"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do, I stare out the window and wait for spring." - Rogers Hornsby

al yellon rants about the Cubs, the universe, and everything
:: welcome to 'and another thing!' - voted by readers as Best Cubs Blog 2004

:: Cubs' final 2004 record: 89-73, 3rd NL Central, -16. Last game: 10-8 win over Braves
:: Al's final 2004 record: 51-41, .554 (44-37 home, 7-4 road)
:: Cubs' 2004 record in all other games: 38-32, .543 (1-0 home, 37-32 road)
:: Next spring training game: Thursday, March 3, 2005, vs. A's at Phoenix, 2:05 pm CT
:: Next game: Monday, April 4, 2005, vs. Diamondbacks at Phoenix, 4:40 pm CT
If you had a Java-capable browser, you'd know how much time is left till the Cubs opener! If you had a Java-capable browser, you'd know how much time is left till the Cubs opener!

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:: Friday, November 19, 2004 ::

It's Kasper

The Cubs have hired Len Kasper, who has broadcast Florida Marlins games for the last three years, as the new play-by-play voice to team with analyst Bob Brenly.

This is the place where I'm supposed to express my opinion about this hiring, as why bother having a blog if you don't make comments?

Fact is, I don't really have an opinion about Len Kasper. I have never heard him call a game, so I can't say whether he's bad or good. I do know that I'm happy that the Cubs did NOT hire Matt Vasgersian, the voice of the San Diego Padres, who is among the worst PBP men in the business.

Here are two things I know about Len Kasper:

He's 33 years old, which is exactly the same age that Chip Caray was when he began as a Cub broadcaster in 1998. Thus, it appears that the Cubs really did want to have someone who'd grow into the job and stay here for many years.

And, he already has a Chicago connection. His sister lives a few blocks from Wrigley Field.

:: posted by Al at 5:09 PM [+] ::
...
Ticket Renewals For 2005

Those of us who are season ticket holders got our renewal forms today. They ask that we fax an "are you returning or not" notice by December 15, and renew by January 17.

Yes, prices are going up. What a surprise!

For my bleacher season ticket, there are still six "value dates" -- weekdays in April and May, which are still $15. There are 35 "regular dates" which are $28 (up from $26 in 2004) and 40 "prime dates" which are $38 (up from $35). This is about the same mix of dates as in 2004.

Other prices (value/regular/prime):
Club Box (Infield): $30/$50/$60
Club Box (Outfield): $20/$40/$50
Field Box (Infield): $20/$40/$50
Field Box (Outfield): $19/$38/$46
Terrace Box (Infield): $18/$36/$42
Terrace Box (Outfield): $16/$32/$38
Upper Deck Box (Infield): $18/$36/$42
Upper Deck Box (Outfield): $16/$32/$38
Terrace Reserved (Infield): $11/$22/$30
Terrace Reserved (Outfield): $10/$20/$27
Upper Deck Reserved (Infield): $6/$14/$18
Upper Deck Reserved (Outfield): $6/$14/$17
Let's hope this increase amounts to enough to sign Carlos Beltran.

The Cubdom's Attend-O-Meter estimated the Cubs' gross ticket revenues for 2004 as a little over $90 million. The increases in ticket prices appear to be approximately ten percent -- that would translate to about $9 million in additional gross revenues.

:: posted by Al at 2:09 PM [+] ::
...
:: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 ::
This & That

Before the season started, Scott Lange of The Northside Lounge offered to host a contest among members of the Cubs Blog Army, for various things we thought would happen to the club during the season.

Sixteen of us replied. Among the categories was MVP voting, and now with the awards finalized, so are the contest results.

Well, eleventh is better than sixteenth, I suppose.

In other Cub off-season news today, USA Today Sports Weekly reports that the Cubs have had "preliminary talks" with the Brewers about acquiring their closer, Dan Kolb.

Good, I say. Kolb isn't your traditional closer -- he strikes out about one every two innings -- but he throws strikes, rarely walks anyone and in the last two seasons, covering 98 2/3 IP, he has allowed only five homers. He'll be 30 just before the 2005 season starts, and probably wouldn't be that expensive, either in dollars or in players (say, think they'd take Dr. Tightpants?).

The Tigers did the Cubs a favor today by signing the injury-prone Troy Percival to an overpriced, two-year, $12 million contract. I say a favor because the interest between Percival and the Cubs was mutual, and this many dollars would have been way too much. If the Cubs can acquire Kolb, that might help free up contract money to sign Carlos Beltran.

The Sports Weekly "Buzz" column (sorry, they don't seem to have online links to this at the USA Today website!) also said that the Cubs were making a push to sign Edgar Renteria.

