Cubs: A Star(lin) is Born

History was made on Friday night when 20-year-old rookie Starlin Castro made his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs. Castro drove in six runs in five at-bats, the most by any player in their major league debut. But that’s not all — Castro also became the first major leaguer to be born in the 90′s. Don’t we all feel old now?

Castro really got the team going with a three-run home run in his first career at-bat. That had to be a great feeling. It had the skipper, Lou Piniella , feeling pretty great about the new kid:

“The kid — what a debut! He’s got to be ecstatic. He should be.”

Maybe the north siders are finally getting it together. The decision to move Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen has worked and proven me wrong so far. So now with a stronger bullpen and this new “spark” in Starlin Castro added to the team, the Cubs seem like they are headed in the right direction. I’m not saying that they’ll be hoisting a World Series trophy in October, but hey “there’s always next year.”

Castro Overthrows Reds, Makes Spectacular Debut (And Cubs Win, Too) [Bleed Cubbie Blue]
Castro homers, Drives in Six to Carry Cubs Past Reds [ESPN Chicago]

Yankee Vets Victims of the SI Jinx?

Whether you believe in the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx or not, there’s no denying that it, along with the Madden Cover Curse, has produced some pretty significant coincidences over the years.  Drew Brees will appear on the cover of Madden 2011, but doesn’t seem too concerned about having a hex put on him as a result.  Things got really interesting two years ago, when Brett Favre appeared on the Cover of Madden 09.  Had he ended up missing time with an injury that season for the first time in his career, more people would have been sold on the idea of a curse.  Of course, Favre ended up beating it and keeping his consecutive games played streak alive.

For those who do believe in these types of jinxes, your argument gained a little strength on May 3, when the above image (left) was featured as Sports Illustrated’s cover.  Since its release, Yankees fan Jimmy Traina pointed out that three of the “Core Four” players have missed time due to injuryJorge Posada has recently been replaced as the regular catcher by Francisco Cervelli due to a calf strain.  Joba Chamberlain has filled in as the team’s closer while Mariano Rivera rests an ailing soreness in his side, and Andy Pettitte was removed relatively early from a game in which he was pitching effectively against the Orioles because of some swelling in his elbow.  So far, Derek Jeter appears to still be healthy.

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Milton Bradley is Finally Asking for Help

Seattle Mariners outfielder Milton Bradley has long been an LBS favorite because of his entertaining personality. But this time, there’s not much reason to bash Bradley; he’s actually acting like a man. We knew something was different when instead of yelling and screaming after being taken out of Tuesday’s game in the 6th inning, he just walked into the clubhouse and didn’t come back. I think this may have stunned Bradley watchers more than any freak out he’s had in the past.

Is M.B. finally growing up? Shockingly, that’s what appears to be happening. Not too long ago he was proclaiming himself the bad boy of baseball, but that was before the start of a pretty good season for him in Seattle. The Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said that Bradley is currently dealing with some “personal issues” and that Bradley came up to him and said “I need your help”.

I hope that this is the start of a more professional Milton Bradley. Don’t get me wrong — I will miss his little tantrums and trash talking, but I think it’s for the best. I’m not holding my breath because I know that Bradley loves being in the spotlight, but for a man who has been on eight teams in 10 years, Bradley might be ready to settle down and call Seattle home.

Bradley dealing with “Emotional Stress” [ESPN]

More Milton Bradley Drama

Milton Bradley has been hitting the ball well lately for the Seattle Mariners.  Since returning from a calf injury, Bradley was 8-for-25 with three doubles going into last night’s game against the Rays.  Lately, he seems to be one of the lone bright spots on what has been a pretty stale Mariners offense.  Apparently that’s not good enough for Bradley, who has of course been known for being a complete hot head in the past and someone who can’t seem to control his emotions.  He’s a bomb waiting to go off, and he was detonated once again last night, albeit in a quiet manner.

After Bradley struck out in the 6th inning, he supposedly headed back to the dugout and said something to Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu that was along the lines of, “I’m done; I’m not helping the team.”  Bradley then reportedly walked toward the clubhouse, where teammate Ryan Langerhans attempted to talk to him to get him to cool down a bit.  When Bradley started back toward the dugout to find out Langerhans had replaced him in left field, he headed to the locker room, packed up his things, and left the ballpark.

