The 2004 Waveland Chronicles

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

So that's why they're called the Red Sox...

Congratulations to Curt, Manny, "Pappi", Pedro, and the rest of the Boston Red Sox on winning the 2004 World Series. And fear not Cub fans - if a bunch of "idiots" can win it all, then why not a bunch of [lovable] "losers"?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

As I stood there on the corner of Waveland and Kenmore, watching the fans walk by in various states of emotion after the Cubs victory to close out the season, I couldn't help but think of that classic Peggy Lee song, "Is That All There Is"

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball.
If that's all there is...

No, I'm not old enough to remember Peggy Lee - I just remember that song from an old late-night B-horror movie tv show back in Cleveland, Big Chuck and Houlihan. But that's a whole 'nother story...

Anyway, I guess that really is all there is. Oh sure there are the playoffs for those eight other teams. And I suppose I'll be rooting for the Red Sox - us cursed teams have to stick together - but as long as it's not the Yankees or Astros (Berkman still has to pay for that "getting hit in the head" acting job - what a loser), I'll be happy.

Of course, I'd be even happier if I hadn't decided to check out the Fan Appreciation clearance sale in the bottom of the fourth inning since that was when Mark Grudzielanek launched one out onto Waveland. Ball landed about 15 feet from where I usually stand so I most likely would've caught it had I been there. Passer-by got it as well as the one Charles Thomas of the Braves hit. Oh well, I'm still living off my 'rush' from getting the Glendon Rusch homer on Wednesday. Being left-handed myself, it's always a thrill to catch a homer hit by a lefty - and a pitcher to boot!

Seeing as how last year, I left you with a picture of the 'L' flag after the loss to the Marlins, it only seems fair that I leave you with this picture:

Sunday, October 3: BP-18 [W-13,S-5], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-2 [W-1,S-1]

Saturday, October 02, 2004

* * * *
Main Entry: mas·och·ist
Pronunciation: 'ma-s&-"kist
Function: noun
Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary, from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch died 1895 German novelist
1 : pleasure in being abused or dominated : a taste for suffering- mas·och·ist /-kist/ noun- mas·och·is·tic /"ma-s&-'kis-tik/ adjective - mas·och·is·ti·cal·ly /-'kis-ti-k(&-)lE/ adverb

Cub Fan
Main Entry: see Masochist

* * * *

Cubs came up short again, this time losing 8-6 to the Braves, and in doing so, were officially eliminated from the wildcard playoff race. Ouch. What started out with a bang (Monday's 12-5 spanking of the Reds) has quickly turned into a 5 game losing streak of a whimper.

Saturday's game was a bit more exciting with several home runs (Sosa, Alou & Ramirez) but all stayed inside the park. Speaking of inside, that's where I was once again. Twice in one week - I think that's a record for me. Well, I learned my lesson - I'm staying outside for the rest of the season (all one game of it).

Winds are supposed to be pretty strong out of the Southwest tomorrow, so maybe the Cubs will say good-bye to a disappointing season by knocking the snot out of the ball -- to the tune of, oh I don't know, five street homers? Alou with two, Ramirez, Sosa, and Nomar. Atlanta's Andruw Jones and JD Drew will hit one each and the Cubs will win a slugfest, 12-8.

Saturday, October 2: BP-6 [W-4,S-2], Roof-2 [A-1,C-1], Foul-0, HR-0

Friday, October 01, 2004

Well, it comes down to this: a weekend series with the Braves, which even if the Cubs sweep, will not be enough to get into the playoffs. We need the Giants and Astros to lose at least one of their games this weekend against the Dodgers and Rockies, respectively.

Game 1 against the Braves - it's a beautiful Friday afternoon at the Friendly Confines. Both teams have batting practice for a change, and with some Southwest breezes in the air, quite a few balls leave the yard. With Kerry Wood going for the Cubs, knowing the enormity of the game, and with Atlanta already assured of a spot in the playoffs therefore might be taking things a bit easy, you'd think the Cubs would be well-positioned to pull this out, right?

So what happens? Oh, come on - like you couldn't already have guessed... Of course the Cubs lose, and the Giants and Astros win. So now it's win the last two against the Braves, and hit those Blue and White rosary beads all day/night long praying the Giants and Astros lose the rest of their games. Talk about having your backs against the [brick] wall...

Friday, October 1: BP-22 [W-19,S-3], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0

A quick postscript to the just-ended series with the Reds...

Hey Cub fans - as if losing 3 out of 4 to the sub-.500 Reds wasn't bad enough, get a load of what those Reds players look like in real life!

Yes, once again it's Rookie-Hazing time. Evidently wearing outlandish clothes is the preferred hazing method these days. Gone are the days when rookies would find themselves partaking in a midnight covert mission to paint a certain part of a horse's anatomy in one of those statues down in Lincoln Park

Thursday, September 30, 2004

So that's what I've been missing all these games... yes, folks, today I actually ventured inside of the Friendly Confines, or as I like to say "yep, most people get kicked out of the bleachers - I get kicked in".

Saw a very well pitched game - Prior struck out 16 batters in 9 innings, gave up only 3 hits and one run - a home run that hit the foul pole. You'd think that'd be enough to win a game eh? Well, outside of a Sosa home run that sailed over my head as I was walking back with two beers and landed right in Dave's glove in the middle of Waveland (the ball, not the beers), the Cubs could muster nothing else offensively (insert your own joke here) in regulation. So we went into extra innings again, and ended up losing it in 12, 2-1.

So yeah, that sucked. Serves me right, I guess, for going in. It's so much better on the street with that big brick wall standing there so we don't have to see the season collapsing in front of us...

Giants, Astros tied for WC lead. Cubs one game behind. Sweep the Braves, and cheer for the Dodgers and Rockies. Especially the Rockies. Do not want to see Houston rewarded for Berkman the Faker's effort.

Thursday, September 30: BP-1 [W-0,S-1], Roof-2 [A-1,C-1], Foul-0, HR-1 [W-1,S-0]

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

There's an old saying... "Better lucky than good"

And after yet another late inning blown save one run loss, I'm guessing there are many more old sayings that come to mind, but I'm sure the newspaper/TV folks will take care of the G and PG rated ones, and you Cub fans will take care of the PG13, R and yes, even a few X-rated ones. Probably more than a few. But when it comes to corralling home run balls on the streets, "better lucky than good" was certainly the case today.

With a strong wind in from the North, the only realistic chance of a ball coming out would be one hit to right field, i.e. left-handed batters. So bottom of 3rd, Glendon Rusch - a lefty - is leading off for the Cubs, and Dave and I are over on Sheffield. But let's be honest here - the only reason we're over there is because Corey Patterson is on-deck - a lefty with power. So we're standing around waiting for Glendon to do what pitchers usually do - flail away at a few pitches and then go back to the bench.


I could not have been more wrong. No flailing here - Glendon reached out and whaled on one! I heard the crack, and it sounded good, but the thought of a home run coming out still hadn't entered my mind. Then the roar of the crowd grew, fans were standing up, and I started to get nervous because I had absolutely no idea where the ball was. So I'm doing what I laughed at others for doing (see Monday's 9/27 post) - running around in the street, looking up wildly in the sky.

Finally, I see the ball coming down to my left, about the middle of the street. I know I'm not going to be able to catch it on the fly so I start to run back to play the hop. Of course, I misjudge that, so I start to circle around to where it's coming down and stick my glove out in a desperate backhanded lunge, but there's a passerby right there. And if he didn't have a cell phone in his hand, he would've picked it clean. But he bobbled it, we had some incidental contact, and the ball heads to the ground. I take a tumble in that general direction and finally cover it up with my glove.

Certainly not the most elegant of catches - more like a Keystone Kops routine. But you tend to feel less foolish if at least you end up with the ball. So I was more than happy to walk away with a scraped knee, a scuffed ball, and only a slight bruise to my ego. Did a little research when I got home and looks like this was Glendon's third career homer.

We ballhawks have been talking amongst ourselves on who would be the first pitcher to put one out on the street this year (Maddux did it many years ago). Based on what we saw during BP and games, most were saying Wood, some were going with Zambrano, and my money was on Prior. Clearly, we were all wrong. Congratulations, Glendon - hope you cleaned up on any clubhouse bets.

Wednesday, September 29: No BP, Roof-2 [A-2,C-0], Foul-0, HR-1 [W-0,S-1]

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Not much happening on Waveland tonight. Strong winds out of the North at about 20 mph pretty much killed any chance of a ball coming out in batting practice and the game.

