The Ceremonial First Pitch

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I just placed a giant check mark on my “to do list” of life, which includes having the opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field….along with a few other celebrities (Will Ferrell & Zack Galifianakis) at the July 18th home game against Miami. It was nothing short of glorious, amazing, electric (and I made it to the to the catcher thank God).

There I stood on the sidelines, 25 minutes to game time, waiting for my name to show up on the scoreboard marquee. A slight summer evening breeze cooled off the stadium from a sizzling summer day. The shadows of the setting sun making their way onto the bright green of the in field. The players in the club house getting ready for the game. And there I stood. My Cubs moment upon me. I felt like I was going to wet my pants…or my white jean shorts. I donned a “Playing The Field” Cubs t-shirt, to help promote “Singles Night” at the ballpark.  And if you are wondering if I practiced, oh I did. Every day the week prior at 4pm outside of my entertainment agency back in Los Angeles. And again just one hour prior to the game, right outside of Wrigley Field with the Cubs ticketing office.

And then I got the signal. It was go time. I walked onto the field, approached the pitcher’s mound, and felt the roar of the crowd. I stood where so many players had stood before. And the catcher gave me the nod, and with out hesitating my left arm threw the first pitch into his mit. I raised my hands to the sky above my head in glory. The crowd cheered. I inhaled it all in. Intoxicating. Part of me wanted to do something crazy to land on sports center or the local evening news (let’s face it, I wanted to run around all of the bases and jump into the dark green ivy). But alas I was appropriate. Next time around maybe not so much.

After my first pitch I made my way to the bleachers, where I sipped on a cold sudsy one with my friends, and watched the Cubs beat Miami 5-1. The sky was a brilliant pink, and the bleachers were alive with Cubs fans being cooled off in the summer night by the “misters” silently spraying us.  My only complaint of the night? One homerun hit by the opposing team into the far right bleachers. The unruly fan didn’t throw that ball back onto the field as is time honored tradition. Boo on that.

As for the first pitch, it was a once in a lifetime experience. It happened entirely too fast, and I re-live it in my head over and over. For any die-hard fan, it’s truly a dream come true. I will forever and always love Wrigley Field, the Cubs, and the other Cubby fans just like myself. You are my family. When I was on that pitcher’s mound – I was HOME.

http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Jessica+Nelson/Miami+Marlins+v+Chicago+Cubs/JsRQvgPibAc

Playing The Field

I’m 30,000 feet up in the air in route to Chitown, thinking about how I am going to try not to be nervous when I throw out the first pitch on Wednesday’s July 18th night game at Wrigleyfield. And I’m reminiscing about my “single” days when I lived in Chitown. Oh the memories. Oh the stories. Ever get someone’s digits through a bar window and hook up with them later on that night? Just kidding. Maybe.

First pitch – I’m throwing out the first pitch! “Just don’t bounce the ball,” is what everyone is telling me. Or some even greater advice, (my NY buddy – avid Yankees fan) – “wear a big diaper and tell everyone you were afraid you would shit your pants along with some giant Haray Caray glasses.” Um DONE. Now where do I get a giant diaper?

I’m sure you are thinking, why am I throwing out the first pitch along side Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis (Hangover 1 & 2)? I state the following as rationale:

1. Life long dream (seriously)
2. I’ve been writing this blog now for 4 years….only to keep from missing what I call “my church,” or Wrigleyfield, and my sports family – the beloved Chicago Cubs and their entire front office staff.
3. I’m a writer, I completed my first book and the Cubs are helping me promote it (available in paperback/hard cover TBD…2012)
4. I recently appeared on a show on Bravo (that’s right I caved to reality TV so sue me) called, “Miss Advised,” which is all about being single and dating and really being honest about it. I give advice on it – who NOT to date. I’m no licensed expert in dating, but oh I’ve dated plenty…I’ve done the homework.
5. I’m promoting the first ever “Singles Night,” or so playfully titled “Playing the Field” at Wrigleyfield on July 18th. (Which is ironic because…well I’m not single anymore). http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/ticketing/specialevents.jsp#link_singles

And why should I even represent “Singles Night” anyways? Please. Anyone who knew me when I lived in Chitown…I should have been the poster gal for how to really live it up when you are single. Oh I had fun. If you are single, you better be having fun too. It’s what life is all about. Wrigleyfield is by far, one of the best places on the planet to be a single person. It manifests single people…the entire aura of what encapsulates the Cubs culture is being single at a Cubs game. I was only single in Chicago for two years, but it was the most glorious, fun-filled, crazy do-whatever-the-h*ll-you-want time of my life. And it all somehow related back to a Cubs game, or six degrees of separation for every party I went to, every bar, every drink spilled, every late night eating fiesta, you name it – it all goes back to a Cubs game.

I’m going to do you a favor if you are single and tell you what I would do (I have to be somewhat appropriate this is after all, an MLB blog.) So I am going to promote all of the wonderful things about being single when I am in Chicago this week to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. And as a professional single person (listen I’ve been through a lot…single for 7 years since my last relationship, it’s been more than a minute), I think I can give some solid advice and checklist for what you need to do…if you are single that is, and you are worthy enough and fun enough to go to a Cubs game and enjoy and drink in all there is to do as a singleton.

Typical day. Single. Game day. June in Chicago. Perfect.

Imagine if you will….

It’s a beautifully hot, steamy day in Chicago in June. It’s 7am. The alarm goes off, and you are filled with the excitement as your Chicago Cubs game ticket (for the bleachers) lies carefully on your bedside table, itching to jump into your pocket to start the day. First thing – you need to fill your belly. Day drinking is tough, I know all too well the craziness that can ensue from starting a Cubs game (day game) day with drinking too early, too much, and on an empty stomach. Time to fuel up. Since you have a bleachers ticket you need to head down to Wrigleyville fairly early – avoid the traffic and tourists who have no idea what they are doing. Head to Salt & Pepper on Clark Street. It’s an old school diner, fairly inexpensive, and honestly, exactly what you need right now. Plus it’s across the street from the bar you’ll start off at. Brilliant.

