Sunday, June 12, 2005
Cubs vs. Red Sox, 6/12/2005
Or, the 2004 World Series That Should Have Been. All in all, a fantastic day at the ballpark. The Red Sox have *never* played Wrigley before, since this is their first interleague match-up (and, for the record, this was the last interleague pairing that hadn't happened yet) and their only other meeting, in the fabled 1918 World Series, was played at Comiskey b/c Wrigley was too small. The Sox won that series, and their next series win was 2004, as everyone not in a coma last October heard over and over ad nauseum. Cubs fans tend to feel a special kinship with the Red Sox, a feeling that may have faded just a bit last year, so this series was highly anticipated. I managed to snag four seats during the first-day ticket sales, in 538 one row down from the back. Other than a pillar in the way, not bad seats, especially since it's *windy* up there, much appreciated when it's 90-ish and muggy out. Being so high above the field prompted us to design some quick exit strategies like batpoles and water slides. We went with my advisor and her husband, huge Sox fans, but they didn't stand out because the whole place was crawling with Sox fans!
So, in the first two innings, things looked bad, and after the 14-6 blowout of the day before, we were afraid the Cubs had used up all their offense and would just roll over. Zambrano gave up two walks followed by a Trot Nixon home run, then another homer to former Cub Bill Mueller in the second. The Sox fans were giddy, the Cubs fans were despondent. Then we answered with five singles in a row, all from the middle of our order, in the bottom of the second, and suddenly it was 4-3. Todd Walker, former Red Sox (Red Sock?), tripled in the fourth and scored on a groundout. (Funny thing about Walker: he was interviewed several times before the game, along with Nomar, and was asked no end of inane questions like "Hey! How does it feel to be traded away from the Sox just before their championship year?" and "How would you compare Cubs fans and Sox fans?" (which is stupid because it's just the media fishing for compliments for the local fans). Of course, all of the good questions were for permanently-injured and yet leading the NL in All-Star votes at shortstop Nomar, who was going to get his ring today for a World Series he didn't play in. Walker's questions were just bones thrown by the media. He looked generally jealous and pissed off, but he got his revenge by getting three hits and three runs scored, plus an RBI. Playing well is the best revenge.)
So, the game was tied up at 4, and the Cubs fans had come back to life. "Let's go Red Sox!" and "Let's go Cubbies!" tried to drown each other out, though we joined together in "Yankees suck!" Zambrano settled down and despite a sloppy pitching job still struck out 8. In the 5th, he got a base hit, slid awkwardly into second on a putout and sprained the big toe of his landing foot and had to leave the game. Along came the bullpen, and Cubs fans chewed their nails anxiously, but Wellemeyer and Remlinger and Wuertz gave up no runs. In the 6th, Walker scored on a sacrifice fly and the Cubs took the lead. Then in the 8th, Ramirez hit the shortest double I've ever seen (it rolled to a stop next to the Cubs bullpen and Manny Ramirez had to run a long way to pick it up), knocking in a run, followed by an RBI single by Hollandsworth, and the score was 7-4 going into the bottom of the 9th.
On came Dempster. Sigh. What we wouldn't give for a lights-out closer! Instead, we get these guys (Borowski, Hawkins, Dempster) who like to make things interesting. We don't like interesting. Dempster gave up two hits and a run right off the bat. Cubs fans clutched their hair while Sox fans danced in glee. Along came powerhouse David Ortiz with a man on, but he grounded out, a miracle considering the show he put on during BP. Then Manny came up and knocked in another run. It was 7-6 with a man on second and two outs. Trot Nixon, hero of the first inning, came up to the plate.
And popped out to Ramirez. CUBS WIN!!!
I said in the morning that I hoped for a close game with lots of offense. Having received exactly what I asked for, I kind of wish I'd asked for a one-sided blowout instead. That game was *stressful*! Not helpful were the drunk guys behind us, who spilled beer on us twice and then became verbally abusive when we had the gall to complain. I was so pissed but couldn't do a thing - bullying bullies just encourages them. Luckily they left in the 8th, to get seats at the bar no doubt. It's almost enough to make me want to sit in the family section. Do I sound old? Tough.
The Cubs are 5 1/2 games behind the Cardinals, and 1 back from the Wild Card lead. We're not even halfway through the season yet.