I’ll be heading back home today, but I’m glad I came in for the opener. The energy in and around the park was fundamentally different from any game I’ve been to at Wrigley Field in the last five years. The place was packed, the fans were excited, the video board was a great addition, and the game was the focus.
The “howevers” are legitimate, though – the game was so frustrating so quickly that the energy flagged and you could hear every happy Cardinals fan cheering every BS strike call Adam Wainwright was getting (that’s what folks in the park were saying – you know how folks at games are about balls and strikes). The place was so crowded that it was impossible to go anywhere at any time with any kind of speed, and, yes, the bathroom lines were shocking. I missed my bleachers, though the Ernie Banks tarps that covered them were a nice touch. Although the video board was a good addition, it was still unclear where you were supposed to look at times for basic game information. And cell service, for me (Verizon), was non-existent until the park started the clear out in the later innings.
- Joe Maddon says Jon Lester didn’t have much command yesterday (Cubs.com), which was pretty clear. It seemed like he had good stuff working, but not enough in the way of knowing exactly where it was going to go. Lester didn’t bury the Cubs last night – their inability to get runners home from second base with nobody out did that – but it was not a good start. At least the bullpen allowed bupkis from there for almost five innings.
- Ultimately, even with respect to Lester’s tough debut, we’ve got to remind ourselves that it was just one game. Even for a good team (we’ll see if that’s what the Cubs are), games like last night will happen.
- Maddon and Theo Epstein talk about the new video board here – they think it’s just the right size – and it really was a great addition last night. I suspect the team kept the ads and “distracting” elements to an extreme minimum for the first night, but I think, even as they add that stuff, it’ll be fine. It was a complement to the game, itself, which is what a good video board should be.
- Speaking of the video board and its revenue opportunities, Patrick Mooney writes about the increased revenue the Cubs hope to see this year from better attendance. If the Cubs are competitive into the Summer months, they’ll definitely see that sharp attendance spike, I have no doubt. If they don’t carry this wave of positivity into May, at least? It might be tough to get marginal fans back into the fold until and unless the Cubs make a serious charge up the standings.
- With Ryan Sweeney DFA’d yesterday, the Cubs have 9 more days to trade, waive, or release the outfielder. He’s set to make $1.5 million this year (with a $2.5 million option for next year ($500,000 buyout)). Given that commitment for a 4th/5th outfielder who wasn’t very productive last year or this Spring, and given the volume of outfield depth available right now, I’m not surprised the Cubs weren’t yet able to find a taker.
- On the restroom wait times, the Cubs offered a statement and an apology for not having enough repositories available (Tribune). They’ll be adding some portable restrooms for future games.
- I shared my thoughts on Opening Day over at BN’er Tommy Meyers’ The Full Count.
- If you missed anything from the weekend, your catch-up is here. And if you missed the first Enhanced Box Score of the year, it’s here.