Thought I would share a link to download the Eddie Vedder song. This was captured from XRT and is perfect quality.
Note from the Editor: I've actually uploaded the pictures so they're viewable on GROTA, and I've promoted the blog to the front page for the world to see.
I was driving home after classes on 43 South when my girlfriend called me to break the news: "My flight to Houston got cancelled from the Hurricane. Looks like I don't get to see the Cubs down at Minute Maid this year." You could tell she was pretty crushed about it but I tried to cheer her up with talks that maybe, just maybe, the series would be rescheduled somewhere nearby like St. Louis so we could still make a road trip to see it.
As a Chicago Suburbs resident transplanted to Milwaukee, I had been lucky enough to see another transplanted series the year before when the Indians and Angels came to town to hide under the roof of Miller Park from the snow. It was a great time, and as a baseball fan in general, it is always nice to see baseball in any form sometimes. However, I had no expectation that Miller Park was even in contention to be picked for an alternate, perhaps even "neutral" site for the Cubs/Astros series to take place. My luck changed for the better on Saturday night when I found out the news: the series had been moved to Miller Park. I couldn't have been more ecstatic when I heard the news (there may have been a possibility of terrible white boy dancing involved... I'll spare you the details and mental images).
I called my friend, John, a transplanted Houston native and law school classmante of mine, and we both arranged to get tickets and planned out our tailgate the next day.
Image above: Mike, John, and I tailgating.
When we got inside the ballpark, my friend John wanted to go down to the dugout area and see if he could flag down JR Towles, a friend of his from high school (Towles was John's catcher in HS). While we waited, we got to talk a bit with Ed Wade, who was getting ready for an interview. He didn't seem too thrilled about the amount of cubs fans at the game. (I also learned later that the Astros wore their alternate jerseys and stationed themselves in the visitors dugout as a form of "protest").
After the first pitch you all know what happened. Soriano Homers. Felt great. I really thought that would be one of the big highlights of the game and at the end most of us would be talking about how much we enjoy him in the leadoff spot, even if it doesn't make sense, for that purpose alone.
Fourth Inning: I get up to pee in the mid 4. Get back with one man on. I ask the usher how Bourn got on and she tells me it was a walk. I reply with, "Good, no hits." I had no idea the foreshadowing that happened at that moment. Runner erased a second later on a DP ball.
Bottom 5: Lee's height enables him to make a sick catch to end the inning. Butterflies start.
Bottom 6: I just got quiet. My jaw can only clench together. After the final out my girlfriend looked over, looked at the scoreboard, and states "I'm going to leave you alone."
Bottom 8: I hear a girl seated behind me ask her boyfriend why he is acting "so weird." He replies that he can't talk to her about it, he'll tell her later, when the game is over. She sighs and pouts, not understanding what is going on.
Bottom 9: The place is rocking. I can't hear myself think. I don't want to think, for fear of ruining the moment somehow. Two ground outs. One out left. Full Count. Flashbulbs. Game. I let out a gutteral yell that can only be described as primal and my fists are clenched to the point where you'd think I was trying to make the knuckles pop out. The team mobs the field in a big blue blur.
My phone vibrated with a text message. It was my Father. "I had Holtzman's. Now you have your own memory."
Everything fell into place in that moment. In those awestruck moments, I couldn't help but think that the Cubs weren't simply a baseball team: they were a destined team. I have never felt such electricity in the air at a game in my life. I can only hope to have that feeling again sometime soon. Maybe this time, come October, my father and I can share the moment that eluded him in the '69 season.
Without further adieu, I will share my pics (courtesy of my girlfriend and her camera)
The Final Pitch:
The Flooding of the Field:
Me screaming like an idiot:
Ben Sheets, Philanthropist
Hope you all enjoy the photos! Sorry for the quality of some of them... some are a bit grainy.
Ron Santo would punch me in the face if he read this, but I am strongly advocating for the Mets to pull it together and reach the post season over the Phillies. Mostly, I think this would be a good thing for one simple, essential reason - the following key Met players are on the DL:
Billy Wagner - 2.30 ERA, 27 saves
Orlando Hernandez - 24 starts, 9-5, 3.72 ERA
John Maine - 25 starts, 10-8, 4.18 ERA
Moises Alou - .347 AVG in what little playtime he had this season
Fernando Tatis - .297 AVG, 11 HR, 47 RBI
At the rate they're dropping, it'll be a miracle if they make it. And if they make it ... soft prey.
Major League Baseball released the aught nine schedules today. Highlights include a 162 game season, in which half are played at home and the other half are played on the road.
