Tonight, the first Saturday night game since June 20, 1998 will be played at Wrigley Field. In that Saturday night tilt almost 13 years ago, rookie Kerry Wood struck out 11 in 7 1/3 innings and Sammy Sosa hit his 28th and 29th home runs in a 9-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Some random observations from my latest visit to Wrigley Field for the Cubs-St. Louis Cardinals game on Tuesday night:
Hero: Starlin Castro went 4-for-4 with a triple, scored three times, and drove in three to break out of his slump and pace the Cubs' 17-hit attack. It was his third four-hit effort of the season.
Hero: Ryan Dempster (1-4) had his second straight solid start, allowing two runs (both earned) on five hits while striking out four and walking none.
"I'm doing a better job of executing pitches," Dempster said. "I was able to keep the ball down, for the most part, today."
In my visits to Wrigley Field in recent years, I have enjoyed a wide variety of vantage points.
I had the pleasure of watching the great Greg Maddux pitch from a second-row club box seat. I've also sat in the field boxes, terrace boxes, terrace reserved seats, and upper deck boxes - behind home plate and down both lines. I've even watched a couple games from rooftops across the street. But I had not sat in the bleachers since 2004 - two years before the seating area was renovated and named the "Bud Light Bleachers."
Hero: Carlos Zambrano (4-1) won his 10th straight road start with eight terrific innings as the Cubs (14-16), sporting classy 1944 replica uniforms, took two of three in the series and four of seven on the road trip. Zambrano, whose first pitch was delivered with an old-fashioned windmill windup, allowed one (earned) run on five hits while striking out four and walking one.
"He was Big Z today, he wasn't Carlos," Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd said. "I saw 92, 94 (MPH) on the board today. He's a power pitcher, and that's what he has to do to win."
Did you catch Big Z dancing in the dugout as a recording of the Glenn Miller Orchestra's "In the Mood" blared over the Dodger Stadium public address system? It's welcome to see him enjoying the game again.
"He did what he did easily, to me, without a lot of pomp and circumstance," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "He just went after hitters. When he's got some soft game to go with his moving fastball and can locate, he's really tough. He went right after guys and attacked them."
Zambrano's last road loss came last June 25 at Comiskey Park - his infamous meltdown game.
Maybe, it's the way the Bud Light Bleachers have been marketed over the last three decades.
Wednesday's scheduled game between the Cubs and Colorado Rockies was postponed by rain, bringing a dismal end to a disappointing 3-5 homestand.
I understand that the alternatives are as appealing as the selection of women at closing time at the neighborhood dive, but I wish the Cubs would pull the plug on the James Russell-in-the-starting-rotation experiment.
Hero: Starlin Castro - the best player the Cubs farm system has produced since perhaps Billy Williams - went 4-for-5 with a double and a clutch two-run single during the Cubs' five-run eighth. It was the fifth career four-hit game for Castro, who is now hitting .393, and his second four-hit effort this season. He has a major league leading 10 multi-hit games in 2011 and leads the majors with 35 hits.
In a 1920 court deposition the Chicago History Museum recently published on its Web site, White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte - one of the infamous "Eight Men Out" who were banned from organized baseball for life for allegedly throwing the 1919 World Series - claimed that he and his teammates had heard that several members of the crosstown Cubs were offered $10,000 to throw the 1918 World Series to the Boston Red Sox.
Hero: Starlin Castro (3-for-4) contributed a two-run double in the fourth inning. Castro, who had his sixth three-hit game of the season, was 7-for-13 in the series with four RBI and is now hitting .418.
This is a terrific post, courtesy of Bob Vorwald. Mike Royko recalls attending Jackie Robinson's first game at Wrigley Field on May 18, 1947. Royko's column was published on Oct. 25, 1972 after Robinson's death. (From One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko).
(Editor's Note: Twenty-eighth in a series recalling the 30 greatest moments in Cubs history.)
My friend, Terry, gave me a call on Wednesday morning, May 6, 1998, and asked if I wanted to join him for that afternoon's game at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and the Houston Astros.
Last week, I asked what the Cubs could do to solve the seagull problem at Wrigley Field.
I turned 41 on April 1 and I can't think of a better birthday present than the one my wife, Denise, gave me this year - three tickets to this year's Opening Day game between the Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field.
Hero: Andrew Cashner was terrific in his first major league start before exiting after 5 1/3 innings with tightness in his pitching shoulder. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed just two hits, struck out two, and walked one. He went to a three-ball count on just two batters, and fired 43 of his 72 pitches for strikes.
Hero: Alfonso Soriano hit a game-tying home run - his second in as many days - in the third inning and contributed a clutch two-out single in the eighth to drive in a crucial go-ahead run. Soriano didn't hit his second homer until his 15th game last season.