At around 10am you will go to either Sluggers or Cubby Bear across the street. Yes there are many more surrounding the beautiful ballpark, but these two are where you should go. They are old school, been around since the beginning of time. Go to Cubby Bear first, there are three floors, six bars (from what I remember) and tons of space and huge flat screen TVs. Plus they play good music to get you going on your first drink. For your first drink you should have a beer. Don’t go to the dark side just yet with hard liquor. Remember you are drinking during the daytime. And you are single – you don’t want to look in the mirror five hours from now and look frightening to other single people….those are potentials for later on post-game (we’ll get to that).

So pay your $8 for a Miller Lite (isn’t that how much they charge these days?) and enjoy. Feel the buzz, heck down the entire first beer. You’ve eaten. You’re solid. It’s go time.

At around 10:30 head on over to Sluggers just a few doors down the street on Clark. Main bar is right as you walk in, there are batting cages upstairs and skiball, but you don’t really have time to get into that today because you need to get to the bleachers. You see some potential hook-ups of the opposite sex. Easy tiger. Too early to think about that. Plenty of time left in the day.

At the main bar you might see David, a regular bartender who at any given point will do a shot of tequila with you with a pineapple chaser. It sounds terrible, but it’s terrific. I did say no hard liquor, however if David offers, you accept.

At around 11:30 you should start making your way to the bleachers entrance. Seats are first come first serve, you’ve got a good buzz on (you probably should have had 1-2 beers at Sluggers along with the shot) and you need some summer sun and a close enough seat to be able to heckle the other outfield team.

Once you get in, establish your area, go ahead – get a beer. But get something to eat. Trust me on this one. Hot summer sun for the next 5 hours. That’s the equivalent to over half a work day, think about it – you will need more fuel. Purchase water. Drink it. Every time you drink some beer, drink some water.

The opposing team is practicing, go ahead and holler obnoxious things about their Moms, wives or girlfriends, or better yet if you are a truly educated baseball fan – heckle them about their recent stats.

Game time, face the green scoreboard and flag behind you for the national anthem. Raise your glass. Take a sip of the cool, sudsy beer. It’s ON. Strike up a conversation with the opposite sex sitting next to you. If you are so obliging tell them you’ll be at Barleycorn post-game on Clark. Trust me on this one. You have to scope them out early when you are single.

During the game a homerun is hit by the opposing team straight into the bleachers (don’t worry I’m sure Soriano will hit a grand slam at some point to make up for it..ha). You happen to catch this homerun ball with one hand (your other was holding on to your beer). You hold it in your hand, astonished at your sudden ability to catch a fly-ball, and impress the person next to you who will be attending your post-game activities. The crowd cheers you on to throw it back on-to the field. With out hesitating, you toss it back out to field, getting an even bigger cheer from the 60,000 people (standing room only) at today’s game. Time-honored tradition at Wrigley. We just do it to piss off the other team and because well, we can. And we’re the first fans to do so…other fans and ballparks have copied us, but we are the originators.

At some point you realize you are a little woozy with typsiness. Be careful. Don’t let this be you:


You need a break, no more beer, and you know the sun has soaked its way into your still somewhat pale skin you endured from the harsh Chicago winters. Somewhere up above the crowd a giant sprinkler-slash-hose drenches the bleacher fans. You feel it as it douses you in the hot summer sun. Feels good. Plus it works well for a wet t-shirt contest or for the many ladies that choose to sport a bikini in the bleachers (a good way to get yourself on TV by the way).

Just as I predicted, in the bottom of the 9th, right about the time you really need to get out of the sun, two outs, bases loaded – the Cubbies hit a grand slam to win the game – because it’s just that kind of day. Wrigleyfield is on fire. (Not literally). The cheers echo across the northside of Chicago. A win. Cubs Win! You give the attractive person (who looks more attractive after the alcohol of course) your number to text you post-game. Your friends nod in approval of this person (always good to get approval from your friends of any post-game hook ups because you may not be in a state to pick someone out later on…)

You make your way to Barleycorn for post-game partying. There is a line. Don’t stand in it. Make your way to the front, tell the doorman you are a publicist and that you have clients with you (your friends by the way are your clients). If you’re attractive and a woman, he’ll let you right in. If you’re a man, well maybe you need to fork over a $10 bill or well..wait in line. Sorry guys.

Or you can try to get a Playboy business card and keep it always to get in everywhere. When I lived in Chicago I worked at Playboy and that got me in everywhere – no lines, no waiting, nothing. But I digress.

Let’s continue. You’re in. You luckily find a seat in the main area. The music is blaring David Guetta or Flo Rida. It’s go time. Next up is “Sweet Home Chicago,” of which you will sing along to with every other fan in Cubby blue at the bar. You order shots. Now you can be a little crazy. Order whatever. Cubs win, it’s June in Chicago, and you are having a great time. Plus your hook-up you met at the game shows up and joins you and your friends. Score.

After an hour or so of this post-game madness (oh and it will get super crowded and smelly inside trust me), you need to leave Wrigleyville. That’s right. I said leave. Get out. Before you cross over to the dark side. Remember, you’ve been drinking all day. All day. You and your friends (don’t forget your hook up unless you met someone better looking at the bar and ditch the first) leave and take a taxi to Lincoln Park.

Street fest time. At any given point in Chicago during the summer there is a street fest. One of the best ones is Lincoln Park http://chicago.metromix.com/stories/106-chicago-festival-guide just because it was made for single people, and it’s huge. You get dropped off somewhere near Halstead. Make your way to a beer tent. Buy your friends some beer, get a water. Make out with your hook up in the middle of the street. Who cares.

Once it starts getting dark, or you begin to get a bit sloppy, you need to eat. Two choices. Wiener Circle or La Bamba. Let’s go with Wiener Circle because you need to make your hook up laugh a bit, and your friends are obnoxious at this point (perfect for WC): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33zPlnhymCU and besides, WC has damn good cheese fries, it’s like there is crack in them or something.

After you’ve fully been insulted by the ladies behind the counter at WC, had a hotdog thrown at your head, and somehow managed to get the right order, you happily eat with your friends at one of the picnic tables, with other drunken Cubs fans, enjoying the tasty, fattening food that you so desperately need.

