Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What a Trip

It's great to see the Cubs in first place after returning from 2 weeks in Ireland. My access to the Cubs and American sports across the Atlantic was a few occasional and brief Internet spot checks. You can easily see the similarities of the sports fans in other countries and how like us they have a great passion for sports, in Ireland that means Football (aka soccer), Hurling, and Rugby. It felt a bit strange entering a pub and have the all the plasma screens tuned to Man U (Manchester United) vs Barcelona, after a couple pints of Guinness every sport seems to become a bit more interesting.

This was my first trip to Europe and it was incredible, the Irish people have a zest and vitality along with a welcoming friendliness. My brother Todd joined me on the trip; going to Ireland to check our family lineage had been a dream of ours since we were kids. While there I was also scouting locations for a cable TV project as well as doing some research for a potential magazine article. This meant a two week journey around Ireland, seeing the natural beauty and history of the land as well as observing and enjoying the local culture through food, music, pubs, and people...a wee bit of work mixed with plenty of fun!

After talking with some locals about American baseball it appears to me our national pastime isn't well understood there, much like my understanding of Hurling. When mentioning the Chicago Cubs, the head nodding was more a recognition of the "Chicago" part of the equation. I was able to extrapolate the Cubs place in America's baseball history (condensed version) to a couple friendly guys at a pub in the village of Dromahair. I must admit this was after some pints of Guinness so I hope I wasn't too long winded, however our jovial bartender Kevin and new acquaintance, teacher/artist Eugene seemed genuinely interested. We enjoyed the Irish "craic" (lively conversation) in the pubs and met many great locals.

We also met some tourists from Germany and the U.S., we passed a guy wearing a Cubs hat on the Cliffs of Moher only to run into him with his wife and friends later that evening at a pub. You guessed it, he's a huge Cubs fan from Illinois. That night we also talked with some great folks from Maine(Red Sox fans) who happen to have family that are also big Cubs fans...go figure.

In a Dublin Pub we met a beautiful young Spanish Au Pair from Madrid, she was working on improving her it was our duty to help. I'll leave it at that, and let your imagination work from there. I have plenty more stories to tell of the trip but lack the time to do so right now. Below are a few photos from the journey.

Go Cubs!

Yes, that's a Cubs jersey...Me and my bro Todd.

Dingle Harbor

We had nothing to do with those empty kegs...Galway City

Kylemore Abbey

We met the big cheese himself, Seamus Sheridan...Galway City.
Irish hospitality, Seamus invited us over to his home for a magnificent lunch.

Anyway you go it's scenic beauty.

Ross Castle, Killarney National Park

Guinness for strength!

Upper Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Headed in the Right Direction

It's been an interesting 7 days for the Cubs since I last blogged...the 12 inning game yesterday was not a work of art but a "W" nonetheless. Three wins in a row and now above .500, the team is moving in the right direction. The weather here in Mesa, AZ has been near perfect since the Cubs left town, and looks to continue for another 4 days before the temps creep up, possibly 90 degrees by the weekend.

Kosuke Fukudome has been a bit of a surprise to me thus far with his bat. I really believe he was working on different aspects of his batting in spring training and hadn't shown us the full "Dome" at the plate until the regular season started. Watching him this spring you could see he played a solid right field and had a strong arm as well as being very disciplined at the plate. At any rate, I think Dome in 7 games has put to rest some of the fears Cubs fans had this spring that he couldn't hit Major League pitching.

It's going to be an intriguing season and hopefully a great one for the Cubs. As mentioned in previous blogs I am headed to Ireland soon. While I will be working on another project there, I still plan to take the pulse of the locals and see what responses the words "Chicago Cubs" elicit on the Emerald Isle. I'm guessing the computer will be my main (possibly only) lifeline to the Cubs while I'm we'll see how that plays out. I will be sure to raise a Guinness and toast to; Cubs success this season. Will also post some photos of the trip while there...Erin Go Bragh!

Go Cubs ~

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Reflections on the Opener

Yesterday's opening day game was supposed end with a Cubs victory and a Big Z - "W", of course it didn't go that way and now an undefeated season is impossible. 161-1 will have to do...all kidding aside, that Cubs fans feeling of dread hit me right when Kerry Wood plunked Rickie Weeks with the ball in the 9th. At that moment the "Cubs are going to lose this game" neon light lit up in my head, and I hate that frickin light. Dome's heroics brought hope that this game would be different but that sinking feeling inside me hadn't left, it was for the moment pushed aside by a new shining star from Japan. And then it was over, one of those coulda, woulda, shoulda games, and a loss to the Brewers no less. Perhaps like many fans I got a bit swept up in all the "opening Day" hype. Upon reflection of the days events my brain searched and soon found a little comfort. Yes, the ole baseball cliches rose up out of the fog of defeat and 5 months of dormancy to remind me - "It's only one game" and "baseball is a long season"...did I say "found a little comfort" I meant "found little comfort".

As many of you know I don't blog on a regular every day basis after spring training ends, preferring to let those closer to the action cover the Cubs exploits. I will however try to blog at least once a week from now on until next spring. Not all these will be completely Cubs related as some blogs may consist of the goings on in my life...such as my upcoming trip to Ireland. We are sending out the prizes to the winner of the quiz (Daniel J) about my 25 Cubs spring trainings as Hohokam PA Announcer. Some of the prizes included an autographed Ron Santo baseball card and Wrigley Season Ticket 2008. Daniel had the most correct answers (nobody got them all correct), so here are questions and correct answers to the 9 quiz questions my family came up with from last week.

1. The first Cubs player name Tim ever announced was? Ron Cey

2. How many Cubs Managers have their been since Tim started doing the Cubs spring games? 15

3. True or False. When Tim started they did not play music at old Hohokam Park games. True

4. True or False. At old Hohokam, Tim did the Public Address and played the music. True, did both jobs in the old park until it was torn down in 1996.

5. True or False. Harry Caray used to sing the 7th inning stretch using Tim's PA microphone? True, and still have that microphone.

6. True or False. Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins was on the Cubs Roster when Tim started?
True he was released by the Cubs March 19th 1984

7. True of False. Tim was paid $20 per game when he first started. False it was $10

8. True or False. Tim's favorite name to announce has been Mark Grace.
False it was Sammy Sosa, (only because it was fun to say, not based on how well I liked the players)

9. In Tim's first season of 1984, he announced 3 future Hall of Famers playing in the same game, who were they? Cubs Ryne Sandberg, Angels Rod Carew, and Reggie Jackson.

Go Cubs!