The Cubs will open the season in Houston, and will finish the year at home against Arizona. To see the full schedule, follow this link to the Cubs.com website.
Of course, while this is all informational, I think the only schedule you, I, or anybody else is really interested in starts in a few weeks and will include home field advantage for the Cubs. Nudge nudge, wink wink.
Editor's Note: Forklift is a blogger who can currently be read at hockeenight.com. We've known him for years, and you won't meet may bigger Cub fans. After you're done reading this, go to his Blackhawks blog, Hockee Night.
Getting on the Howard St. “A” train at Argyle, heading downtown. I’ve ridden the train with my dad before, but never with butterflies in my stomach the way they were then. I hadn’t yet turned five, and was bouncing around the train as much as, well, a kid not yet turned five generally does.
We had to switch at Wilson to the “B” train, which seemed to take an eternity to show up. Once it came, I couldn’t wait. When the train made the turn by Sheridan, I could see the flags flapping. I’d seen it before, but this time it was a destination instead of just a place that looked like fun.
Dad bought me a cap and a pennant on the way in. Once he bought us our bleacher tickets, I ran up the ramp that seemed to curve and rise forever toward the sunshine. When I got to the top of the ramp, I was hit by the sunshine, and looked out at the green grass. The Cubs were playing the Phillies, and the blue and red of the hats and socks seemed to be the same contrast as the picture on my All-Star Baseball game at home.
I confess, I still feel a thrill when I go to see the Cubs play. My dad’s been a Cub fan since 1947, me since 1967. I actually don’t remember my first TV game, I’m guessing my infancy was spent with my dad suffering through the 1963 season. I’m still not sure if being a Cub fan is a defect in my DNA that my father passed along to me, or if it’s an environmental defect.
Anyway, there’s something intrinsically beautiful about baseball. While hockey is like an action movie, baseball is like a book. You sit back, relax, and let it all unfold in front of you. Over the years I’ve seen exciting games and dull games. I’ve seen absurd games, like the one where the Cubs were beaten by Pittsburgh 22-0. I’ve seen Mike Schmidt hit 4 HRs in a game. I’ve seen Cubs win games with a swing of the bat.
The NFL prides itself on the fact that “Any Given Sunday”, any team can beat any other team. That’s fine, except with baseball that’s every day of the week.
But the Cubs. There are those Cub fans who are “Cubbie fans”, and I tend to loathe them. They can’t seem to grasp the fact that there are years the Cubs manage to assemble a truly shitty assortment of players. Know what? The past 100 years haven’t been an accident.
As long as I brought it up, before anyone brings up a goat, or a cat, or a schlemiel with headphones, go fuck yourself. A goat didn’t trade Lou Brock. A cat didn’t trade Bill Madlock for Bobby Murcer. Steve Bartman didn’t mismanage the Cubs’ pitching staff in the 2003 NLCS.
No, the Cubs earned it all on their own. I think being a Cub fan is like having a ne’er-do-well relative. You keep swearing this is the last time you let him sleep on your couch, and at the same time you know you’ll always give him another shot because one of these times he’ll actually straighten his shit out.
It doesn’t mean you won’t get grey hairs a little faster, or develop a nice hole in your stomach lining. But at the end of the day, you remember the good times instead of those tough times when he’s sleeping on your couch. And you know deep in your heart that one of these days, everything will work out.
We’re always running up the ramp that seems to curve and rise forever, toward the sunshine.
Editor's Note: This was promoted to the GROTA Blog from the Reader Blog section. We'll be doing that from time to time. Kurt promises that it has nothing to do with how Jon has been promoting the blog on his radio show for months now, but instead has everything to do with the length and quality of content
This month has been a wild and crazy ride as a member of the Cubs bandwagon.
Heck, this entire season has been unlike anything I have ever experienced in my quarter century of pulling for the Northsiders.
Kurt has had to talk me off the ledge a time or two, and I am glad that he did. Now, when I first started talking to Kurt, I never would have pegged him to actually be the one to talk me off of any ledges. But such is life.
The Cubs beat the Brewers 5-4 on Tuesday night, inching closer to the now inevitable National League Central Division Title.
That's what the 'experts' predicted the Cubs would accomplish, but we have all chased after that holy grail before, only to have our hopes and dreams dashed in May.
This year, the Cubs have actually lived up to the hype, and perhaps even surpassed it, which makes it so damned enjoyable.
Ok, I am getting ahead of myself a little bit, and for the extra-goatish among you, I am making you nervous...as if what I say can somehow fly back in the Cubs faces and add to some cosmic jinx.
Screw that, Jobu!
