for Fontenot as a pinch hitter? Seriously, Jeff Baker was the best you could do for 2B? He’s not even hitting above the Mendoza line. I sat behind one of the Rockies executives on Monday night and he just laughed when Baker came up to bat. He said they were glad to get rid of him. So, the purpose of this mail is that I am asking for my money back. You miss advertised and I bought a product that was labeled on thing, and I got something that was of a much worse quality. If the Cubs come back to Denver again, please make sure to inform fans if this is their B team or their A team. If I am going to go to a game to watch minor league baseball, I would rather pay minor league prices to see it.

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Categories: Baseball
Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 09 Jan 2010 @ 07 04 AM

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 09 Dec 2008 @ 7:39 AM 

Once again, Ron Santo was denied entry into the Hall of Fame. I’m not quite the die hard fan of Santo, but as a Cubs fan, I still think he was a great player and would be deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame. There certainly is a following of people who are wanting to see Santo inducted in. He was the Cubs’ 3B from 1960-1973. His career numbers are:

  • .277 BA
  • 342 HR
  • 1331 RBI
  • 1138 R
  • .826 OPS
  • 9 All star appearances
  • 5 Gold gloves

I imagine the majority of the people who are pulling for him to get in are Cub fans. His numbers are good, but they aren’t astounding. Maybe that’s why he isn’t getting voted in.

Another player that I would really like to see get in from the Cubs is Andre Dawson. Also known as “The Hawk”. Dawson spent most of his career between the Montreal Expos and the Chicago Cubs. His last years were with the Florida Marlins and the Boston Red Sox. Dawson was old school. When Ryne Sandberg was elected into the HoF, he mentioned Dawson in his induction speech saying how he believes Dawson should be in the HoF as well.

Andre Dawson, the Hawk. No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He’s the best I’ve ever seen. Stand up Hawk. The Hawk. I watched him win MVP for a last place team in 1987 and it was the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen in baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way, and I hope he will stand up here someday. We didn’t get to a World Series together but we almost got there, Hawk.

Dawson had a quirky batting stance where he placed all his weight on his back foot and then pushed off with it as he swung. He struck out a lot, but he was a power hitter. His defense was outstanding. Unfortunately, his knees were shot from the years of playing on the turf in Montreal. This slowed him down in the second half of his career limiting his range in RF. But his arm was unmatched. The Hawk would routinely take away singles from guys who didn’t hustle to first base when the ball was hit in front of him. Plays at the plate, I saw numerous times when he’d throw out a runner at home plate from RF on the fly. Ryno made a great point about him in his induction speech, Dawson won an MVP for a last place team one year. That says a lot about how much he contributed to the team.

A future Hall of Famer, Greg Madduxretired this week as well. He started his career with the Cubs where he won his first Cy Young award. He was then let go and went to Atlanta where he had the best years of his career. The Cubs’s GM Larry Himes, an idiot, was responsible for letting him go. Maddux wanted to come back to the Cubs after getting a deal from the Braves, asking the Cubs to match it. Himes told him the money was already spent. Himes was eventually run out of town.

Maddux was a brilliant pitcher. He knew more about pitching, location, and how hitters think than anyone. He didn’t have overpowering stuff, but he could put the ball exactly where he wanted it and make the player hit his pitches. There’s even a story where a bet was made that Maddux’s catcher had the easiest job. They blindfolded his catcher one day in the bullpen to test a theory. All he had to do was hold his glove up there and Maddux would hit it. It happened. Maddux will be voted in his first year for sure. He’ll be an invaluable asset to any club who wants a pitching coach.

There is talk of the triumvirate of Maddux, Smotlz, and Glavine all retiring and all being voted in on the same day for the Hall of Fame. Those three were solid pitchers for several years in the Braves organization. When they left Atlanta, it was definitely an end of an era.

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Categories: Baseball
Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 14 Apr 2013 @ 06 43 AM

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