Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Opening Day Rollercoaster at Wrigley

It was quite an eventful Opening Day for both the Cubs and some of the folks up in Aisle 424. The day started as most typical Cubs' Opening Days tend to start - with really cold weather, some sort of precipitation, and some douchebags' attempt at lifting the curse. I will say no more about that as I have gone on about the curse before and because Hire Jim Essian has addressed it appropriately here.

The rain fell steadily throughout the morning and led to many debates in the bars and on Twitter whether the game would actually get played. Those of us at the bars kept one eye on ESPN or WGN for pre-game baseball news, while the other was kept on the Weather Channel's radar, hoping that the big green mass of rain over Chicago would move on and let us get down to business at Wrigley.

As the scheduled gametime drew near, many of our attentions were captured by the news coming out of Washington DC, that the Phillies' legendary announcer, Harry Kalas had passed out in the broadcast booth prior to the game against the Nationals and was being rushed to the hospital. It wasn't long before the reports started flowing across the internet that Kalas had passed away.

To appreciate how long Kalas had been the voice of the Phillies, he became the play-by-play voice for the team in 1971, which was the same year Harry Caray was hired to do White Sox games and only one year after Jack Buck took over in St. Louis for Caray. He had a truly great voice and will be missed.

Reports scattered through the bars announcing that the game would tentatively start at 2:00, then 2:20, then 2:30. No one really seemed to know, and the weather was ultimately the deciding factor, so we sat and waited for the tarp to come off the infield, which it eventually did.

Once the game started, Ted Lilly immediately started throwing strikes and pretty much mowed down the Rockies effectively enough to have them start complaining over seemingly every called strike.

Meanwhile, up in Aisle 424, we commiserated, bitched about the weather, and started talking baseball again. Life was good. Then we had the first seat location debate of the year with people who think they know what they are doing when coming to Wrigley for the first time, but actually do not.

A group of Aisle 424 season ticket holders arrived a bit late to the game and found that their seats were already occupied. There was some typical back and forth between the groups (which will be a subject of a not-too-distant post) and eventually the people who were in the wrong seats eventually muttered and cursed as they found their correct seats on the other side of the aisle. This sort of thing happens way too often.

As focus was once again restored to the action on the field, the Rockies were in the process of handing runs to the Cubs. In the second, Ubaldo Jimenez issued a bases loaded walk to Koyie Hill to force in the first run of the day. In what almost has to be a record, it was the fifth bases loaded walk the Cubs have drawn in the last two games.

Later, in the fourth inning, the Cubs had an inning kept alive by what should have been an inning -ending double play relay throw from John Baker. Instead, it got past Helton to allow Koyie Hill to score, and later in the inning, Derrek Lee singled home another run to make it 3-0.

At this point, attention was drawn back to the seating area below me in Aisle 424 where a very loud and boisterous young lady was in the process of telling a few other people that they "better back the f--- off" and to "get the f--- out of [her] f---ing face." She then proceeded to tell the young man she was yelling at to "get the f--- out" and "take your mom and go home." At which point, those of us witnessing the incident noticed that the young man did seem to have someone who could be his mother with him, and she was telling the nice young lady that there was no need for being so offensive.

As the son, his alleged mother, and another woman who appeared to be a wife or girlfriend all headed up and out of the seating area, the young lady, who I'm sure was 100% stone-cold sober, started trying to rally support for her cause. "What the f---? I said 'Take your mom and go home,' what the f--- is offensive about that? I'm sitting here rooting for the f---ing Cubs and being f---ing enthusiastic and they throw a f---ing beer on me? F--- that!"

About fifteen minutes later, one of the security staff came down and spoke with the young lady and her friend, and ended up escorting them from their seats, and, I assume, from the park.

Again, the question of where the hell security was as all of the ruckus was going on is an issue for another day.

It was about that time that those of us with Blackberries and other mobile devices with internet capability started seeing news of the death of Mark Fidrych, the former Detroit Tigers phenom pitcher. For those who may not be familiar with Fidrych, imagine if Mark Prior had the personality of Turk Wendell and you would have a pretty good Cubs equivalent.

If bad news does come in threes, baseball should be good for awhile after the passing of Nick Adenhart, Kalas, and Fidrych in such close proximity to each other. Baseball will miss them all.

When our attentions were finally returned back to the field, a quick scan at the scoreboard confirmed what I had already suspected, Lilly had not allowed a hit through six innings.

I started hoping that I would get to see that which I have never seen before in person, because A) I had decided early in the day that it was too damn cold to keep score as I usually do, and B) because my fellow Aisle 424 member known on the comment posts as Seat 106, who has also never witnessed a no-hitter, was unable to attend the game due to illness. (Seat 106 - Get healthy for the Cardinals this weekend!)

I figured those two factors together would give Ted the mojo to get it done, but alas, Garrett Atkins shot a grounder past Fontenot into left field. It saved Lou from having to decide whether or not to let Lilly continue with the no-hit bid while already being over 100 pitches in the seventh inning.

The bullpen did not allow anything other than a walk by Heilman in the eighth, and one by Gregg in the ninth. The walk by Gregg led to some grumbling by the folks left in the ballpark that were on the verge of becoming boos, but never quite got that far.

At the end of the day, the Cubs had won, baseball had lost two icons, I had forgotten what it was like to ever be warm, and I never even had to break out my Secret Weapon. Yes - I have a Secret Weapon this year and I never had a need to test it out on Monday. I will keep it securely stored away and bring it out at the appropriate later time to help the Cubs grab victory from the jaws of defeat.

Today the Cubs have the day off. Hopefully they get Soto and Ramirez back on Wednesday, and then Bradley this weekend. Meanwhile, I will continue to try to get the feeling back into my toes.

5 comments:

Derek said...

Hi Tim,
I found your great blog while searching for some web readings about my Cubbies. My wife and I are going to be at Wrigley this Saturday (the 18th) against the Cardinals and have tickets in aisle 424, row 2, seats 105 & 106. I'd love to say hello, assuming you'll be there!

tmcginnis said...

Thanks, Derek. I'm glad you stumbled upon the site and found it worthwhile. I will be there on Saturday and would love to say hello. Hopefully we can discuss the Cubs beating the crap out of the Cardinals. :)

Arnold said...

Ooo, secret weapon! How exciting!

tmcginnis said...

Derek, it was great to meet you and your wife on Saturday. You picked a great game. Hope you had a good trip. Thanks again for reading.

Derek said...

Tim,
Sorry...I just now saw this comment.

It was great to meet you as well. Our trip was great. It was my third Wrigley experience and, by far, the best one. What a fantastic baseball game. The great weather was a nice bonus as we had prepared for some big chills.

My wife admitted later that she was startled by a stranger coming over and calling me by name. Apparently she forgot that I had mentioned you might stop by. That was good for a laugh.

Also, I must say that I am jealous of your season tickets up there. A nearly perfect view of the whole place. If we ever get back up there, I'll be sure to let you know.

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