I don't care what the stats say about the following, I just believe that:
-This is the best situational hitting Cubs team in my lifetime, or IML for short.
-This is one of the best defensive teams when it matters a heck of a lot IML
-This is the best pitching staff IML
-This is the toughest lineup to face IML
My least favorite part of Tuesday night's game was followed by a stroke of genius; Inserting Bob Howry into the game nearly cause me to throw my remote against the TV, but I was glad to see that Lou started the bus early and sent Howry packing at the first sign of an open flame, the walk.
I don't know if anyone smokes in the Cubs Clubhouse, but please do not do so around Bob Howry. Flames can ignite, you know, and Howry has to smell like 89 octane petrol.
How about Fonz's curtain call when no one was cheering for it? That has to be the sign of a good team, right? I will just assume the answer is yes, since I have never seen that before.
And though Kerry gave up another run, hey, he had two to work with, alright? His curve ball to strike out Jabba Fielder was just filthy after Jabba had seen about 6 96mph heaters. That was real sweet stuff right there.
And the Brewers, who did something so Brewerish in not firing Ned Yost last year, or this May, only to fire him with 15 some odd games left in the season while they were actually tied for the wildcard lead, are now circling the drain, about to be eliminated by the Cubs from contention in the central. And they beat C.C...who still has an arm, but not for long. Any thoughts that this guy might be ready for some arm trouble for whomever signs him next year?
But that's not my problem, and it appears he won't be a problem for the Cubs in October, either.
Dang it, this is fun.
Editor's Note: Best known on the Desipio Message Boards as Butthead, our next guest contributor tells a tale from 1984. Incidentally, if you would like to join in this series, feel free to either post a blog entry or EMail something to me at kjsevans (at) gmail (dot) com.
Jody Davis hit a home run in game five of the 1984 NLCS. I was eight years old. For some reason, this is the only vivid memory I have of the Cubs in the playoffs that year. The regular season is a different story. I remember watching Sarge and Ryno and Dernier and Cey almost everyday that summer, or at least listening to the games on the radio in the backyard while my dad grilled and my brother and I played catch. But the playoffs are a blur.
The thing that stands out about Jody’s homer was my dad’s reaction when it went out. I was sitting on the floor looking up at my dad who was sitting in his recliner as usual, and as the ball went over the fence he clenched and pumped both of his fists and cheered. It wasn’t a loud cheer, but more of a quiet but intense “Yes!” The seriousness of his reaction made an impression on me.
I didn’t quite get it at the time, but he…obviously…. really wanted a win that day. Up to that point I understood cheering for my teams. I was excited when they won, but not really heartbroken when they would lose. But after the Cubs lost that game five, and seeing how depressed my dad was, I kind of started to understand how much you really fall in love with your favorite teams. He had waited 41 years to see the Cubs have a chance to win a pennant…I’m not counting the World Series appearance they had when he was a toddler. He saw a lot of shitty baseball up to that point, but he waited patiently for his Cubs to win something. Just winning the division had to be a thrill. I’ll never be able to relate to that. I’m only 32 and have seen the Cubs in the playoffs five times. But to wait 41 years to see them win anything is amazing. And to see them get so close to a pennant, to have it right there, but not get it after waiting all those years…. well that is heartbreaking.
Sports were a big part of my life growing up. I don’t think it would have been possible for my brother and I not to root for my dad’s teams. He had a lot of passions in life…but he didn’t love anything more than Notre Dame football, the Chicago Bears, and the Cubs. And he took it seriously…maybe too seriously. My mom is still amazed at how upset he would get when he was distracted while watching a game, because his lapse in concentration was surely the cause of the Bears giving up a touchdown. He was always the angriest when the phone would ring on Sunday afternoons. I can still hear him…”who the hell would call during the Bear game!?” I learned early on that if I wanted to watch a game with him I had better sit still and really pay attention to the game.
Even though I’ve been pretty lucky as a sports fan so far….I’ve seen championships from the Bears and Irish, plus six Bulls winners….it’s that damn pennant and World Series win I really want. I think I wanted it more for my dad than me though. I figure I have a lot of time still to see the Cubs win. In ’03 it was really close. I was living on the west coast at the time, so I wasn’t able to watch the games with my dad and brother….we always watched important games together. Before game five of the ’03 NLCS I was pretty cocky. I had a good feeling about the game and decided to call home to talk about how the pennant was going to be ours later that day. The only problem was it was on a Sunday, and the Bears were playing. The conversation went something like this….
Me: “Hey Dad, this is it! This is the day you’ve been waiting for your whole life! We’re winning this thing today! We’re going to the World Series!”
Dad: “Why are you calling me during the Bear game?”
