Many people have asked, and some complained, about the starting time for tonight's home opener.
"Opening Day should be in the afternoon!" they say, and yes, that's been a tradition for many years.
This year the Cubs opened on the West Coast. That was good because they got six games in, in warm weather, without having to worry about the postponements and cold that happened in the midwest and northeast.
But playing there means a long flight back to Chicago. Sunday's game ended at 6:30 p.m. Chicago time. I've been told it takes between two and three hours from the last pitch of a game to wheels-up for a team flight, depending on traffic and how far the airport is from the stadium, with players having to dress, clubhouse guys have to pack up equipment, etc. In Phoenix, the airport is maybe 15 minutes from Chase Field, so let's assume the flight was in the air by about 8:30 p.m. CT. It likely landed at O'Hare after 11 p.m. CT.
It wouldn't be fair to ask the players to rush home from O'Hare and be back at Wrigley at 9 a.m. for a 1:20 p.m. start.
You'll say, then why didn't they take Monday off and play Tuesday? Could have, I suppose, but then if Tuesday's game gets postponed, people who have Opening Day tickets don't get to see the first game. This was the best way to do it. And it's baseball! Just at a different time of day than a traditional opener. Me, I don't mind it at all.
Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Heyward RF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Soler LF, Russell SS, Ross C, Lester P
Cozart SS, Suatez 3B, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Mesoraco C, Bruce RF, Duvall LF, Finnegan P, Hamilton CF
Jon Lester is off to a much better start than last year, so that's good. In 2015 he made four starts against the Reds and posted a 3.67 ERA and 0.889 WHIP. Current Reds are a small-sample-size 18-for-62 (.290) against him with one home run (Eugenio Suarez).
Cubs starters have been awesome so far as a group. In six games they have thrown 39⅔ innings (and in all six games, at least six innings), allowed 13 runs for a 2.95 ERA, walked only six and struck out 31.
The bullpen has been even better: 14 innings, five hits and one walks (0.429 WHIP), with 16 strikeouts and just two runs allowed (1.29 ERA).
Keep up the great work, pitching staff.
Brandon Finnegan first burst on the national scene in 2014, when he was quite effective for the Royals in the playoffs. He was a central part of the trade that sent Johnny Cueto to Kansas City, and made four decent starts for the Reds late last year. He has never faced the Cubs, and the only current Cub who has faced him is Jason Heyward (0-for-1). Finnegan was the Royals' No. 1 pick (17th overall) in 2014 and the Reds have high hopes for him in their rotation.
Today's game is on WGN.
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The 2016 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used at the end of 2015. Here's how it works.
You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).
At the same time, a StoryStream™ containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game's StoryStream™ as noted above.
The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.