CHICAGO -- Maybe it was race driver Jeff Gordon's shout out to the fans at "Wrigley Stadium." Or Ozzy Osbourne, who decided the lyrics of "Take Me Out to The Ball Game" were not nearly as interesting as the mostly unintelligible words he'd picked out for himself. Or perhaps it was actress Denise Richards, who brought along a little cheat sheet in case she forgot the words.
Whatever the reason, the Chicago Cubs have decided to make the broadcast booth at Wrigley Field, and more importantly, the microphone, off limits to the likes of Vanna White, Erik Estrada and Mickey Rooney. Marion Ross will apparently be the last member of the "Happy Days" cast to sing during the seventh-inning stretch. No more Kid Rock, who, as the story goes, knew it was customary to say something at the end of the song, but went with "Let's get some lunch!" instead of the more traditional "Let's get some runs."
"I think the last couple of years we had gotten away to a couple of people who weren't tied to Chicago," said Jim Oboikowitch, the Cubs in-game programming director in what might be a bit of understatement after more than a decade of Peter Frampton, David Cassidy, Barbara Eden and Frank Sinatra (Junior) leading the Wrigley faithful in song.
Some fans are pleased.
"It was a good idea at first," Al Yellon, who runs bleedcubbieblue.com, said of the Cubs' decision to allow celebrities to take over the job the late Harry Caray handled so famously for so many years. "But it turned into a celebrity fest with D-list celebrities."
McCarthy back on mound
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Arizona's Brandon McCarthy methodically struck out four in two innings in his first game since a horrific head injury, an impressive return that overshadowed all else in the Diamondbacks' 14-6 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.
McCarthy, signed by the Diamondbacks as a free agent, gave up one run on three hits. He had not taken the mound in a game since Sept. 5 when he was struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of the Angels' Erick Aybar while pitching for Oakland. McCarthy sustained an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture.
Reds ace Johnny Cueto, in his first start since he was injured early in last year's playoffs, went two innings, allowing four runs, two earned, on five hits with a strikeout and a walk.
Fans scurry to safety
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Fans were sent hurrying from their seats at Goodyear Ballpark by what turned out to be a false alarm with one out in the top of the eighth inning of a spring training game between the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians.
The game Wednesday was delayed 5 minutes.
An automatic alarm beeped loudly throughout the ballpark in the top of the eighth Wednesday. The Indians stopped warmups and the umpires looked at one another, wondering what to do.
The alarm persisted and dozens of fans began to evacuate. Cleveland pitcher Nick Hagadone, however, continued his warmups.
After the delay, Seattle batter Julio Morban stepped into the batter's box and play resumed.
The scoreboard showed a message that read, "False Alarm."
Berkman to DH for Texas
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Lance Berkman is ready to take some swings in a spring training game for the Texas Rangers.
Berkman, who has been bothered by a mild right calf strain, is set to make his Rangers spring debut Thursday.
"You need some at-bats to kind of get a good gauge of where you are with your spring," Berkman said Wednesday. "From a practice standpoint, I feel pretty good. But there's certainly work to do and I'm sure I'll find that out [Thursday], just where I'm at, just in terms of timing and bat speed and all of that."
The Rangers have been cautious with the 37-year-old switch-hitter, a first baseman who will primarily be their designated hitter. He played only 32 games with St. Louis last season because of two operations on his right knee and a left calf strain, and thought about retiring before agreeing to an $11 million, one-year deal with Texas