For those of you who don’t read this blog very often I am not the biggest Cubs fan. I won’t say that I hate them, but I don’t love them either. I have been to seven games over the past two years, and the Cubs have won six of them. They just seem to play better when I am in the park. I think the Cubs should pay me to attend their games. The way it looked at the stadium today they may have to start paying people to attend them period. The announced attendance was 27,039 for the game. Most of those people must have gotten their Starlin Castro bobbleheads, and turned around and left. If the park was well over half full you could have fooled me. I found a great seat cheap last night, and decided to go. Down low in section 100 you would not expect to find a lot of empty seats. That was exactly what happened though. As the game went on people just spread out to have some room for themselves. This reminded me of a game at the Cove on any night other than dollar night. This is not what I have come to expect going to Wrigley. On my way into the stadium I saw people with bleachers seats by the dozens trying to get rid of them. For $10 a seat you can’t beat an afternoon of entertainment. If that trend continues I might have to take the train up to Wrigley a little more often. I have seen where people are saying that the cold kept people away. Today it was mostly sunny, and almost 50 degrees. What more do you want in April? If the Cubs get hot seats won’t stay empty. If they don’t play well though it will be interesting to see what the fans do.
Like I said I am not a Cub fan. I love my White Sox, and enjoy baseball. I will go to Wrigley a couple of times a year because you have to appreciate the park. I went today because the Diamondbacks were in town. I have attended many South Bend Silverhawks games so I have seen a few of these guys when they were just breaking into professional baseball. It is nice to see them in the show.
The day did not start off so well though. I always take the train to Wrigley. It is just so much easier than driving. I like it because instead of fighting traffic I can just relax and read. Of course I did not factor in schools being on spring break when I made my travel plans. When I got on the train in Beverly Shores it was already full with people standing in the aisles. I found a nice spot to stand in the middle of the car, and prepared myself for the ride. What I could not prepare myself for though was the impromptu episode of Glee that occurred right behind me. Two girls and two guys started singing every song the knew (and some they didn’t) choir style. It got old real quick when they started writing their own song. I am sure that they were having fun, but nobody around them was. So here I am standing on the train listening to some high school kids butcher Styx. I should have just hopped on a return train right then.
Things worked out great after that though. I made it to the Red Line with no problems, and even hopped a train almost right away. I got to the stadium in time for the gates to open. Today they were giving out Starlin Castro bobbleheads. I don’t collect the things, but it does look pretty cool. People went crazy for them though. I saw people with stacks of them that they found in the seats. I settled in to get some pictures during batting practice. Sometimes that is the best chance to get some pictures of guys who normally don’t see game time. The Diamondbacks have an interesting coaches, and I saw them all. My worst fears were also confirmed when I went to the concession stand. I had heard that Connie’s was no longer going to be sold at the Cell (DiGiorno’s is taking their place). I walked up to the concession stand at Wrigley thinking they might still have it, and to my dismay they did not. The pizza they did have did not look good at all. I just bought two half price hot dogs, and found my seat.
I found a great seat in section 126 looking right down the third base foul line on StubHub last night. After seeing the lack of fans at the game I thought I would see if they had any cheap tickets for today’s game. This was a great place to get some pictures during the game. Now I just had to get them.
The Diamondbacks are managed by Kirk Gibson. Anyone my age knows all about his dramatic home run in the 1988 World Series. He might also be known just about as much for his mustache. Both he and fellow manager Don Mattingly were big name players in the 80′s who also have great staches. Now that they are managers they have become respectable clean shaven men. I wonder if this would be the case with Giants closer Brian Wilson?
Kirk has a very veteran coaching staff as well. He has former Tiger manager and Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell as his bench coach. Former Cub manager Don Baylor is his hitting coach. Matt Williams is his third base coach, but is sidelined right now with a broken foot. Former Cub favorite Eric Young is his first base coach. He has some knowledge on his bench for sure. When you are a first time manager as Kirk is you need some veterans around you, and he has done that.
The Cubs jumped off to a quick 4-1 lead over the Diamondbacks. Starlin Castro had a key two out double in the second (he had to do something since they gave away the bobblehead) to give the Cubs the 2-0 lead. Tyler Colvin hit a two run shot in the second to answer the home run by Ryan Roberts. I hear a lot about the youth in the Royals organization, and how they could be good in a couple of years. The Cubs have some guys playing right now that could be very good. Colvin and Castro are just two examples of what the future could hold for the Cubs
Andrew Cashner pitched very well in his first Major League start today. He was really rolling when he injured his should ubruptly in the sixth inning. I didn’t see anything, but after a walk the trainer came out to the mound, and Andrew soon followed him back to the dugout. In 5 1/3 innings pitched he only gave up two hits (one of them a solo shot), and struck out two. He had a good game going at the time of his departure.
