I’m somewhat glad that I saved all my allotted off-days from school for this semester (I didn’t use any the first semester) which meant I had TEN days I could use for these last few weeks. I had used two of them for doctor appointments and another one just to not be at school for a day, and I used the fourth on Friday to go to the Cubs game with my family. If you check out the promotional schedule, Friday was the Babe Ruth called shot bobblehead day. I’ll probably go with the wife to Wrigley again for another random bobblehead day once the kid is in California to visit his grandparents, but this day was good as a nice mental health day (I love teaching, but hey, we all need a day off) and an opportunity to hang out with the family.
Unfortunately, it was a particularly cold and nasty day (although it cleared up), which reinforced my hatred of rain during baseball season and made me long for a roofed stadium. Maybe it makes me an impure Cubs fan but I kind of wish they’d tear down Wrigley Field and start over with a roof this time (but they won’t, at least not yet…). Eventually the game did start on time, though we didn’t get to watch any batting practice because of the wet weather.
It’s not that hard for us to get to Wrigley Field, just a quick jaunt on the #6 bus and then up the Red Line to the Addison station. We got there just after the ballpark opened and went to Gate K because I got the Mastercard Century Seats a while back because I wanted that Babe Ruth Bobblehead. We would have had three, but some guy offered us $10 so that his “kid” could have one. I guess in the back of my mind (and the wife even confirmed her suspicions on this) I knew he didn’t actually have a kid but was just saying that so he could get it and sell it on eBay later, but on the off-chance that it really was for a kid, I wasn’t going to be too much of a dick about it. Besides, that bought the wife a Goose Island so it’s all good.
Our seats were in Aisle 404, first row, but because it was still drizzling and we didn’t want wet butts, we sat in the top row of the section instead. This kept us under the roof, at least until the rain started coming at us sideways because Mother Nature sucks. Once we established our seats, we went and got the booze-ahol and some foodstuffs before the clock struck noon and full price would be charged. This was particularly annoying to me as I had to get a bag of peanuts and a soda later and I missed the cutoff by a minute, thus being forced to pay full price. Ugh. The boy did enjoy his Giordano’s pepperoni pizza though, wolfed it down within five minutes. Growing boy is hungry!
I don’t think any of the first pitch thrower-outers got their baseballs to the plate in the air. The designated catcher was even standing in front of the plate for all of them. Babe Ruth’s daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens, had an excuse though as she’s 97 years old. She actually got some oomph behind the ball and got a round of applause for her efforts. What a trooper!
The game, quite amazingly, started on time with the lights on, the skies overcast, and a barely noticeable drizzle. The wind looked to be blowing in from the east and it was incredibly cold at our seats in the upper deck. I imagine that this, coupled with the wet conditions, contributed to Jeff Samardzija‘s early control problems and the errors that basically gave the Brewers the eventual victory.
Samardzija’s goofy start and the errors put the Cubs down 4-0 by the second inning, and there was plenty of blame to go around from the errors by Junior Lake and Starlin Castro to the starter himself not finding the zone. When he did find the zone, the Brewers were aggressive and smacked the ball around for hits. It was looking bad for the Cubs to that point, and then Darwin Barney hit a long fly ball. At first it looked like it would hang up for an out, but it just kept going until I figured it would bang off the wall. Suddenly the baseball found its final resting place in the basket just to the right of the left field well, and the Cubs were only down 4-2 as Barney’s surprise home run took Nate Schierholtz along for the ride. I couldn’t believe it and I’m sure most of Cubs Twitter had to do a double take as well, but yes, the runs did count and the Cubs looked like they would do very well indeed. Junior Lake led off the bottom of the third with a line drive home run into left that we pretty much knew was gone from the angle and the sound off the bat, which was fun.
The Cubs then kept making outs, killing rallies with double plays, and generally sucking on offense. This meant that Jeff Samardzija, despite not being his usual sharp self against the Brewers’ B-squad (no Aramis Ramirez, no Ryan Braun, no Carlos Gomez), would not get a win and in fact would be saddled with the loss. He used way too many pitches in his five innings of work, and by that point our toes were frozen. With the boy being sort of sick and the dog at home having to go out fairly soon, we decided to leave in the middle of the fifth inning. Normally we wouldn’t have left, but our neighbor’s dog needed to be walked too and it was a pretty miserable weather day for a lot of fans besides us. If it had been spring or summer-ish weather which we expected in mid-May, or perhaps if the Cubs hadn’t wasted some scoring chances, we might have stayed, but as it was, we had seen all of the offense for the day since 4-3 Brewers was the final score. It was appropriate that we were in Aisle 404 since the Cubs couldn’t find their offense. Ha ha, web joke, get it? *groan*
The Cubs gave a salute to some army dudes in the fifth inning which was nice as we headed through the 200s level towards the exit.