At this point you should really make your way home. If you actually decide to go out even more, you need to change out of the Cubs gear. There’s nothing worse than seeing a Cubs fan still out at 12am from a day game, smelling of beer and sweat and really not knowing who they are, where they are or really anything because they are that messed up. I’ve seen it happen folks. I’ve been one of them. Not. Pretty.

If your hook up is still interested, and well, interesting to you – well then go home. What are you waiting for? This is what being single is all about. Plus it makes for a good story the next day.

I don’t need to get into TMI details on the rest – you know what to do.

And the next day, you should be holding one of these signs (hopefully this isn’t your hook up from last night though):

I tried to keep this PG-rated, and hopefully you will get to experience or have experienced being single at a Cubs game in Chicago. It is literally one of the best times you will have in your entire life. And if it’s not, well then ask for your money back – but not from me because I’m still working on making $1million from being a best-selling author.

Unfortunately I won’t be participating in the fiesta I just wrote about above. My time as a single Chicago gal has passed, and trust me I went to more than 100 home games during my single time in Chicago. I lived it, breathed it…I owned it. I loved it. But every good time has to end. We grow older, wiser, and well, I can’t hang like I used to. Plus my friends can’t either, nor do we want to. But please…live it up for me by all means, at the very least do it for yourself and your fellow single friends!

To all of the single people in Chicago who will walk the littered walk-ways of Wrigleyfield, stand in line in the bathrooms, drink a Mai Tai in the bleachers, and make out by the downstairs bathrooms at Cubby Bear – I’m with you in spirit. Please do the time-honored tradition of how to live it up being single at a Cubs game justice. I know I did. Make me proud.

And you can look for me on July 18th at 7:05pm, I’ll be wearing white jean shorts and a white T the Cubs want me to wear to throw out the first pitch, then I’ll make my way over to the bleachers to join my many friends who lived and breathed those single days in Chicago with me. To all of you – you made my single life in Chicago the best time of my life (Nik, James, Emily, Jen, Jill, Monica, Rayne, Stan..and so many more that I met at the games, the bars…Wiener Circle…).

And to the Chicago Cubs, thank you for giving this die-hard fan the chance to throw out the first pitch. You have been my second family always and I’ll never forget the love you give back to me. Brian Garza and the entire front office – I owe you a great deal of gratitude.

GO CUBS…always!

Chicago Cubs Fan. Even if it takes…FOREVER

So recently at my job (I’m a writer and entertainment publicist) we were asked to provide a future sports moment we would like to attend and be a part of, whether it is tomorrow or 20 years from now. Most replied with the upcoming London Summer Olympics. Not me. Of course not. I replied with the words, “World Series. 2013. Cubs WIN.”

But alas, I’ve already written off this season. Could it be because I’ve been living in Los Angeles now for over four years and am already living in the far off distant memories of attending 30 plus home games per season when I lived in Chicago? Could it be because WGN is only available from Direct TV and I have Time Warner Cable so can’t catch as many games as I would like? Or could it be because right now at this very moment the Cubs, the team I live and breathe for, who keep my dreams bottled up on a shelf of hope – are currently in the bottom of the barrel, last place in the standings?  Not just last place in the division. Last place in the league. The league.

I would deem it pathetic that I’m not surprised. The only people happy with this current status are the Cub-haters (and we know they are a plenty) out there. For the rest of us –  the hopeful, lyrical souls who live through this every single season, well we aren’t even perplexed anymore. I used to think there was this magical formula to make it happen. Not just all the stars aligning, and the curse of the billy goat and Bartman ball fiasco washed away forever, but like the film “Money Ball,” where a specific formula seemed to make it all work – that somehow with the right mixture of really believing, the right managers, owners, players – that it would, no it will all come together. I keep hearing the words, “re-building.” What are we re-building? If it’s the team then how long are we going to take to do that? We’ve since long ago let our ace in-fielders out of their contracts. Oh Derek Lee….Aramis Ramirez, I was a fan. I miss you.

I’d like to throw some blame out there, like usual die-hard Cubs fans do, well like any die-hard sports fan does when their team just can’t get their sh*t together. But who is to blame? Is it the lack-luster flailing (some would consider dangerous) old-school Wrigleyfield that has yet to be truly renovated? Is it the Ricketts and their crazy money, raising prices and still not making those serious moves we need? And Epstein, he’s easy on the eyes (big deal) but really did we think he could do what he did for the Red Sox? Probably…naively we did. And we still do.

I know that some day they will win it all. I know it. I’ve tried to watch online this season. I’ve tried to see the small (and when I say small I mean meager) glimmer of hope in it all – like taking two out of three from the White Sox in June. Marmol having a good day. A sweet homerun smacked onto Sheffield by our Cubbies. A win at home in the sweet summer sun. The sound of the game on TV back here in my LA home as I feel the ocean breeze come through my windows and hear the crowd roar through the television as the Cubs go on to win a game in the bottom of the 9th. Wait…I don’t recall that happening this season.

I choose to live in the past. It’s all I have right now. Circa May 2007. Derek Lee. Steps off the bench after being injured from breaking his wrist (pitcher threw fast ball and crushed his wrist early in the season). Bottom of the 9th against the White Sox at Wrigley. Down by 3. Bases loaded. Two outs. First pitch. Grand slam onto Addison Street. Cubs win. Ahhh I even remember the feeling and it still gives me chills.

I miss those moments. Where have they gone?

This Cubs fan is alone in the world out here in my Cub fandom. There aren’t many of us out here in la-la land. But here I am writing and updating this blog (and let’s face it, it’s been awhile) because I still believe in it all. I still believe in the Cubs and everything that encapsulates the ultimate Cubs fan and what it is like to experience when they win it all. Nothing like it on earth…right?

I will be in Chicago in July, hopefully to throw out the first pitch for the Cubs to help promote my first novel and for a show I’m debuting on, and I hope to stand on that mound, where so many talented players have stood before, and give the Cubs some much needed love and energy to snap out of last place. To snap out of all the bloody curses – the black cat that ran around home plate so long ago, Bartman Bartman Bartman…billy goat shmilly goat. I’m going to have it washed away. Forever.