Since my bones & joints aren't as young as they used to be, I decided to watch this one from the warmth and comfort of my couch. Considering how the game turned out (8-3 loss), probably a smart move on my part.

Could have been a good night for roof-balls though with the wind blowing in like that. I'll have to check with Moe to see how many came out and come back and update the counts.

Tuesday, September 28: BP-0, Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0

Monday, September 27, 2004

To paraphrase Samuel Taylor Coleridge from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner...

"Homers, homers, everywhere,
And all the fans rose from their seats;
Homers, homers, everywhere,
Nor any on the streets."

Well, at least none on Waveland. Derrek Lee, Todd Walker, Jose Macias, and Corey Patterson (with Nomar just missing one) all hit homers, yet all stayed inside the park. And since this is the last week of the season and the Cubs are leading the wildcard race, the streets are getting more crowded with folks just looking for a reason to gather, drink beer in public, and yell at Sox fans.

In other words, lots of people on Waveland running around each time the crowd cheers, wildly trying to find the ball in the sky only to finally realize it ain't coming out. So then they act like they weren't really running for the ball, they knew all along that it wasn't coming out, yada yada yada...

Kinda reminds me of that scene from Pee-wee's Big Adventure where Pee-wee Herman is riding his bike, not looking where he's going, ends up crashing the bike, quickly gets up, brushes himself off, and then says "I meant to do that."

Now what Pee-wee should have done is ride that bike down Sheffield. Then he might have caught Adam Dunn's towering blast down the right field line in the 8th inning. Easily made it across the street on the fly. None of the regulars were over there so once again Joe Q. Passerby cleans up.

Cubs win, 12-5. Giants didn't play. Cubs up by a game.

Monday, September 27: BP-9 [W-8,S-1], Roof-4, Foul-0, HR-1 [W-0,S-1]

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Superb starting pitching, clutch hitting in the late innings, and a "strike out the side on 9 pitches" ninth inning to close out a 5-2 win...

Who are you and what have you done with our Cubs?

On second thought, don't answer that. And whatever you did with those other Cubs is fine with me as long as you leave today's Cubs right where they are. A few more weeks of this kind of play (as opposed to what we saw in yesterday's game 1) and the Cubs will be in the playoffs.

And so the tease continues...

Saturday, September 11: BP-8 [W-8,S-0], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Patterson & Alou go yard while Berkman goes Hollywood with his Oscar-worthy dive in the 9th inning. I am so glad I traded him off my fantasy team last month, because after the stunt he pulled today - I would've dropped his butt if he were still on my team.

Turned into another beanball bruhaha today, resulting in Remlinger plunking Berkman in the head with a high hard inside fastball. Or at least it looked like he was plunked in the head. He certainly went down like he got plunked in the head. And he started to roll around the ground like he got plunked in the head. And then he started to cover up his face and helmet like he got plunked in the head.

Hold on a second... let's go to the video. Yes, it was a high hard inside fastball, but Berkman managed to duck out of the way so the ball never did hit him. Ended up going past him and hitting his bat. So what should have a been a foul ball strike turned into a NHL-caliber dive, complete with plenty of fake writhing on the ground.

Wonder if Bob Watson (MLB's Suspension and Fine Czar) disciplines players for bad acting...

Sunday, August 29: No BP, Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-2 [W-1,S-1]

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Saturday, August 28: BP-2 [W-0,S-2], Roof-3 [A-3,C-0], Foul-0, HR-0

Friday, August 27, 2004

Two street homers and I got to play catch with Nomar! Details to follow...

Friday, August 27: BP-13 [W-11,S-2], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-2 [W-2,S-0]

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Thursday, August 26: BP-20 [W-17,S-3], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

KiteMan made an appearance today. Details later...

Wednesday, August 25: No BP (rain), Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Tuesday, August 24: BP-8 [W-8,S-0], Roof-1, Foul-0, HR-1 [W-1, S-0]

Monday, August 23, 2004

I feel bad when I fall behind in my postings here, but truth is - not too much has been going on outside the Friendly Confines lately. Take today for example - a pretty stiff breeze blowing in from the lake so batting practice was almost a joke. A few fence rattlers, but only one managed to make it out to the street.

Game was even more non-eventful. I don't think there were any homers at all - certainly none on the street. I suppose Carlos Zambrano had something to do with that, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

But hey, who needs homers on the street when you have Dancin' Eddie on Waveland! Yep, Eddie "Bench" made an appearance today and we were all treated to his unique dance interpretation of YMCA by the Village People during a Brewers' pitching change. Suffice to say Mikhail Baryshnikov has nothing to worry about, but look out Elaine Benes!

Monday, August 23: BP-1 [W-1,S-0], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Warm and a little rain - I don't mind. Cold and a little rain - I do. So after chilling through a minimal batting practice (only 3 came out), I decided I better start acting my age and went home where it was dry and warm. And I could watch the PGA Championship being held at Whistling Straits up in Kohler, Wisconsin. In between tee shots and birdie putts, I switched back to watch the Cubs, where several rain delays later, they lost in extra innings as the bullpen fell apart again.

Thursday, August 12: BP-3 [W-3,S-0], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

It's the middle of August and the temperature feels like it's freakin' October!!! What the heck is going on?

Then again, maybe it's a sign - maybe the Cubs actually are going to win the World Series this year. I mean, if Hell is going to freeze over, I'm sure it doesn't happen overnight - there's got to be some gradual cooling down effect. Maybe it takes 2-3 months...

In the meantime, the cold weather didn't stop Corey Patterson from jacking one out to Sheffield. Cleared the street and into one of the yards on one bounce. George was closest to it and was reaching through the wrought-iron fence to try and snag it when the attendant/bouncer/doorman for that building came running down the front steps and the two of them started a baseball tug-of-war. Doorman eventually won.

Batting practice had a few highlights as well, including a Bill Buckner-esque moment. But first there was Backpack Guy (BG). After a few blasts over the short fence in left-center, the crowd started to gather and as usual, over-anticipate. Next one that came out, the crowd surged forward with BG leading the way. At the last moment, someobdy must have pushed BG in the back because the ball hit him full in the face, arms nowhere near the ready position. Hat went flying, sunglasses were shattered, and BG wobbled for a bit before finally toppling over flat on his backpack. To his credit, he got up right away but didn't stick around for the post-BP interviews. I think he went to the nearest bar for two cold ones - one for his head and one for his throat.

A little later one of the Padres just absolutely crushed one that easily cleared Waveland and was heading for the trees in front of the Budweiser house. I, and many others, got into position to play the bounce off the house. But even though they say trees are 90% air, this time the ball hit that 10% known as the trunk and bounced back across the street, straight at this big guy who was all by himself. By this time, the ball was down to a slow roll so the guy just bent over to scoop it up.

Whoops! Never touched it - ball went right through his legs. He couldn't believe it - turned around and buried his face in hands as all his buddies gave him the business. I'm sure most Cub fans would call that a Durham moment ('84 playoffs against these same Padres?), but that particular episode happened before my time here in Chicago, so I have to go with what I remember more clearly, the '86 World Series Buckner gaffe against the Mets. Except I don't think Charlie Sheen is going to spend $80,000 for this ball...

Wednesday, August 11: BP-25 [W-16,S-9], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-1 [W-0,S-1]

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"Take a walk on the wild side..."

Seeing as how it was 70's night at Wrigley Field, the above Lou Reed classic (circa 1972) seemed very appropo about the 3rd inning after Mark Prior issued his 5th walk including one to the opposing pitcher. Ouch. And I won't even mention the 8 hits and 6 runs he gave up... oops, I guess I just did. Well, here's hoping he got it all out of his system tonight, and he kicks some serious butt the rest of the year, like he did last August and September.

Meanwhile, Homerpalooza continued for the Cubs - five more tonight, but alas, all stayed inside the Friendly Confines, including Nomar's first as a Cub. Quite a few came out during batting practice, though, which is always a good thing. Padres are using 2003 All-Star Game balls for their BP swings so I was able to add a couple of those to my collection.

Classic confrontation of the night? Nope - it wasn't Aramis Ramirez vs Trevor Hoffman in the bottom of the ninth with one on and two runs down. Would you believe a VW Beetle vs a Greyhound Bus? Yep, out on Waveland Avenue during batting practice, a tiny little green bug decided to take on a huge hulking charter bus. Fortunately, it was a glancing blow and at a reduced speed, so no one appeared to get hurt. And yes, there was cell phone involved so draw your own conclusions as to how/why it happened. But the resulting commotion, mainly the bus being stationary for the next hour in the middle of the street, was quite disruptive. At least five balls bounced on the top or off the side of that bus during BP. Made for some rather interesting street scrums...

