SAN FRANCISCO – More than 2,000 miles from Clark and Addison, the Cubs just saw what a real business/baseball plan is supposed to look like.
The San Francisco Giants have the best record in baseball (34-19), 274 consecutive regular-season sellouts at AT&T Park and World Series rings from 2010 and 2012.
After Cubs executives unveiled the latest round of renovation plans, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called them out for not keeping City Hall in the loop, dismissing the idea the $575 million Wrigleyville project would be ready for next week’s Commission on Chicago Landmarks hearing.
Back at Fenway Park, Manny Ramirez met the media as Triple-A Iowa’s newest player/coach, saying he’s found religion while the Boston Red Sox celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their 2004 championship team.
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Meanwhile, the Cubs left the West Coast with the worst record in baseball (19-32) after Tim Lincecum and five relievers almost no-hit them in Wednesday afternoon’s 5-0 loss, their second straight shutout.
As one clubhouse wise guy said over the weekend: When’s Manny getting here?
“We drove (Lincecum’s) pitch count to almost 100 in five innings, so we were having good at-bats,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said after his team managed two hits. “We actually hit quite a few balls hard. Didn’t find any holes. The last four innings, we weren’t really able to do anything, but I thought we put together some pretty good at-bats. We just didn’t generate any runs.”
Backup catcher John Baker broke up the no-hitter with a single in the seventh inning. But it’s going to be a struggle until – if? – potential Manny disciples Javier Baez and Kris Bryant make it and the Cubs start spending like a big-market team again.
The Cubs made Lincecum throw 32 pitches and worked two walks in the first inning, but Pablo Sandoval made a diving play at third base to rob Starlin Castro and Nate Schierholtz lined out to first baseman Buster Posey.
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“It’s one thing when you have a guy go up and hit a groundball in the first pitch of the at-bat,” Baker said. “But Nate walks up there and grinds out a (10-pitch) at-bat and it ends on a line drive and a leaping play at first base. When that ball starts hitting grass, that’s when our team starts taking off. And it’s kind of been like that the whole season.
“What is the cliché? It’s a game of inches? I think the Chicago Cubs are proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that baseball’s a game of inches.”
The vibe is so good around this beautiful waterfront stadium that even ex-Cub Tyler Colvin – remember him from the “Three Cs” marketing campaign with Castro and Andrew Cashner? – chipped in with a clutch two-out RBI double.
Baker graduated from nearby De La Salle High School, went to Cal-Berkeley and got chosen by the Oakland A’s in the fourth round of the 2002 “Moneyball” draft. He’s seen what the Giants have built at AT&T Park.
“It’s awesome,” Baker said. “It’s loud. They’re excited on 5-nothing replay calls in the eighth inning. There’s energy here. They do it not just from a personnel standpoint. I feel like how this stadium is run – with the stuff they do on the video board and the way they get fans into the game – it’s the best in baseball. It’s a lot of fun to play here. You want to beat these guys.”
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Maybe, if all the plans someday finally come together on the North Side, people will be talking about the Cubs like this. But right now, it’s hard to beat San Francisco.
“Year-in and year-out, these guys run out a team of professional baseball players that play the game the right way,” Baker said. “That’s why they’ve been to World Series and that’s why they continue to win. Add that all to this great environment, you’ve got a recipe for success here.”