Cubs

Miller: Soldier Field renovations were short-sighted

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Miller: Soldier Field renovations were short-sighted

What better city to host a Super Bowl than Chicago. The city boasts some of the best hotels and finest restaurants, not to mention the incredible shopping available to Super Bowl travelers.

Chicago has more to offer than New York, which will prove to be a logistical nightmare when Met Life Stadium, located in East Rutherford, N.J., hosts the Super Bowl in 2014. Weather aside, have you ever tried to pass through the Lincoln tunnel or cross the George Washington Bridge on a good day in New York City? Mayor Bloomberg will really be praying for good weather, because theres no guarantee for snow removal if state workers elect to protest state contracts again. The city that never sleeps came to a screeching halt with only a foot of snow a little over a year ago.

It sounds good to play the Super Bowl in the elements, but cold weather is problematic. When Pontiac, Mich., hosted the Super Bowl in 1980, cold weather hit record lows all week leading up to the game. All together now: How cold was it? It was so cold the San Francisco 49ers team bus broke down traveling to the game. The team walked the last quarter mile to make the game on time. The only comfort for the 49ers was the cozy environment of the Pontiac Silverdome, because the Cincinnati Bengals were a team geared to play in cold weather.

When Ted Phillips signed on as the Bears' new president, following Michael McCaskey, his No. 1 priority was securing the Bears a new home at Soldier field. Phillips accomplished the goal very early in his tenure, but was it shortsighted for the city of Chicago? Discussions of a new domed stadium or retractable roof was pretty much off the table as costs would have supposedly been driven close to the dreaded billion-dollar mark. The rebuild cost rests somewhere between the 650-700 million range. There is still fallout over such a short sighted project.

In 2009, former mayor Richard Daley said the city had the right to charge amusement taxes on the sale of personal seat licenses for Bears games. Of course, seat license owners filed suit. The tax has risen from 7 percent to 9 percent since the Bears first sold PSLs prior to the 2003 season. (Source: Media Ventures) Dont mention naming rights to Daley, he went after the Chicago Bears for that too.

New Chicago mayor Rahm Emanual told the Chicago Sun-Times Dec. 8, 2011, the Chicago taxpayers are not an ATM machine and they cannot afford to be the financial backstop for Soldier Field bonds whenever the hotel tax falls short of rosy growth assumed a decade ago.

Doesnt everyone remember what was sold to taxpayers concerning the Soldier Field project? It was to attract new civic, cultural, religious and educational gatherings. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 pretty much destroyed hotel tax revenues, then a market crash in 2008 demolished it further. Old Soldier Field could not have come down faster with a wrecking ball than the financial destruction new Soldier field has weathered. But for all those explanations, taxpayers are currently on the hook for only a 5 million contribution per year.

Rahm Emanuel is right to cozy up to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in hopes of Chicago hosting a future Super Bowl. He realizes Chicago hotels and restaurants would finally be footing the bill for the smallest capacity, unroofed, cold weather outdoor stadium ever built. Emanuel does have a catchy slogan to promote though, as I believe, new Soldier Field was dubbed the eyesore on the lake shore.

Why Cubs might not lose again and other musings in strange, short season

Why Cubs might not lose again and other musings in strange, short season

As if things weren’t already going well enough for the Cubs during this strange, short season of baseball in a pandemic, now the baseball gods are dropping gifts into their laps.

The Cardinals’ lengthy shutdown because of a coronavirus outbreak has the Cubs’ arch rivals restarting their season Saturday in Chicago with a patched-up roster and eight games over the next five days, including five games against the Cubs.

And although that means the relative hardship of two doubleheaders for the Cubs in three days, all five of those games Monday through Wednesday are against a decimated Cards roster that won’t have the front end of its rotation for any of the games.

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They catch the Cardinals at their weakest point of the early season a week after catching an otherwise formidable Cleveland team at a moment of clubhouse crisis involving protocol perps Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger.

That one resulted in a two-game sweep by a combined score of 14-3.

This one already has resulted in all 10 games against the Cardinals now being scheduled for Wrigley Field.

Combine that with the three road games against the White Sox next month, and it means that the team with baseball’s best record on the field, the perfect record in player COVID-19 testing and no significant injuries to key players so far will play 60 percent of its games within its Chicago bubble if the Cubs and MLB pull off the full 60-game season.

If the Cubs were positioned any better to make the playoffs, they’d already be there.

“You can look at it that way if you want,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We’re just doing our thing.”

No other way to look at it from here. Have you seen the rest of the schedule?

The Cubs have 43 games left, including 29 within a National League Central Division that doesn’t include another .500 team three weeks into a nine-week season. Nine more games are against the Tigers and White Sox.

The best team on the schedule is the Twins, and all three of those games are at home and not until the second-to-last weekend of the season.

With all due respect to Ross and his fear of “bad juju,” the Cubs can’t lose.

“It’s still early on,” the manager said.

Nothing’s early in a 60-game season. And the Cubs already have matched the hot starts of their 2016 and 1908 World Series champions.

“We’ve still got a long ways to go in the season,” Ross said.

The Cubs did have to scratch Tyler Chatwood from his scheduled start Friday night because of back tightness. And Kris Bryant has missed the last two games because of a sore finger after rolling his wrist trying to make a diving catch in left field in Cleveland Wednesday.

But Alec Mills looked good in short-notice replacement duty Friday until a rough four-pitch (and three-run) sequence in the sixth. And Chatwood might be ready for one of Monday’s games — or possibly one of Wednesday’s.

“Things falling in our favor?” Ross said. “We’re playing good baseball, and that should be the focus for me and not the other stuff.”

Granted, they still have to play the games. Granted, Bryant wasn’t available off the bench with the bases loaded in the eighth Friday, and Josh Phegley struck out instead.

And, yes, they actually lost a game to the Brewers Friday night.

But if you still don’t believe the baseball gods are stirring the Cubs’ pot so far this season, you weren’t paying attention in the ninth inning when Craig Kimbrel struck out Avisail Garcia swinging at a 98-mph fastball to start the scoreless inning and Manny Piña swinging at a 96-mph fastball to end it.

What closer problem? Bring on the Cardinals, right?

These guys might not lose another game.

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Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

The Cubs plan to start swingman Colin Rea on Saturday against the Brewers, manager David Ross said after Friday's game.

Alec Mills was originally slated to pitch Saturday but was bumped up to Friday because Tyler Chatwood was scratched with mid-back tightness. The Cubs will evaluate Chatwood to see if he's an option to pitch on Monday, when they're scheduled to play a doubleheader against the Cardinals.

Rea, 30, has made two appearances this season, allowing no runs and one hit while striking out three in three innings. He was named the 2019 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, sporting a 3.95 ERA in 26 starts.

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Rea's last big league start was July 30, 2016 with the Marlins. He allowed one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out four with no walks.

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