Former Valparaiso Viking and Fighting Irish pitcher Jeff Samardzija came in to relieve him. I have seen Jeff pitch at a couple levels, but never at the big league level until today. It is hard to believe, but he was the third best pitcher on that 2006 Irish team. He was a pretty good football players as well. I still have his game in 2005 at Purdue stuck in my head. He came in after Cashner went out today, and struck out the first two batters he saw. He got into some trouble in the 7th though, and helped the Diamondbacks get right back into the game. He ended the day pitching one inning giving up two runs, with no hits, two strikeouts, and two walks.
In that seventh inning the Diamondbacks scored three runs to tie the game. Key hits by former Silverhawk Gerardo Parra and Willie Bloomquist tied the game. The hits were clutch, but the Cubs pitching gave up the lead. Samardzija walked two, and was taken out for Marcos Mateo. Mateo faced two batters walking one, and giving up a hit to the other. James Russell did a great job of getting the Cubs out of the inning without any more damage being done.
After the Diamondback rally Mark Grace sang the seventh inning stretch. Mark was a fan favorite during his time with the Cubs. He is now the color man for the Diamondbacks TV broadcasts so the stretch would be interesting. I was waiting to see who he would say he rooted for, and once again he just went with saying the home team. I always liked Gracie, and was glad that he sang today. The Cubs won the game in the bottom of the seventh with a rally after the stretch. They answered the Diamondbacks every time they scored today. The scoring started when Marlon Byrd doubled down the left field line to score Jeff Baker who had come into the game on a double switch. After the double Aramis Ramirez was intentionlly walked by Sam Demel to load the bases for Tyler Colvin. Demel came into the tie game hoping to get the win, but got the loss giving up two runs on three hits, and a walk in just 1/3 of an inning. After Demel walked Ramirez Joe Paterson was brought in for the express purpose of getting Tyler Colvin out. He walked Colvin to bring in a run. That was the third run batted in for Tyler on the day. It was also the game winning run. I don’t give out players of the game for baseball, but Tyler would get it today.
The Diamondbacks put up a fight in the ninth off of Sean Marshall, but came up just short losing 6-5. I had a great time though, and the seats could not have been better. They reminded me of the seats I had in 2000 when I managed to get a couple cool shots of Sammy Sosa. It was that day that really started this camera craze I am in now.
Before I go I just have to comment on these new hats the Cubs are selling. I saw many of them on the heads of fans today so I know they must be selling well. When a kid wears one of these Cubs hats it looks cute. When an overweight adult wears one drinking it just looks weird. To me I just thought that a lot of people dressed like Grover from Sesame Street showed up at the park. Hopefully these are gone by summer.
I also heard some of the strangest things today at the game. Early on a woman selling 50/50 tickets was making chit chat with a guy while he was paying her. With a straight face she looked at him and asked how he was so tan this early in the year. He looked at her and said “I’m a mexican.” She quickly took his money, gave him his tickets, and left the section. After she left his buddy kept asking him about his ‘tan.’ At least they had a sense of humor about it. Later in the game a couple sat behind me in the place of the guys who were there before. When Kosuke Fukudome came up they started talking about how good he is. The woman looked at the guy and said that “With all the people in China you would think that they would have more ballplayers in the Major Leagues.” It took everything in my not to laugh sitting in my seat. The comment was wrong on so many levels, but I wrote it down anyway. You hear some of the craziest things at the ballpark. I should write a book with some of the stuff that I hear.
As I said with the Opening Day post I am going to post my scorecards for each game. You would not believe the people that come up to me during the game and ask who I am scouting for. For once I had people around me scoring, but that did not stop the guy next to me from asking if I get paid to keep score. I am pretty sure only one guy at each game gets paid for it, and he is in the Scorers box. If you look at my sheet you will quickly see that I am far from a professional. I love doing it though so I guess I will continue to do it for free. If some of my writing looks a little shaky it is because I tried to finish the totals on the train coming home. I would be doing fine, and then the train would shift causing me to be a little shaky. It gets the job done though.