Maybe I’m crazy, maybe I’m unrealistic, maybe I just refuse to give up ever on this team, even if they are in dead last place, batting way under 500 and losing 48 games so far this season. I refuse to quit believing.

I tend to get emotional in my blog entries, as you all know – so I leave you with nothing but pure emotion in the below and end to my latest blog entry for the 2012 MLB season. I’ve chosen what I believe is the greatest Cubs ad spot of all time – thank you Play Station for the love this season.

And the greatest Cubs quotes ever – check out number five. So true. So true.

1) “The Chicago Cubs are like Rush Street—-a lot of singles and no action.”
–Joe Garagiola

2) “Good things happen to those who wait…and wait….and wait.”
–Ernie Banks, the Eternal Optimist, on the Cubs

3) “I don’t know why we bought the Cubs. We already had a perfectly good company softball fan.”
–Bob Verdi, Columnist, after the Chicago Tribune purchased the Cubs in 1981

4) “One thing you learn as a Cub fan: when you buy your tickets, you can bank on  seeing the bottom of  the ninth.”
–Joe Garagiola

5) “The Cubs fans are the greatest fans in baseball. They’ve got to be.”
–Herman Franks, Former Cubs Manager

This is who I am and forever will be – no matter what!

Image

2011 Here We Go Again..WINNING?

2011 Here We Go Again….WINNING?

 

Here we go…again.  I’m trying to re-launch this blog, and
am writing this entirely hungover and tired from last night’s Victoria’s Secret
swim party. Okay so maybe I shouldn’t be complaining. And maybe I shouldn’t
have waited until the night before

Cubs home opener to update my blog. Oh well.

 

So it’s been a minute since I’ve provided my unbiased
opinion on the Cubs. Between living in LA now working in entertainment as a
publicist, writing my first novel, and trying to fly back for my beloved Cubs,
it’s been a bit…challenging. I know no one reading this probably cares or your
care factor is most likely a -6, but I feel like I owe an explanation to my
readers.

 

Has it really been 365 days since the last home opener? And
yet, here we are. Thaw out the field, load up the beer kegs, stock up the bars
and raise the concession food prices (oh, and the ticket prices too) because
dammit it’s Cubs home opener and baseball season time. My favorite time of the year.

 

Usually I get sappy, emotional, angry, sad or all of the
above. I’m too tired to do that. I’m too tired to go over the starting line up,
and my duty is to comment on the off-season trades, the Rickett’s decisions in
salary updates, and our beloved pitching (Oh Zambrano did you learn anything in
anger management class?).

 

But you already know the line up. So I’m not going to
bother. However I heard rumblings that we may acquire Pujols if he becomes a
free agent. I personally know his agent out here in LA, but he won’t give me
any of the deets. Booo to you Danny my favorite MLB agent!

 

Let’s do a recap. Maybe you don’t need it, but I like to
re-live heartbreak:

Circa: 2008. Playoffs. Dodgers vs. Cubs. We got drilled.
Destroyed. Shot out of a cannon and left for dead. Whatever you call it, it was
devastating, terribly heartbreaking and speaking for myself – a very dark and
dreary November and December post-season blues. In fact, now that I’m re-living
that post-season gloom I remember I actually got dumped by a guy who said
watching a Cubs game with me when they are losing was not pleasant. He’s from
LA. Not a baseball fan. Why did I even date him again? Never mind.

 

Let’s go back farther:

Circa 2003:

On second thought….let’s not. Bartman anyone? Where is that
guy anyways?

 

Circa: 1998:

Oh boy…..not gonna go there either.

 

Need I say anymore? I think I’ve re-capped it well.

 

And yet, we prevailed. I’m talking about Cubs fans, not the
Cubs. We prevailed and somehow took our heavy hearts and recovered. Now I’m
getting sappy.

 

So here we are again.

First we have to ask ourselves, where are we at? We all know
how 2010 season ended up, in 4th place in the division and not much
else to savor. There really wasn’t the glimmer of hope that often lingers, the
“maybe next year” that usually rolls off of our tongues didn’t have it’s normal
hope and sound to it.

 

And let’s not forget that in 2010 we lost our beloved Ron
Santo. I can’t re-launch my blog with out mentioning him. Never made it to the
hall of fame, and never saw his team win it all. Oh Ron how we miss you!

 

Now that I’ve plummeted this entire blog down the path of
misery I vote for some cheerleading. Everyone always asks me will the Cubs win
this year, what do you think of the Cubs? (As if I’m the expert…but hey I like
to think my opinion holds a morsel of weight).

 

My redeeming opinion: I honestly have no idea. I know,
that’s terrible. What kind of sports writing is that? It’s honest. Every year I
usually say, “this is the year!” but I just can’t this time. Remember when they
put Kerry Wood on the cover of SI in 2003? Look what happened! The curse of the
SI cover happened, yet I failed to believe in that curse (ha ha the Phillies
grace this year’s SI baseball issue).

 

I refuse to believe the curse of the billy goat. REFUSE.

 

And I refuse to believe that the Cubs CAN’T win it all. I
mean listen, it’s bound to happen. I vote for 2012, the world is supposedly
supposed to end, Mayan calendar, ya da ya da. Not this year. We’ll place 2nd
in our division, or maybe make the wild card. I vote for next year. It would be
seemingly more fit to have them win the year the world ends.

 

For all of my beloved Cubs friends who will grace the Cubs
with your presence at tomorrow’s game, I am there in spirit. Actually I’ll be
listening to the game at work while it will be 78 degrees here in LA.

 

And for those of you that dare say I’m not a Cubs fan because I didn’t fly back for home
opener, I say to you:  read my
entire blog (if you haven’t already), then come check out my office, riddled
with Cubs signs, hats, whatever I can put in there. Or look at my past bank statements
dating back to who knows; every single year – from the game tickets to the bar
tabs, to cab rides (it all attributes to Cubs games), etc. I would say I’ve
spent roughly $189,645.23 on the Chicago Cubs. That’s probably estimating a bit
low. In fact I should send them an invoice. They owe me.

