Author Archive

Chicago Cubs: Top 5 Films Showcasing the Ivy-Grown Burial Grounds at Wrigley

With the recent debate about “experts” finally reaching a decision on which Chicago Cubs game Ferris Bueller attended, it’s important to also recognize some of the greatest showcases of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field to appear on the silver screen.



By far the most intimate portrayal of the inner sanctum of Wrigley Field, Daniel Stern’s homage to his beloved Chicago Cubs gives us everything we need in an interesting sports movie. Henry Roovenflavor/Rosinbagger/Rowengartner loves his Cubs but stinks as a little league outfielder. The 12-year-old breaks his arm, and after the tendons heal a little tightly, he is able to touch 100 on the radar gun.

He then is signed by the Cubs and mentored by pre-psychotic Gary Busey, not the modern Busey who might be more inclined to rant about the coming apocalypse and how it was caused by aggressive colby jack cheese statues than life lessons about dealing from your “have-to.”

Henry leads the Cubbies to a World Series when he floats an underhanded meatball to the villainous chubby bunny, Butch Heddo, whose John Kruk likeness and softball physique fails to save him from swinging through the floater. Cubs win, Cubs win!



Convict Jimmy Dworski (Jim Belushi) has a dilemma. He’s won a pair of tickets to see the Cubs play the Angels in the World Series, but the game conflicts with his schedule, which consists of one hour of free time in the yard and plenty of reading time in his prison cell.

Loyal to the core, Jimmy (along with his deliciously awful pony tail) escapes from prison, finds the filofax of an uptight ad executive, Spencer Barnes, pretends to be Spencer for the week, hooks up with the boss’s daughter and takes a meeting with a powerful food magnate while Spencer is left homeless and penniless wandering the streets of Southern California in a dirty sweater and a pair of Richard Simmons sweatpants.

The climax features Dworski catching a Mark Grace home run, fleeing the cops and sneaking back into the prison with the help of Barnes, who has a new lease on life. Shockingly, did anyone else know that Belushi is a Cubs fan? Oh wait, he’s the go-to guy for every major Chicago sports promo the last 15 years on ABC. Can we get a Cusack please? I’ll even take a Malkovich or a Joe Mantegna.



When con man Eddie Farrel (Dana Carvey) steals the car of local mobster Sal Nichols (which also happens to have a briefcase full of money inside), Farrel and his best friend, Lou Pesquino, go on the run.

Eddie returns to a house he and Lou had previously burglarized when he realizes the expected house guest cancelled his trip. Mistaken for “Jonathan Albertson,” ad executive extraordinaire, Farrel lives the con and becomes a hit with the CEO, his family and especially, his daughter.

Seeing his clients blew their proposal off to go to the Cubs game, Eddie takes the CEO, Milt Malkin, to Wrigley for the afternoon and—in one of the best cons ever—pretends to be “President Bush 1” in the bathroom (which is somehow lacking the wonderful stage fright-inducing urinal troughs Cubs fans have grown to love) to convince potential clients they need to buy into their hand blower products instead of old fashioned paper towels. Hand blowers, good. Paper towels, bad. Real bad.



While it only plays a blink of a role, many movie fans can’t shake their immediate knowledge of Wrigley Field’s address (1060 W. Addison to the layperson) thanks to Jake and Elwood Blues, who—while on a mission from God—give police and bounty hunters the Cubs ivy-grown burial ground as their home address.

Arguably the most popular film to ever showcase the city of Chicago, “The Blues Brothers” is one of the most popular comedies of all time and arguably the best performance by the late, great John Belushi.

Fans of Bluto (“Animal House”) may disagree, but more Chicagoans have celebrity impersonator jobs thanks to this film and its two protagonists. It also features Carrie Fisher, while she was still in the smoking hot Princess Leia stage, not the current Ron Cey-shaped version blabbing about the other “snow” she enjoyed on Hoth while filming “The Empire Strikes Back.”



“Hey, cowgirls: see the grass? Don’t eat it!” bellows scout Ernie Capadino (played by the perfectly sarcastic Jon Lovitz), as Dottie Hinson and Kit Keller walk out onto the lush green landscape of Wrigley Field for the first time.

A historically based dramedy about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) that sprung up during World War II thanks to Phillip K. Wrigley (name ring a bell?).

Wrigley plays host for the tryout early on in the film. Walter Harvey, the character based on Wrigley, invites the girls to play at “Harvey Field,” which exposed us (and more than likely Madonna, as per her resume) to great names like “All-the-Way” Mae, Betty “Spaghetti” Horn, and—of course—the “lovely” Marla Hooch. “What a hitter!”

RUNNERS UP: The Break-Up, Sleepless in Seattle, Uncle Buck.



