Book Review: Wrigleyworld: A Season in Baseball’s Best Neighborhood by Kevin Kaduk

Wrigleyville is the well known area surrounding the ever popular summer spot of Wrigley Field. There are restaurants and bars and plenty of baseball fans to be found on a summer afternoon. Many baseball fans have wondered what it would be like living in the neighborhood surrounding Wrigley Field for a summer of baseball and fun. One such fan did so. And he wrote a book about it.

Kevin Kaduk’s Wrigleyworld: A Season in Baseball’s Best Neighborhood is the story of Kevin’s summer in Chicago. The former Kansas City Star sportswriter, and current editor of Yahoo’s Big League Stew blog, gives us a peak into life in Wrigleyville.

I admit I was quite excited when I first saw the book for sale. Although it came out in 2006, I did not find it until about a year ago. Recently I finally got the chance to pick it up from a used book store and give it a read. Sadly, I have to admit it was a letdown.

Kevin starts off telling us about how the idea came about. He was off writing about  high school sports in Kansas City, which he freely admits not likely very much although he liked who he worked with and for. I found it a bit annoying to listen to his complaining of a good job in a good city. I can fully understand the longing to be somewhere else though. He decided to take action.

Leaving Kansas City he took up residence a few blocks from Wrigley Field and set about writing about his encounters.

Some of the things I enjoyed reading about. Getting a glimpse about what it was like to deal with scalpers day in and day out was interesting. I’ve always found scalpers to be interesting people.

He also had run ins with the ballhawks out on Wavelyn and Sheffield. The ballhawks are the guys who wait for homeruns to leave Wrigley Field in order to collect a souvenir. I always thought it would be interesting to take in a game with the ballhawks. He was there the same season when there was a movie being made about them as well, Ballhawks.

However, what stood out to me the most about the book was it was more of a barhopping, girl chasing, conquest seeking journal. I was interested in learning about the establishments that surround Wrigley, and Kevin does a good job providing information on them, including some interesting backgrounds. That aside, there was a bit too much about drinking and chasing women.

If he was going to talk about the drinking, I would have rather heard some interesting stories from the bleachers. He includes a little of this, but not enough for my liking to be honest.

One thing I felt that was lacking, but I understand why, was the lack of information and stories about the rooftops overlooking Wrigley Field. He does try a few times to get onto the roofs, but in the end there is little information other than how hard or expensive it can be.

Overall it is a decent book. If you are a diehard Cubs fan, I would say go get it and give it a quick read. It isn’t that long and it’s an easy read. However, do not think that this is the book to read to gain valuable insights and secrets into the fabled Wrigleyville.

Posted in Books, MLB, Reviews0 Comments

#Blogathon at BaseballdeWorld to Raise Money for The V Foundation

I know I haven’t posted here in some time. That is mainly because I spend most of my time at my other blog where I cover baseball around the world, BaseballdeWorld.com.

There I am holding a blogathon this weekend to raise money for The V Foundation in honor of a friend who recently passed after a battle with cancer.

I will be posting for 24 hours straight and I have gotten some great items to give away courtesy of a few readers/companies that I’ve worked with in the past. I have DVDs, t-shirts, and even a subscription to a sports magazine – Stadium Journey.

Every dollar you donate gets your name thrown in to win one of the great prizes that we have been given. I owe all the DVDs and they are all fantastic baseball documentaries. I know you will enjoy them.

You can read more about the DVDs we are giving away here – http://baseballdeworld.com/2013/09/14/dvds-giveaway-blogathon/

You can read more about why I’m doing the blogathon here – http://baseballdeworld.com/2013/08/07/announcing-24hour-blogathon-charity-september/

And if you feel like you can spare some change (come on we don’t need a Starbucks everyday do we?), then feel free to click here and donate. 2013 BaseballdeWorld Blogathon 

All the money goes to The V Foundation’s cancer research. I’d also invite you to watch the Jim Valvano speech on the First Giving page above. It is moving and is has meant a lot to me over the years.

It all starts on Friday night EST time and will go on through Saturday night. I hope you will join me and help out The V Foundation.

Thanks to everyone here and I look forward to having some more baseball adventures to write about soon.

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Opening Day in Toronto

Recently I got the chance to travel back to the States after two years in South Korea. My timing of my trip just happened to coincide with Opening Day in Toronto. So with a stopover in Canada, I hit up Opening Day at my third ballpark, Texas and Atlanta being the others.