 

But in all seriousness, dress warm, bring the flask (if you
don’t have one you can use my Playboy flask I often used to bring to games), go
to Sluggers and say hi to Zack and David, and if it starts snowing or raining
drink more or buy a $15 poncho. They both work well against the elements.

 

For those of you who weren’t smart enough to read this entry
all the way down, Erin Heatherton (Victoria’s Secret Angel and Skokie, IL
native) will be throwing out the first pitch of the Mets series on Wednesday,
May 25th compliments of yours truly, #1 diehard fan living in Los
Angeles, and I will be there for the entire series and so can’t wait to see my
boys!

And now I bit adieu, my first entry of the season. Blog re-launched, and I won’t post any pictures like I usually do until I get some from my photographers going to the game tomorrow (James, Lissette you know what to do!)

 

Hey hey whattya say, the Cubs are gonna win today!!

 

GO CUBS!!

A Reason To Believe

I’ve always just simply believed. Like any other Cubs fan or die-hard baseball fan, you simply believe every season that your team has a fighting chance. I’ve never really looked for reasons to believe, simply hoping that believing would be good enough. Well this year I actually decided to back my beliefs up, and to much pleasant surprise – found some legitimate reasons to the Cubs season and believing that they might actually….well, WIN.

I’ve read it all and I’m caught up – the Bleacher Report, the updates on MLB.com, and my favorite ESPN.com writer – Jon Greenberg commenting on the Cubs season this year and what the future holds for one of America’s favorite baseball teams. They’ve all given me reasons to believe this year, that maybe the dark, brooding clouds that have lurked over Wrigleyfield have now moved on to another baseball team or simply disappeared into the Chicago skyline forever, leaving nothing but clear, blue skies, ready for the Cubs to hurl their baseballs high in the air to have a winning season.

Reasons to believe this year? Here they are, whacky, whimsical and yes, a little crazy…

1. An actual owner to the team – while it was in talks since the ’08 season, the Ricketts family finally officially owns the Cubs, and quickly implemented a new marketing campaign “Year 1″ and the Cubs official slogan “It’s a Way of Life,” with the “W” in the “Way” representing the ever-famous WIN W flags held up after each game the Cubs win, and the Year 1 representing that it’s not 102 years anymore, it’s year 1 of the Cubs, perhaps…finally starting over. You can’t deny the positive and somewhat “dreamy” new make-over to the outside of Wrigleyfield either – it makes your heart beat faster and brings chills of excitement just seeing the new look. Change, in a sense, is good.

Wrigleyfield 2010

Reason to Believe #2 – the addition of outfielder Marlon Byrd and hitting coach Jaramillo. Marlon Byrd, a new outfielder for the Cubs, drafted by the Phillies in 1999, came to the Cubs from the Nationals, with a new sense of renewed energy. Jaramillo, the Cubs new pitching coach is known for teaching players their own swing, and how to fix it and really learn how to capitalize on their own hitting talents – and the Cubs bats have been needing a little something something with their hitting the the last several seasons.
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Reason #3 – the new Wrigleyfield bathrooms. I know what you are thinking. Come on,

really? Yes, really. Anyone who has experienced a game at Wrigley knows about the long lines to the bathrooms, and the noticeable smells due to the city’s lovely underground plumbing issues. Not only have the Ricketts refurbished the bathrooms, but they have also invested a cool $10 million for the new PNC club, luxury heated seats with food and beverage, and much more as well as a special viewing area for fans to watch batting practice and opening up Sheffield Grill to the public. I still think many will applaud and appreciate the brand new bathrooms above all else. It’s about time!

Reason #4 – The Cubs have been humbled. Although it’s over and done with, the Cubs needed another season to be healed by the debauchery of the ’08 playoffs season. While they never have won a World Series, the Cubs, well and their fans too have been living off of a righteous belief that well, they deserve to win a World Series. A belief that the championship was rightfully theirs, and learning the hard and harsh way that no one really deserves to win. You have to earn it. 2008 humbled the Cubs, something they may have needed, and now as Soriano quotes “This team needs one more chance to go to the playoffs,” in other words – they know they have to work for it. Just because it’s been 102 years doesn’t give them the right to win, they’ll win when they have played better than any other team in the league, and earn the respect of the league.

Reason #5 – World Series Virgins – while being virgins to a World Series hasn’t helped the Cubs get there since 1908, getting so close in 2008 may have left some leftover ambience with the current team roster that almost tasted what it would be like. Almost is the key word – they almost got there, closer than they have at least in awhile, or at least closest with the most winning season to back them up in a long time. In the simplest words, the Cubs don’t know what it’s like to win it all, and that may be another reason why we can still believe in them. When you have a team that hasn’t tasted it yet, it makes them that much hungrier to get that first, luscious bite of victory.

Reason #6 – The Cubs aren’t favored to win the World Series. And they shouldn’t be. The Cardinals are strongly favored, with the Reds in a close second, no one really thinks it’s the Cubs year. We’ve all seen it – year after year media outlets, sports anchors, and the cursed Sports Illustrated cover saying “The Cubs will win the World Series.” Not this year. Nope. That alone is a reason to believe, it sounds crazy – but for once there is no pressure.

I guess I could go on, but I’m going to stop at 6, simply because it’s enough for this, die-hard, passionate Cubs blogger to believe, just once more. My cup of “believe kool-aid” is full again, whether or not these reasons work for the readers is up to you – maybe you have your own reasons, but I think I can safely say that no matter what, we all admittedly still BELIEVE.

GO CUBS!

Why will the Cubs really REALLY win it all this year? Or will they?

Ok folks, it’s that time of year again, when I subject myself to endless hours of watching WGN, MLBTV and online at work (shhh please don’t tell my day job) watching the Cubs play on the road and at my second home, the lovely Wrigley Field.

So many trades, so many changes, as we finally got rid of the infamous character of Milton Bradley and his idiotic behavior, and gained a multi-million dollar family to own the Cubs (The Rickett family), and the future is faced with the every day fear of one of the country’s oldest ball parks being torn down. What ever will happen this year?

