If you are just tuning in to my summer adventure, I’m about halfway through. Starting in Virginia, my boys and I traveled to Pittsburgh to see the Cubs take on their division rival and potential wildcard matchup. From there, we hit the low Single A South Bend Cubs and then on to Wrigley for a game that put the Cubs back into the playoffs. Speaking of which, I read yesterday that the Cubs sent out messages to season ticket holders about Playoff tickets. This is getting real!
From Wrigley Field in Chicago to Principal Park in Iowa, the trip took 5-6 hours. Not too bad at all. The I-Cubs have been the Cubs’ Triple A affiliate for as long as I can remember. And that made sense when I looked up their actual history and saw the Cubs have been their parent team since 1981. Prior to that, they were associated with the White Sox (1976-80), the Astros (1975), the White Sox (1973-1974) and the Athletics (1969-1972). I don’t know how these negotiations go but the current Cubs contract runs through 2016. Geographically, the match makes sense and because I spent more money in the team store, I hope they stay!
We picked up a couple of the cheapest tickets available, general admission. These were either in the left or right field corners, or the bleachers out in right center.
Clockwise from the upper left is Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara.
The Iowa Cubs opponent that day was the Omaha Storm Chasers. Notable Storm Chasers (to me) were former Cubs Casey Coleman, JC Boscan and Al Nipper. Of course I had my ATCRCS ready. Pitching coach Al Nipper ignored me like nobody’s business. I had heard he was notoriously tough, but dang. I know he heard me and we made eye contact numerous times. JC Boscan was warming up the starting pitcher in the bullpen and said he would catch me after the game. And that may have been the case, but with a long trip to eastern Tennessee in my future, we didn’t stick around. Luckily, Casey Coleman saved the day and signed my only ATCRCS of the trip. (Editor's note: I couldn't find my scan of the card. I will add it when I find it sometime this weekend if its not here before this posts)
Coleman and I had a funny conversation about his picture that was still on the banners outside the stadium from his time with the Iowa Cubs. I guess I didn’t take any photos of them, but here are Darwin Barney (that’s for you Paul!) and former manager Ryne Sandberg.
While I was trying to get the three Storm Chasers, my sons were on the Cubs side. Triple A guys, especially those who have tasted the show seem to be a little tougher than their low A counterparts. My boys managed to get 4 players and the pitching coach.
I wasn't a real big fan of this design, but the set is loaded with guys who have already played for the Cubs. Eventually I'll post the whole team set. Chris Valaika had some time with the big league team last year. John Andreoli (CF) and Taylor Davis (C) had good games while we were there, each scoring a run. And starting pitcher Dallas Beeler also has some major league experience and signed his team set card and a custom.
Again, the weather was beautiful, with a nice breeze coming in off the river. Once the sun started going down, we moved out to the center field bleachers. Hard to beat that view.
Beeler threw 7 shutout innings, allowing only two hits and one walk and picked up the victory in a 4-0 win. Other former Cubs in the starting lineup include Javier Baez, Mike Olt, Arismendy Alcantara, and Mike Baxter. Might as well be Wrigley Field West.
Since it was a Friday night, the Iowa Cubs had fireworks after the game. Probably win or lose, but luckily, these were also celebratory.
For some reason, I didn't have as many photos from this game. We didn't wander around as much even though we had never been here before. It was a weird feeling as this ballpark definitely had a minor league ballpark vibe to it, but tons of former Cubs. After the two big league parks and the surprise that was a low Single A ballpark, this one was a bit of a letdown. Maybe the players weren't necessarily as fan friendly as I've come to expect from the lower minor leagues? Maybe fatigue was starting to set in? I can't quite put my finger on it. Will I go back? Given the chance, absolutely.
With that said, four games, four wins, two shutouts. We’re still streaking! The Cubs/affiliates have outscored their opponents 24-6 thus far. With the longest drive ahead of us (13ish hours) we’re on to Kodak, Tennessee! Let’s keep it rolling!