Tuesday, August 10: BP-23 [W-18,S-5], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0

Sunday, August 01, 2004

8:30 this morning and the line for Day-of-Game tickets goes from the ticket windows by the home plate entrance, all the way down Addison, snakes around the Harry Caray statue, goes North on Sheffield, all the way up to about right-center field behind the bleachers. Amazing... the line wasn't this long when regular season tickets first went on sale, back in Februrary. Simply amazing... All this, just because we traded for some skinny little shortstop from Boston.

Well, maybe a skinny little pitcher going for his 300th victory had something to do with it as well. ;-)

Wind was hauling out today at about 20 mph - not the best of conditions for a control pitcher like Maddux, and sure enough, he gave up two first inning homers (both stayed inside the park). But the Cubs answered with back-to-back jacks in the bottom of the second. First it was Sosa launching a towering blast that just cleared the high fence and landed in a sea of humanity out on Waveland. Went off of somebody's glove and rattled around knees and feet. After all the bodies had been untangled and order restored, there was Dave sprawled out on the street, clutching the latest addition to his collection. Only cost him a few patches of skin and probably a drop or two of blood. Small price to pay for baseball fame and glory...

Surprisingly enough, that was the only ball that made it to the streets the rest of the day. Ramirez followed Sosa with a blast of his own, but that barely made the family section basket. After that - nothing but blazing sun, Southwest winds, and lots of overgrown kids with potty mouths and too much flesh showing, running up and down Waveland.

Cubs did come back and win the game - Nomar had an RBI hit in the seventh and was definitely feeling the love from the crowd. Hopefully, it's a two month long honeymoon and he likes what he sees enough to sign a long-term contract to play here. And maybe Mrs. Nomar (Mia Hamm) will bring some of her World Cup soccer teammates to the games. And after a Cubs victory, they all take their shirts off a la Brandi Chastain. Now that's the kind of flesh I'd like to see running up and down Waveland...

Sunday, August 1: BP-26 [W-24,S-2], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-1 [W-1,S-0]

Saturday, July 31, 2004

A good friend of mine is the brains behind the In Dusty We Trusty t-shirts, part of the Festa Stuff empire. He calls me whenever he starts getting antsy about the direction the Cubs are taking, or after a tough loss, or whenever LaTroy Hawkins is warming up in the bullpen, etc. etc... you get the idea. And I'm usually able to calm him down by explaining to him that Hendry has a plan, this is why Dusty gets paid the big bucks, just wait until we get Wood and Prior healthy at the same time, etc. etc. He calls me his Cubs psychiatrist. I don't know about that, but I'm happy whenever I'm able to bring some good Cubs chi back into his life.

So it gave me great pleasure to call him earlier today and break the news that Nomar Garciaparra was about to become a Cub, and that we wouldn't have to give up Matt Clement in the process. My friend was absolutely giddy. Of course, maybe that was because he was in the middle of a streetfest at the time - you never know...

Still, I think he shares what many Cub fans are feeling today - a renewed sense of optimism and a big bolt of confidence that once again the Cubs will be playing in October. And I ain't talking about the regular season series finale with Atlanta (Oct 1-3). Nope, I expect we will be going much farther into October this year.

So in keeping with the In Dusty We Trusty tradition, I present to you the new Cubs mantra for the rest of this season:

"With Nomar, We GoFar"

Look for it soon on a t-shirt near you...

Saturday, July 31: BP-5 [W-5,S-0], Roof-1 [A-1,C-0], Foul-0, HR-0

Friday, July 30, 2004

It was quite the Homerpalooza today at Wrigley Field - no concrete pieces falling, just home run balls onto Waveland Ave. Three on the street - eight total for the game. Pat Burrell started the street barrage in the second inning, with a blast to deep left-center. I was still working at home so could only watch it on TV as it cleared the fence. Didn't see a bounce which usually means someone caught it on the fly. Found out later George ran up for it and had the best chance for it on the fly, but ball deflected off his glove and ended up in the hands of a passer-by.

Aramis Ramirez was next to visit the street, in the sixth inning for his second homer of the day. By now I was at the ballpark but didn't have a chance at this one - it was a screaming line drive, right down the left-field line. Bounced in the middle of the street and went right into the vendor stand in front of one of the rooftop buildings. I think that's at least the second one that's ended up there this season.

One inning later, Rameriz connected again for his third homer of the day, this time launching a high blast in my general direction. Did a little two-step shuffle around some pedestrians and was able to snag it just before it would've drilled a passing cyclist. The Ballhawk "how far did it fly" estimate put it at about 405 feet.

With the Cubs safely (ha!) ahead 10-7, their last at-bats came in the 8th inning with Derrek Lee making the last out. And who was on-deck? None other than Mr. Ramirez, waiting for a chance to be the first Cub to hit four homers in a game. Ah well, maybe next time...

Friday, July 30: BP-12 [W-10,S-2], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-3 [W-3,S-0]

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Better to be lucky than good...   
Another beautiful day at Wrigley and lots of activity out on the street, but with the wind blowing in again, none of it involved ballhawking - at least not until the bottom of the 7th. 
Derrek Lee leads off and, remembering his last street homer, I shift more over to left-center where the fence is lower.  I'm thinking a low line drive shot has more of a chance of making it out onto the street than a towering blast that would likely get knocked down by the wind before clearing the high fence.
But after a couple of pitches, I get antsy and go back to my usual spot.  3-2 count, and then c-r-a-c-k-k-k...  Derrek blasts one and sure enough, it clears the short fence (barely) right to where I first was standing.  Had I stayed there, it would have been an easy catch, but now, by the time it hit the ground, quite a crowd has gathered.  I'm trailing the action and veer left hoping for a rebound or bobble.  And lucky for me, that's exactly what I get.  The ball bounces off (and through) a few sets of hands and I'm able to scoop it up and wave to the camera.
That homer pulled the Cubs to within a run (3-2) and raised all sorts of expectations for late-inning homer heroics from Sammy, Moises, and the Return of Ramirez, but 'twas not to be as the Brewers win to split the series.  At this point in the season, series splits isn't going to be enough.  Time to rev up the attitude machine, crack some bats, and perhaps play a little chin music? 
Hmm...  what a coincidence - Mr. Congeniality himself, Tony LaRussa, and the Cardinals come into town for a short two game series.  Batten down the hatches....
Sunday, July 18: No BP, Roof-1 [A-1,C-0], Foul-0, HR-1 [W-1,S-0]

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Those three words every pitcher at Wrigley loves to hear...  "Wind's blowing in."
Greg Maddux pitched a masterpiece today at Wrigley as the Cubs beat the Brewers, 5-0.  Complete game shutout, only gave up 6 hits and 0 walks.  Career victory #297, beating the National League ERA leader and All-Star Ben Sheets along the way.  Actually Sheets pitched a good game as well - it was the Brewer bullpen that blew it.
Obviously, wind blowing in and a well-pitched game means very little action on the street.  So I spent most of the game watching it from a friend's apartment in one of those rooftop buildings.  Nice view of most of the field from a deep left field perspective.  And late in the game, I actually got to practice my broadcasting home run call,  for when WGN taps me to replace Chip Caray. 
"Bottom of the eigth, two outs, Alou on second.  Patterson waits on the pitch..."
"Oh my...   that's got a chance...  There she goes!  Gone!  A 2-run homer by Corey Patterson out onto Sheffield."
Needless to say, none of the ballhawks were over there, so once again, the formidable passer-by hauls in yet another home-run souvenir.  Second-hand reports had that ball bouncing over by Jerry's peanut stand in the Red-Top parking lot.  Stop by next time you go to a game and ask Jerry if he got the ball.  And buy a bag of peanuts while you're at it.  A big bag.
Saturday, July 17: BP-8 [W-3,S-5], Roof-2 [A-2,C-0], Foul-0, HR-1 [W-0,S-1]

Friday, July 16, 2004

Brewers-3, Cubs-2.  Another great pitching performance by Matt Clement wasted as once again, the Cubs bats are stuck in a deep slumber.  This is getting ridiculous -- in his last six starts, the Cubs have only provided him seven runs. 
I think it's pretty obvious what needs doing here.  Get a live chicken, grab a shot or two of Jobu's rum and do whatever is necessary to wake up those bats.   Anyone have Dennis Haysbert's phone number?  
Pedro Cerrano: Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.
Eddie Harris: You know you might think about taking Jesus Christ as your savior instead of fooling around with all this stuff.
Pedro Cerrano: Jesus, I like him very much, but he no help with curveball.
Eddie Harris: You trying to say Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball?
Friday, July 16: BP-16 [W-15,S-1], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0