I don’t know. I really don’t know. Every year I think I know. Some years I think it’s THE YEAR. I think, this HAS to be it (circa 2008) when I thought that only God could understand how very amazing, wonderful and truly spectacular it would have been for the Cubs to win it on the 100 year anniversary of them winning it all way back in 1908 when none of us were even on this earth yet. Or in the beginning of each season, when the ballpark grounds have thawed, the brown ivy slowly sprouting green buds, and the smell of baseball, beer and hotdogs filling the air, and the ghosts of players past, long gone, only to whisper the hope of a win that will finally, FINALLY FINALLY end this drought that the Cubs and their fans, WE have all suffered from.

It’s hard not to get poetic or emotional, what can I say? So before I get even further into my wishes, prayers and dreams about another opening season, I really need your help. Why do you think they will win, or why don’t you? I’ve asked for objective opinions before.

Tell me…..fill my BLOG! Do we have the bats? Do we have the pitching? Do we have the coaching? Do we have the pinch hitters, the closing pitchers, the outfield talent? And will Zambrano really get his sh*t together? Give it to me.

Deadline 2/26 so I can post your entries along with MLB’s pictures and MLB quotes by 2/28. Only 50+ days until Cubs home opener.

My official Cubs blog is now OPEN to the 2010 Chicago Cubs season!! I really don’t want to see this posted with the year “2011” on it. Let’s JUST DO IT already!

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The nail is in the coffin..how many days until home opener?

The nail just isn’t in the coffin, it’s been in there awhile and already rusting with post-season tears.

Well this is it. My last entry for the MLB season. I could fill it with some emotional, heartfelt, sappy verbiage about how the Cubs’ fate, yet once again ended up in a non-World Series win, not even a post-season hope all of the die-hard loving fans who, like me, will most likely (if not already) be counting the days until the season home opener in the spring. No, I’m not going to get sappy, well maybe a little bit. For now I choose to say it how it is. This season stunk. Let’s review, shall we?

1. Milton Bradley – Bad energy. Good riddence.

So much to highlight, but let’s just start with suspensions, and his completely unappreciative quotes to the media on why his playing for the Cubs wasn’t his greatest or finest moments, and I quote from the man himself on how he feels back at home compared to being in Chicago, (after a 15 – 6 loss to the Nationals in August), “When I go home and look in the mirror, I like what I see. My family is there I have people I can talk to who are very supportive, in spite of everything and all the adversity and the hatred you face on a daily basis. But I’ll be all right. I always have.”

“I’m talking about hatred, period. I’m talking about when I go to eat at a restaurant. I’ve got to listen to the waiters badmouthing me at another table, sitting in a restaurant. That’s what I’m talking about. Everything.”

In response to this, hey BRADLEY: You signed a 3 year, $30 MILLION contract in the off-season, you make more in one year than most Cubs fans will in a lifetime. Suck it up and be appreciative that Cubs fans actually care about the game, and suck it up that well, honey…you STINK.

2. Soriano – that famous hop he does catching the ball in the outfield didn’t help him hit enough RBIs for us in the regular season. What took Paniella so long to move him down in the line up? And why wasn’t Soto moved in his place faster? That leads into the next reasoning…

3. Management – What did Lou say at the beginning of the post season last year when we actually made the playoffs “In the playoffs, everyone starts out at the same level. It doesn’t matter what you did in the regular season, all that matters is what you do in the post.” Um we didn’t do ANYTHING. Oops I stand corrected – the Cubs played their three worst games in the post season against the Dodgers compared to any regular season game. But let’s stay on track people, that was 2008. I feel like Lou takes too long to make decisions. What’s his rationale behind this? Can his management please contact me and get me a direct quote in answer to this?

4. Ownership – Should this really effect how the Cubs play? So a really prominent, wealthy (insanely wealthy) family purchased the Cubs , the Rickett family to be exact, for $900m, or so they say. Not sure if this effected the Cubs’ playing in ’09, but it was a huge news worthy happening that seemed to fuel Cubs haters everywhere. As if there weren’t enough.

5. Pitching Pitching PITCHING – Ok so in all honesty, we’ve come a long way. Marmol and Dempster certainly seemed to prove themselves this season, but it seems with pitching. Whenever the Cubs take 3 steps forward, we end up taking 4 steps back. What happened to Zambrano in the last half of the season? Is he having personal problems? He used to be our Ace. The one that could pitch until the 7th inning and keep it under control, despite his emotional connection to the game. We’ve come a long way, but we have such a long way to go.

Should I keep going with reasons? Isn’t this what we do every year? As a baseball fan, and as a Cubs fan, we always try to figure out what went wrong, where it went wrong. It’s like seeing a relationship end and you have no idea where it started to go badly, you just know you watched it spiral down into nothing but a bad ending. And with this season, I know I even speak for the Cubs ticketing office who said what I felt “we just can’t wait for this season to end.” Listen folks, I’m tired. I’m tired of making excuses or rationalizing or trying to figure out the perfect formula for the Cubs actually having a true winning season. I am pretty certain you’d have to be some MIT grad to figure out the right formula for this mess.

But…but, as you all know, I like to look at the glass half full and appreciate the good times, win or lose I have every season. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to many home games this season, my travels had me elsewhere, but of course I was there for home opener, and blogged about our amazing win, despite the rain and the cold. And I was there in September, even though the season was over for us, I enjoyed an amazing Fall day at Wrigley in the bleachers, with some of my favorite Cubs fans and friends, saluting purple heart war Veterans at the beginning of the game, and watching the Cubs, well, lose the game. But it was still brilliant. It’s still Wrigleyfield, and it’s still about the dark green ivy in the Fall, and the stands that are still, still packed for every single game. It’s still about the game of baseball, no matter what happens.