First of all, Toronto seems to be a really nice city. I was only there for two nights and one of them I got in late, so I really only had a day to visit the city. I took to walking around the city on the one full day I had, and really enjoyed it.

The weather was cold and there were even some snow flurries later in the day. But that didn’t stop me from getting out to see a little bit of the city. I stayed downtown near Chinatown, but coming from Asia I had no interest checking that part of town out. Instead, I headed toward Skydome (yes I know it is called Rogers Centre, but forgive me because it will always be Skydome to me).

One of the coolest things I saw was CN Tower which sits next door to Rogers Centre, and I decided to head up early in the morning. It was a beautiful morning and walking up to the Tower I was able to snap this shot showing the blue sky.

CN Tower - Toronto

CN Tower – Toronto

The view from CN Tower is great. Not only do you get the views of the city, but you also get views of Lake Ontario. With the weather being cold, the dome was closed. But if you go on a day when the roof is open, you could look down on the field. Here are a few shots from the Tower.

Toronto, Canada

Toronto, Canada

View of Toronto from CN Tower

View of Toronto from CN Tower

View of Toronto from CN Tower

View of Toronto from CN Tower

View of Toronto from CN Tower

View of Toronto from CN Tower

Toronto from CN Tower

Toronto from CN Tower

The city was a buzz with anticipation for the Blue Jays new season. With all the new faces the team is one of the favorites to make the playoffs. Everyone was decked out in Jays gear waiting in line to enter the game early. They would face off with the Cleveland Indians on a Tuesday night.

On the hill for Toronto was the 2012 N.L. Cy Young Award winner, R.A. Dickey. However, it wasn’t a good night for Blue Jays fans as Dickey gave up four runs (three earned) in six innings taking the loss. He was out pitched by Justin Masterson.

The game for the most part, wasn’t too exciting. The fans were quick to turn on JP Arencibia after he had a few passed balls on Dickey knuckleballs.

I did enjoy the stadium though. I sat up top because it was cheaper, but the seats were still okay. I watched part of the game from the first level just standing behind the rail.

Food options in the upper levels were slim pickings as far as good food goes. They have the usual affair like hot dogs, but what I didn’t like was that they took the cap from me off of my coke bottle. I’m sorry but if you are worried about people throwing bottles don’t sell them!

There were a lot of good food options on the first level with a wide variety of things to choose from. You are able to move from level to level through the dark ramps that lead up and down. So if you are sitting up top and want to get some food from the lower levels you can.

Here are a few shots I took.

Rogers Centre - Toronto

Rogers Centre – Toronto

Rogers Centre - Toronto

Rogers Centre – Toronto

Rogers Centre - Toronto

Rogers Centre – Toronto

Rogers Centre - Toronto

Rogers Centre – Toronto

Rogers Centre - Toronto

Rogers Centre – Toronto

View from my seat at Rogers Centre

View from my seat at Rogers Centre

Opening Day Rogers Centre - Toronto

Opening Day Rogers Centre – Toronto

Opening Day Rogers Centre - Toronto

Opening Day Rogers Centre – Toronto

Geddy Lee throwing out First Pitch

Geddy Lee throwing out First Pitch

First Pitch - Opening Day - Toronto

First Pitch – Opening Day – Toronto

I really enjoyed my time in Toronto and hope to be back at some point to see more of Toronto and maybe check out a game when the roof is open at Skydome.

Posted in MLB, Travel2 Comments

Quick Thoughts on the World Baseball Classic

Opening Day is nearing and it’s already been a busy spring with baseball. The World Baseball Classic was one of the best tournaments I’ve ever seen. There was so much drama and excitement that it made for great baseball.

Some quick WBC thoughts:

First of all, I couldn’t have been more excited to see how well the Netherlands and Italy did. I love seeing the underdogs win, and I really want to see baseball in Europe continue to grow. I know there is so much potential there.

On the flip side, I was a little disappointed with how the USA played. They seemed uninspired for the most part. I’m not sure why, but something needs to change for the US to finally win one of these.

Speaking of winners, there has never been a team that dominated the entire tournament like the Dominican did. They were easily the best team and it was nice to see a new team take home the title. They won with a dominate bullpen and it was fun to watch.

I was equally excited to see Puerto Rico make the finals. They often get forgotten when people talk about Caribbean baseball, but they showed their talent this year.

