Cubs

Cubs: Kenney discusses amenities to new Wrigley bleachers

cranekenney051115.png

Cubs: Kenney discusses amenities to new Wrigley bleachers

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney stopped by the CSN booth with Len and JD during Monday's Cubs-Mets game to discuss the opening of the new and improved bleachers in left and center field, giving updates on what amenities fans can expect to see when they head to the Friendly Confines. He also gave updates on when the right field bleachers will open, as well as a July 3rd date to celebrate the entire bleacher section being open to the public. See what Kenney had to say in the video above.

On the bleachers opening in left and center field: "It's great to have at least 2/3 of our bleachers open, so room for 3,500 (fans) in left field and center. And some new amenities they'll see when they're there, the first part is that there's more room to move around and we got rid of some of the choke points that happened really in center field where the concession lines would interfere with the pedestrian concourse and having new spaces behind there will allow everybody to get around.

"The second part is we're able to bring some new amenities in terms of better concession, fresher food. We've got 20 new points of sale, so in addition to getting through the concession lines quicker there's going to be a better food product once you get there.

"And then the last part, we've got some new spaces, some group spaces in left field what we call The Well, and then under the new video board there, one of our porches is open. So you'll see some great spots to view the game."

On new group seating areas in The Well: "Those spaces, there's room for 15. The middle space is a little bit bigger, more like 25, and you have a view right over the wall. It's all group space, so it's mean more to mingle and walk around and visit with everybody in your group rather the person on your right or left, which is one of the things we learned when we opened the Bud Patio a couple years ago.

"It's divisible into three spaces, so if there were three groups you could each have your own spot or you could take the whole thing. And then the upper patio is up to 100 people can fit under the scoreboard, and what's neat about that space is you've got both shade and a sun deck at one end, and your own concession service. So, it's really something that our fans told us after we opened the patio."

On the video boards in left and right field: "We've learned a lot by being last with our video boards, seeing what everybody else does. Some of it we like and some of it doesn't fit for Wrigley, and we're not going to do. But knowing the lineup, especially in the first game of a series with the Mets coming to town for the first time and they've got some new faces, they've got some injuries - David Wright's not there - so for our fans to see who's on the visiting squad and where they bat and what their averages are and to be able to kind of refer to it throughout the game really helps."

On a timeline for the right field bleachers: "So June 11 we'll open right (field bleachers), a month from today. And then we're going to celebrate the bleachers being fully back online in July 3rd. So they're still a work in progress; left field, still a little bit of work going on underneath. Everything works in terms of concessions and restrooms and obviously the seating, and the same thing will be true in right field. June 11 it will be open; we'll still be doing a little bit of work behind the scenes but we thought we'd have sort of a grand celebration for the bleachers coming online in their fullest sense on July 3rd, so those are the next two milestones."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Sitting down with new Cubs coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey

2-21_jim_hickey_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Sitting down with new Cubs coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey

Spring training baseball games are up around the bend, but before the boys of summer get into organized action, two of the team’s new coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey sit down with Kelly Crull.

Plus, Vinnie Duber joins Kelly to discuss these baseball conversations including the memorable first words of Kyle Schwarber to Chili Davis, “I don’t suck!"

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Changes aren't exactly popular, but Cubs and Sox — except maybe Willson Contreras — will adapt to baseball's new pace-of-play rules

Changes aren't exactly popular, but Cubs and Sox — except maybe Willson Contreras — will adapt to baseball's new pace-of-play rules

MESA, Ariz. — We know Willson Contreras doesn’t like baseball’s new pace-of-play rules.

He isn’t the only one.

“I think it’s a terrible idea. I think it’s all terrible,” Jon Lester said last week at spring training, before the specifics of the new rules were even announced. “The beautiful thing about our sport is there’s no time.”

Big surprise coming from the Cubs’ resident old-schooler.

The new rules limit teams to six mound visits per every nine-inning game, with exceptions for pitching changes, between batters, injuries and after the announcement of a pinch hitter. Teams get an extra mound visit for every extra inning in extra-inning games. Also, commercial breaks between innings have been cut by 20 seconds.

That’s it. But it’s caused a bit of an uproar.

Contreras made headlines Tuesday when he told reporters that he’ll willingly break those rules if he needs to in order to put his team in a better position to win.

“I’ve been reading a lot about this rule, and I don’t really care. If I have to pay the price for my team, I will,” Contreras said. “There’s six mound visits, but what if you have a tight game? … You have to go out there. They cannot say anything about that. It’s my team, and we just care about winning. And if they’re going to fine me about the No. 7 mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Talking about pace-of-play rule changes last week, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said his team would adapt to any new rules. In Chicago baseball’s other Arizona camp, a similar tune of adaptation was being sung.

“Obviously as players we’ve got to make adjustments to whatever rules they want to implement,” White Sox pitcher James Shields said. “This is a game of adjustments, we’re going to have to make adjustments as we go. We’re going to have to figure out logistics of the thing, and I would imagine in spring training we’re going to be talking about it more and more as we go so we don’t mess it up.”

There was general consensus that mound visits are a valuable thing. So what happens if a pitcher and catcher need to communicate but are forced to do it from 60 feet, six inches away?

“Sign language,” White Sox catching prospect Zack Collins joked. “I guess you have to just get on the same page in the dugout and hope that nothing goes wrong if you’re out of visits.”

In the end, here’s the question that needs answering: Are baseball games really too long?

On one hand, as Lester argued, you know what you’re signing up for when you watch a baseball game, be it in the stands at a ballpark or on TV. No one should be shocked when a game rolls on for more than three hours.

But shock and fans' levels of commitment or just pure apathy are two different things. And sometimes it’s a tough ask for fans to dedicate four hours of their day 162 times a year. So there’s a very good reason baseball is trying to make the game go faster, to keep people from leaving the stands or flipping the TV to another channel.

Unsurprisingly, Lester would rather keep things the way they are.

“To be honest with you, the fans know what they’re getting themselves into when they go to a game,” Lester said. “It’s going to be a three-hour game. You may have a game that’s two hours, two hours and 15 minutes. Great, awesome. You may have a game that’s four hours. That’s the beautiful part of it.

“I get the mound visit thing. But what people that aren’t in the game don’t understand is that there’s so much technology in the game, there’s so many cameras on the field, that every stadium now has a camera on the catcher’s crotch. So they know signs before you even get there. Now we’ve got Apple Watches, now we’ve got people being accused of sitting in a tunnel (stealing signs). So there’s reasons behind the mound visit. He’s not just coming out there asking what time I’m going to dinner or, ‘Hey, how you feeling?’ There’s reasons behind everything, and I think if you take those away, it takes away the beauty of the baseball game.

“Every game has a flow, and I feel like that’s what makes it special. If you want to go to a timed event, go to a timed event. I’m sorry I’m old-school about it, but baseball’s been played the same way for a long time. And now we’re trying to add time to it. We’re missing something somewhere.”

Whether limiting the number of mound visits creates a significant dent in this problem remains to be seen. But excuse the players if they’re skeptical.

“We’ve got instant replay, we’ve got all kinds of different stuff going on. I don’t think (limiting) the mound visits are going to be the key factor to speeding this game up,” Shields said. “Some pitchers take too long, and some hitters take too long. It’s combination of a bunch of stuff.

“I know they’re trying to speed the game up a little bit. I think overall, the game’s going as fast as it possibly could. You’ve got commercials and things like that. TV has a lot to do with it. There’s a bunch of different combinations of things. But as a player, we’ve got to make an adjustment.”