Read more MLB news on

Chicago Cubs: The ‘New Big Z’ Should Be Himself Without Restraint

Carlos Zambrano has been to the mountaintop and back.

He has braved the treacherous climb, studied with the celebrated Dharma bums in the Himalayas, found inner peace with the spirit of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and even spent a few months in the swamps of Dagobah under Jedi master Yoda.

He is ready.

Of course, Luke Skywalker also thought he was ready and then hurried off only to have his hand cut off by his asthma-bound father Darth Vader at Cloud City. While I’m pretty sure Zambrano’s appendages are safe, he still controls much of the Chicago Cubs’ density—I mean, destiny—this season.

Sure, he may do as much damage to the dynamic of the Chicago Cubs this season as Anakin Skywalker did when he basically killed all the Jedi Knights once he joined the “Dark Side,” but he could also do as much good as the Skywalker family eventually did for the freedom of the galaxy. You see, the problem with Zambrano is that too much can be a bad thing but—and hear me out on this—too little may also.

Zambrano was the only semblance of passion in last year’s lifeless, heartless and pathetic Cubs campaign. Derrek “6-4-3 inning-ending double play” Lee deserved plenty of guff for his lack of obvious concern. Aramis Ramirez couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat at the time, Alfonso Soriano looked like Wyle E. Coyote in left field and Kosuke Fukudome did more spinning in the batter’s box than the late DJ AM ever did in the booth.

The whole season lacked anything special, and the entire roster looked as if it was joining manager Lou Piniella in his impending retirement.

Heck, even the hot dog vendor deserved a little bit of the fury. It was THAT bad. Honestly, Zambrano’s outburst in late June was not the worst thing to happen and, as usual, Jim Hendry blindly threw him under the bus to maintain appearances and the status quo. The same GM who hired Piniella—a manager that had thrown more temper tantrums than all of the ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ put together—now was condemning a MUCH younger man for doing the same thing.

While I don’t condone showing your teammates up, I do support players calling a spade a spade when calling out an entire team that hadn’t shown positive life since their brilliant general manager thought adding clubhouse great Milton Bradley was a good idea. Zambrano hit the boiling point many Cubs fans had been at all season, yet he was entirely at fault according to Cubs brass and the Chicago media machine, but they all failed to see that he was calling himself out as well.

Hendry, as usual, missed a real opportunity to call out his cast of wayward (and overpriced) toys, but—just like he did when he failed to handle the Ryne Sandberg managerial situation professionally—he showed he lacked the stones to lead. Having the guts to gamble is not the same as having the intestinal fortitude to be a leader. Hendry unfortunately lacks this, which is why he couldn’t bring himself to hire a manager who just might challenge him on how he ran the ballclub.

Mike Quade is a good man, and a solid coach, but make no mistakes about it: He is a “yes” man from head to toe. Zambrano, on the other hand, is not. He speaks from the gut, which can be misinterpreted in the sound bite world we live in these days, especially in Chicago, where the media calls fall and winter “QB Hunting Season” and the summer becomes a hot mess of pessimism.

The awfully negative Chicago media loves to give stupid nicknames like “Old Z” and “New Z,” or “Good Rex (Grossman)” and “Bad Rex,” but here’s a little secret for you: He’s the same guy no matter if you change his name to “Good Z,” “New Z,” or even Pee-Wee Herman. The Cubs have spent four years trying to reign in a wild horse and it obviously isn’t working.

If memory serves, the last major blowup Zambrano had was in 2007 when he gave catcher Michael Barrett a judo chop to the grill. The result? Piniella blew his fuse a few games later and the Cubs went on a magical run to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Don’t let the media fool you: Emotion and getting in a teammate’s face can work magic when the gauge is on empty. It’s the “crawling into a hole and quietly fading” that gets me worked up, and Zambrano’s emotion doesn’t tolerate that. He wants to win that bad, and if you don’t want it at the same level, then you better take some self-defense classes because you deserve anything Zambrano brings to you.

After 102 years without a World Series, I’m sure plenty of Cubs fans would agree that enough is enough. You’ve got to want it as bad as he does, or this isn’t going to work.

I’d love, for once, to see the Cubs and their management give Zambrano all the slack he needs to be himself. It’s not a coincidence that his performance has gone down since they began worrying about his psyche. The minute you tell someone to not be themselves, you’ll also see their performance resemble someone else as well.

You can’t have both.

In Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker had the greatest potential as a Jedi Knight but he gave into his anger and emotion too much, which led to his destructive nature and him becoming Darth Vader. But when given unconditional love regardless thanks to his son, who believed in him, it was Anakin (as Darth Vader) who eventually defeated the Emperor by throwing him down the reactor shaft.

