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

Mariners Are Offensively Challenged

Last year the Mariners may have won 85 games and finished 3rd in the AL West, but they were last in the American League in runs scored. During the offseason they made several moves that had me and several other AL fans concerned. In addition to acquiring Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, the Mariners signed Chone Figgins away from the Angels, and they traded for Milton Bradley and Casey Kotchman. Despite all their moves, it’s become apparent through 25 games that it’s the same old Seattle story.

The Mariners just got swept by the Rangers, scoring only four runs in three games. To make matters more frustrating, they spoiled 11 scoreless innings from their staff on Friday night (including seven thrown by starter Cliff Lee), and eight scoreless innings from Doug Fister on Sunday. Manager Don Wakamatsu has seen enough of the club’s offensive struggles: “If somebody said you’d throw 26 scoreless innings in a three-game series and get swept, I’d think you were crazy. But that’s what happened. It just kind of tells you the shape of the offense right now.”

The Mariners are tied with the Pirates for the third worst offense in MLB based on runs scored. The only other AL team that’s stinking it up more is the Cleveland Indians. Seattle’s also tied with Houston for the fewest home runs in MLB with a measly nine. Even though the Mariners are offensively challenged at this point I expect them to pick it up. They have several hitters currently underachieving who should be doing much better. One of the biggest problems they’re facing is that they don’t have any true three or four hitters on the team, and that puts extra pressure on guys who should be batting towards the bottom of the lineup but are now in the middle. Where’s Richie Sexson when you need him?

Mariners waste another pitching performance, swept by Rangers [Seattle PI]

Francisco Liriano Is Officially Back

It’s been four years since Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano bolted from the bullpen to the starting rotation to become one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers. Liriano was trading off with fellow southpaw Johan Santana that summer in a competition of “top this,” where Francisco went 11-2 with a 1.70 ERA as a starter and Johan went 19-6 with a 2.77 ERA en route to his second Cy Young Award. Liriano never finished that season because of an elbow injury that ultimately led to Tommy John surgery.

Liriano missed all of the 2007 season because of the surgery and he returned to make 14 mediocre starts in 2008. Twins fans were hoping Liriano would return to his 2006 form last season, but Francisco struggled mightily and was demoted to the bullpen in August. While many people had written Liriano off as a contributor, he came out and dominated in the Dominican Winter Leagues, showing flashes of his ’06 form. Liriano proceeded to win the fifth starter job for the Twins and he has paid off in a major way.

Liriano went eight scoreless innings on Tuesday night to help the Twins shutout the Tigers 2-0. In fact, Francisco has now gone three straight starts (23 innings) without allowing a run. He’s 3-0 in that span and he has a 0.93 ERA on the season (he allowed three runs in a no-decision for his first start). Liriano also has a 24/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his last three starts, allowing only 14 hits in that stretch. If that’s not the type of dominance we saw from Liriano back in 2006 then I don’t know what is. It remains to be seen if Liriano can keep this up but there’s no doubt that his re-emergence could be the difference maker for the Twins this season and that’s bad news for the rest of the AL Central.

Pujols Should Consider Hiring Bobby Cox as an Agent

You already know how I feel about Albert Pujols’ hitting abilities and all-around talent. Apparently my admiration for the St. Louis slugger can’t hold a candle to the way long-time Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox feels about him. When asked what Pujols’ next contract should be worth — after being asked to comment on the new extension Ryan Howard received from the Phillies — Cox had the following to say:

$50 million a year – at least. I’m sure the Cardinals will do everything they possibly can. He’s the best ballplayer in all of baseball. He does everything, too. He’s great defensively, he runs the bases great, he’s smart, and he’s the best hitter there is. I don’t know how you [put a price tag on it, compared to other players]. He’s the best, let’s put it that way.”

It’s safe to say Pujols won’t be getting $50 million a season from the Cardinals or any other team, but when a four-time manager of the year who has been managing the same team for twenty years gives you a compliment like that, it’s significant. Albert should absolutely be the highest paid player in baseball when his new deal is up, which will be at the end of next season (assuming the Cardinals pick up his $16 million option). There’s no other player in baseball right now who is a better all-around player — and it’s really not even close. Sorry, A-Rod.

Cox: Pujols worth $50 million [AP via Yahoo! Sports]
If Howard’s worth $25 million per, what about Pujols? [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

President Obama Rips Cubs During Yankees World Series Visit

A visit to the White House is special for any winning team that gets invited. For the New York Yankees however, their visit celebrating their 2009 World Series title became less about them and more about another city — Chicago. President Barack Obama has made it quite clear in the past that he loves the White Sox, even though he had a hard time naming any of their players. The best part about the Yankees’ visit Monday was not what Obama had to say about his beloved Sox, but instead his comments about the Cubs:

“It’s been nine years since your last title — which must have felt like eternity for Yankee fans. I think other teams would be just fine with a spell like that. The Cubs, for example.”

Way to slip in a jab at the Cubs, Mr. President. It does help mask the pain of a disappointing White Sox season by making fun of the team that is doing slightly better than them (Cubs are 10-10, White Sox are 8-11). This isn’t the first time Obama has made a jab at the Cubs, and I’m certain it won’t be the last.

I think the Yankees may have gotten the last laugh on this one though.  After Yankees manager Joe Girardi brought the World Series trophy over to Obama for a photo opp, a member of the Yankees organization said to Obama that it might be the only chance he gets to hold the trophy. Ouch, would you like a little ice for that burn? As much as it pains me to say it, Obama probably won’t be holding a World Series trophy with the boys in black and white anytime soon.

Obama hosts Yankees at White House [ESPN New York]