I already can’t wait for the 2017 edition of the tournament. The banter before it comes around with all the speculation of where it could be played will be fun.

I haven’t been blogging as much here because I’ve been so busy at BaseballdeWorld.com. I will have some baseball travels coming up soon that I will write about here though, including Opening Day.

I have one week left in Korea and then I am off back to the States. On my way back I am stopping over in Toronto to catch the Blue Jays Opening Day game against the Cleveland Indians. I’m excited because it’s my first time in Toronto.

After that I’ll be catching a game here or there in and around Nashville hopefully to include my first Sounds game.

So in a week I’ll be in Toronto and will write about it then.

We are nearing Opening Day!!!

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All 30 MLB Parks in 2013?

So I am back, I guess I never really left, to wanting to plan a Major League Baseball stadium tour for 2013. Now that the schedules are out, I am looking into routes to take.

But the other day someone asked me why I want to do this? It got me to thinking.

The main reason is I have been a passionate baseball fan my entire life. It’s the one thing that I can look back on for as long as I can remember knowing I’ve always loved the game. I love to watch baseball. I love the experience of taking in a new stadium, walking the grounds, seeing the fans, and looking at the game as if it is new again.

Not only do I love the game, but I love the stadiums. The roar of the crowd, the smell of the stale beer and hot dogs, and even the architecture that goes into the new and old ones alike are all things that interest me. The fact that no two stadiums are alike makes me want to see them all.

But it goes beyond just baseball. This is America. Driving to see all 30 MLB stadiums would take me to places I’ve never been. Seeing the west coast, the mid-west, and even Canada are all things I really want to do. I see it not only as a baseball journey, but a journey across America and that excites me as much as the baseball does.

Then the question becomes, why not spread it out over the course of many years. I’d have more time to see the country and the stadiums along with it. True, but I haven’t lived in the States during baseball season for 3 years now. And I don’t think that will change much over the next few years.

The final thing is, I have the money. I’ve never had the money to undertake such a trip before. However, even though I do have it I am reluctant to spend it. This is the first time in my life I’ve had the money and time, but I am worried even still.

I’d love to mark this off of my list of things to do (I hate the term ‘bucket list’). Then I can start to plan my next adventure.

What do you think? Should I go for it?

Posted in MLB, Travel0 Comments

I Really Don’t Know What to Say….

I’m still in shock from Friday nights games. I think it’s going to take me a while to find the words to describe what happened.

All I can say for now is:

Bad call but that’s not what cost us.

and

Where did they disappear to?

I’m really lost for words. More later after I wake up from this “dream”.

Posted in MLB0 Comments

Postseason Baseball – There’s Nothing Better

The end of the 2011 MLB season was a painful one for me. For the past 25+ years I have rooted for a pair of teams. One I fell in love with because they had a great power hitting outfielder and they were on TV every night of the week.

Yes, the Atlanta Braves. I have been a die hard fan since the mid-80s and the collapse last year was difficult to swallow. Seeing that great bullpen collapse at the end of the season was tough to watch.

The other team is the Texas Rangers. I grew up in Texas and old Arlington Stadium is where I got to see the few live games during my childhood. I remember it fondly, and I got to see some of the all-time greats there like Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson, and so many more.

They were the other team I could watch on TV, and I rooted for them in the AL for as long as I can remember.

So being 1 strike away from a World Series victory was a hard pill to swallow. Game 6 in 2011 reminded me all too much of Game 6 in 1991. Both were hard to watch, and honestly I am not sure I am over either one. I mean really what was Lonnie Smith doing?

Anyway, the 2012 season I am hoping for redemption. Both teams are in the playoffs even though they both might wind up as wild card teams depending on what happens with Texas and Oakland later. I’m okay with that.

Atlanta is playing really good ball this year in September, and I like their chances. Friday they get their chance at redemption in the one game playoff against the team that edged them out of the playoffs last year the St. Louis Cardinals.

Texas on the other hand is really struggling and after leading the AL West for most of the season it all comes down to 1 game in Oakland for the division title.

No matter what happens this year, it can’t be as bad as it was last year. That really tore my heart out. I’m excited about both teams chances. And if they happen to meet in the World Series by chance, I hope Atlanta sweeps ’em.