So I guess he wasn’t as excited as I was that day…at least until the Bears were done. Of course things did not work out that game or the next two games either. A few weeks later I was talking to my mom on the phone and she told me dad told her he felt bad about the whole Cubs thing. She basically said he was sorry my brother and I had to watch all this crappy baseball. But there was no way we were not going to be Cubs fans, and I can’t imagine it any other way.
One of these days the Cubs are going to win the damn World Series and it will all be worth it, except my dad won’t be around to see it. He passed away a few years ago, and since then I’ve thought a lot about what it will be like when the Cubs finally win it. I’m sure I’ll cry like a baby when it happens, partly because I’m happy, and partly because he won’t be here to see it.
Editor's Note: Between now and, well, whenever, we will be running a series of stories written by various fans of the Cub Nation. This particular piece was crafted by a candidate for the ESPN series, known best as cubbiebluestew, who is responsible for the creation of the Cubs Coven.
As any baseball fan knows, Yom Kippur has played a part in baseball history. Yom Kippur is a solemn day. It is associated with sin and redemption. Even Jews who rarely attend synagogue feel a sense of obligation to do something to observe this day of fasting and repentance. The most famous example was Hank Greenberg, who although he was a very good baseball player, owed much of his fame to being Jewish. He was not particularly religious, yet he once famously refused to play in a World Series game that fell on Yom Kippur. Most other Jewish baseball players have not been so fortunate as to be on a team that was still playing in October. But occasionally sports writers will conjecture as to whether a Ken Holtzman would pitch if the occasion arose. (They didn't ask this while he was a Cub, of course.)
So we know that Yom Kippur plays a part in baseball history for some players, but what about the fans? I have to confess to my role in losing the 1989 playoff series for the Cubs. Yom Kippur is about guilt and sin. It is a sin to not observe Yom kippur with prayer and solemn contemplation. But I held tickets to the three playoff games in San Francisco between the Giants and the Cubs. The first two games of the potential 7 game series were in Chicago. The series came to San Francisco even at one game for each team. I have been a Cub fan since 1942. I listened to the 1945 World Series by running home from school to catch the last few innings. My family moved from Chicago to San Francisco in 1949, and I wasn't able to see the Cubs in person until the Giants moved from New York in 1959, the year I married Mrs Cubbiebluestew. We went to games at old Seals Stadium and then at Candlestick each time the Cubs came to town. Mrs. Cubbieblue is not a Cub fan, but she jumped at the chance to fly back to Chicago for the playoff series in 1984. Therefore, going to the playoff series in San Francisco in 1989 was a foregone conclusion. Or was it?
We didn't pay much attention to the fact that game number three was on Yom Kippur. The Cubs were down 3 games to one, and we not only had tickets for the game, we had tickets for Yom Kippur services at our synagogue in Berkeley, where Mrs. Cubbieblue was an officer, and where I took very seriously my obligation to my ancestors. But we had to support the Cubs. They were one game away from elimination and who knew if they would ever come this close again? If Hank Greenberg could refuse to play on Yom Kippur and he wasn't even religious, how could I attend the game and skip observing the holiest most solemn day of the year?
We compromised. We decided to do both. Typically services on Yom Kippur start at 9 in the morning and go until noon. At noon there is a short break followed by a noon service for about an hour. Then there is a break, not a lunch break because we are fasting. And then services resume at 3pm and to about 8pm. We went to the 9 am service and at noon we changed our clothes at the synagogue. We drove (a sin) to San Francisco and ran to our seats in time for the first pitch. We continued our fasts while we watched a close game which turned out to be between Mark Grace and Will Clark. We watched the game come apart in the eighth and ninth innings. I couldn't stand to see the final out. We ran to the car and changed our clothes in the parking lot. It was very private. Everyone else was watching Will Clark playing God's messenger to Cubbiebluestew. We heard the Cubs lose as we pulled out of the lot and headed back to Berkeley where we were in time for the late afternoon service.
I know, deep in my heart that it was my fault. Some will say that it was Mitch Williams breakdown, others will say it was Clark's heroics. I know that they were just playing the roles assigned to them to punish me on the spot for my irreverence and failure to observe Yom Kippur without accommodations for my Cub fetish. Warning: This year Yom Kippur starts at sundown on October 8 and continues to sundown on October 9. I expect the Cubs to be in the playoffs.
Available here! Please excuse the damn netting which fouled up almost every shot!
Rumor has it that Ned Yost has been let go by the Brewers. This is heartbreaking, because Yost in the dugout was a decisive advantage for the Cubs.
We'll post a link to the story once it's been verified by the mass media.