Yesterday we noted how the Ricketts family announced over the weekend that they’d be willing to foot the bill on dramatic renovations to Wrigley Field rather than ask for public dollars to do it. But — and it’s no small but — they want restrictions regarding how they run the ballpark and when they can play games eased. More night games, more signage, scoreboards and, in all likelihood, blocking out the rooftops nearby.
Which will all be the subject of much debate going forward, obviously. In the meantime, they have released conceptual sketches of what this major renovation might entail. And again, I must use the word dramatic:
There are many others which you can over at Biz of Baseball. As for the rundown of all that would be accomplished under the plan:
- Addition of a rooftop patio;
- Party decks in left and center field;
- Expanded luxury suites;
- New LED board in left field;
- Jumbotron-like video screen;
- Club lounge;
- Restaurant where the old administrative offices used to be;
- A much bigger clubhouse;
- Batting tunnels near the dugouts;
- A video room; and
- A new weight room and a physical therapy/rehab center.
All of these things — especially the new player facilities — would greatly enhance old Wrigley. And really, as long as the ivy, brick, scoreboard and location of the ballpark are kept more or less the same, I bet even the purists would get over it eventually. At least they should, because most of these changes are much-needed, either for revenue generation purposes or for simply bringing Wrigley up to the standards of modern ballparks.
The big fights will come from the bar owners who don’t want to lose business to in-park bars and clubs and to night games which limit their high-traffic hours. We’ll see how that goes, but it’s hard to beat a combination of (a) private funding; (b) modernization; and (c) maintaining the overall feel of the old park.
Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.
Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.
Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.
It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.
After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.
The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.
Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.
The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.
Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.
Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.
After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.
According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.
The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.