Posted in MLB0 Comments

Tampa Rays Unveil New “Throwback” Jersey

When I first saw the new Tampa Rays “throwback” jersey, I was speechless. All I could think was Joe Madden is a good sport.

I love throwback jerseys. A lot of them remind me of when I was a kid and good or bad, that’s always a good thing in my mind. Maybe my favorite baseball jersey of all time is the 80s Astros ‘rainbow’ jerseys. I love a lot of the old Whitesox, Padres, Pirates, and Expos jerseys. Anything in the old powder blue like many teams have worn over the years (KC, St. Louis, Atlanta, Toronto, and Montreal) I always thought was great.

However, I am not sold on these new ones for Tampa. I love the powder blue and the dark blue mix, but I think it could have been done better. The font of the Rays across the front and the huge yellow numbers on the front just don’t seem to mix.

They did a good job creating something that is very 1970s, but maybe they took it a little too far.

I just can’t seem to wrap my head around these in a positive note. I do however love the hats.

What do you think of these new ‘old’ uniforms? What is your favorite all-time jersey?

 

 

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Who Would Have Thought…..

Who would have thought…..

There are several of these this season so far. I think the biggest one is who would have thought the Baltimore Orioles would be this good?

Heading into tonight’s play, the Orioles are atop the AL East with a 27-15 record which is the best in the American League. Not only are they in first but the whole division seems to be turned upside down with the Yankees and Red Sox in 4th and 5th place.

There seems to be a surprise in just about every division.

AL Central

Who would have thought the Detroit Tigers would be under .500 and trailing not only the Cleveland Indians but the Chicago White Sox?

AL West

I think everyone though the Rangers would be at the top of the division, but who would have though the Angels would be bringing up the rear? They are 8 games out of first and 6 games under .500 already this season. Albert Pujols just hasn’t hit yet but they could easily turn it around. Maybe.

NL East

I think we thought the Washington Nationals would be good, but this good? They are trailing the Braves by a half game and have played really well this season. Perhaps the bigger surprise is the fall of the Phillies. So far they are in last place 5 games out and a game under  .500 but they have had a lot of big injuries.

NL Central

Not any huge surprises here. Cincinnati and St. Louis are tied for first, but Pittsburgh and Houston are next in the standings which might be the biggest surprise.

NL West

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best record in baseball. Not sure anyone saw that coming with all the off the field issues they have had. They are hot of late (8-2 in last 10) and are almost unbeatable at home going 19-4.

I think the Orioles are the biggest surprise so far. I hope they can keep it up. It’s nice to see teams that haven’t won in a few years return to the top of the league. It’s time for some new blood in the playoffs.

What do you think is the biggest surprise so far?

Posted in MLB1 Comment

The Good Side of Baseball Fans

I have seen baseball in a lot of places, and have seen good and bad fans. However, the bad ones seem to stand out more than the good. I can understand fans that don’t like another team and/or player for that matter. I have a lot of teams I can’t root for. But the one thing I can’t stand is an ignorant fan.

I’ve seen lots of them, and I don’t think I am the most knowledgeable fan out there. But I have seen a few things in the past few days that has reminded me there are good knowledgeable fans out there.

First of all, Josh Hamilton had an amazing night in Baltimore. He did what only 15 other players before him had done which was hit 4 home runs in a single game. It’s an amazing feat. The thing that stood out the most, even more so than Hamilton’s historic night, was the fan’s reaction in Baltimore. Despite a player tearing up their team with long ball after long ball, the fans recognized the greatness in the feat and gave Hamilton a standing ovation. It was a thing of beauty.

Secondly, what happened next was a little more expected. Chipper Jones is making the rounds one last time having announced his retirement after the season. Each place he goes he is honored in one way or another. However, before the start of the first game Friday night another number 10 was honored as former Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa’s number was retired.

Then as Chipper came to bat in the first inning, he received a standing ovation from the crowd. This isn’t a former Cardinals great making one last trip. It’s a player who has been a foe for many years, yet the fans in St. Louis still acknowledged the fact that this was his last trip through. This wouldn’t be the case for just any player, but they see the Hall of Fame worthiness of Chipper and what he has done for baseball in Atlanta. Some say that the Cardinals’ fans are the best in the game. To me this only reinforced that idea.

My hats off to the fans of Baltimore and St. Louis. It is nice to see there are some great fans out there when all too often all we hear about is the booing of fans.

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New Era (eFashion Solutions)

Quote of the Month

There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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