A League of Her Own

Chicago Cubs Headlines for Monday: Birthday Fever!

103rd Birthday
Join us in the parlor for birthday cake!


Today is a  very special day in LOHO land: it's the birthday of one Max Powers. Please be sure to wish him a super duper day.

In honor of Max's birthday, the Sun-Times was so kind as to run a piece on his favorite hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo. Did you know that Rudy has overcome adversity?

Bobby Bonds, the All-Star hitter and former Cleveland Indians hitting coach, called Rudy Jaramillo's system ''trash.'' Renowned White Sox hitting coach Walt Hriniak refused to shake Jaramillo's hand, much less discuss hitting.


That was 20 years ago, and Jaramillo was starting his first season in the majors, as the hitting coach for the Houston Astros. He was a .258-hitting minor-leaguer who never spent a day in the big leagues, and he was trying to find trust, credibility or even, at times, a sympathetic ear.

''It was tough at first,'' he said.

A handful of hard-ass veteran hitters who challenged him in front of teammates and other team officials at almost every turn didn't help.


Visionaries always face tough resistance. It's a good thing for the 2010 Cubs that Rudy didn't give up, or they would never make the playoffs.

You're probably wondering what gave Rudy the pluck, grit and determination to succeed in baseball. Gordo's got your back:

Jaramillo met the legendary slugger a few years earlier during spring training after leaving his post during a minor-league game against Boston Red Sox prospects and searching for Williams.

''I asked him if he had five minutes,'' Jaramillo said. ''I said, 'I've read all your books and studied your swing. But I want you to hear what I think about the swing.'''

Williams gave him the five minutes, and the next spring they talked longer.

''And I'll never forget,'' Jaramillo said. ''He goes, 'You're going to be a good hitting coach one day.' I don't know if he was [b.s.-ing] me or what, but I took it at heart. Ted Williams, you know what I mean?''


So we should trust him on this? How do we even know this meeting took place? Maybe he's lying to us. He can't be that good, can he? Oh, but he can:


He spends much of the offseason traveling for team business or to work with hitters, but when he is home, he is here -- on this day working with Cubs outfielder Micah Hoffpauir, who spent much of his winter weekends making the two-hour drive to Addison to soak up his new hitting coach's famed five-step system.

Even in this understated amateur batting facility on busy Midway Road, others also seem to find Jaramillo -- including Manny Ramirez this offseason.

''That tells you something,'' Hoffpauir said. ''You've got guys seeking him out.''


See, he's so smart even Manny Ramirez wants to work with him. Shouldn't there be some kind of "Don't Help Opposing Hitters Get Better in the Offseason" clause in his contract? If you want to learn more about Rudy's hitting system, there's more to the article. But it got too long for me to read.


While no one has yet been speculating about the fate of Lou Piniella after this season, the Tribune is trying to drum up some business.


Year 4 of the Lou Piniella era begins here on Wednesday, and one of the biggest questions heading into the 2010 season is whether there will be a Year 5.

It's basically the same scenario former manager Dusty Baker faced at the start of his fourth season as Cubs manager in 2006. Like Piniella, Baker said he was ready to play out the season without an extension and see what happened.


Despite trying to block out 2006, most of us remember what happened. Will Lou suffer the same fate?


Now the Cubs enter the season as "underdogs" for the first time since 2007, and Piniella has a bull's-eye on his back.

Baker spent the second half of 2006 dealing with speculation he would be fired. Will Piniella endure the same kind of scrutiny in the summer of 2010, with Ryne Sandberg managing in Triple-A Iowa and Joe Girardi in the final year of his contract in New York?

General manager Jim Hendry said Piniella's status won't be an issue, adding he does not plan on addressing it.


Oh, so it's not really a story... yet.


Bruce Miles has concisely boiled down the questions facing the Cubs as they creep toward Spring Training. I'll post the first, then let you click on the link to read the rest.


Here are 10 key issues for 2010 a month-and-a-half from Opening Day in Atlanta:

Pleading the fifth: And the fourth, too. Truth be told, the Cubs have three "sure things" as starting pitchers, and one of them is Randy Wells, who is coming off his rookie season, albeit an impressive one.

Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are 1-2, with lefty Ted Lilly recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder.

After Wells, it's a free-for-all involving lefties Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny and right-handers Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Silva.

The Cubs may have to hold their breath until Lilly is ready, sometime in mid- to late-April or the first of May.


To wrap things up today, I'd like to leave you with an 80's tribute to the birthday boy.



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89 Comments

plamorte said:

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Happy Birthday Max!

Edelweiss said:

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It is also my husband's birthday. He is 68, and doesn't need Viagra yet.

MN Pat said:

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That's an awesome song.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Wait a minute, having Barry Bonds call you "trash" is adversity? Hell, I'd put that on my resume.

MillsChC said:

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Bobby Bonds... which I'd still take pride in if he called me "trash" today, cause that would be really freaky.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Oh right. I can't read.

Even so, I'm assuming Barry learned how to be a total asshole somewhere.

baturkey said:

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Happy birthday Mr. Plow!

JulieDiCaro said:

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Don't forget the @#$@@*#$@#$@!@#! ticket "presale" today. Might be a good chance to snap up tickets for LOHO Day on June 19!

Doc said:

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I'm debating getting another set of tickets for the game, since I already have tickets for it...but I wouldn't be sitting with you all in the bleachers.

Speaking of which, it is unknown if they are actually going to be selling bleacher tickets during this presale. If they are, some please let us know here.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I will bet you $1 million dollars that EVERYTHING is up for grabs during this sale.

Doc said:

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They can't do that.

AndCounting said:

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Everything is on sale. As far as I can tell, it's everything. And I just got my ticket for the 19th . . . $78. But it took under 10 minutes, and for me, not losing three or more hours on Friday is worth more than the extra money I paid.

Doc said:

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That's unbelievable. What the hell will be left on Friday, then?

JulieDiCaro said:

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Nothing. This was my point in bitching about it on Saturday. It's total price-gouging. No other way to describe it.

AndCounting said:

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It would be price gouging if you needed Cubs tickets to survive, if they were selling bottled water as people stocked up their bomb shelters in anticipation of nuclear winter.

What will be left on Friday is what the market allows to be left, which I'm guessing (I'm no economist) is pretty close to the same number of tickets people usually would have purchased, with a much shorter line and possibly fewer scalpers muddying the waters.

I've also heard that the Cubs are selling tickets in all sections and to all games, but they are limiting the number of presale tickets in all. I'm just glad I can now get back to work (I swear, I will) and be done with the VWR mess. It's a total win/win.

berselius said:

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Disagree. As I see it, it's just the Cubs trying to capture a bigger slice of the brokers' market share. If I buy a $50 ticket for $60 from a broker, then the cubs don't see that extra $10. This way they do.

Doc said:

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At least I got my tickets without the 20%. Sounds like season ticket holders get a discount this year.

JulieDiCaro said:

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What you guys area forgetting is that the Cubs themselves are a huge part of the broker market, so the argument that they're trying to recapture revenue that would otherwise go to the brokers doesn't hold much water with me.

Doc said:

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I kinda look at this as a way for them to recoup money because the fact they have fewer tickets to scalp this season.

berselius said:

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Well, they were under the Trib because they had a shell company that did ticket brokering. I don't know if the Ricketts got that too as part of the sale. I'm thinking no.

berselius said:

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Even if the Cubs still remain a big player in the broker market, I'm still all for them capturing even more market share anyway

Doc said:

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Happy Birthday, Max!

AndCounting said:

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Happy birthday, Max Power! For what it's worth, I hope you don't receive the gift of being forever young. Have you seen Death Becomes Her? You're really setting yourself up for some scary repercussions.

And cool story about Jaramillo. I think I'm going to like him.

FrankS said:

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Happy birthday, Max. I'm sure Julie has a great evening planned for you!

JulieDiCaro said:

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Hey you! Max and I stopped by Hungry Brian on Saturday night (after leaving Beat Kitchen), but you weren't working. :(

Also, I squealed like a little girl when I saw the Cake Girls store on the way there.

