The 2018 Under Armour Game

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There were shenanigans afoot in Friday’s Cubs loss, but thankfully they did not lose ground to the team that matters in the division, so whatever. It was fun as hell to watch THREE position players close out the game to save the Cubs bullpen, though! I guess Joe Maddon figured that if the Cubs were gonna get destroyed in a loss, they might as well just throw whatever out there and save the pitching for the doubleheader on Saturday. It may be a bit dicey with Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery potentially laboring for whatever reason, but maybe it will work itself out. I would have liked to see Javier Baez do some pitching, but I assume the Cubs would rather he not blow out his elbow trying to crack 100 on the gun.

Randall and I talked about the Under Armour Game in the most recent Dreamcast, and I did have a free ticket, so I decided to hang out in Wrigleyville for that. Randall was right, it was actually quite a bit of fun. Former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster threw out the first pitch, and Clark the Cub worked overtime to amuse all the kids in the crowd. Here’s a quick photo gallery of sights I saw in seats that I would never be able to afford otherwise…

A nice older lady chatted me up about her experiences at Wrigley as if I were a mere tourist, but she was so sweet that I just humored her. When we got in, most of the ballpark was cordoned off, and I guess to minimize personnel they did not allow any fans in the upper deck or in the bleachers. Most of us sat near the dugouts, though I was relegated to the visitors’ dugout since the home dugout was reserved for families.

There were two monster home runs, one of which hit the right field scoreboard (the only two runs the National squad would score), and the other one ALMOST made it to Waveland:

It seems that at least some of the kids knew enough about the new Cubs tradition to bust out their moves:

And considering these were actual KIDS (the scouts said they were rising seniors, having just finished their junior year of high school), the velocity readings on the scoreboard and the big hits were very impressive. There were a few very nice stops by both teams’ corner infielders, although some throws went a bit awry. There were also some suboptimal routes in the outfield, but I really wish I had gotten a video of the kid who caught a deep fly ball before bumping into the wall. That was actually a supreme play, as he gauged it well without killing himself against the ivy-covered bricks. As a note that may only interest me, people of color were well represented, including several African-American kids.

These are kids who obviously are among the best high school baseball players in North America, and have a great chance of being drafted out of high school, or after they have played for a premier college program for a few years. I bet they enjoyed playing in a real major league ballpark with an actual grounds crew, watching their replays on a big board, and hearing many more cheers than they’re used to in their high school games. They seemed to relish interacting with young fans, and even handled the hecklers pretty well.

Just like the All-Star Game, the American team prevailed over the National squad. Here is the video of the final out:

I would recommend this experience to everyone who enjoys baseball. If we didn’t know that these were high school kids, one might surmise that they were actually watching a Major League Baseball game. The kids were well-practiced, made excellent decisions on defense and on the bases, and generally played at a high level. The families in the sparse crowd looked like they enjoyed themselves, and being able to spread out in the rich bastard seats was really fun, too.

I would have to say that this game was much better to experience than the earlier shellacking (except for when Tommy La Stella, Victor Caratini, and Ian Happ saved the bullpen with their “curveballs”). I hope to see some of these kids get drafted, and maybe some even by the Cubs themselves. Considering the game is free admission, you should take advantage of the experience and just have a good time.

 

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About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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