October 2010

10/10/10 Ron Santo Day in Mesa, AZ

About 300 people turned out Saturday at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz., to honor former Cubs third baseman and current broadcaster Ron Santo. The event also was a chance for the city of Mesa to drum up support for its Keep the Cubs campaign and Proposition 420. Mesa voters will decide Nov. 2 on the general election ballot whether to allow the city to spend up to $99 million on a new Spring Training facility for the Cubs. The preferred site is Riverview Park, located west of the current site. The costs will cover $84 million for the stadium and facilities and another $15 million for the infrastructure.

Santo was presented a proclamation from Mesa Mayor Scott Smith celebrating Oct. 10, 2010, as Ron Santo Day in Mesa. Nice coincidence that Santo wore No. 10, a number the Cubs have retired. Oct. 10, 2010, also will be special for Santo. His son, Jeff, was getting married, and Ron will be the best man.

— Carrie Muskat

10/9 No-hitter in Mesa, AZ

It won’t get the headlines that Roy Halladay’s no-hitter did in the NLDS, but on Saturday at Fitch Park in Mesa, five Cubs Minor League pitchers combined for a no-no against the Angels in an Instructional League game. Aaron Kurcz, Dustin Fitzgerald, Casey Harman, Robinson Lopez and Kevin Rhoderick held the Angels hitless. Trouble is, the Cubs couldn’t muster much either and the game ended in a scoreless tie.

— Carrie Muskat

10/8 Extra bases

Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild has until Monday to tell the team whether he will exercise his option for 2011. Rothschild, 56, just finished his ninth season with the Cubs, who ranked 13th in the National League in ERA at 4.18. Even if Rothschild says yes, he can leave if the next Cubs manager does not want him or if Rothschild does not want to work with the new skipper.

* As of now, the list of candidates who have interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial job includes Eric Wedge, Bob Melvin, Ryne Sandberg and Mike Quade. General manager Jim Hendry has talked to at least seven others by phone but did not plan on calling any of them in for formal interviews.

* The Cubs ranked eighth in the NL in team batting average and 10th in runs scored. Hendry was happy with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who finished his first season with the team. “He’s a hard working guy and I think you saw some positives come near the end,” Hendry said. “The guy’s been as good as there is for 15 years. I think over time his abilities will continue to grow for us.”

— Carrie Muskat

10/8 2011 ticket prices

Cubs season ticket holders will get a letter this week with the news that overall, the average ticket price will not increase for 2011. However, a new tier of pricing will be added to the current platinum, gold, silver and bronze levels, and will be called the marquee level. The 13 marquee games will have a higher price; the 68 remaining games will see an average 8 percent decrease from 2010 pricing.

The marquee games include Opening Day, April 1 vs. the Pirates; the Interleague series against the Yankees June 17-19, and against the White Sox July 1-3; and the series against the Cardinals, Aug. 19-21. The other three “marquee” games at Wrigley Field are July 16 against the Marlins; July 23
against the Astros; and Aug. 6 against the Reds. Those are all Saturdays; the
other games in those series will not be listed as marquee.

The Cubs evaluated more than 5 million pieces of primary and secondary market ticket data, going back to 2005, with a focus on 2009 and 2010, to determine fans’ ticket buying patterns. They knew that certain matchups, such as Cubs vs. Cardinals, drove ticket sales, plus what day the game was played on, plus whether it was a day or night game. The study helped determine the priority.

Although the overall average ticket price will remain the same, Cubs team president Crane Kenney said Friday some season ticket holders will see an increase of about 3 percent for 2011, depending on their seat location. The invoice for some season ticket holders may be reduced by 6 percent, again, depending on location. Bleacher season ticket holders could pay the same as they did in 2010. The invoices will go out later this month.

Next year, 17 percent of the Cubs ticket inventory will be listed at $20 or less compared to 9.6 percent at that price in 2010, which is a 77 percent increase. That means there will be more than 550,000 tickets listed at $20 or less, including 15 games listed at $20 in the bleachers. Fans will still be able to buy an $8 ticket to select games at Wrigley Field. There also will be an increase in the number of Bronze level games for 2011 from six to 15.