Thursday, July 15, 2004

These last few days bring to mind the classic Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
The Good:  Kerry Wood's return to the mound last Sunday as he clipped the Cardinals and helped the Cubs salvage one game out of a miserable road trip.
The Bad:  Sammy Sosa's meager home run total (4) at the Home Run Derby.   Let's hope he's saving them for the rest of the season.
The Ugly:  Mark Prior removing himself from tonight's game in only the 2nd inning with what was described later as a soreness behind his right elbow.  Ouch, ouch, and triple ouch.  Forget the three-way deal with Boston to get Nomar.  We may have to trade for the Big Unit and keep him ourself.
As for the game itself - not much happening outside.  Crowds fairly subdued both in and out - I dunno, maybe they're not used to a Thursday night game?  No lack of free product giveaways though.  First the Wrigley Gum folks were passing out free samples of their new flavors of Eclipse gum.  Then Mars Co. was passing out little Milky Way caramels.  Finally the Crawfish man from Heaven on Seven was passing out coupon specials.
Hmm...  first breath-freshening gum, then chocolate caramels, then spicy Cajun food.  Something tells me maybe they got the sequencing wrong on this one.
[still behind on the season total counts.  Sorry about that - updates coming.  And yo, Mike - easy on the language, big guy.  You're not the Vice-President...  ;-)  ]
Thursday, July 15: BP-21 [W-13,S-8], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0

Saturday, July 10, 2004

"Man, oh man..."

With those three words on today's broadcast, Ron Santo pretty much summed up the Cubs current road trip from hell. They got swept in Milwaukee and they've dropped the first two in St. Louis. Kerry Wood comes off the DL to pitch in tomorrow's finale and then it's the much needed All-Star break. I still think the Cubs have the best team in the NL on paper, but as the saying goes, the games aren't played on paper.

In the meantime, I'll be using the All-Star break myself to catch up with the postings here. I think I'm missing the last game of the Astros series and the three Sox games. Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Apologies for the lack of updates lately, and even more apologies in advance for not providing any updates for the upcoming Cubs-Sox weekend series. I know, I know, quite possibly the biggest series of the season, but I have some family matters to take care of and I'll be out of town for the weekend. I realize "Baseball is Life" and Wrigley Field is heaven, but as the Godfather, Don Corleone says... "A man should spend time with his family", especially when it's the bottom of the ninth and the home team is down.

I will be getting updates from the other ballhawks and friends on the corner, so check back next week, and I'll try to recreate the scene.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

In what could only be described as a United Nations moment, it was Beltran-Beltran-Golly! time in the 7th inning tonight. Carlos Beltran (Astros) going up against Francis Beltran (Cubs). Suffice to say Carlos lived up to his last name as he belted one out of the park, across Sheffield and into the trees.

Setting the scene... I'm standing there on Sheffield, hoping to catch Beltran's first National League home run, when a small group of slightly overserved guys cruise by. One guy comes up to me, drink in hand, and says "Hey, man, any balls come out yet?". Of course the answer was no, but ten seconds later, craaaaaack, and there's this white meteor streaking across the night sky.

No chance to catch it on the fly as it goes through the trees, deflects off the wrought-iron fence, and - I kid you not - bounces right to Mr. Drink-in-Hand, who grabs it and starts to do the dance that only Jack Daniels could have choreographed. After a few more Elaine Benes-like kicks, he wheels around and heaves the ball back, much to the delight of the crowd and his buddies.

And most important of all? He never the lost the grip on his drink...

Tuesday, June 29: BP-10 [W-10,S-0], Roof-1 [A-1,C-0], Foul-0, HR-1 [W-0,S-1]
Season: BP-406 [W-270,S-136], Roof-15 [A-13,C-2], Foul-3 [W-1,S-2], HR-34 [W-29,S-5]

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Absolutely gorgeous weather, a Derrek Lee homer on the street, and a Cubs 5-3 victory made for a fine day here in Chicago for those celebrating Father's Day at Wrigley Field, but the real Father's Day story was unfolding down in St. Louis where Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 500th career homer as his dad was in attendance.

Of course, I know of four ballhawks who're wondering why Junior couldn't have hit it one day earlier when they were in attendance. Moe, Butch, Dave and "Dick the Bruiser" took a road-trip yesterday down to Busch Stadium for last night's game in the hopes of catching fame and glory but no such luck. Haven't heard all the details yet, but there was something about trying to go to a riverboat after the game. Hmm... wonder if they stopped in East St. Louis on the way home... :-)

Everyone showed up today though, a little tired perhaps, but in good enough form to snag most of the balls that came out in BP. And were it not for the buses lined up in the 8th inning, Derrek Lee's street blast would have been an easy catch. Instead, it hit the side of the bus on the fly and rattled around between the curb and the wall before a passer-by bent down to pick it up.

Let's see... Cubs took two out of three from one of the American League's better teams. Hopefully that's a good omen for this coming October. In the meantime, it's the Cubs' turn to take that road trip to St. Louis to do battle with the Cardinals next week. Hopefully they too won't be tempted by riverboats and other (ahem) 'clubs' while they're there...

Sunday, June 20: BP-17 [W-11,S-6], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-1 [W-1,S-0]
Season: BP-396 [W-260,S-136], Roof-14 [A-12,C-2], Foul-3 [W-1,S-2], HR-33 [W-29,S-4]

Saturday, June 19, 2004

People always ask me "Why do you stand outside? How do you know what's going on? You can't see through a brick wall..."

Well, truth is, I actually have X-ray vision. So I can see through a brick wall. But if word got out, I'm sure Ashcroft would find some reason to detain me, so I just tell people that between the scoreboard, PA announcer, and crowd noise, we can follow the game better on the street than most do in the seats. Today was a perfect example of that.

Bottom of the 9th, Cubs trailing 3-2. Ramon leads off with a strikeout. With the pitcher's spot up next and Bradford (a righthander) on the mound, I knew that Hollandsworth was going to pinch-hit even before he was announced. Cheers and the 'Celebrate' music told me he got a hit, then Walker was announced as pinch-hitter for Grudzielanek. Another cheer means another hit, so now we have two on with one out. Only thing I didn't know was whether it was 1st & 2nd or 1st & 3rd. Now Barrett is up and only one out, so I start thinking as long as he avoids a double-play, the stage is set for another Moises Alou game winning homer out on to the street. Johnny, put your glove on...

Well, on a 1-1 count, Barrett makes contact, I hear an immediate roar, which tells me it's another hit, and then a big roar, which tells me the tying run has scored. Then there's a few moments where 40,000 fans are collectively gasping and building up to a crescendo culminating with yet another huge roar which can only mean Walker was able to score the winning run all the way from first.

And if the "Cubs Win" flashing on the centerfield scoreboard wasn't proof enough, the sight of flying beer cups and suds in the air coming from the bleachers certainly confirmed the Cubs victory. Nothing says "Cubs win! Cubs win!" like a beer-soaked t-shirt compliments of the bluppies* three rows behind you.

So even though there was no batting practice and no game homers on the street, it was still a very enjoyable day on the corner - lots of sunshine, lots of 'scenery', and some very good 9th inning crowd karma.

Saturday, June 19: No BP, Roof-2 [A-2,C-0], Foul-0, HR-0
Season: BP-379 [W-249,S-130], Roof-14 [A-12,C-2], Foul-3 [W-1,S-2], HR-32 [W-28,S-4]

* bleacher yuppies**

** I know, I know - an oxymoron...

Friday, June 18, 2004

Well, it's been 75 years since the A's played in Wrigley Field - Game 2 of the 1929 World Series. Of course it was the Philadelphia A's back then but unfortunately the outcome was the same then as it was today - a Cubs loss.

But on the bright side, there was batting practice today. Only the A's hit though - Cubs must have still been tired from their 4 game sweep of the Astros in Houston. And the first ball hit out of Wrigley Field by the A's today was caught by Moe. Which is only fitting, seeing as how he caught the last ball hit out of Wrigley by the A's 75 years ago - a homer by Jimmie Foxx.

Just kidding, Moe. Just kidding...

Only one out of the park today during the game - a 3rd inning home run by Mark Kotsay of the A's. Since Kotsay is left-handed, naturally, it was hit out onto Sheffield, and just as naturally, all of us were too lazy to run over to right to play him, so chalk one up to yet another passer-by. That makes four homers to Sheffield this year, and as Dave pointed out today, all of them picked up by passer-bys (or is it passers-by?).