Unconditional love and support throughout the early part of his career fostered in the golden age of Carlos Zambrano. Perhaps a little freedom, some support and some emotional space might bring him back to the days when he mowed down opponents like defenseless Ewoks and gave a team in contention the emotional boost it needed down the stretch.

Too much of anything is a bad thing, and that goes for restraint as well.

Me, personally, I’d rather not see “New Z” or “Old Z.” I just want to see Carlos Zambrano, the pitcher who has shown electric brilliance more than a few times and still has plenty left to showcase. If you bottle that up with the right mix, you’ve got something sweeter than Yoo-Hoo and more potent than any ginger root west of the Great Wall of China.

If you don’t, all you’ll have is a regretful son of a Jedi staring at a two-starred sunset, wondering what might have been had he left Tatooine with the old hermit, Ben Kenobi.

Read more MLB news on

Chicago Cubs: The Olive Branch Of Kerry Wood

When Lou Pinella announced his retirement this past fall and the Chicago Cubs tapped career minor leaguer Mike Quade as their new manager, a storm of epidemic proportions befell the front office.

First, general manager Jim Hendry hired an unknown relative to continue the starving organization’s quest for its first World Series title since 1908. As if that wasn’t enough? Hendry also spurned one of the most popular Cubs players in franchise history, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

While the decision boggled the minds of many fans, it wasn’t so much that Hendry made the decision, but rather how he made (and subsequently handled) the decision and its fallout.

Sandberg wasn’t immediately offered his previous post as the manager of the Iowa Cubs, where he was named the Pacific Coast League’s Coach of the Year in 2010. Instead, he was sent to pasture. A slight on one Cub is a slight on them all in this brotherhood of pain. Hurt by the perceived slight, Sandberg took an identical Triple-A job with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Needless to say: many Cubs fans were livid about the move.

From boycotts to threats of changing allegiances, many fans were huffing and puffing. Hendry had slighted one of their own. Sandberg set that perception in place the following week when he made his rounds on the talk radio circuit.

Hendry was a pariah in many bitter circles. They already struggled with the contracts Hendry had brought in (see Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome) as well as some of the head-scratchers (see Milton Bradley). However, many believed the growing pains would be bearable under the leadership of one of the most popular Cubs in history.

Hendry stood at a crossroads, and he couldn’t do right. He signed power-hitting, defensive-minded first baseman, Carlos Pena, at the beginning of December. Fans wept. Hendry began negotiating a possible trade for Tampa Rays starter Matt Garza. Fans scoffed. Hendry faced a lose-lose situation, and the Cubs faced a crisis of image (no matter how many teary episodes of “Undercover Boss” team owner Todd Ricketts appeared on).

Then Ron Santo, arguably the most popular Cub of all time, passed away.

Former teammates, friends and fans swarmed to his funeral, paying respects to a guy who loved the Cubs as much as he loved oxygen. Pallbearers included Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams, and one such guest was taken aback by his return home to pay his respects.

That guest was “Kid-K” himself — Kerry Wood.

Before Santo’s spirit left the building, Henry and Wood promised to speak again about a possible return to Chicago. Wood was a free agent, having just played a major role in solidifying the New York Yankees bullpen. He was due a large payout in the range of $7-10 million, yet something pulled him back into the most masochistic love affair in sports.

Within a week, Wood was signing a hometown discount deal for $1.5 million, and the ire of Cubs fans began to subside. Less than a month later, the Cubs finally landed Matt Garza and also brought back Augie Ojeda and Reed Johnson,two other fan favorites who had left the organization, as non-roster invitees.

The angry Cubs fans began warming up to Hendry again, muttering things like, “I love you, Cubs, but I just don’t like you very much right now.” Classic signs of an abusive relationship. Suddenly, Hendry was being likened to the outlawed friend of a friend who was now welcomed over for Pay-Per-View fights and the occasional night out for a drink. Awkward, but tenable.

Appealing to their nostalgia, Wood serves as an olive branch to the fans. Coexisting isn’t nearly as fargone a conclusion as it originally seemed. The only other moves he’s yet to make are bringing back Lou Brock, Mark Grace and the ghost of Billy Sianis and his billy goat.

Making amends takes time, effort and a fan base who is willing to forget the last 102 years of futility because — say what you want about Cubs fans — their loyalty runs deep.

Hendry may still be in the doghouse, but it’s an upgrade from where he was three months ago: the outhouse. Only time will tell if the move saves his reputation in Chicago, or if he is shown to door to oblivion like those who have come before: Larry Himes, Ed Lynch, Dallas Green and John Holland. But this relationship’s going to take some time, and perhaps a few W’s in April, to return to the glory days of 2007 and 2008.

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress