It is February 15th and the 2006 Season begins today. Although the Cubs do not play their first meaningful game for another 46 days, everything officially starts today. The five most wonderful words in sports….Pitchers and Catchers Report Today….is everyone as excited as I am? The first official workout is tomorrow and the position players report in five days with the full team workout in six days. The Cubs will workout at Fitch Park before heading to HoHoKam right before the Spring Training games start on March 2nd.
The guessing is now over….it is time for BASEBALL and the questions that we all still have will be answered soon enough. The biggest question for the 2006 Cubs is the health of the team. Whenever you hear someone talk about the Cubs, the sentence always starts with, ‘If the pitching staff stays healthy….’ And with that being said, here is the rest of the first Spring Training Report of the season. USA Today had an article on Tuesday entitled “Star-Studded Stories Around Baseball”; they compiled “a list of names to consider as camps open”….and of course there were Cubs on the list. Under “Five Clubs with Issues” the Cubs are listed at #3. Oddly enough they do not mention the health of the pitching staff, but the new outfield of Murton, Pierre and Jones, with the concentration being on Pierre’s numbers from last season. Under “Five Who Will Be Missed” Bobby Howry is listed at #2. Under “Five Coming Back from Injury” Kerry Wood is listed at #5. The questions surrounding Woody are mentioned, Starter? Reliever? Last Year with the Cubs? And they remind us the Cubs hold the $13.5 million dollar option for the 2007 season.
FoxSports.com had a couple of interesting reports on the Cubs. The Inside Pitch and Roster reports are a must read. They also provide lineup, bench, rotation and bullpen projections for the 2006 season….their projections look very similar to the ones here at the CCO. Also here are the reporting dates for all of the Major League teams and the 2006 Cactus League Schedule.
Here is a little tidbit on the history of Spring Training I found in all of my Cubs stuff, author unknown:
“Spring Training is almost as old as baseball itself. Some sports historians believe that the first organized pre-season camps were held in 1870 when the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Chicago White Stockings convened in New Orleans. Others argue that the Washington Capitals of the National League pioneered Spring Training in 1888, holding a four-day session in Jacksonville, Florida. By 1900, Spring Training was a firmly established baseball ritual with most American and National League teams heading to more temperate locales so players could prepare for the season and managers could evaluate the players. Although no Major League club was based west of St. Louis until 1958, teams had been working out on the left coast as early as 1903, the Chicago Cubs’ first year in Los Angeles. Several stops around the country followed until the team settled on Catalina Island, 20 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, as their winter home from 1922-1951. In 1952, at the suggestion of New York Yankees’ co-owner Del Webb, the Cubs relocated their pre-season operation to Mesa, Arizona for the next 14 years. After spending the spring of 1966 back in California and the next 12 seasons in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Cubs returned to Mesa in 1979 and to HoHoKam Park, their present-day Spring Training headquarters.”
For the past 2 seasons the Cubs have not made it out of Spring Training without an injury problem. The team must stay healthy and get off to a strong start once the season starts. With 19 out of their first 23 games being against the Central Division, another slow start could end the season before May 3rd when the Cubs head to the West Coast for the second time. A strong, healthy pitching staff will go a long way in the cold April air.
A couple of ‘freebies’…. I have a few extra tickets for the March 2nd and March 5th games at HoHoKam, if you’re going out to Mesa for the opening weekend and are interested in some General Admission Tickets, they’re yours for the asking. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Obviously, once they’re gone – they’re gone. Also, I also had some 2006 pocket schedules printed out, so if you’d like a copy of the .pdf file to print out on your own, send me an email to the same address.
Well that’s the news….and I’m sticking to it!!