Thoughts from the Dugout: Five Years Gone

Cox, LaRussa, Glavine, Thomas, Maddux, and Torre. AKA A Summary of Baseball in the 1990's.
Cox, LaRussa, Glavine, Thomas, Maddux, and Torre. AKA A Summary of Baseball in the 1990′s.

It’s a relatively safe assumption that nobody else on our tiny staff cares about the Baseball Hall of Fame as much as I do. It’s a much broader leap, but still a reasonable hypothesis, that I care about it more than most of our (hopefully somewhat more than) tiny readership. Therefore, when news governing the actual Hall of Fame rears its head, I stand at attention, ready to pounce upon their latest justice/injustice rendered upon innocent/guilty players.

This time around, it’s a little more complicated than that.

News broke over the weekend that the Baseball Hall of Fame, that venerable and most hallowed of institutions, would be changing a few things in time for this year’s election cycle. One change will be that baseball writers will be prohibited from selling their vote and must sign a waiver of sorts agreeing to a “code of conduct”, a reaction to some of the fuss that sprang up during voting last year. While one might argue over precisely how impactful this measure will be, there’s certainly no harm in it; the Hall simply wants to make sure that there are no further embarrassments to its “hallowed process”.

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Thoughts from the Dugout: 2nd Half Predictions

angels-baseball-mike-trout-wallpaper-7

The All-Star Game grooved right on by, and now the American League will receive home field advantage in this year’s World Series. That’s about as far on the record as I’m willing to go with regards to second-half certainties in Major League Baseball. Everything else remains in flux, from division winners to potential trade candidates, from award winners to statistical oddities. Anybody who says they can see something coming from a mile away is, more often than not, lying – insider information only gets you so far. With that being said, here’s 10 fun predictions for the second half of the 2014 MLB season.

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Check out Square Roots

chill night, right?I know the best place in town to hear music and try literally dozens of beers, and it is not Taste of Chicago. Tonight, I checked out the Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square, and it was awesome. The Square Roots Festival runs from Friday, July 11 through Sunday, July 13, and you (yes, you) should check it out. Despite getting there shortly after 8:00 p.m., music was pumping out of the north stage and there were hundreds of people in the street between Montrose and Wilson on Lincoln Ave. Most of the vendors were still open, including an amazing line up of food trucks, tents, and…oh, right, the beer: Fifteen primarily local breweries each with at least two of their lineup for you to try.

Most street festivals and art shows in Chicago put forth the same line up of art vendors, and this festival isn’t much different, save that a number of local vendors from Lincoln Square have tents offering their wares. A score of local restaurants have food stations lining the street, including Lincoln Square favorites Bistro Campagne, Fountainhead, Gather, and Cheesie’s Pub.

Music, however, is the biggest draw for the festival, proceeds from which will help support the Old Town School of Folk (full disclosure: I take guitar lessons at the school). Tonight,  Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate were creating amazing African/hip hop/reggae awesomeness (that’s a thing, right?) to a crowd of well over two hundred. They were followed by Ivan & Alyosha, a Seattle based group with a fantastic name (any other Literature geeks get the reference?), a remarkably upbeat folk band whose album I’ll be purchasing as soon as my bank account will allow. Tomorrow’s headliner is Bobby Bare, Jr’s Young Criminals Starvation League. You can check out “Valentine” on YouTube.

Folk and World Music bands aren’t the only acts getting stage time. Old Town offers a number of awesome music ensembles and classes. Sunday will feature their Brazilian Folk Ensemble with Paulinho Garcia (5:00-5:45 p.m); visitors can try out their African Dance (1:30 – 2:30 p.m) or Flamenco classes (2:45- 3:45 p.m), or just hang out and watch Aloft Circus Arts (8:00 – 8:30 p.m). If you want to catch up with Travis and me, you’ll find us in the 2nd Half Guitar Jam (1:30 – 2:15 p.m).

There’s always something to do on summer weekends in Chicago. There’s a street fest happening almost every weekend, and this weekend there’s Taste of Chicago to compete with as well. If you want over-crowded places with absurd food prices and too many tourists, go to Taste. If you want a chill atmosphere, great beers, and an amazing musical experience, then go to Square Roots.