Maim said:

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Aw, dang. I usually only work one Friday a month now (I think mine is next Friday). I hope Brandon was nice to you. He's a grouch.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Oh joy--the Virtual Waiting Room.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Bleacher tickets are totally available.

Doc said:

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Yep...Adam just stated that on Twitter.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Maybe it's just me, but it looks like every ticket for every game is on sale today.

Doc said:

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I am stunned...they must be having some sort of cut off, otherwise they will sell out before the general sale on friday.

berselius said:

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Why? If the Cubs can sell 100% of their tickets at a 20% markup, bully for them!

Doc said:

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I have always been ok with this with the idea that there will be some tickets available for a cheap price for lower income families to purchase. If they sell all the tickets today at a 20% premium, that is just sad and unfortunate.

I have no problem with the Cubs charging as much as they can get for the more expensive tickets.

berselius said:

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I don't think this argument holds as much water either. I think most of the VWR people are the more hadrcore fans anyway (and the ticket brokers). Maybe it's because I'm so disorganized, but I wouldn't shell out money for a family trip until I was absolutely sure when that would be, and I wouldn't know that in feb.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Well, for example, we buy tickets for Colin's birthday every year. This year? For a Friday game against the Braves in August, mid-range seats, the cost was $350.

That's insane. And wrong. And I don't see the money going bank into the team, I think it's going to go back into sprucing up the expensive seats for the corporate set. They've already announced plans to put in an all-inclusive section under the bleachers, near the batting cages. What do you want to bet that "all-inclusive" section is priced so that only corporations can afford to buy tickets? It's going to be one, giant luxury-box.

berselius said:

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Ah, I was thinking more from an out-of-towner's perspective. Still, is it worth the 20% markup for you to get a better chance at actually getting those seats rather than waiting for hours and hours in the VWR? I still think the markup is worth it. It's obvious that the actual market for Cubs tickets is much higher than the prices they charge.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Under that theory, why not just charge $500 per ticket? Where's the limit? Whatever people will pay?
If that's the argument, you've waived the right to complain about all the douchebag corporate fans at Wrigley, because those will be the only people there.

berselius said:

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Sure, that's fine with me.

I think where we're disagreeing here is on the 'average' fan anyway. The only time where you can reasonably buy advanced cubs tickets at face value is the day they open the sales. That's it. I just don't think the average fan wants to deal with the chaos and bullshit of the VWR chaos/wristbands at Wrigley to get these tickets. The average fan buys from the brokers.

Doc said:

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It's all supply and demand...the thing the Cubs need to be careful about is that if they do have a couple of down seasons, attendance will drop off...we saw it happen in 2006 and early 2007.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I think we're disagreeing about basic economics.I don't believe in an unregulated free market, because as long as the rich exist, the middle class will almost always be eventually priced out.

It would be one thing if Steinbrenner bought the team, I would at least know waht to expect. My problem is that the Ricketts came in here talking about making the games affordable for families and regular fans and blah blah blah. It's a blatant lie. If they are only concerned about revenue, fine. But at least be honest about it.

berselius said:

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Did they say that? Most of the fluff I remember was about building a winning team. I tune out the PR crap anyway, so I have no idea.

berselius said:

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FWIW, I'm not a big free market guy either. But for right now the main market IS the brokers aftermarket. If the team/city had some way to regulate the brokers I'd be much much happier with that. But as of now, they don't.

MB21 said:

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For what it's worth, Julie, I have never complained about the corporate types at the games. They bring the money and the Cubs need it if they're going to contend.

I do think it's too bad some people may not be able to afford tickets, but there are lots of things people can't afford anymore. Some families can't afford to go the movies because ticket prices have doubled compared to inflation. They keep the tickets at that rate anyway because they make more money selling them at the higher rate. Until enough people are priced out of buying movie tickets, there's not reason for them to not get maximum value for them.

The same thing is true for the Cubs. As berselius said, there's clearly a market for tickets being sold at a higher rate. This tells me one thing: the Cubs are not charging enough for their tickets. That sucks that some people will be unable to buy tickets that otherwise would have been able to, but that's life.

