Cubs

The one-year anniversary of "we stinks" rant

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The one-year anniversary of "we stinks" rant

It's a different year, but the same story -- the first week of June has not been kind to the Cubs.

They were 0-4 in June games heading into Tuesday's series opener against the Brewers after getting swept by the Giants over the weekend.

In the finale in San Francisco on Monday, Starlin Castro caught a feed from Darwin Barney at second base for a force out and started running off the field, unaware that was only the second out of the inning. Nobody knows if he would have completed the double play, but his no-throw led to a run and a rant from manager Dale Sveum saying Castro's mental gaffe was "the last straw."

Exactly a year ago Tuesday, Carlos Zambrano launched into his epic "we stinks" rant after Carlos Marmol and the Cubs handed a game to St. Louis Cardinals.

Theo Epstein and the new regime cleaned house by trading Zambrano, but that didn't stop Cubs players from feeling "embarrassed" as the team struggles through another bad stretch.

There are differences in the two cases, of course. Sveum was calling out just one player and Castro was apologizing to his teammates while Zambrano was calling his entire team out.

Ironically, both issues came against Ryan Theriot teams. The former Cubs sparkplug and fan favorite was with St. Louis last year and doubled off Marmol to drive in the game-tying run in the ninth before Albert Pujols hit a walk-off homer.

Theriot, who has hit .345 against his former team, totaled as many hits in the series in San Francisco as the Cubs had runs (6).

When the first week of June rolls around in 2013, tune in. Who knows what will happen then.

Cubs players support White Sox extending protective netting: 'That's a positive step for the sport'

Cubs players support White Sox extending protective netting: 'That's a positive step for the sport'

Albert Almora’s foul ball that struck a young girl in Houston’s Minute Maid Park started a discussion around baseball. The other team in Chicago became the first to act on it.

On Tuesday, the White Sox announced that the team will be extending the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field to both foul poles later this summer. As the news broke in the afternoon, Cubs players were asked about it before the first Crosstown game of the year. Unsurprisingly, all of them were in favor of the move.

“I think obviously that’s a positive step in this sport,” Almora said. “I don’t think anybody should go home with bumps or bruises or even worse so whatever they got to do to take care of that, I’m glad they’re taking procedures.”

Almora admitted that the incident he was involved in has moved the conversation forward and led to more action from teams. Before the White Sox announced the decision, the Iowa Cubs, the Cubs Triple-A affiliate, had said they would be extending the netting at their park.

“Unfortunately my incident was, I don’t want to say the reason behind it, but I think teams are obviously paying attention,” Almora said. “Even incidents that aren’t making headlines, we had one in Dodgers Stadium where I saw the section of the crowd go silent while we’re still playing. At least 10 fans go home with bumps and bruises at the best. I don’t want to see that and I know any player in this league doesn’t want to see that either.”

Manager Joe Maddon said this wouldn't have happened so quickly without Almora's incident.

"Everything that occurs like that is going to expedite," Maddon said. "It always does. It normally takes a situation to get things rolling so of course it had some bearing on it."

Jon Lester thinks more teams will follow suit now that the White Sox have been the first one to extend the netting.

“Would I like to see it? 100 percent, but we’ll see how far my opinion gets us,” Lester said. “It’s a positive. Obviously when one team does it, then you get kind of the herding effect and the rest of people follow.”

Anthony Rizzo also believes the rest of the league will get there eventually, but wasn’t sure going all the way to the foul poles is necessary.

“Both foul poles is pretty aggressive in my opinion, but you don’t want to see anyone get hurt,” Rizzo said. “I think sooner or later it probably will end up being both foul poles for every team, but I think the netting here is really good. There’s some line drives that hit fans, but that’s far enough away where it’s not the span of a finger and if you’re engaged in a game, which most everyone here is usually. You don’t ever want to see anyone get hurt so whatever it takes for people not to get hurt.”

Maddon told a story from his playing career to explain why the issue was close to him before Almora's foul ball. When he played in Quad Cities in 1976, he saw a kid sitting behind home plate get hit in the face because the net wasn't very wide. 

"I sat with his dad and the kid had a bloody face and from that moment it made an impact on me," Maddon said. "I won't let my kids sit anywhere at a ballpark unless there's a net in front of them or if they're high enough or far enough back that the velocity is off the baseball by the time it gets there. The way the nets are today, you can see through them relatively well. I'm good."

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White Sox to make Guaranteed Rate Field first stadium with protective netting that reaches foul poles

White Sox to make Guaranteed Rate Field first stadium with protective netting that reaches foul poles

The White Sox will become the first team in Major League Baseball to extend protective netting to the foul poles.

Dangerous line drives flying into the crowd are nothing new, but they’ve gained significant attention recently, most notably thanks to a ball off the bat of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. striking a young fan earlier this year during a game at Minute Maid Park in Houston. As the tracked exit velocities of batted balls continue to increase, the danger to fans sitting in unprotected sections of stadiums is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

The White Sox announced Tuesday that they will be extending the netting at Guaranteed Rate Field to the foul poles later this summer. Protective netting was extended to the ends of both dugouts in recent seasons, but fans sitting beyond that protection have been struck with balls, including a fan at Guaranteed Rate Field, who was taken to the hospital after being hit with a line drive off the bat of Eloy Jimenez earlier this season.

The Texas Rangers will have extended netting when their new stadium opens for the 2020 season, though it isn’t expected to reach the foul poles.

With the White Sox committing to increasing fan safety, several players were asked about the developments before Tuesday night’s Crosstown game on the North Side.

“I think it's great,” pitcher Lucas Giolito said. “For me, I think that in today's day and age, you have a lot of young fans, and guys are hitting the ball harder. I see the counter arguments like, 'Don't sit there' or, 'Just pay attention to the game.' Dude, no matter how much you're paying attention to the game, if that thing's coming in 115 miles an hour with tail, no matter if you have a glove this big, it could hit you right in the forehead. For me, being around baseball for so long, I think it's a smart move because it just keeps people safe. I hate seeing young kids get hit, having to go to the hospital. It just leaves a sick feeling in all of our stomachs. At the end of the day, I think it's the right move.”

"Yes, it’s good for them so the ball doesn’t hit them," Jimenez said. "When I hit the woman, I was super sad for that because I knew I hit it hard and it was straight in the face. You know that doesn’t feel good. That's why it's going to be good."

For many, this is a no-brainer of a decision to make it safer for fans of any age to attend a game. Some will bemoan the change in view from the seats in impacted areas of the stadium, but whether because of the phone in everyone’s pocket or just talking with the person next to you, “not paying attention” is a part of the experience of attending a game.

Incorporating additional safety measures makes too much sense not to do it, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Major League Baseball follow suit and impose similar requirements at every ballpark in the future.

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