Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Report from Wrigley North

I made Good Friday a Better Friday by making the road trip to Milwaukee for the first Cubs/Brewhas match-up of the year. And for once in my life, I was glad that Baron Budhausen had cajoled his way into getting the government to pay for a dome.

To put it simply, it was bloody cold out. I arrived fashionably early, as usual, and planned to wile away the hours before the gates opened by taking in the pre-game festivities while taking a leisurely stroll around the park. After a few minutes fighting the wind (the flags in front of the stadium weren't flying in the breeze as much as they were hanging on for dear life) made me realize that, unlike the burgeoning throngs of tail-gaters, I was not drunk or stupid enough to sit outside for two hours.

By the way, why do some many people enjoy the tail-gating? What is the attraction of cooking and eating a meal while sitting in a dirty car park while carbon monoxide fumes waft over you?

At any rate, a brisk walk down the left-field side of the stadium led me to the entrance to the restaurant entrance gate. I wasn't planning on eating there, but they were only letting in people who would be patronizing the place. Any port in a storm, as they say.

And I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the place. I got to see an hour or so of Brewer BP. And watching batting practice is a must, no matter what the game. After a pint of Guinness and a hot bowl of broccoli cheese soup, I was ready to face the elements again.

A quick turn around the lower concourse made me glad to hasten up to the fourth deck. As science has taught us, heat rises. I heard today that the temperature on the field was 60 degrees. Still a little chilly, but infinitely preferable to what was going on outside.

This outing was organized by my valued co-worker Dean, a fine, upstanding young man, Cub Fan and winner of the office fantasy league last year. He was already at our seats in Section 405 when I arrived. We were later joined by friend of the blog Mark the Burrito Eater, Jason the Tuba Player (both members of the office fantasy league), Jessi (Mrs. Burrito Eater), and many others too numerous to mention. We were a merry band, bantering and trading bon mots that would have made the Algonquin Round Table seethe with jealousy (if they were into baseball, that is).

I'm pleased to report that the game itself matched the pleasantness of my company. My heroes teed off on David Bush for six earned in the first, aided by Bill Hall turning three times on a Cliff "Count" Floyd fly ball to center, none of which were the right way. Lee scored easily from second, and Hall's lousy throw to the infield allowed A-Ram to score and let the Count take third.

Michael Barrett followed that with his first hit of the year, scoring Floyd. And the Mark DeRosa hit a two-run tater to put us up 6-0.

Other than the unexpected explosion of the Cubs lineup in the first, the big story of the game was young Rich Hill. Hill, you may have heard, was perfect through five innings. Even sitting in the far right field corner, I could tell he had his A game. He looked even better when I reviewed the game film this morning (of course I taped the game...doesn't everybody?).

Corey "Sunglasses at Night" Hart's lead off homer in the sixth broke up both the perfect game and the shutout. And then came the only moment of the game I was worried.

A-Ram booted a ground ball by Graffanino. The umpire ruled his throw pulled Lee off the bag (although replays showed the ump was wrong). E-5.

Jenkins came up to pinch hit for Bush, and hit an easer grounder right back to Hill. Hill had all the time in the world to get the force at second, but threw wide of the bag. E-1, all runners safe.

Last year, this turn of events would have led to a Vortex of Armageddon™ from which there could be no escape. But in a small sign that 2007 will be better, Hill got out of the jam with no further damage -- infield fly pop ups by Weeks and Hardy, and then he made Prince Fielder look sick with a whiff to end the inning.

That was pretty much it for the game. Bush got his act together after that rough start, and shut us down after that. We tacked on a few runs against the Milwaukee pen, and they got a couple back against Angel Guzman in the ninth.

I was pretty good during the game. I traded some good-natured smack with my Brewer Fan companions. But I did indulge in a loud, long laugh when Ronnie Cedeno hit a home run in the ninth inning. Someday, I'll be able to tell my grandkids that I was there when Ronnie hit his home run for 2007.

Just to top the evening off, I won $5 on the Sausage Race. Good ol' Italian broke from the gate and led going away. I mention this in the interest of full disclosure, just in case I should ever be up for election in the Baseball Bloggers Hall of Fame. I only bet on the Italian to win, so it's all good, right?

[Note to the children in the reading audience: Kids, don't gamble. Remember, you can't win happiness.]

Overall, it was a splendid evening. Great game, great company, and not too many drunken idiots marring the festivities. That was probably helped by the mass exodus of Brewer Fan after the Sausage Race.

Overall, I'm 3-0 at Wrigley North for Cubs games. Don't know if I'll get back there for a game this year, but I will be at Wrigley Field proper for a July game against the Giants. I won't cheer Barry Bonds, because I don't want to send the wrong message to the rest of the players on the field.

My next Major League game will be a Father's Day tilt between the Blue Jays and Expos at SkyDome. I think it will be the first time I've taken in a game between two franchises that are younger than I am...

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  • Hey Cubs fans--Let start it out right @ Wrigley North this Friday. See you all there and Go Cubs!!!!!!

    By Blogger Jon, at 12:25 PM  

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