I think it's premature to say that the additional revenue isn't being put back into the team. There hasn't even been one year of revenue for Ricketts yet. We don't know. If in 5 years the team payroll remains $140 million then I'm going to be upset, but it won't be about the increase in the price of tickets. I'll be pissed that the Cubs aren't spending as much money as they can and should be spending.

Just my 2 cents.

MB21 said:

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Let's say they announced that tickets went on sale today. Also with that announcement was that the increase in ticket prices was 20% over last year. Sure, that's a big hike, but well within Ricketts' right as owner to set the price at whatever he feels like. Now let's also say that on Friday tickets will be sold 20% off. Basically, it's set up this way so that the actual price of the ticket is what is being sold today and on Friday you get 20% off.

Would people be complaining this much about it? I just think the Cubs marketed this very poorly.

flyball said:

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I think its ridiculous regardless of how they market it, what have they done to warrant me spending 20% more?

Doc said:

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What have they done? They have brained washed you into thinking that going to Cubs games is an enjoyable experience...that's what they've done. Isn't that enought?

flyball said:

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um, no

what else you got?

Doc said:

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I got nothing.

JulieDiCaro said:

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agree. And, fwiw, I think it's more disturbing to those of us who live near wrigley and are used to going to a lot of games.

flyball said:

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I used to go to a lot of games, paid for thanks to summer and after school jobs, after college with extra money from my second job, you would think as I got older it would be easier to buy tickets instead of harder

they are going to price me straight out of Wrigley, and I only go once or twice a year now

MB21 said:

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What have they done to warrant spending 20% less than they're going for today?

The team hasn't won the World Series in over 100 years and are probably several years away from being a legitimate World Series contender (best case scenario). If the Cubs are forced to sell tickets based on what they've done for the fans, they'd be giving them away for free.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I would be. They want to jack up ticket prices by 20% why? They aren't spending any more on players.

Doc said:

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Looking at payrolls this year...right now the Cubs are about $12 over where they were at for the start of 2009. And they will likely add about $10 million before the season ends (which is normal).

But that doesn't equal 20% increase...or even the 12% tax thing.

But you ladies get bigger bathrooms.

MB21 said:

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I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses for Ricketts, because I've been very critical of him. I just think when it comes to money coming, we have to actually wait for that money to come in. Today is the first day money started coming in.

Also, I don't care if Ricketts spends on payroll right now. This team has issues and the organization determined it wasn't worth spending an appropriate amount to contend. Essentially they gave up now for later. So I don't care what they put into player salaries now. In fact, I'd prefer they just trade a bunch of players and lower the payroll to $60 million if possible. That's a lot of savings. If in 5 years none of that money has been spent on players then I'd be pissed.

berselius said:

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They are spending more on depth service. And the Ricketts don't get all the 'shadow' revenue the trib was getting from their media outlets for the team

berselius said:

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lol, I mean debt service. My typo makes it sound like I have a terrible lisp

JulieDiCaro said:

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I get that argument, maddog. I do. I just completely disagree with it. Lol.

Edelweiss said:

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They will need the money to pay Theriot.

JulieDiCaro said:

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i completely disagree. the cubs are pricing "regular people" out of the market. it may be good for business, but it's not good for the city or those of us who don't get to go to the park on corporate outings.

and it would have been one thing just to raise ticket prices by 20%, but doing this sham "presale," "only a limited number of seats will be available in our presale" thing is complete garbage.

it looks like "limited number of seats" means "almost all" in Rickettsese. i'm guessing the people waiting until friday are in for a rude awakening.

AndCounting said:

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Judging by the waiting times, I don't think so. Granted, it's stretched across a four-day window, but I think it has been easier to buy tickets today because fewer people are attempting to buy them. I just tried to log in and got through in 3 minutes.

But if I owned the Cubs, I'd want to attract the customers willing to spend the most money. Would you rather have the family bringing their own food and buying nary a beer (my family) or the business/client willing to shell out $7/beer ad nauseum?

I want the Cubs to want me, but I understand why they wouldn't. (That rationale would have nipped Cheap Trick's career in the bud.)

