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Best reason to hold out hope for the Cubs

Sports & Recreation No Comments »

The farm
Along with some fleeting signs of life this season—sweeping the Red Line Rivalry!—the upcoming renovations, and the stewardship of the man who brought the BoSox to the summit, allow us to posit the best reason for Cubs’ fans to dream: the farm. The Cubs have four prospects in MLB.com‘s 2013 Prospect Watch Top 100 (the highest being Javier Baez at ninth), and with a proven architect in place to use them, dreams of Wrigleyville riots seem a little less far-fetched.

Best of Chicago 2013

Best new Cub

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Anthony Rizzo
The lone bright spot in a pathetic 101-loss season was youngster Anthony Rizzo, who the Cubs acquired in early 2012 from the San Diego Padres. The first-baseman put up solid numbers in his rookie season in the bigs—a .285 batting average, fifteen homers, forty-eight RBIs—even though he only played in eighty-seven games. (The league even named him “Rookie of the Month” in July.) Rizzo has the potential to be the Cubs’ long-term solution at first base, and if he continues to produce power numbers he could become the team’s most potent offensive weapon. Unfortunately, Rizzo has the rest of the Cubs around him, so it looks like he’ll have to wait at least five years before he has a legitimate shot at playing in a playoff game. But who are we kidding—if he continues to develop at such a rapid pace, he’ll be on the Yankees by then.

Audience choice: TIE Theo Epstein, Anthony Rizzo
Best audience comment: Are there any old Cubs left?

Best of Chicago 2012

Best bar outside of Wrigleyville to watch the Cubs

Audience Choice, Lakeview, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Photo: Kristine Sherred

Jack’s Bar & Grill

Baseball means summer, summer means patios, and if Wrigley ain’t your scene but you still want to eat and drink and root with like-minded North Siders while the weather holds out for you and the Cubbies, the Southport Corridor answers that call. Basic pub food with a homey twist, decent beer list, flatscreens galore, plenty of outdoor seating—Jack’s is far enough from Wrigley that you can actually enjoy yourself but close enough that an influx of fans will stop for a celebratory beer after the game. It’s tough to separate Lakeview’s torrent of upscale pubs with pretty patios from one another (it doesn’t really matter—they’re all owned by the same conglomerates anyways), but, like the divier bars on the list, Jack’s has a loyal following of hoodsters, too. They’re just younger.

Jack’s Bar & Grill
2856 North Southport
(773)404-8400
jackschicago.com

Audience choice:
Harry Caray’s Tavern
700 East Grand on Navy Pier
(312)527-9700
harrycaraystavern.com

Best of Chicago 2011

Best thing about the Cubs’ Ricketts era so far

Audience Choice, Category, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

And the people said “no”
Ricketts Family, thank you for buying the Cubs. We think they have a better chance to succeed owned privately rather than under the control of Darth Vader, or whatever. But now, Ricketts Family, do your job. Your proposal to renovate the collapsing Wrigley Field by basically asking the state for hundreds of millions of dollars—and by state we mean, you know, us—was pretty much a mountainous insult, not to mention a disaster in timing seeing as Illinois has a $13 billion deficit and the country’s still in that whole economic downturn thing. Ricketts Family, you knew what you were getting yourself into—you bought the thing, you pay to fix it. If we bought a fix-it-up house we wouldn’t ask our new neighbors to fund the renovations. In a rare act of political awareness in Illinois, both Governor Quinn and Mayor Daley hands-down rejected the proposal. Side note: If you don’t plan on putting a competitive team on the field any time soon, don’t even bother with the renovations. Let it crumble and let’s forget about this whole “Cubs” thing once and for all. What’s that? Adam Dunn is…what? Don’t get up—let’s ride the Red Line a little further south.

Audience choice:
Nothing
Others that were mentioned a few times, amused us or seemed especially weird:
“There’s a big macaroni noodle in front of the park now”; “Undercover Boss”; “Reasonable ticket prices, winning baseball, respect paid to Ryno, resistance to garish new signs, top-notch general managing, the list goes on…”

Best of Chicago 2010

Best lesson to be learned from the Cubs season this year

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Never, ever say, “This is the best team they’ve had in my lifetime”

We can’t count how many times we heard this fateful claim during the Cubs 2008 campaign, which, if you need us to remind you, ended in epic, pathetic, despicable failure. At the bar, at work, at family functions, at the Fourth of July BBQ—“this is the best they’ve ever been,” “the whole team is great,” “Fukudome is, like, Miyagi dude.” No no no. All it did was give Cubs fans a false sense of security, a dumb and misguided base of hope, that this year was the year. Problem is, Cubs fans are a weepy bunch who like the storybook. Cubs fans like “Field of Dreams.” Sox fans don’t have time for movies, they’re too busy recalling the ‘05 season. One-hundred years meant something to Cubs supporters, and now that they’re facing a hundred more, hopefully each passing season means less and less and we can avoid the uniquely inevitable disaster and disappointment.

