Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Denise Richards singing? That's a stretch.

When will the Cubs stop this terrible guest conductor tradition for the 7th inning stretch? John McDonough--who is now the president of the Blackhawks but created the guest conductor tradition when he was with the Cubs--had a lot of great ideas, but this was not one of them.

At most ballparks, of course, the 7th inning stretch provides a nice communal activity, but not necessarily a very notable one (it should be noted, though, that the worst 7th inning tradition lives in Houston, where they play the classic song only to lure fans in before forcing them to endure "Deep in the Heart of Texas," a supremely horrendous song that makes the average listener consider ripping his heart right out of his chest, which, when you think about it, seems a proper punishment for choosing to be in Texas in the first place).

However, the tradition has been much more meaningful for Wrigley denizens for nearly 30 years. When Harry Caray came to the Cubs from the White Sox in 1982, he brought his entertaining version of the stretch with him (interesting side note: did you know "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was written in 1908, the year the Cubs last won the World Series?). But after Caray died in 1998, McDonough implemented the guest conductor tradition whereby Cubs greats, prominent Chicagoans, celebrities and, um, other people, lead the crowd in song.

Allow me to back off of my previous statement--the idea is not entirely bad. I just take issue with the "other people" and some of the "celebrities" who are sometimes called upon to sing the stretch. When Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux did the honor after having their jerseys retired on Sunday? Great. Ron Santo flexing the golden pipes? Awesome. But this type of thing needs to stop:

And I freakin' DARE you to click play on this next video and continue reading this post while it plays. There's absolutely no way the human brain can contemplate the words you're reading while simultaneously dealing with this audio input:

Here are a few general rules the Cubs marketing department should abide by:

Ryne Sandberg--good
Denise Richards--bad

Pat Hughes--good
Tony Romo--bad

Ernie Banks--good
Jeff Gordon--bad

Andre Dawson--good
Jeff Foxworthy--bad

Dutchie Caray--good
Barney the Dinosaur--bad

Mark Grace--good
The Budweiser "Whassup" guys--bad

You get the drift. If I were running the show, I'd secure all the former players, big-time Chicago personalities (Jay Cutler, Derrick Rose, Jack Brickhouse, Mike Ditka, etc.), and current and former broadcasters that I could, and the other home games would feature a tape of Harry Caray. I know it may seem a bit inauthentic to go back to Harry more than 10 years after his death, but no Cubs fan has forgotten him or that he's the reason this tradition exists.

When I go to a game and find out Ryno's singing, I'm excited. But when I go and discover that Cyndi Lauper will be gracing the booth with her presence (as she did in '99), I'm disappointed and a little upset. From Vanna White and Donald Trump to Phil Donahue and Bill Rancic (from the freakin' Apprentice); from Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Kid Rock to Joey Fatone and Trace Adkins; from Erik Estrada and Cuba Gooding Jr. to Jamie Kennedy and Billy Blanks (trust me when I say I could go on ... and on), many of the guest conductors are not welcome as my guests.

Being at the park is one thing, but watching at home or listening on the radio is even worse. Each guest conductor chats with Pat and Ron for one half inning and with Len and Bob for another half inning. So if you're not lucky enough to be at Wrigley, you have to suffer through 10-20 minutes of Larry the Cable Guy updating listeners on his latest and greatest career venture. The radio is the worst, because the action on the field often takes a back seat while Pat and Ron feign interest in Horatio Sanz and you have no idea what the count is because he's droning on about what the hell he's been doing for the last five years.

So I suggest 15-25 games with guest conductors each year, the rest just good ol' Harry. You'd never have that "Who the heck is that?" reaction when finding out who's singing that day, and we'd all have a little more Harry Caray in our lives. Now that's a marketing concept I can root, root, root for.

Cubs notes
-Zambrano was indeed placed on the DL, and while infielder Bobby Scales will replace him for now, Randy Wells will be called up Friday to start in Milwaukee. Wells is a 26-year-old righty who was drafted by the Cubs in 2003, went to the Blue Jays as part of the Rule 5 draft in 2008, then was returned to the Cubs that same year. Wells pitched in a grand total of three games last September, giving up no runs in 4.1 innings. He has started four games this year for Triple-A Iowa, and is 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA.

-Ryan Theriot is defnitely on steroids. Three home runs in four days after having just seven career dingers before that? He's never had more than three home runs in a season before. He needs to pee in a cup immediately, or I'm going to start calling him Ryan Theroid.

-It was great to see Ryan Dempster go seven strong, walk just two and strike out seven. It was his first start this year in which he did not go exactly six innings, and the win makes him 2-1 on the season.

MLB note
Is Zach Greinke this year's Cliff Lee (i.e. coming pretty much out of nowhere to win the Cy Young)? After six starts, he's 6-0 with a 0.40 ERA. He has three complete games, and has struck out 54 while walking just eight.


  1. Just a note on Denise Richards. Yes, she was bad, but she knows it. She didn't want to sing, because she knows she can't. She asked the nice folks at Wrigley if she could hand out info regarding kidney cancer, as she lost her Mom to this disease about 1 year ago, and she wanted to inform people. They said she could pass out info, but asked her to sing "in exchange". It's unfortunate she got so much negative out of something she wanted to be positive.

  2. Maybe you didn't hear Ditka when he sang it?? (I use the term very loosely.) Take him off the list too.

  3. Brandon, I think you should try singing!! I know you would be much better at it!!! :) From your secret admirer!!!

  4. The stars at night are big and bright...