Thank You Cubs for a great vacation

As the sports information director at The College of Idaho and the Radio Broadcast Manager for the Boise Hawks – it is very difficult to find time to take a vacation, in fact, typically one week a year is all that I am able to squeeze in for some R&R (something that my wife would love to see changed – but it currently is the nature of the beast).

So, when we were able to get cheap airfare and a $12 a day rental car out of Milwaukee – it was off to the Midwest to see family and friends, and the Cubs.  A night in the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Chicago, an evening at Navy Pier (with dinner at Harry Carey’s Grill) was the precursor to a Wednesday day game in the Friendly Confines.

Myself and photographer Bill “Sport” Smith (of had media passes for the game – in which we were able to get sound and photos from batting practice.  Including watching Carlos Zambrano demonstrate how to break a bat over his knee, Marlon Byrd chatting for the first time about his facial fractures, and Mike Quade discussing how to turn the ship around.

I was able to chat with WGN color-commentator, Bob Brenly – who joined me in the booth in 2008 while his son, Michael was with the Hawks, and spent time with Cubs’ beat writer Carrie Muskat from and Bruce Levine from ESPNChicago.  I was also able to get 1-on-1 interviews with both Sean Marshall and Tony Campana. 

What was amazing was spending time in the press box – meeting Pat Hughes and Keith Moreland from WGN Radio and TV play-by-play man Len Kasper.  It was great to put a face to the voices that I hear throughout the spring.  I can now see how Harry Carey had issues calling games – you were so far from the action (they must use the TV monitors to see the play better).

Even better were the seats that the Cubs gave the six of us – second row from the field, next to the camera well…literally on top of the action (which was a bit dicey when a left-handed batter was up, considering we had three kids under 4 in the party).  Though the Cubs lost 3-1 to the Astros, it was as intense as I have ever been involved as a fan at a game – since we were nearly in the action.

It was outstanding to see familiar faces – former roving pitching instructors Lester Strode (bullpen coach) and Mark Riggins (pitching coach), along with base-running rover Bob Dernier (first-base coach), while seeing the Geovany Soto’s, Lou Montanez’s, Tyler Colvin’s, Randy Wells’, Tony Campana’s, and Sean Marshall’s up close and personals.

It was a day that I’ll never forget and am guessing that I will be talking about the afternoon (probably not about the traffic that we endured down I-94/I-90 leaving the park) all summer long.

It was a great way to get the body, mind, and soul energized for the rigors of the 76 game, 79 day Northwest League season.

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Muskat Ramblings's Carrie Muskat has been covering Major League Baseball since 1981 and is the author of "Banks to Sandberg to Grace: Five Decades of Love and Frustration with the Cubs." You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Here, she blogs about the Cubs.

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