Clearly us veterans are not doing our job here so I think what we need is a ballhawk rookie, intern, trainee, apprentice, etc. to man the post on Sheffield on game days.
Requirements: Glove, patience, comfortable shoes, some math skills.
Responsibilities: Keep an accurate count of batting practice and game homers hit out of the park - and catch them if you can.
Perks: Fresh air, exercise, plenty of ummm... "scenery", yeah, that's it, "scenery" walking around to keep you occupied between innings, and lots of stories and anecdotes as only can be told by Butch.

Applications taken on gamedays by the fire hydrant on Waveland & Kenmore. Equal opportunity employer (except for Yankee fans).

Friday, June 18: BP-4 [W-4,S-0], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-1 [W-0,S-1]
Season: BP-379 [W-249,S-130], Roof-12 [A-10,C-2], Foul-3 [W-1,S-2], HR-32 [W-28,S-4]

Thursday, June 10, 2004

I certainly picked the right day to stay at home - a little bit of rain in the morning was enough to cancel batting practice, and with the wind blowing in, nothing came out of the ballpark during the game. So I didn't miss a thing - got to watch the game from the comfort of my home. And since I live in the neighborhood, with the window to my deck open, I could hear the crowd noise a second or two before I saw the play causing it on TV. A little weird but kinda cool too.

And when Harry Caray was still alive, the few times I was at home on gameday, it was very cool during the seventh inning stretch to stand on my deck and hear his booming voice over the PA system. Least I think it was over the PA system - with Harry, you could never be sure...

"Awwwll right, lemme hear ya. Ah one, ah two, ah three. Take me out to the ballgame..."

Thursday, June 10: No BP, Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0
Season: BP-375 [W-245,S-130], Roof-12 [A-10,C-2], Foul-3 [W-1,S-2], HR-31 [W-28,S-3]

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

No batting practice - day game after a night game usually has that effect on teams. A shame too because there were some nice southerly breezes. Cubs got whupped 12-4 with lots of late-inning booing, so the overall mood around the ballpark wasn't the greatest. A grand time was had by at least two people though - Cardinal shortstop Edgar Renteria and Ballhawk left-fielder Dave. Edgar hit a grand slam and Dave caught it. Jim Edmonds also launched one out of the park, this one over on Sheffield but since none of us went over for it, chalk up another one for the passer-bys.

As for me, my high points of the day came way before game time. Back in May I snagged a Pujols home run on the ESPN Sunday night game so today I got to the park early and camped out by the front gate, Albert's usual entry point. Sure enough, after awhile, he gets out of a cab and walks slowly towards the gate, still hobbling a bit from a pulled hamstring. He was on the phone, but took the time to sign the ball - very cool.

I also had a Roger Cedeno bat with me that I picked up (surprisingly enough) at the Cubs end-of-the-season yard sale a few years ago. Seeing as how Roger had been ejected from last-night's game for breaking a bat after disputing a strike call and was probably facing a suspension for the ensuing (and very colorful) discussion with the umpire, I wasn't quite sure if he would be in the mood for signing anything, let alone a bat.

But when he arrived, he was as nice as can be. He saw right away it wasn't one of his current bats and after taking a half-swing with it, he told me it was from 1999. It was kinda neat - he just sort of looked at it longingly for awhile before signing. Now he's never been a slugger (only 38 career homers) but he did hit .313 and steal 66 bases in 1999, so perhaps he was reliving some of those moments from his best year. Good mood must have stayed with him through the game because he had a pinch-hit single in the 6th inning, but proof positive that we're all not as young as we think we are, he was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double.

Wednesday, June 9: No BP, Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-2 [W-1,S-1]
Season: BP-375 [W-245,S-130], Roof-12 [A-10,C-2], Foul-3 [W-1,S-2], HR-31 [W-28,S-3]

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

We had our first musical celebrity-sighting of the year tonight. Well, actually it was more of a musical celebrity look-alike sighting. And to tell you the truth, it really wasn't all that musical either. But right before game-time, a rather large, scruffy-looking bearded fellow with guitar in hand, came walking down Waveland pushing one of those office-type chairs piled high with a bag, a box, and a stuffed Ernie doll. Or maybe it was Bert - I always got those two mixed up.

Anyway, I thought this guy looked liked David Crosby, but somebody else said Jerry Garcia. So that got us into a discussion about aging (if not dead) white male bearded rockers with not-so-buff physiques - needless to say, we weren't lacking in candidates to discuss. Meanwhile our mystery guest was setting up shop right below the left-center field bleachers - yes, right where Mr. Saxophone usually plays, who, by the way, we haven't seen yet this year. Wonder what happened to him...

So our big guy starts wailing away on his guitar and proceeds to fill the air with some of the nastiest mangled chords I've heard in a long time. Couldn't tell if it was a lack of talent or just a poor amp, but it was pretty bad. It was only the first inning and already I was looking around hoping the charter buses would show up soon and drown him out with a little diesel engine idling. Of course, my opinions were not shared by others as Dave thought it sounded pretty good. "Dick the Bruiser" was almost ecstatic - he said anything that pissed off and annoyed yuppie Cub fans in the bleachers was just fine in his book.

By the fourth inning or so, he had moved on to some tunes with less riffs and more mellow so it almost became tolerable, but still... electric rock ballads blasted through a cheap amp is not what one would typically expect to see/hear as part of the traditional baseball experience/ambiance at Wrigley Field. Next time, I'll just do what Moe did - put the earphones in and turn up the radio. Even Ron Santo's jokes at full volume can't be that bad...

Oh, the game? Cubs offense woke up and delivered a pounding on the Cards in a 7-3 victory. However Scott Rolen was the only one to hit a home run - two actually. One that stayed in, and one out to the street, over Guitar Geezer, and into "Dick the Bruiser's" glove.

Tuesday, June 8: BP-18 [W-8,S-10], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-1 [W-1,S-0]
Season: BP-375 [W-245,S-130], Roof-12 [A-10,C-2], Foul-3 [W-1,S-2], HR-29 [W-27,S-2]

Monday, June 07, 2004

Game one of this four-game series goes to the Cardinals, 4-3. Corey smacks a homer for the Cubs, as does Glendon Rusch, both of which stay in the park, but it wasn't enough to overcome a 4-run 4th by the Cardinals.

After Scott Rolen ripped a 3-run homer into the Family Section, Reggie Sanders hit one to deep left-center field. At which point, two things quickly became apparent - 1) it was going to easily leave the ballpark, and 2) I'm slowing down in my old age.

Not that I would have caught it on the fly - from where I was, not even Dave could have done that. Nope, I was bumming because I couldn't run around the trees quick enough to see where the ball landed and (more importantly) see who should have had it between Moe, Dave, and Butch. To hear "Dick the Bruiser" describe it, it was a regular three ring circus. By the time I had a good view of all the action, the ball had skipped into the alley where Butch finally grabbed it.

Not much else was happening outside on the streets tonight. Guess everyone stayed home to watch Tampa Bay beat Calgary 2-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. I don't think anyone on the Lightning is from Chicago, so the odds of another Stanley Cup sighting outside of Wrigley Field this year are pretty slim. Oh well, I'm sure the Blackhawks will take care of that next year.

Ahhh ha ha ha haaa... Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup... that's a good one. Sometimes, I just crack myself up. ;-). I'll wager the Cubs will win the World Series before the Blackhawks win the Cup. Of course, if I get any takers, I may have to write that one into my will as there's a distinct possibility of that bet not being settled in my lifetime.

Actually, the more I think about it, I think that's an interesting bet. And why just limit it to the Cubs and Blackhawks? Throw in the Sox, Bears, and Bulls as well. Sorry Wolves and Fire - you've actually had good teams and consistent winning performances lately so of course, that disqualifies you.

So there you have it, Chicago sports fans. Place your bets - which Chicago pro team will be the next to win a championship: Cubs, Sox, Bears, Bulls or Blackhawks? Wonder what the odds are... Anyone out there familiar with Vegas and/or offshore betting? Would there be a line for something like this? Let me know -

Monday, June 7: BP-16 [W-10,S-6], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-1 [W-1,S-0]
Season: BP-357 [W-237,S-120], Roof-12 [A-10,C-2], Foul-3 [W-1,S-2], HR-28 [W-26,S-2]

Sunday, June 06, 2004

I think there was a good-omen sighting at Wrigley Field today. It's the top of the ninth with the Cubs up 4-1. After getting two quick outs, the new Cubs closer LaTroy Hawkins, has just given up back-to-back singles bringing the tying run to the plate. Yep, none other than Mr. Cub-killer himself, Rob Mackowiak is at the plate. I'm sure I don't have to remind you how this guy was a one-man wrecking crew last weekend as the Cubs lost 3 out of 4.

