There are teams that excite a fan when they come to town. Those teams exist in all of the different sports at the different levels. In the NFL an example would be the Dallas Cowboys. The NBA has the Knicks, Lakers or Celtics. In college USC, Michigan or Ohio State to name a few on the football side, Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina on the basketball side. The Yankees would be among those teams in Major League Baseball, as would the Red Sox and Dodgers. The Dodgers are one of those teams with an extensive history, names that help define the sport's history, and the voices and personalities that is Dodger Baseball. And this weekend the Los Angeles Dodgers came to Chicago's North Side to play another iconic team, the Chicago Cubs.
For most of us the Los Angeles Dodgers has one person that would be Mr. Dodger and that is Tommy Lasorda. Lasorda managed the Dodgers for their best era while on the nation's left side. Lasorda would be the rolly polly guy who sat in the dugout, seemingly as casual as the LA lifestyle. But he had the fire building in that stocky frame that enjoyed the game more than those who also wore the Dodger Blue. And when it was time for Lasorda to step away from the dugout, he still was part of the LA family, and he is a constant at home as well as on the road.
And the Dodgers have had their fair share of league-leaders. In 2012 Matt Kemp is that guy. Definitely a name many knew coming into the season, he is turning into a player that everyone will know by the all-star break. He is leading the league in many offensive categories, and on this cold, damp, windy afternoon in Chicago, Kemp was denied three possible home runs due to the outdoor conditions.
Vin Scully has the been the voice of the Dodgers since the team's move to LA. But today he doesn't carry every game, deciding to call those games at home as well as those in San Diego, San Francisco and Phoenix. On the road Steve Lyons helps take up some of the announcing responsibilities. Lyons (right) has also worked for the Fox Network's national games and post-season.
Dale Sveum is in his first year as the Cubs manager. Part of getting to know the team he has, he finds himself playing those he likes to see more of to those he'd like to leave in the clubhouse. Brian LaHair is playing his first full season at first base. Progress is being noticed.
Wrigley Field continues to evolve. The outfield ivy remains, but just above the right-field line is the newest addition to the historic ballpark. In right field an LED board giving in-game stats is new. And above that is the Budweiser party deck. This are took the place of some family seating, but it has given the ballpark a little bit of a different identity.
But as some things in the ballpark evolve, other traditions remain. Former broadcaster Harry Caray sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the 7th inning stretch of all Cub home games. But with his passing in 1998, guests have been brought in to sing. There have been good and bad singers, and then there are those that are very forgettable. Yesterday's may fall into the latter category. Chicago Bear offensive lineman Roberto Garza was the guest conductor on Saturday.
And maybe the way to get to the ballpark, Chicago's public transportation system. The "L" allows fans a seemingly easy way to get to one of baseball's hard to reach diamonds. Wrigley Field was built in a neighborhood on Chicago's near north side.There are no major highways within three miles of Wrigley and the CTA provides a solid solution. My son and I like to park near O'Hare and the take the Blue Line to the Addison stop, where there buses pick you up and drop fans off outside the main entrance of Wrigley Field.