AndCounting said:

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I will say, though, that "limited number" is the easiest marketing lie in the business. Yes, there will be a limited number of tickets available--Wrigley only seats 41,000 or so, hence the limit.

Doc said:

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It does look like entire price sections are being withheld from this sale. But not many of them.

I'm not sure if the number of servers is reduced for this as well, but usually by this time, quite a few games are pretty much sold out...not the case right now.

flyball said:

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I always wonder if its good for long term business, at some point if people stop bringing their kids to games won't those kids, upon growing up, not spend their money on the team?

but I'm not a economic anything so I have no idea if thats true or not, plus I'm doing whining for the day

berselius said:

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For what it's worth, I've been a Cubs fan most of my life and never went to a game at Wrigley until I was 17. Go WGN!

Doc said:

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honestly, I don't see the access to kids thing as that big of a deal anymore...

With all the games so readily available on TV, going to games has become less important. If it was such a big deal, then football and basketball wouldn't be as popular as they are.

JulieDiCaro said:

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i wasn't saying you have to go to a lot of games to be a Cubs fan, just that you're more likely to be upset about the rising ticket prices.

Edelweiss said:

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I live near Wrigley, but I have seen more Cub games at Miller Park, where things are more affordable, and the food is better.

MillsChC said:

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Got mine for Opening Day... $78 bucks to sit & shiver on Opening Day.

berselius said:

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Playlist shuffle of the day (non-Pandora version this time)

Pick up the Pieces - Average White Band
Wild Mountain Honey - Steve Miller
Berserker - Love Among Freaks (Clerks Soundtrack)
Run Through the Jungle - CCR
Bad Reputation - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

wow, probably my best top 5 yet

JulieDiCaro said:

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How about May 18 (7:00 pm game) for a rooftop meetup? $75 for all you can eat and drink is a way better deal than buying tickets for Wrigley these days.

Max Power said:

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I thank you all for the birthday wishes. I really wasn't expecting the government to declare it a holiday (at least until I hit 40), but that was a pleasant surprise.

cubby23(eric) said:

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Happy belated birthday!

JulieDiCaro said:

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Need a firm head coutn for the May 18 game. If you're a definite "yes," email me at: leagueofherown (at) gmail (dot) com.

Doc said:

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I'll be at the game, but I'll probably sit in my seats...I can't justify buying a second set of tickets for a game in mid may...it will be hard to recoup the value of the tickets for that game.

baturkey said:

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I need to move back to Illinois.

MN Pat said:

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Doc said:

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me too.

flyball said:

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I think it would be easier to move Wrigley to me

Doc said:

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It does appear the Cubs are not making some sections available in the sale right now.

More interesting is the fact mass sections of tickets are still available for typically high demand games include opening day.

Doc said:

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Right now, all three White Sox games and the July 24th game against the Cardinals are listed as virtually sold out. It will be interesting to see if any seats will be available for these games on Friday. Like I said before, it appears that some terrace reserve seats and club box seats were not part of these sale.

FrankS said:

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I sure as heckfire hope I get a job soon. I'm wasting my life hanging out in Cubs blogs and I'm gaining weight faster than an elephant calf on steroids. Why couldn't I be one of those people who can't eat when he is depressed?

gravedigger said:

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I'm sorry, I do not recognize this "Max Power" fella.

Edelweiss said:

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Gravedigger...I have some news for you. According to Twa, a certain Cubs utility player, acquired last year in mid-season, is now seeing a GIRL, after trying something else for two years. One of these days he might find out what floats his boat.

gravedigger said:

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That's an easy one -- Jeff Baker. Serious?

Edelweiss said:

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That, of course, is subject to change without notice. I'll know more when I get back. Right now I am in Vancouver, getting second hand information. By the way, this little netbook is better than a smart phone.

JulieDiCaro said:

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@BoysofSpring tweets that Z hit a 400-foot HR to straight-away CF today.

Doc said:

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Why doesn't that make me feel that good?

Doc said:

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I'm not sure if this is good or bad...

But it appears to me like the pre-sale has drastically slowed since the long waits early this morning. And for most games a lot of really good seats appear to still be available.

Could it be that the demand isn't as high as we were all thinking?

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