This wasn’t the usual blow up on an umpire and get ejected that we’ve grown used to seeing from Bradley.  In fact, it’s probably worse.  I don’t know whether he’s putting too much pressure on himself to carry the offense in Seattle or what, but you can’t just up and leave your team during a game ever –  let alone in a game where you’re only trailing by two runs.  This can’t sit well with the Mariners front office.  Bradley’s been hitting well, but it’ll be interesting to see how this is handled.  Back in December, we asked your opinion on how long Milton would last in Seattle.  I’m not sure how this tips the odds, but it certainly shouldn’t be something his coaches and teammates turn their cheeks to.  It’s an insult to them and a slap in the face.

SbB Live
Milton Bradley packed up, left stadium during game after being benched [Seattle Times Blog]

Proposed Wrigley Field Toyota Sign Will Ruin the Charm

First it was the gigantic pictures ruining Wrigley Field, and now it might be a huge Toyota sign. Chicago Cubs new owner Tom Ricketts is looking to add a huge, illuminated red Toyota sign behind the left field bleachers to help generate more revenue. The Cubs organization proposed this idea back on April 19th, and the city’s zoning department gave them their approval. On Thursday, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks will meet to decide whether or not the Cubs will have the green light to put up the sign.

When will the defacing of Wrigley Field stop? The ballpark has been tremendously improved over the last few years. Fans no longer have to worry about rocks falling down and injuring them. And that’s all the park really needed. I’m all about preserving historical landmarks and I feel like this will just ruin another Chicago landmark. Solider Field will never be the same after the “upgrades” it received. The once classic stadium now looks like aliens have landed on Chicago’s lakefront.

The Cubs’ organization is justifying the sign by saying that the team needs to generate revenue anyway that they can, and that Fenway Park has been changing with the times too, without going overboard. All I can say is that these are the nation’s two oldest ballparks — something that is extremely rare these days — and we must preserve them the best we can. Walking into either of these ballparks give you the feeling of stepping into history and watching a game the way people did 100 years ago. You can’t exactly get that old-time feel when you are staring at a giant billboard advertisement for a company that didn’t exist at the time the ballpark opened.

Friendly Confines Fired Up over Proposed Toyota Sign [Beyond the Game]

Another Fan Runs on Field at Phillies Game: Taser Stays in Holdster

Okay, so apparently there are people out there who want to be Tasered.  When a fan ran on the field at Citizens Bank Park last night in Philadelphia, we were all a bit surprised to hear that security used a Taser to subdue him.  Another fan tried it just a few hours ago, one night after the Monday night incident.  There’s no possible way this guy wasn’t asking for it.  Unfortunately — or fortunately depending on your viewpoint — for him security kept the Taser in its holdster this time.  After reading the brief ESPN report, it actually seems like this fan chickened out a bit, as he reportedly gave himself up after being chased.  He had to have had last night’s incident on the brain before jumping out on the field — unless of course he was too hammered to realize what he was doing.

My guess is whether the guy gave himself up or ran around and avoided security for an hour, they weren’t going to zap him anyways.  Last night’s incident has created enough buzz (no pun intended) today, and I don’t think it would look too great from a PR perspective if the Phillies establish a reputation of using an electrical charge to subdue any fan who tries to run on the field at Citizens Bank Park.  I wonder if last night’s incident is going to come back to haunt them, and running onto the field in Philadelphia will become something fans do just to see what will happen to them.  Things like that can happen when alcohol is involved, so we shall see.

Another fan runs on Phillies’ field [ESPN]

Phillies’ Security Doesn’t Mess Around

Note to self and all loyal readers: if you’re ambition is to some day rush the field at a sporting event — and accept spending the night in jail to make 40,000 people cheer for you — don’t do it at a Philadelphia Phillies game. A fan had to learn that the hard way last night after he ran onto the field at Citizens Bank Park during the Phillies-Cardinals game. I’ve seen many fans run on to the field in my day — including in-person — and never seen anyone get taken down by a Taser. Apparently, this 17-year-old kid was just too fast for security and they got tired of messing around. Check out this video of a fan being Tasered after running onto the field at a Phillies game.

Teen Tasered while running on field during Phillies game [USA Today]
Video Credit: YouTube user jrr4media