So it seems to me that if all the naysayers and doom-n-gloom spreaders [in other words, most of the folks in attendance at Wrigley lately] that have been so prevalent these last few weeks are right in their thinking that once again we were just being teased in the off-season and the baseball gods would never let the Cubs win it all... then clearly, the only possible outcome here would be a 3-run homer by Mackowiak that would not only tie the game, but waste another fine pitching effort from a Cubs starter (Maddux), and doom Hawkin's chance to be the closer before he even started - not to mention sending the ol' blood pressure up another notch or two.

Instead, Hawkins strikes out Mackowiak on three pitches. If that's not a good omen, I don't know what is.

Hey, I don't expect the Cubs to go 107-0 the rest of the way. And it would be ridiculous to suggest this is the turning point of a World-Series winning season -- I'm not that naive nor that melodramatic. It's only one strikeout, it's only one save, and it's only one game. Still, it was only one foul ball late last year and look what havoc that wreaked, real and perceived. I guess all I'm saying is it's about time that one little thing went the Cubs' way.

Oh yeah, and good pitching almost always* beats good hitting. Assuming Wood comes back in a couple weeks no worse for the wear, that means that once again, Clement/Maddux/Zambrano [pick one] is the 5th starter. 5th! Man, I haven't seen a starting rotation like that since Palmer, Cuellar, McNally and Dobson.

*unless of course, it's the 1971 World Series and you're up against the Pittsburgh Pirates led by my baseball and personal hero, the incomparable Roberto Clemente. ¡Arriba!

Sunday, June 6: BP-19 [W-16,S-3], Roof-0, Foul-1 [W-1,S-0], HR-0
Season: BP-341 [W-227,S-114], Roof-12 [A-10,C-2], Foul-3 [W-1,S-2], HR-27 [W-25,S-2]

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Oh ye of little faith...

Just because Corey is struggling at the plate, Borowski is more of an opener than a closer, and Derrek Lee doesn't even have half the homers that the player he was traded for (Hee Seop Choi) does... everybody in Cubs Nation is ready to mail it in -- the June swoon is in full bloom.

"Mule fritters!" as Col. Sherman Potter used to say on M*A*S*H.

Look - Corey's problem is in his head and that's why we spent the big bucks to get Dusty. He'll get through to Corey sooner or later and make him understand he doesn't have to hit 5 run homers all the time - he's got wheels, he might as well use them. And Borowski's problem seems to be in his arm, so he was placed on the DL after the game which ought to give him a couple weeks to straighten things out. As for Derrek Lee's problem...'s nothing that a long blast out onto Waveland Ave. won't cure. Bottom of the 8th, one man on, first pitch - CRACK! He launches one sky-high. And I mean launches one. Moe had already gone home to place his bets for the Belmont Stakes, "Dick the Bruiser" was up in the clubhouse mixing up some margaritas, Dave wasn't feeling well and had left, not sure where Butch was, so I was the only regular out there. I ran to my left, collided with one guy who was coming to his right, tried to hold him up as he fell, got my bearings again, circled around a few more people, looked up, took a couple steps over and waited and waited for that thing to come down. Finally, the welcome sound of ball plopping into leather and I had myself a Derrek Lee home run.

And I think Derrek had himself a slump-buster. Look for him to get hot and help Moises shoulder the load over the next few weeks until Sammy and his boombox are back in the house.

Saturday, June 5: BP-6 [W-5,S-1], Roof-0, Foul-1 [W-0,S-1], HR-1 [W-1,S-0]
Season: BP-322 [W-211,S-111], Roof-12 [A-10,C-2], Foul-2 [W-0,S-2], HR-27 [W-25,S-2]

Friday, June 04, 2004

The Return of the King...

At least that's what it seemed like with all the hype, hoopla, and heightened expectations surrounding Mark Prior's season debut on the mound today. And he sure didn't disappoint - six strong innings as he pretty much dominated the Pirates' bats.

Unfortunately, Josh Fogg was doing a similar number on the Cubs' bats, so the game was scoreless until the 8th when the Cubs plated a run. The lead didn't last long as another bullpen implosion occured in the top of the 9th, and the Pirates scored two to win it.

No homers, just lots of disappointed fans, and a growing number of disgruntled fans doing a lot of grumbling as they walked down Waveland. Folks seem to be writing off the season already as "June swoon" seems to be on everyone's lips. Man, if I didn't know better, I'd say we were in Boston. :-)

Well, until the Reds, Astros and/or Cards put together a 10-12 game winning streak and get about a 8 game lead, I'm not too worried. As banged up as they've been, the Cubs are still hanging in there with the rest of the division. And now, in the course of 3-5 weeks they are going to be adding to their lineup arguably three of the best players in the division, if not in baseball (Prior, Sosa, Wood). With more than a 100 games left in the season, there's plenty of time to take command of the Central Division.

Friday, June 4: BP-9 [W-4,S-5], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0
Season: BP-316 [W-206,S-110], Roof-12 [A-10,C-2], Foul-1 [W-0,S-1], HR-26 [W-24,S-2]

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Day game after a night game. Wind blowing in. Clemens vs Clement. Hmm... doesn't sound very conducive for balls leaving the yard.

And it wasn't. Only the Astros took batting practice and it paid off as they won 5-1. Roger continued his American Geezer tour of the National League, scattering 5 hits over 7 innings with 5 strikeouts on the way to his 318th career victory. May have been exciting on the inside, but these kind of games are pretty boring on the outside. So with no homers, there's not much to report here. Hopefully an off day tomorrow and Mark Prior pitching on Friday will stir things up a bit.

Wednesday, June 2: BP-2 [W-2,S-0], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0
Season: BP-307 [W-202,S-105], Roof-12 [A-10,C-2], Foul-1 [W-0,S-1], HR-26 [W-24,S-2]

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

They say the secret to success in real estate is location, location, location. To a large extent, the same is true in ballhawking, as I proved in tonight's game - in an opposite kind of way. If I had been in my usual spot near the corner, I probably would have snagged Jeff Kent's homer in the third. Instead, I played the wind and set up shop in deep left-center. So I had a great view of the ball going over the fence and into Dave's glove as he ran up and snagged it.

Then as the bottom of the 4th came around with Alou leading off, I decided to go back to my usual spot. First pitch, c-r-a-c-k-!!! Alou crushes it and sure enough, it's deep left-center, right about where I would have been if I'd stayed in my new spot. So again, I had a great view of the ball going over the fence and "Dick the Bruiser" ranging far to his left to basket-catch it on the fly.

Moral of the story? Pick a spot, stay there, and if you don't catch a homer, drink heavily - dietCoke, Old Style, margaritas... whatever makes you happy. Just don't drink and drive.

Tuesday, June 1: BP-8 [W-7,S-1], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-2 [W-2,S-0]
Season: BP-305 [W-200,S-105], Roof-12 [A-10,C-2], Foul-1 [W-0,S-1], HR-26 [W-24,S-2]

Monday, May 31, 2004

Us ballhawks weren't the only birds around Wrigley today (pigeons don't count). For the second Memorial day in a row, the bald eagle "Challenger" graced us with his presence. Flew down from the scoreboard right before the game started, soared across the field, buzzed the crowd a few times before settling on his trainer's fist at home plate. Very cool.

Proved to be a good omen for the Cubbies as they went on to a 3-1 victory over the Astros. Longtime ballhawk "Dick the Bruiser" (DTB) got on the board with not one, but two street homers - Moises Alou in the 5th and Lance Berkman in the 6th. DTB endeared himself to the bleacher crowd by not throwing the Berkman homer back - all sorts of friendly "hello's" and "nice to see you's" came wafting down from the bleachers and rooftops. At least that's what I think they were saying...

After Further Review...
I found out today that the 'passer-by' who ended up with Michael Barrett's 1st inning homer on May 21 is actually named George. So take one away from the 'passer-by' total and put George on the board with one. Here's the kicker - some of his buddies who knew that he had caught that homer, saw my original post on this blog where I used the term 'passer-by', so now they all call him 'passer-by'.

Sorry about that George, but believe me, there are worse nicknames that can get hung on you out here. Just ask "Toaster"...

Monday, May 31: No BP (rain), Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-2 [W-2,S-0]
Season: BP-297,[W-193,S-104], Roof-12,[A-10, C-2], Foul-1 [W-0,S-1], HR-24 [W-22, S-2]

Sunday, May 23, 2004

It was Fuji photo day at Wrigley Field, which meant fans got to go on the field before the game and take pictures of players. It also meant no batting practice which was indeed unfortunate, given the gusting Southwest winds. Didn't matter much in the first inning though when Aramis Ramirez ripped a line drive to the top row of the bleachers in left-center. Ball never got high enough for the wind to take effect, otherwise it could have easily made it across the street.