Well, I dunno. Renteria's a good player, but his 2004 wasn't as good as his 2003, so he may have peaked. He'll cost a lot of money, and that's one reason I think the Cubs should stick with Nomar, who, coming off an injury-filled season, will have to prove he can play at his All-Star level, and thus could probably be signed to an incentive-laden contract, perhaps with option years that would vest with plate appearances, etc.

It is very early in the free-agent process, let us remember that, and much still depends on what the Cubs can do with Sammy Sosa. I have the sense this could happen soon, but we shall just have to wait and watch.

Finally, in the latest attempt to expand the Wrigley Field bleachers, the Cubs are now proposing to move the back bleacher walls ten feet onto the sidewalks on both sides, reducing the sidewalk width to between 12 and 16 feet. A new member of the CBA, 1060west, says this would be out to the curb, but the Tribune article doesn't specifically say that.

I'll reserve judgment on this till I can see new renderings.

:: posted by Al at 5:29 PM [+] ::
...
:: Tuesday, November 16, 2004 ::
Movie Review: "Alexander"

This movie is to be one of the first of the big holiday season blockbusters, opening nationally a week from tomorrow, November 24, but I got to see a pre-release screening, and so can tell you about it.

The movie begins with an elaborate scene of death, and you can tell by the way it's portrayed that it's the title character dying in 323 BC.

Yes, the Cubs have won a World Championship (two, in fact) since then.

And this movie is only slightly longer than the time that's passed since the Cubs last won the World Series. It's nearly three hours long and, well, Oliver Stone's the director, so at times you feel you are going to see conspirators coming out of every door trying to kill people, and in fact, that is what wound up happening to Alexander in reality, and does again in this movie.

There also seems to be a veiled little slam at George W. Bush, as after Alexander accedes to being king when his father Philip is murdered, and he sets out on his quest to conquer the world with larger and larger armies, someone says, "Your father would never have done this." Couldn't help thinking of the two Bushes. Kind of enjoyed that, actually.

Anyway.

There are four different actors playing Alexander at different ages, the adult being played by Colin Farrell, hair curled and bleached blonde, and Farrell's a good action-movie choice for this role. His mother, the non-Macedonian (which, in the eyes of the people, makes Alexander a bastard and thus not suited to be king) Olympias, is, with the help of terrific makeup, done well by Angelina Jolie, who is only 28, but plays her from the age of about that, all the way to mid-40s.

Val Kilmer is almost unrecognizable as Philip, the father who both loves Alexander and tries to push him aside by marrying a Macedonian and having a baby and thus a legitimate heir with her, only to be brutally murdered. I don't know the history that well, and Stone, having made "JFK", loves a conspiracy and tries to set this up as such, but whether it was or not wasn't really clear in the film. What becomes clear as the movie goes on, is that Alexander did have dreams of world conquest, but his armies got spread too thin, and finally petered out in India, thousands of miles from home, which was a heck of a feat nearly 2500 years ago.

There are tons of battle scenes in this film, some filmed in gruesome bloody reality (not for the squeamish!) and some in big wide panoramic shots with lots of CGI soldiers, and one amazing scene set in India where horses get trampled by elephants. Even if you're covering your eyes you'll want to open them for this one.

The movie's told in flashback, by Ptolemy (played as an old man by Anthony Hopkins, and we see him also played by Eliot Cowan as a contemporary of Alexander -- and by another kid as a child. Confused? You won't be), telling the story to Egyptian scribes, and this is occasionally confusing, as the film goes back and forth a couple of times, and at one point didn't seem to be edited very well -- maybe this is a problem with the pre-release screening. It would have been a better movie if it had been an hour shorter, but that's not Oliver Stone.

Oh, and you'll enjoy Rosario Dawson as Roxane, Alexander's wife, who he marries in Babylon, and who turns out to be tough as nails, particularly in the scene where she and Farrell rip each other's clothes off.

AYRating: ***

:: posted by Al at 5:50 PM [+] ::
...
:: Sunday, November 14, 2004 ::
It's Just This Simple

Sammy Sosa to the Mets.

Mike Piazza to the Dodgers.

Shawn Green to the Cubs.

Naturally, it's not quite that simple. There are contracts to be worked on, and now that the MLBPA appears to be amenable to re-working Sammy's deal since it doesn't involve guaranteed money, unlike the A-Rod deal last winter (the apparent thinking is that since the Cubs would not exercise the option, the "guaranteed" money is along the lines of $25 million -- the 2005 salary, the 2006 buyout, and the termination pay due when a trade occurs -- rather than $40 million).

But this would get all three teams a player they can use, it would get a player off all three teams that they don't want or who has worn out his welcome, and the money isn't all that far apart.

Don't be surprised if a deal similar to this happens in the next few days.

:: posted by Al at 11:37 AM [+] ::
...

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