The Cubs will introduce a holiday ticket pack. Fans will be able to purchase four-game packages at an average of less than $25 per ticket. Details will be announced at a later date.

Last year, 50 percent of the Cubs ticket inventory went up, while the rest of the inventory remained the same, which resulted in an overall average ticket price increase.

— Carrie Muskat

10/8 Team USA update

Unbeaten Team USA will face Nicaragua Friday in Puerto Rico to begin the second round of the Pan American Qualifying baseball tournament. On Wednesday, Team USA beat Panama, 10-2, to finish pool play with a 5-0 record. Brett Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2009, did not play. Jackson, who was batting .667, came out of Monday’s game with a sore heel as a precautionary measure.

— Carrie Muskat

10/6 Team USA update

Chris Archer outdueled former Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon to help Team USA beat the Dominican Republic, 8-3, Tuesday night in the Pan American qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico. The U.S. squad, which is 4-0, faces Panama on Wednesday in the final preliminary game before the second round.

Archer, named the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year, gave up three runs on four hits and struck out five over four innings. He did give up a home run to Tony Batista in the fourth. He did not get a decision. Colon, who won the American League Cy Young award in 2005, served up six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and one walk.

Team USA scored five runs in the third. Cubs outfield prospect Brett Jackson, the team’s No. 1 Draft pick in 2009, did not play. He came out of Monday’s game as a precautionary measure because of a sore heel.

— Carrie Muskat

10/6 Cooking with Sean Marshall

Cubs pitcher Sean Marshall will show off his cooking skills on Thursday at the Meijer store in Bolingbrook, Ill., at 755 E. Boughton Road (I-355 and Boughton). Marshall and cooking expert Sue Chef will do a cooking demonstration from the Chicago Cubs Cookbook from 4-5 p.m., and then he will sign autographs for one hour.

The Cubs Cookbook is a collection of recipes from players, coaches and others, and was compiled to raise money for Ryan Dempster’s foundation. There also are recipes from some of Chicago’s top restaurants and a history of food at Wrigley Field. You can purchase the book at some Chicago area Meijer stores as well as on Cubs.com (go to the Fans section http://bit.ly/9vTw9y).

— Carrie Muskat

10/5 Team USA – UPDATE

Brett Jackson, playing for Team USA in Puerto Rico, came out of Monday’s game because of a sore heel as a precautionary measure. The U.S. squad used a 19-hit attack to beat Columbia, 13-6, on Monday and remained unbeaten at 3-0 in the Pan American Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico. Cubs prospect Chris Archer was to start Tuesday night for the U.S. squad against the Dominican Republic. Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2009, has started three games, and was batting .667 (6-for-9) with six RBIs.

— Carrie Muskat

10/5 Murton sets Japan mark

Former Cubs outfielder Matt Murton broke Ichiro Suzuki’s record for most hits in a single season in Japan on Tuesday. Murton’s two-run single in the second inning for Hanshin was his 211th hit. Ichiro set the record of 210 in 1994 with the Orix Blue Wave. At that time, the Japanese regular season was 130 games. The season has been extended by 14 games and Murton was playing in his 142nd game.

Murton said the ’94 season and now are two different seasons.

“[Ichiro] did it in 130 games. It is what it is, it’s a great honor,” Murton said. “In terms of Ichiro, this doesn’t change anything. He’s one of the best players in baseball.”

Murton added two more hits to raise his total to 213. He went 3-for-5 for the game with three RBIs in a 17-4 win over Yakult.

— Carrie Muskat

10/4 Team USA update

Cubs Minor League outfielder Brett Jackson went 3-for-4, including a three-run homer in the sixth, to help Team USA beat Puerto Rico, 7-4, on Saturday in the opening game of the COPABE Pan Am Qualifying tournament. The U.S. team is trying to qualify for the 2011 Pan Am Games.

On Sunday, Jackson had a pair of RBI singles as Team USA blanked Aruba, 14-0, in seven innings. With the win, the U.S. squad improved to 2-0 and will face Columbia Monday. Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2009, led Team USA with a .545 batting average in training camp in Cary, N.C.

— Carrie Muskat