Albert Pujols, on the other hand, fully understands the principles of thrust and lift and other aerodynamic nuances. In other words, just hit a fly ball and let the wind do all the work. He connected in the 6th inning, blasting his second street homer in three days, this one over just where the high fence starts in left. I saw it right away (white ball, bright lights and a dark sky - I love night games!) so I sidestepped the light pole, dodged the trash can and the five 'yutes' standing around it, ran around the tree and back out into the street just in time to stick my arm out and watch the ball land right into my glove.

Then I watched it pop right back out and onto the ground. Oops!

Only I didn't say 'oops' - it was a four letter word of another persuasion but we'll just pretend it was 'oops' and leave it at that. Thankfully, the ball was right in front of me the whole time, so I was able to scoop it back up. Good thing too - it's bad enough to drop one in BP and endure the jabs and jibes from the other 'hawks, but to drop a gamer... Man, you're just leaving yourself wide open for all sorts of ridicule over the next few days, weeks, or sometimes even seasons.

Sunday, May 22: No BP (Photo day), Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-1 [W-1,S-0]
Season: BP-297,[W-193,S-104], Roof-12,[A-10, C-2], Foul-1 [W-0,S-1], HR-22 [W-20, S-2]

Saturday, May 22, 2004

It will be a long time before I say anything bad about Mother Nature. She certainly has done her best to help us out these past few days, especially today. Rained very hard this morning with lots of ominous looking clouds, but she blew them all away in time for batting practice, of which only the Cardinals took part. Lots of South, Southwest winds all game long with only one brief bit of rain - more like sprinkles. Then about an hour after the game was over, it was back to lots of dark skies and gusting winds from the North. Heavy rain and lightning all night long.

So I'm very appreciative of ol' Mom creating that little 5 hour or so window of good weather for us to get in our daily fix of baseball. Unfortunately, even with the meteorological factors in our favor, the players did not oblige. Nothing in the streets. But quite the surprise inside the park as Glendon Rusch filled in for injured ace, Kerry Wood, and pitched a whale of a game to lead the Cubs to a 7-1 victory. I think the Cardinals are close to, if not leading the league in homers, so holding them to only one run with the wind blowing out is huge. Evens the series at one game each - bragging rights Sunday night, 7:05 pm, ESPN.

Saturday, May 22: BP-8 [W-8,S-0], Roof-0, Foul-0, HR-0
Season: BP-297,[W-193,S-104], Roof-12,[A-10, C-2], Foul-1 [W-0,S-1], HR-21 [W-19, S-2]

Friday, May 21, 2004

Ok, so Sammy is on the DL. Not a problem - we still have Moises, Derek, Aramis, Hollandsworth, Patterson, Walker and the new kid Dubois who can hit it out in BP. And with the Cardinals in town, we're talking Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Renteria, Matheny, Lankford and Sanders who are equally capable of taking it to the streets. Add some favorable winds out of the South, and we have all the ingredients for a monster batting practice.

So what happens? A grand total of three. Two by the Cubs and one by the Cards. Brings to mind one of the all-time best baseball quotes, fittingly enough by a Cardinal, Joaquin Andujar. After being in one of those weird wacky games where nothing went right, he said he could sum baseball up in one word - "you never know".

Guess they were saving up for the game. First inning, Michael Barrett surprises everyone by launching one onto Waveland. One bounce up against the Budweiser house and back down through the trees where after a brief tussle, a passer-by ends up with it. Then Pujols cranks it up and sends a towering drive down the line where it ends up at the feet of another passer-by. Timing is everything. Finally, who else but Mr. En Fuego himself, Moises Alou, hits a 3-run blast straight to Moe who makes a nice running catch.

Corey almost made it four by pulling one way out of the park but alas, it was foul. Which means a new category (Foul) now shows up in the out-of-the-park ball count at the end of each post.

Friday, May 21: BP-3 [W-2,S-1], Roof-1 [A-0,C-1], Foul-1 [W-0,S-1], HR-3 [W-3,S-0]
Season: BP-289,[W-185,S-104], Roof-12,[A-10, C-2], Foul-1 [W-0,S-1], HR-21 [W-19, S-2]

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Who needs Barry and Sammy? Today was the Pedro and Moises show on Waveland Ave. First up was Pedro Feliz of the Giants. Jumped all over a Greg Maddux fastball in the 5th and smashed a line drive that got out of the park in a hurry. Good thing it was right at me as I didn't have much time to react - two steps in and two steps to the left. Raised the glove and made a one-handed snag. Wasn't trying to show off - it's just that I had a diet Coke in the other hand and didn't want to spill it. (That's my second career diet Coke homer, btw. First was Vlad Guerrero in '98.)

Next up was Moises Alou. He blasted one in the 7th that cleared Waveland, went through the trees and landed near the front porch of the Budweiser house before bouncing into the next yard. Dave - being younger and faster (not to mention lighter) than me - hopped the fence and was the first one on the scene to claim Alou's 250th career homer. Figure Moises is good for another 20 or so this year, and assuming the Cubs pick up his option, we could easily be on a Countdown to 300 watch for Alou next year.

Thurday, May 20: BP-24 [W-11, S-13], Roof-1 [A-1, C-0], Home Run-2 [W-2, S-0]
Season Totals: BP-286, [W-183, S-103], Roof-11, [A-10, C-1], Home Run-18 [W-16, S-2]

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Tonight's theme - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Ugly, aka The Crawfish Man.
Tonight we saw a return of the Crawfish Man from Heaven on Seven. Except it really wasn't the Crawfish Man. May have been the same costume, but whoever was inside it was a cheap imitation of the original. Tonight's guy had what looked like to be red jammy sweats and clodhopper sneakers and just didn't have the same personality ,the same essence, the same flair...

The Bad, aka Sammy Sosa.
Sammy was put on the 15 day DL today, retroactive to Sunday, for a strained ligament suffered while sneezing. Make jokes if you want, but I certainly won't. I've had back problems most of my life, and when it's sore, there's nothing worse than a sneeze to set your whole spine on fire. Anyway, we won't miss Sammy much during BP (he always goes to right), but 2 weeks without the chance for some game blasts is going to hurt.

The Good, aka Jason DuBois.
"Who???" you may ask. Jason DuBois, that's who. No, I'm not one of those baseball geeks that has the 411 on every single minor leaguer who's ever played, so I can't tell you much about the rookie who was called up to take Sosa's spot on the roster. I just know three things about him - He's 6'5", he weighs 230 lbs and he bats right-handed. Bruddah, that's music to any ballhawk's ear. He blasted one in BP today that I went in two steps for, and then quickly backpedaled five steps to snag it about one carlength behind the crosswalk on Kenmore. No, I don't think we're going to miss Sammy at all, at least not during BP...

Highlight of the night: No, not Moises Alou's game winning homer in the bottom of the tenth. No, not Shawon Dunston singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame, but you're getting close. How about getting Shawon to sign a home-run ball from 1994? Yep, it was the 77th of his career, back on June 2, 1994. Ten years later, I finally get him to autograph it. My Shawon-O-Meter is at 1.000 right about now...

Wednesday, May 19: BP-10 [W-8, S-2], Roof-1 [A-1, C-0], Home Run-0
Season Totals: BP-262, [W-172, S-90], Roof-10, [A-9, C-1], Home Run-16 [W-14, S-2]

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"The walk is mightier than the swing..."

That's one way to describe the Cubs 1-0 loss to the Giants tonight. Barry Bonds went 0 for 2, but still found a way to beat the Cubs by taking a walk in the 4th, advancing to second on a groundout, and coming home on a Pedro Feliz single.

Meanwhile on a night when Randy Johnson throws a perfect game, all Jason Schmidt did was hold the Cubs to one hit while striking out 13. And poor Matt Clement - 8 innings, only 5 hits and a couple walks, 6 K's and only giving up the one run. Talk about your tough luck.

As for us ballhawks, our hero of the game had to be Marquis Grissom. He managed to make the last out of an inning three times, which meant Barry Bonds led off three times. And the odds of an intentional walk to start an inning are pretty low, especially in a close game. So we got to feel a little bit of excitement and anticipation a few times during the night, though nothing came of it. Maybe tomorrow...

