Category Archives: Chicagoland
Today the Cubs hired their 54th manager. I was on the scene to take in the reconstruction and catch a glimpse of the press conference. Joe Maddon is excited to get to work. He’s already aiming for the postseason in 2015! There was a buzz in the air. Partly from excitement and partly because of the heavy equipment deconstructing the old bleachers to make way for the jumbotron and other stadium upgrades. Maddon called Wrigley a cathedral; a magical place. Spirits were on the rise.
It feels like more than a new stadium is coming together. It feels like a new era. It did not come without 107 years of pain and a difficult transition between managers. But it feels like something big has started at Clark and Addison!
Originally posted on WGN-TV:
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Joe Maddon was introduced as the Chicago Cubs’ 54th manager at a news conference Monday.
Maddon, 60, will receive a five-year contract worth at least $25 million, a source confirmed to the Chicago Tribune.
He comes to the North Siders after leading the Tampa Bay Rays to four play-off berths in nine seasons.
Maddon is well known for his eccentric motivational stunts, like bringing live penguins into the team clubhouse and hiring bands to play behind players taking batting practice.
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Yesterday was Wrigley Field’s 100th Birthday celebration. And it was quite a party. There was a lot to celebrate when surveying 100 years of history. Wrigley was built on the former home of a Seminary. It was originally the home of the Chicago Whales of the Federal League (a competitor to Major League Baseball back in the day.) To distinguish them from the Major League team nearby (The Cubs) they were usually called the Federals or Feds, which eventually became their nickname. Weeghman Park (team owner) was its original name. It cost $250,000 and was completed in 2 months, opening in April of 1914. Weeghman was shrewd. The beautiful setting and success of his team forced MLB to respond by letting him buy the Cubs in 1916 (struggling at the time.) Wrigley played a major role in shaping how MLB came of age, was in the center of several national political scandals that touched even the White House (Tea Pot Dome), and along the way became one of the best places on earth to spend time with friends. History haunts this sacred ground everywhere you look. The greatest living Cubs and Bears legends (yes they played here for 50 years, winning 8 NFL Championships!) were invited to honor this great park. The ceremony concluded with Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks shuffling across the diamond like he had for 19 seasons. Ernie was rightly honored most. One of baseball’s greats who always wanted to “play two” and even requested to be able to live on the grounds while he was playing. But he never got a World Series ring and that’s the other chapter of living the Wrigley experience.
It’s one of my favorite places to be since the late 1970’s when my dad would drive me from Iowa to take in a game. (Sunny every single time he brought me.) Every season brings fresh hope that this will be the year a World Series Championship is won in these hallowed friendly confines. This special day brought gifts and cake (A throwback Federals jersey for the first 30,000 fans and a birthday cupcake for the first 10,000-yes I made sure to get both!). It seemed magical as the Cubs were winning. Samardzija was pitching like an ace. The Cubs were up 5-2 with 2 outs in the 9th and 2 strikes on the batter, when relief pitching collapsed. How many times have I seen that movie? Alas, we were all treated to the full Cubs experience. Boundless hopes, historic atmosphere, great excitement, and soul-crushing disappointment. All in the same day! But it was great to share it with my college friend Lon. Just like always, one of the best places on earth to spend the day with a friend. It’s about so much more than winning and losing. A place with a spiritual heritage of hopes handed down. I park on nearby Seminary Street whenever I can. Here’s to 100 years of Wrigley. May we run out of candles before this place breathes its last…
Tom Ricketts says he’s committed. Here’s hoping he really means it. Wrigley is one of baseball’s last great cathedrals of hope. Part of me laments a shift to a “winning” model. There’s a reason why I’m not a Yankees fan. But I’ve been a Cubs fan since the last time we had a player named DeJesus. I remember 1984, 1989, and 2003. I was there when Wrigley had no lights, hoping a game wouldn’t be called due to darkness. I was there when it was only $20 to give your keys to a shirtless fat guy who promised your car would be the first out! (Now try $60). I was there when bleacher tickets were $4.50 and full of kids and well, yes, shirtless fat guys. I was there to see Dave Kingman, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, and the disgraced Sammy Sosa hit game changing or game ending home runs. I was there when Lou Boudreau and Vince Lloyd Skaff called the games in my earpiece and Jack Brickhouse brought the Cubs into my living room.
And I was there yesterday, for the first time on Opening Day. I found a free spot in a neighborhood many blocks away to park, so I could afford it. I saw ad space in 4 cutouts in the Ivy. Dozens of banner ads were tucked here and there. A cool new electronic scoreboard is integrated into an existing wall. Nice. I thought, “This is different, but it’s still Wrigley.” The view to my right and left told me this was still home. 40,000 of my closest friends there not really expecting a victory. Just glad to have some sacred space to watch a game we love in a beautiful garden of historic baseball delights. As God would have it, I sat next to a really nice young father who was new to Chicagoland and the Wrigley experience. It was fun to talk about the history and point out the lovely features of the friendly confines…
I hear talk of JumboTrons and luxury hotels across the street. Fine. The future must come. But please don’t spoil what is most sacred to every Cubs fan.
I would love for the Cubs to win a World Series. Believe me I would!! But honestly, we’ve all come back year after year after year because the Cubs and Wrigley symbolize something much more important: stories of hope handed down to each generation. I was sitting right there when it happened! I hope we never trade what is best about that for corporate franchise success.
