Okay, let's just get this out of the way early: I understand that today isn't really an off day. But while I (sort of) understand the reasoning behind building in a break immediately after Opening Day, I prefer to abide by the traditional Monday/Thursday respites. Plus, it's been a while since the 1st Off-Day Offerings.
Mark Grace always said the hardest part of baseball was playing a day game after a night game and never has that been more true than after last night's maddening marathon. So it is that I bring you the 2nd edition of ODO on the eve of the first game of Wrigley Field's 100th-anniversary season.
Ah, the Cubs home opener. The ivy will be brown, a stark contrast to the verdant outfield. The stands will be full, a stark contrast to the vacant seats we’ll notice in the summer, or at The Cell for the second game of the season.
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) April 2, 2014
A cool breeze will likely be swirling, the last vestiges of a tantrum from the polar vortex, bastard child of Tom Skilling and Mother Nature. How much did you get for your soul, Tom? I hope it was more than Marsellus Wallace received for his own and also that your cruel mistress stays out of the Midwest this spring and summer.
So baseball has begun, but there's more to life than just the game itself. I know a lot of folks come to Cubs Insider, among other sources, in order to slake their thirst for in-depth Cubs info; if you have such intent, abandon all hope, ye who read on. Tom Loxas once told me that I was the mustard on our staff. But if it's true that frankfurters are made from lips and, well, you know, then I'm probably less condiment and more what's between the buns on this hot blog.
In any case, with the the end of the week upon us, I want to take a look at a few other hobbies or endeavors that can keep you occupied when you're not busy subtracting another 3 hours from your life, or maybe even while you are.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Wrigley Field isn't the only thing opening on Friday, as the 2nd installment of Marvel Studios' Captain America franchise comes to the big screen. So once you've finished watching the Cubs do battle with legendary former team member Ryne Sandberg, you can watch another legend, Cap, square off with his former team member, Bucky Barnes (aka The Winter Soldier).
Listen, I'm a huge comic book nerd, particularly Marvel, and I live for these movies. Along with my irrational love for the Chicago Cubs, this is one thing I've passed down to my children. What could be better than indulging in two of my vices in one afternoon? Well, getting beer at the theater would make it better; that'd be a perfect trifecta.
Honing their craft
I’ve written in the past about the possible loss of Old Style at Wrigley Field after a 63-year partnership. But it was reported yesterday that that Dennis Farina’s favorite beer will indeed be on tap at the Friendly Confines.
And while that’s great news for traditionalists and fans of “the crisp rich freshness of a classic Pilsner: light in color and body, medium in aroma and bitterness, full flavored with a delicate aftertaste,” it does nothing to satisfy the rapidly-expanding craft beer market.
To that end, ESPN Chicago's White Sox beat writer Doug Padilla lobbed a volley across the bow:
Anti-Hero IPA from @RevBrewChicago will be at US Cell this year, tap & cans. Bonus: the RevBrew crew tailgating on Opening Day.
— Doug Padilla (@ESPNChiSox) March 11, 2014
Perhaps as a testament to the popularity of craft beer, more specifically, that of Revolution Brewing, and, even more specifically, of Anti-Hero IPA, Padilla followed up with this:
— Doug Padilla (@ESPNChiSox) March 12, 2014
Even though he didn't mean it as a dig, the fact that a tweet about beer got more reaction than almost anything else a beat writer has reported doesn't reflect all that well on the team he covers. Of course, much of that reaction came from Cubs fans weighing in on their own team's addition (or lack thereof) of non-macros to the draft lineup at Wrigley, though no Earth-shattering announcements have been made.
Expect Goose Island to have an increased presence at the ballpark this year, and with more options than just the ubiquitous 312 Urban Wheat Ale and 312 Urban Pale Ale. There's been no mention of GI's ever-growing IPA (I actually had one at Yankee Stadium last year) but I'm hearing that Green Line, Sofie, and Matilda will be offered; just don't hold your breath on an Oktoberfest anytime soon. And don't be surprised if there are even some one-off brews in the works (maybe Red Line?).
Not only is GI a Chicago native with a heavy presence in Wrigleyville already, but it's also a wholly-owned subsidiary of A-B InBev. Personally, I'd love to see the Cubs leverage the depth of the beer market in Chicago and NW Indiana (Half Acre and 3 Floyds come to mind right away). Hey, Crane Kenney, if you're reading this: make it happen!
Hitters Don't Grow on Trees, do They?
Actually, they do if you visit At-Bat-Stats, a relatively new site that's currently in proof-of-concept mode. Listen, I'm not a stats guy. I can, however, appreciate the use of advanced metrics and understand the reasons for their growing application in the game of baseball. But for some reason, I find the research and application of said metrics to be intimidating.
Now, while I haven't spent a ton of time with the At-Bat-Tree, I can say that it's pretty illuminating to be able to see an individual player's performance in every single iteration of the count. While it is still in beta format, it's still pretty cool; and I always like finding new ways to look at the game.
For instance, I learned that even in a down year, Starlin Castro is money with a 2-1 count.
Here There Be Jaguars
I am a big fan of the Twitter, but there are times when using getting snarky and/or sarcastic can bit you in the butt. Such was the case when I replied to a tweet and inferred that the Jacksonville Jaguars had been tanking (an incident to which I had alluded in an earlier post). They might not always sell out games, but the Jags do have a lot of loyal fans, several of whom were quick to get on me.
Led by @E_Dilla (who was wearing a self-designed Cubs shirt in his avi) and @Jags082 (a St. Louis Cardinals fan to boot), I was taken to task for talking out of school. There was a good deal of back-and-forth banter from several parties, from among which came the following gems:
— John (@JohnC1908) March 16, 2014
Cubs are thicker than water, but this quickly went under the bridge in the same manner.
@DEvanAltman I think you mean asshole font.
— michael orta (@Ortapalooza) March 16, 2014
This was in response to my question about the existence of sarcasm font in J-ville; in the end, my meager wits were no match for his jurisprudence though and I was summarily blocked. But just in case you're wondering, I think either Wingdings or Comic Sans is the officially-recognized font of a-holes everywhere.
But the really cool part about the ordeal was that when it was all tweeted and done, things were amicable and I gained a lot of respect for some perfect strangers (but not Balki and Cousin Larry). I was able to learn a couple lessons out of it too: 1) watch what you tweet, even when you're not that popular and you think it's innocuous, because you never know who might be paying attention; 2) if you screw up and own it, things can still come out all sunshine and rainbows.
Stirring the Pot
I think it's safe to say that everyone reading this is a sports fan, at least to some degree. As such, you've probably got a competitive streak in you that may or may not be satisfied by actually participating in athletic endeavors at this point in your life. Maybe your outlet is beer-league softball, maybe it's gambling or fantasy sports.
Whatever the case, there's another relatively new website called StirSide that's based on creating and accepting all sorts of different challenges. It could be anything from getting more sleep to being awesome to drinking the periodic table of beer (the latter was my brainchild). It's kind of like a fantasy league for life and it fits my criteria for participation: free, easy, and the ability to gain bragging rights over friends and strangers alike.
So there you have it, loyal readers: movies, beer, and baseball. For my money, it doesn't get much better than that. The comment section is there for a reason too, so please feel free to share your experience at the ballpark, particularly any new beer selections you encounter.
Follow me on Twitter: @DEvanAltman
Thanks for reading; if you enjoyed it, please share with others. And if you'd like to be updated on my future posts, and those from the rest of the Cubs Insider team, you can subscribe below.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
Filed under: Uncategorized