The Cubs are like a very long term relationship. In the beginning, it’s new and fresh and full of energy. But like any long-lasting relationship, comes heartache, compromise, frustration and exasperation. The great thing about a long term relationship with the Cubs is that you get a break from it. You have time to lick the wounds, curse the Cubs over a finely brewed beer in the off-season, and then laugh with your fellow Cubs fans as spring comes around and the air is fresh and last season’s heartaches have been swept from Wrigleyfield by the Chicago Winter winds. And once again, in 179+ days (ok so I don’t know the exact count right now), I’ll be back, and so will you, and you know it. And we’ll hope again, because that is what Cubs fans do, no matter what others say, no matter how they say the Cubs stink (even if they do sometimes), we’ll always be here, hoping, dreaming, waiting, along with that 95 year old Cubs fan who still believes, so why shouldn’t we?

Here’s to next season boys, but give us some time for the wounds from this season to heal, once again. 

 

09Cubs1.jpg                             September 17th, 2009 Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers

 

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                                     A Cubs fan in the beginning of the season.. 

09Cubs4.jpg         A Cubs fan at the end of the season..can’t we change this outcome?                           

July Baseball

Ok well here it is. Start freaking out because July is half way over. Just kidding. Playoffs are 2 months away. Whoever is in first in the division is starting to salivate with baseball playoff fever and those in last sigh and shrug their shoulders and can only hope that being an optimist will help their team.

In baseball we all know the season is long. It’s ever-changing, it’s heart-breaking, frustrating, annoying, anger-ridden, joy-filled, and quite frankly – exhausting. It takes a lot to be a baseball fan, to endure all of the months. In a Cubs fan’s case, the bitter cold that sometimes happens in the beginning of the season, the delayed games due to tornadoes in May and June, torrential rain storms in May, June, July, August. Then you have to deal with the game itself. The players, the management, the pitching coaches, the batting line-up that should have changed about 5 series back and is just now getting in the right order (we hope). The money spent on cold beer, hot dogs and whatever else you engaged in during a game (or the many bar tabs from Wrigleyville).

It’s July. If your team is 3 games back you still have hope. Anything can change in the course of a series, a weekend, even one game. July is when you start to clench your teeth and pray to your baseball Gods for your team to perhaps, surge ahead and take it all, win it all.

In my case, it’s July with the Cubs. That means the ivy at Wrigley is a deep green, the summers are hot and sticky when it’s not threatening to rain, and while every win is considered a gift bundled in happiness, every loss in July adds a new line of worry. And while you tell yourself that it is only July, time keeps ticking, and you watch the standings in your division as August creeps closer.

We took 3 games from the Brewers at home, took 2 from St. Louis and still somehow managed to slip and be tied for 3rd in the division with Houston. Um..WHAT?! 

It’s July. Where you shake your head in disbelief one week and cheer with great enthusiasm the next because you team suddenly looks better than the rest. Its full of emotions. Maybe Cubs fans should all get on Prozac during the month of July. I’m just kidding..kind of.

Here’s to the middle of the season – where anything can happen come August 1st. And with that I leave this entry with some of the highlights of the July season and my beloved Chicago Cubs.

GO CUBS!

Cubspics1.jpgCubs against St. Louis at home

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Cubs fans catching Derrick Lee’s HR against the Brewers at Wrigley.

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Awwww Soto & Marmol share a bonding moment…

Cubs photos courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

Team Songs

I’ve heard a lot, but Eddie Vedder seems to have done the best job with a song about the Cubs, next to Steve Goodman’s “Go Cubs Go” song played after every win at Wrigleyfield I’m going to do a dig here because I can. I don’t see anyone writing a song about the Brewers or the White Sox, and I can see why. GO CUBS!

Eddie Vedder:

http://www.youtube.com/v/CqHTScDBsDU&hl=en&fs=1

Steve Goodman:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrlLmTh32KI

And some others for you die-hard Cubby pals, and for my pal Kevin Henrickson who wrote this song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgUZlMM22-s

 

 

 

 

 

Top Favorites of the Ballpark

Everyone has their favorite things about their team’s ballpark, whether it’s the green monster at Fenway, the sausage race at Miller Park or the memories from Shea stadium. Everyone thinks their ballpark is the best. I can probably name 100 things about Wrigleyfield that make it one of the best places in the country to watch a game at, but I’ve narrowed it down to what I think are at the top, or worth giving a tribute to. So what is the best thing about your ballpark? Can it beat these below?

The outside scoreboard. The screen that always says “Cubs Welcome” on it and whoever the Cubs are playing is displayed underneath. The same sign that gives you the score as you drive by the stadium if you aren’t lucky enough to be inside. The same sign that kindly and unwillingly congratulated the 2005 White Sox after they won the WS, because the northsiders are not sore losers. The same sign, that will some day, SOME DAY bost the beautiful words “CUBS WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS,” but for now, a picture of the Cubs sign with my name on it, a gift given to me by a pal at the corporate office. And no, that isn’t photoshopped…it’s the real deal.

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The Bleachers. Need I say more? The bleachers are the biggest party scene in the city. They bleed tradition and gave birth to the trademark name “bleacher bum,” of which anyone would be proud to be called. The bleachers are home of the invention other ballparks have copied  – the infamous opposing team HR ball return. Anytime and everytime an HR is hit by another team, a bleachers fan is expected to throw the ball back onto the field. This is a time-honored tradition, which hasn’t been broken, and has indeed been copied by other ballparks. It’s a sign to the other team that we care more about the Cubs than a HR ball for a keepsake. The bleachers are an entirely different experience at Wrigleyfield than sitting in one of the regular seats. You can meet your future spouse in the bleachers, make a life-long friend, or sit next to a 90 year old woman with her scorecard who will reminisce with you over an icy cold beer over the days when a ticket was just a quarter. You can cool yourself on a hot summer day in the 7th inning with the spray from the gigantic hose that helps cool the crowd. You can heckle the other team to see just how razzled you can make the outfielders, and taunt the other bleacher fans by seeing who is loudest. The bleachers are home to having one of the greatest views of Wrigleyfield. There is simply nothing better than watching the Cubs hit a grand slam against the White Sox, while you are sitting in the bleachers, and you see that beautiful baseball hurling out over your head, past the bleachers onto Addison, causing your team to win the game and a celebration that will last well into the early hours. The bleacher seats bring chills when you face the flag during the national anthem, and that old school mentality when you look up at the manually operated scoreboard and kick your feet that lay dangling over one of the cement stairs that you are sitting on because the bleachers are first come first serve. The Wrigleyfield bleachers is one of the best experiences you can have in Chicago, if you haven’t experienced it you are missing out.