Wow. A lot of thoughts swirl through my mind. Then I’m speechless. Then I’m theological. Then I’m sad. Then I’m judge and jury. Then I imagine how his family and the young girl and her family feel and the cycle starts again. Who is Pastor Jack? How do you go from called to preach to sneaking into other states with an underaged girl? (I don’t actually want to know!)
But as I prepare a previously scheduled sermon on the Lectionary passage of 2 Samuel 11, I’m amazed by the timing. I was scheduled to preach the first half of the story last week, but felt led in a different direction at the last minute. (A fairly rare thing for my ministry). But this story reads like a modern parable on David’s sin. And the Sandusky and Philadelphia scandals cry out for this passage to be unpacked. So perhaps the Lord didn’t want me to begin until this bit of news broke.
I don’t know Jack personally, so I have no starting point to judge his case. But if what has been alleged is true, every church and pastor will be somewhat affected. I’ve had my doubts (since the 1980’s) about how Hammond First Baptist has operated. I have to be honest. Yet, I also have often pointed out that they have a homeless shelter and good people do amazing good through several of its ministries. Pastor Jack helped a lot of really good things happen. But he apparently lost his way in a devastating way and is alleged to have taken actions no one can condone. The temptation is to judge harshly and distance oneself from “guys like him” with angry words, maybe even gloating a bit. But these are dark temptations in themselves and would be a mistake. Stone throwing? Nope.
There should be no joy here. There should be much prayer for all involved. Every church should re-examine procedures and policies. Christian leaders should examine their own hearts, seeking to be filled with more of God’s holy love and less of the world.
Penn State. First Baptist Church. Both great institutions with great potential where things that could happen anywhere started to happen a while ago, but an environment of tight control ironically unleashed chaos. Rather than looking down our noses, we should hit our knees and look up to heaven. What changes could be implemented to decrease the likelihood of a leader to stray? Are there helps that could be put in place to help struggling leaders overcome temptation? What safeguards should be revamped to protect innocent children more? How can we cultivate environments where only holy love is shared and where purity of heart wins the day? I’m glad the congregation I serve has always taken child safety seriously. But you can bet we’ll be reviewing all of the above for improvements! Lord, may your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
Our series on David just became strikingly relevant. I’m sad for the circumstances and pain but thankful I know where to turn to find direction. (Even more glad I was already turning there.) Through it all, God is amazing! Young preachers, take note that the Lectionary can sometimes be amazingly relevant. (Even if sometimes, not!) Take note also that you should listen when the Lord guides you in various directions to override your plan. Take note finally that everything you build under God can go down in flames in an hour if boundaries and safeguards are neglected.
One thing’s for sure. The Cubs won’t be in the playoffs in 2012. Are they making brilliant moves that secure a better moneyball future? Or, did they scramble to look busy since this year was in the tank and they had no idea how to get a great deal done? I’m really hoping for the former and trying hard not to see the latter. Reaction runs from mixed: Yahoo! Sports to mortified: Greenberg
Tuesday’s 1-hit wonder outing didn’t do much to change anyone’s sense of the future.
Part of me wonders if Soto and Dempster could have been enough. They must have seen some promising Vizcaino x-rays!
But at this point I’ll trust the Epstein magic and ride out 2012 with Rizzo-fever. He’s the symbol of a Theo-future that might be…could be…it…
The Amazing Spiderman is the reboot of the Spidey franchise. I had a soft spot for the previous series, so I was skeptical. But the previews looked interesting and Navy Pier IMAX had tickets available, so we took the family and donned the corny glasses:
IMAX 3D is the way to enjoy 3D. But this movie wasn’t obnoxious “in your face” 3D. It’s used sparingly and artfully with just a few fun surprises along the way. The soundtrack is very well done, providing a fun. immersive experience.
Now, if you’re a Spiderman story purist who has fallen in love with any previous version of the story you will be thrown early on. But I suggest you suspend story expectations and let this version take you to a better story. I agree with Roger Ebert that this story provides us with better reasons for the birth of Spiderman. I agree with Claudia Puig that the story is allowed to lead the way, rather than simply special effects. (But there are plenty of those.) Speaking of effects the action is a little easier to follow this time and you feel it more. The action is also a little grittier, too. We experience the joy of Parker’s newfound abilities, but also his limitations. The art of action film-making has become more subtle and it shows.
Denis Leary gives an inspired performance as captain Stacy, father of Gwen Stacy. He’s more subdued than I’ve ever seen him for most of the movie. As a father to teenage girls I’ve been that dad before, trying to understand, being over-protective, etc… But when the chips are down, we see the Denis we’re used to from past roles.
I wouldn’t have picked Andrew Garfield out of a crowd to play Spiderman, but in this unique version of the story he shines. Andrew is gifted at displaying vulnerability. He is masterful at almost saying something. Therefore, he’s very believable as a teenage boy dealing with unexpressed feelings for a girl and facing the impossible while trying to do the right thing. Of course, Emma Stone delivers with great spirit and a winning smile. Again, I was impressed with her ability to make a character come to life.
This story is a complete reboot and with an all-star cast playing major and minor roles you are drawn in. It’s the emotion that makes any individual scene shine. It’s the story that keeps you wanting to see how this will end. Yet, somehow the carefully-paced action keeps this a fun summer blockbuster!
Spiderman can’t do it alone and that creates some of the best surprises the movie holds. We should all embrace the youth of this generation who want to make a difference. They may not have all the experience they need to make perfect decisions, but they have unique abilities and connections. When we all support them and let them do what they are gifted for the world can change. Highly Recommended