Audience choice:
It’s never going to happen

Audience Comments: “be a Sox fan”;
“CUBS = Completely Useless By September”;“Maybe next year…”

Best of Chicago 2008

Best Cubs moment of joy in an otherwise sad season

Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter

While 100 years wasn’t enough to break a championship drought, it only took thirty-six years for the Cubs to break another record. Three weeks before the team’s dismal first-round shutout in the playoffs, Carlos Zambrano became the first Cubs pitcher in three-plus decades to throw a no-hitter as the North Siders visited the hurricane-displaced Astros in their adopted home of Milwaukee on September 14. Throwing 110 pitches with a season-high ten strikeouts and just one walk, Zambrano’s performance was a short-lived glimmer of hope that blessed the fielders with a rare night off.

Best of Chicago 2008

Best Chicago baseball player this season

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Kerry Wood

Because he’s been on the Cubs longer than any other current player. Because he battled back from injury after injury, criticism after criticism, setback after setback. Because he reinvented himself as a player, refined his talents and proved to be a reliable, and sometimes lights-out, closer, a stopper good enough to make it on the 2008 National League All-Star roster. Because it was a fairy-tale story, one that was of personal triumph, no matter how disappointingly the team’s season ended. Because we’ll never forget the day he struck out twenty. And because even now, ten years after that remarkable performance, the guy’s still got that rocket for an arm.

Audience choice:
Carlos Quentin

Best of Chicago 2008

Best Chicago Cubs blog by a “chic”

Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Cubschic.com

You don’t have to be a baseball specialist to read the cubschic.com blog since Jennifer Lyng doesn’t blab on about statistics. This “chic” focuses on the players and spices up her writing with opinions on Big Z’s meltdowns, AAA call-ups and Soriano’s hop. A former boyfriend bought her the domain name so she’d stop venting to him. “Cubschic” is “Chic. Cubs” with the words reversed, get it? Lyng’s baseball upbringing rocked: her mom let her skip school in fifth grade to attend opening day, and her grandmother worked in broadcasting with Jack Brickhouse, so she never wanted for Cubs tickets.

Best of Chicago 2008

Best thing about the Cubs-Sox World Series fantasy

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

It’s more unlikely than the Chicago 2016 Olympics

What would you rather see happen? A Cubs-Sox Series or the whole world infiltrate the South Side for two weeks? Less than two years ago the idea of Chicago hosting a global event as popular as the Olympics seemed absurd; now, as we’ve been instantly catapulted into the Earth’s consciousness with Barack Obama—the most powerful Sox fan in the history of baseball—elected prez, we’ll all be better off if we start studying the rules of water polo right now. Deep down, we don’t want the Cubs-Sox series because we cherish the fantasy so much. What would we do if it all came down to a best-of-seven? The rivalry would change, and we enjoy the rivalry too much to allow it to slip from us. Bragging rights? They’re fun, but not nearly as fun as the family spats, the trading insults with friends, the badgering at the workplace. It’s not the apprehension, it’s the pursuit. And lucky for us, the apprehension always seems too far out of reach.

Audience choice:

It’s still a fantasy….
Audience Comments: “All the black and blue shirts will make the stadiums look like big bruises (which is what a lot of fans would end up with during that series)”; “Cubs actually in the world series”; “It will forevermore be untainted by reality”; “At least we’re a city of dreamers.”

Best of Chicago 2008

Best post-Cubs-game bar

Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife, Lakeview, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Bernie’s Tavern

Picking a Cubs bar after everyone’s had nine innings of beer is either the easiest thing to do or the hardest, depending on what kind of person you are. If you’re a drunken buffoon, it’s easy, because who cares where you go, you don’t even know where you are anyway. If you dig baseball and want to have a beer afterwards to talk about the game, you need to choose the lesser of, well, several evils, and our vote’s for Bernie’s. Bernie’s has a spacious interior that doesn’t make you feel trapped in a nauseating “Old School” remake, plus the ample-sized patio helps. The price of beer, well, you’re in Wrigleyville, smart guy. Prepare to hear many orders of “Lites.”

3664 N. Clark
(773)525-1898

Audience choice:
Cubby Bear
1059 W. Addison
(773)327-1662

Best of Chicago 2008