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2008 Big League Weekend Will Feature The Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners11/29/2007 12:22 PM ET
By Jim Gemma / Las Vegas 51s
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LAS VEGAS: The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and the Las Vegas 51s professional baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, announced today the schedule for the 2008 Big League Weekend at Cashman Field.
Major League Baseball will once again return to the Silver State with two exhibition games featuring the 2007 National League Central Division Champions, the Chicago Cubs and the Seattle Mariners.
The Cubs will face the Mariners for two games on Friday, March 28 at 7:15 p.m. and Saturday, March 29 at 12:05 p.m. Big League Weekend ticket packages are available NOW by calling the 51s office at (702) 798-7825. Individual game tickets for Big League Weekend will go on sale on Monday, March 3, 2008. Ticket prices will be announced at a later date.
"The LVCVA is proud to partner with the Las Vegas 51s to bring Big League Weekend back to Las Vegas, and we are excited to welcome back the Cubs and Mariners for this year's action," said Rossi Ralenkotter, President and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. "Seattle and Chicago are great markets for our destination and the fan base for these two teams is tremendously supportive as shown by last year's sell out crowds."
The Cubs, under manager Lou Piniella, compiled an 85-77 (.525) record in 2007 and captured the NL Central Division, two games ahead of second-place Milwaukee. The Cubs returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2003 season. Outfielder Alfonso Soriano signed as a free agent (an eight-year deal) with the Cubs prior to the '07 season. He appeared in 135 games and batted .299 (173-for-579) with 42 doubles, 19 stolen bases, 33 home runs and 70 RBI. First baseman Derrek Lee, a member of the Las Vegas Stars in 1997, compiled another solid season. He appeared in 150 games and batted .317 (180-for-567) with 43 doubles, 22 home runs and 82 RBI. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez led the Cubs with 101 runs batted in. He appeared in 132 games and batted .310 (157-for-506) with 35 doubles and 26 home runs. Right-hander Carlos Zambrano led the pitching staff with an 18-13 record in 34 starts. He recorded 216.1 innings pitched and struck out 177.
"We are excited to announce this year's lineup for Big League Weekend," 51s President/General Manager Don Logan said. "The Cubs fan base and popularity is enormous and we welcome them back to Las Vegas. Chicago fans, both locally and the tourists that visit during this event, always enjoy watching Cubs baseball at Cashman Field.
"We are also delighted to have the Mariners back in Southern Nevada. In Ichiro, they have one of the premier hitters in baseball. He also draws fans from Japan to this event. Big League Weekend is a great showcase for the fans of Las Vegas to watch Major League Baseball up close and personal."
In 2007, the Mariners compiled an 88-74 (.543) record and finished in second place, six games behind the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, in the American League West. Bench coach John McLaren took over for manager Mike Hargrove, who resigned on July 1. McLaren will begin his first full season as manager in 2008.
Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki continues to be the one of the best players in baseball. In 2007, he finished second in the A.L. with a .351 average (238-for-678) and recorded his second Silver Slugger Award, determined by a vote of Major League Baseball coaches and managers for the best offensive producers at each position in both the A.L. and N.L. He became the first player in Major League Baseball history to record 200 hits over the first seven seasons of a career (added to his own record as in 2006, became the only player to record 200 hits in his first six seasons). He also became only the third player in ML history to record at least 200 hits in seven consecutive seasons, joining Willie Keeler (8, 1894-1901) and Wade Boggs (7, 1983-89) and is the first player to record three seasons of at least 230 hits. In 2007, he led the Major Leagues with 238 hits and 76 multiple-hit games.
He has a remarkable .333 career average (1,592-for-4,774) in 1,118 games. Since 2001, Ichiro has recorded the most hits in baseball (1,592) and has the highest career batting average among active players. He was the 2004 American League batting champion (.372 average) and set the Major League single-season hits record with 262, which surpassed George Sisler's 257 hits in 1920.
Third baseman Adrian Beltre recorded a solid 2007 season. He appeared in 149 games and batted .276 (164-for-595) with 41 doubles, 26 home runs and 99 RBI. Outfielder Raul Ibanez led the team with 105 runs batted in. He appeared in 149 games and batted .291 (167-for-573) with 35 doubles and 21 home runs.
The 2007 Big League Weekend attracted 23,220 fans that included two sellouts between the Cubs and Mariners.
The Cubs and Mariners return to Cashman Field for the fourth straight season. The two teams split a two-game series last season. The Cubs defeated the Mariners, 8-5 on March 30 before 11,562 fans and the Mariners then defeated the Cubs, 2-1, on March 31 before a crowd of 11,658.
The Cubs will be making their seventh all-time appearance in Las Vegas for Big League Weekend (1993, 1994, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007). The Cubs have the distinction of setting the Cashman Field all-time attendance record. The Cubs and Chicago White Sox played on April 3, 1993, before a crowd of 15,025 (White Sox won 9-8).
The Mariners will be making their 11th all-time appearance in Las Vegas (1983, 1991-93, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007). Seattle was a part of the first Major League exhibition game to open the Cashman Field Center. The Mariners faced the San Diego Padres on April 1, 1983.
The 51s open their "26th PCL Season" on Thursday, April 3 against the Salt Lake Bees, Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, at 7:05 p.m. at Cashman Field. Season tickets and mini-plan packages (10, 20, 33-game plans) are available by calling the 51s office at (702) 798-7825.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.