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The Scoreboard.  One of the only manually operated scoreboards left in MLB. It’s the true essence of what Wrigleyfield has always been, a pure ballpark with out all of the bells and whistles. I’ve heard it gets really hot back there, where 2 people change the score during the Cubs game for all of the teams in the National and American League that are playing at the same time. Often times the crowd will cheer when they see the final score of another game that may have helped the Cubs advance in the standings. It’s traditions like the manually operated green scoreboard that make Wrigleyfield so unique and special.

Cubsscoreboard.jpg The Vendors. Not just another pretty vendor face, most of the vendors that work during the season are true veterans, that have been working at the field for years, sometimes decades. Vendors sell pretty much anything, and will actually go and get you something if you are nice enough. You know you are a die-hard fan when you give your vendors a hug at every game and know everything about their family. I personally have seen the same vendors every season, and they know that I sneak in a flask of Captain Morgan and always order a diet coke to mix it with in my seat. They know that I run out of the flask around the 4th inning and generally take a break from drinking. They know when I hug them goodbye at the last home game of the regular season and I consider them my second family. The vendors are all die-hard fans that consider Wrigleyfield a home away from home.

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The Budweiser Roof. You don’t have to have ever been to the ballpark to recognize this. It’s the red Budweiser covered rooftop that has been around for what seems like forever. It’s been in many movies, including “About Last Night,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “The Break-Up,” to name a few. Any MLB fan knows when they see that roof in any picture that it’s Wrigleyfield in the back-drop.

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The Bars. Do I really need to say more? Of course. The neighborhood bars that surround Wrigleyfield are the reason why pre & post-game parties are some of the greatest times a fan can possibly have. There are nearly 2 dozen bars with in a 2 block radius of the park, but the ones that align the same streets as Wrigleyfield each have their own personality and crowd. The most popular places that people talk about, and flock to when they visit the windy city are Cubby Bear, Sluggers and Murphy’s Bleachers.

The Cubby Bear, a bar I bartended at in 1998 has 3 floors, great bar food, and a history of being known for the hook-up scene post-game. If you ever visit ask the manager about the photobooth that used to be near the basement bathrooms. A lot went down in there after a game. Cubby Bear is so serious about the Cubs that they even fly in girls from Sweden to work the season, and as a former employee I made more money than I ever thought possible in one season. Go there and ask an employee about Mike, the former manager who had twins during the 99′ season and named them “Clark” and “Addison” after the street corners that Wrigleyfield sits on. Now that’s a true fan.

Sluggers has been around since the beginning of time it seems. It boasts an upstairs game room and batting cage and stripper pole, that seem to be more fun post-game. Go figure. The same managers of Sluggers still exist, and they keep around the same, friendly staff each season. If you go there ask for Zack the manager, or David the famous bartender. They’ll make you do a shot of whiskey chased with pineapple juice. It’s tradition.

Then there’s Murphy’s Bleachers, outside of the entrance to the bleacher seats. It’s small, loud and fantastic, and pre-game it’s one of the best places to people watch as the line to get into the bleachers increases. This bar is home to corporate outings to games, where inappropriateness is bound to show up among your colleagues. Hey – Vegas isn’t the only place that can boast that saying. What happens at a Cubs game…well it stays at a Cubs game.

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CUBBY BEAR

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SLUGGERS

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MURPHY’S BLEACHERS

The Old-Time Cubs Band. They’re old. They wear Cubs uniforms, and they play good time music pre-game right outside the entrance to the park and then through out the entire game in different sections. They aren’t loud enough to be annoying, and friendly enough to put a smile on your face, even if the Cubs happen to be losing. A game at Wrigley would be lost with out the band.

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Eamus Catuli Sign. It’s beneath one of the rooftops that boasts letters and numbers. The Lakeview Baseball Club is home to the famous Eamus Catuli sign. (Eamus Catuli is latin for Let’s go Whelps… but essentially means, Go Cubs!). The other sign (in this picture as AC0063100) stands for Ano Catuli 00 63 100. Ano Catuli means, “In the year of the Cub” the first two digits are how long it’s been since the Cubs won a division title. The second set of two digits are for how long it’s been since the Cubs won the NL Pennant, and the final numbers (now three digits) are for how long it’s been since the Cubs won the World Series. Some day that number will be a zero at the end. Some day.

Cubswall.jpgThe ivy. The only ballpark in the world that has the ivy. What makes it special? How it changes. You can always tell how early or late in the baseball season it is just by the color of the ivy. In the spring the ivy is barely green, still recovering from the Chicago winter of ice and wind. In the middle of the season it’s a bright green, lush and glowing in the sun. In late season it turns a dark green, and if we’re lucky enough to see it in post-season it boasts beautiful Fall colors of oranges and reds – the best colors a fan can see.

Cubsivy.jpgThe Rooftops. One of the priciest tickets in town, a rooftop game includes all you can eat and drink (including these amazing soft chocolate chip cookies) premiere seat where you can view the entire game with a personal waitress to make you drinks and food whenever your tummy growls. The Rooftops are mostly owned by the bar owners, including Cubby Bear, which owns two rooftops and sells them out every season. If you’ve got the dough and want to have a completely personalized Cubs game experience, rent out a rooftop and invite your closest friends. They’ll never forget the experience.

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The Miller Lite Billboard. It’s brilliant. Every series boasts a new billboard, sitting high above the bleachers next to the rooftops. The billboard boasts a saying that represents whoever the Cubs are playing or the standings at the time. I dated a guy once who actually had a poster that showed every single billboard up until 2005. I’d love to get my hands on that. Maybe he’s still single? Ha.

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Not a New York state of mind, this billboard showed up in the Mets series at home in 2007.

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Post-season. If only it would treat us well just once.

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                                  Can you guess what team we were playing?

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A dig at the sausage races held at Miller Park. This billboard displayed during the Brewers series.

 

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