Here’s the view of the newly painted Wrigley Field marquee as we exited the ballpark for our trip home.
I did say that we were kind of miserable weather-wise, and of course we anticipated that the concessions would be expensive. The new souvenir cups were cool, showing the winning Wrigley 100 logo as well as a fun fact about the ballpark’s construction. I got to eat my peanuts (but no Cracker Jack), and I also got to eat a Chicago dog (which was kind of underwhelming, plus I put ketchup on it because I’m an infidel). I got out of work for a day, a tradition for Chicagoans going to day baseball games, and I got to spend it with the family. Despite the weather we did have a good time and it was a shame that we couldn’t stay to the end of the game (even if it turned out to be a loss) because I heard that Babe Ruth’s daughter did a great job at the stretch. Then again, I guess it was good that I missed the bunt-rage towards the end.
Upon getting home (and while on the bus ride back), I did note that the bullpen guys didn’t give up any runs. Brian Schlitter, James Russell, Justin Grimm and even the newly activated Jose Veras pitched shutout ball to give the Cubs a shot in the bottom of the ninth, which I would have tuned in for except for the whole walking the dog thing I had to do.
I did notice in the time I was at the park that Emilio Bonifacio had dipped below .300 for his batting average. Welington Castillo had a great caught-stealing but his bat was colder than the weather that almost claimed my toes due to frostbite (more socks next time). It was nice to see Anthony Rizzo take a bunch of pitches to keep his on-base percentage above .400, and Starlin Castro is now batting .296/.337/.475 which is awesome for a shortstop, or most position players for that matter. I’d like to see him keep at this; he keeps making contact and usually even the outs are loud these days. Cubs pitching racked up 14 strikeouts, which was pretty good in the time that I had to tweet out the #Whiff thing to try to help the Cubs and Chicago win some money for RBI programs in the city. I need a bit of help on that, though, since the Cubs Twitter account kind of sucks and nobody else seems to care.
By the way, did I mention that we got bobbleheads? Obviously one of them is staying with us as I intended at least one to go to the boy for his collection. The one we sold is gone (I probably should’ve tried to jack up the price a bit to see what that guy really was willing to pay for his “kid” but I was feeling charitable) and that leaves one that we will probably use for a contest. Stay tuned for that, as the wife wants to come up with a cool idea for a World Series Dreaming contest. Here’s what he looks like:
The wife also made a very interesting observation and you guys can let me know if you agree or not. Here’s a composite of the bobblehead image and Mark Wahlberg, formerly known as Marky Mark…
Okay, so now you can probably score a chance to win a Marky Mark bobblehead from World Series Dreaming at some point in the future when we figure out what to do. Because I sold my bobblehead to some dude’s “kid” and this is technically the wife’s bobblehead, I’m going to leave open the option of her selling it on eBay, but she’s feeling generous so let’s see what happens. We will probably insist on having some minimum number of contestants or else we will put the bobblehead up for auction. Or maybe I’ll just give it to Anno or Ivy. Don’t know yet.
At the end of the day, the Cubs did lose, the weather did suck, but again I did get to spend time with my family and everyone had fun. I don’t begrudge folks for not showing up to a poor weather game against the Brewers backups, especially in another Cubs rebuild year. But I’m more of a hardcore fan of the team who wants to watch baseball whenever possible, and the family enjoys watching the game live and always finds it a fun experience. The kid got to add to his growing collection of Cubs stuff. I get that people complain about the Cubs major league team being subpar and lamenting the slow progress of the rebuild, but it is a process and I enjoy following the prospects and transactions even if others don’t. As of now the Cubs have the worst record in the majors, but I sincerely believe that great times are ahead despite all the naysayers and snarking going on. It does suck to lose, and I go into every game hoping that the team triumphs, but most times this year, it’s just not to be.
Yeah, it was cold and I did leave early…
So yeah, I left way early and got home in time to see the final out. In my defense it was really damned cold and I already got my bobblehead
— Rice Cube (@CubicSnarkonia) May 16, 2014
I actually spent $65.61 on the tickets during the MasterCard Century promotion (including taxes) and that doesn’t include the small fortune I had to spend on Ventra (YUK) and concessions at the ballpark. Knowing that the kid had fun and that I got to spend time with the family while watching baseball? Hey, I’d do it again. Maybe next time the weather won’t suck, and hopefully the team won’t suck either. The Cubs will hopefully find a way to beat the Brewers at least once this weekend (TV broadcast info here).