And as for the other regulars on the corner, their hero of the game had to be Jason Schmidt for throwing a one-hitter. Now, I don't want to name names (LukeJohnnySteve...) but my guess is Jason Schmidt will be remembered and honored many times this summer for this particular achievement. And if you're not quite sure where I'm going with this, why, just stop by Waveland and Kenmore sometime and I'll be glad to explain in further detail. Or with any luck, you'll be able to hear the story from one of the masters themselves.

Tuesday, May 18: BP-5 [W-0, S-5], Roof-0, Home Run-0
Season Totals: BP-252, [W-164, S-88], Roof-9, [A-8, C-1], Home Run-16 [W-14, S-2]

Sunday, May 16, 2004

With the Cubs still on the road, I made my first visit to Miller Park over the weekend to catch a Brewers-Braves game. Suffice to say, I was less than impressed with the "House that Bud built" (on the backs of Milwaukee taxpayers), although I suppose if it had been raining outside I probably would have felt different. I dunno, it just didn't feel like a ballpark - it was more like a convention center. All the noise just sorta bounced around and echoed all over the place. Maybe it's different when the roof is open - I hope so. Anyway, batting practice (and the game) was boring, so I did the tourist thing and stopped in the gift shop. Almost bought an Italian Sausage bobblehead (brat-tlehead?), but controlled myself. Settled for a piece of history - a brick from old County Stadium. It'll go on display next to a brick I have from old Comiskey Park.

Speaking of the White Sox... as Moe and I were standing next to the outdoor eating area in left field waiting for home-runs that never came, we started talking with guy who turned out to be from Chicago as well - in fact within a Sosa blast or two of Wrigley Field. We shared stories about life outside of Wrigley, and at one point our new friend mentioned the all-too frequent problem with drunk Cubs fans 'relieving' themselves on the corner of his garage after games. He was thinking about painting the Cubs logo there, his logic being no Cubs fan, drunk or otherwise, would piss on the Cubs logo.

Made sense to me, but I suggested he go one better. Paint the Sox logo on the corner of his neighbor's garage. Like bees to honey, they won't be able to resist it - that logo will call out to them like the Sirens of Titan. He kinda liked that idea.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Ok, let's cut to the chase. Wind blowing out all day long, pretty good batting practice, several rain delays, one street homer by Aramis Ramirez in the bottom of the 10th that Butch got to keep the game going, and Corey Patterson was the hero this time instead of the goat as the Cubs won 5-4 in 13 innings.

But all that paled in comparison to a couple of sights that would have probably been better left unseen, but hey -- it's free country.

Weird sight #1 - a human porcupine on wheels. At least that's the best description I could come up with. Some guy on a bike, with hundreds of what looked like colored plastic drinking straws sticking out all over him. Had some sort of helmet on, along with elbow/knee pads and was carrying a Cubs flag on a big pole, kinda like he was some weird looking knight riding off to do battle. Call him Sir Cub-a-lot.

Weird sight #2 - a guy painted head-to-toe in Cubby blue. Cubs logo on his chest, "We got Wood" on his back. Paraded up and down Sheffield and Waveland, pausing every now and then to strike a pose and whip up a little crowd-frenzy. Call him Blue Man Wood.

I don't know about you, but all of sudden, Crawdad Man from last year is looking better and better...

Sunday, May 9: BP-30 [W-21, S-9], Roof-0, Home Run-1 [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP-247, [W-164, S-83], Roof-9, [A-8, C-1], Home Run-16 [W-14, S-2]

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Finally, a little street action...

Fireworks started early but unfortunately fizzled late for the Cubs against the Rockies today. First inning, two outs, 3-0 count on Sosa - most guys would be taking the next pitch. Not Sammy - BAM! High up over the bleachers, across Waveland, through the tree in front of the Budweiser house, and one bounce through the fence. There the ball lay, rolling just beyond the reach of several outstretched arms poking through the fence. I had visions of running around to the gate on the side, and then just casually walking over and picking it up "Oh, somebody drop this?", but alas, time was not on my side. Butch had his arm in the right place at the right time (not to mention it's a pretty long arm) when gravity took over and the ball rolled back within his grasp.

So while Butch was enjoying his latest Sammy trophy amidst a bunch of high-fives and backslaps, the rest of us were settling back into our spots for Alou's at-bat. A few pitches later, on a 1-1 count - BAM! Another blast - almost to the exact same spot. This one came through the tree as well, but ricocheted off the fence instead of going through. I dashed around a few people, just missed doing a face-plant on the tree trunk, was able to keep my eye on the ball as it went up through the leaves and back onto Waveland, where I scooped it up on the bounce.

That was my first game homer of the year, tying me with Eddie 'Bench'. Not sure but I think Butch and Dave have two each, and passer-bys have the rest; including a young lady walking down Sheffield when Todd Walker blasted one in the third inning today. Across the street, one bounce off the building and rolled right to her. How's that for a conversation starter as she sitting in Murphy's with her friends having a few drinks -- "Yeah, I caught a home run on my way here. No big deal. Happens all the time..."

Saturday, May 8: BP-15 [W-12, S-3], Roof-0, Home Run-3 [W-2, S-1]
Season Totals: BP-217, [W-143, S-74], Roof-9, [A-8, C-1], Home Run-15 [W-13, S-2]

Friday, May 07, 2004

Couldn't make it to today's game (cold weather kinda has that effect on me) so had to watch the highlights on TV. Once again, all the action was inside the park as Zambrano twirled a two-hitter on the way to a 11-0 shutout of the Colorado Rockies. Wind was blowing in at a 20-25 mph clip so I'm not surprised at the zero runs by the Rockies, but how in the heck did the Cubs score 11? Hope they still have something left in the tank for the weekend...

Friday, May 7: BP-5 [W-1, S-4], Roof-0, Home Run-0
Season Totals: BP-202, [W-131, S-71], Roof-9, [A-8, C-1], Home Run-12 [W-11, S-1]

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Nothing much to report for the last two days. The weather and the Cubs bats have just not been on the same page lately. Days when the wind is haulin' out, they get stymied by a little ol' knuckleball. Then when their bats do get a little wakeup call, it seems to be on days when the wind is blowing in. And what initially looked to be a 80 degree, Southwest wind-filled weekend; is now looking like rain, rain, rain. What a pain, pain, pain.

Interesting sight of the day: Given the Cubs playoff run last year; the off-season acquisitions of key players like Derrek Lee, LaTroy Hawkins and of course, Greg Maddux; the high expectations for this year, demonstrated by the thousands and thousands of fans waiting in line for hours to get a wristband back in February just to have a chance at getting tickets; the hundreds of thousands of mouse clicks and redials when game tickets actually went on sale; and the speed at which essentially the entire season sold out, except for obstructed view seats...

Well, with all that, the last thing you'd expect to see is someone walking down the street handing out free bleacher tickets left and right, but that's what happened today. Apparently even the mystique of Wrigley Field is not immune to the laws of supply and demand.

Wednesday, May 5: BP-5 [W-5, S-0], Roof-1, [A-1, C-0], Home Run-0
Thursday, May 6: BP-13 [W-6, S-7], Roof-0, Home Run-0
Season Totals: BP-197, [W-130, S-67], Roof-9, [A-8, C-1], Home Run-12 [W-11, S-1]

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

"Welcome to the Grand Illusion..."

Anyone the wrong side of 40 will recognize that Styx classic (and I use the term 'classic' loosely). Seemed like an appropriate opening for tonight's entry given that Dennis DeYoung and the rest of the band were the guest conductors during the 7th inning stretch tonight.

Then again, it could have been describing how the Cubs sluggers were feeling after flailing away at Steve Sparks' knuckleball most of the night. With the wind blowing out, it was a perfect night to be throwing those 50 mph flutterers up there. Even with no wind, a knuckleball moves like crazy - throwing it into a 25 mph wind, it's positively insane. Wasn't till the 8th inning that the Cubs finally got their timing down and did a little damage. But by then it was too late. D'Backs cruised to a 6-3 victory.

"...So if you think your life is complete confusion
Because you never win the game
Just remember that it’s a grand illusion
And deep inside we’re all the same."

Highlight of the day: Saw the UPS guy make a delivery outside of Wrigley. He was driving the brown truck, was dressed in the standard brown uniform, had the brown scanner, everything was classic UPS brown. All the way down (or up in this case) to the brown baseball cap with a brown Cubs 'C' on the front! Now that's what I call fitting in with the neighborhood...

Tuesday, May 4: BP-29 [W-13, S-16], Roof-0, Home Run-0
Season Totals: BP-179, [W-119, S-60], Roof-8, [A-7, C-1], Home Run-12 [W-11, S-1]

Sunday, April 25, 2004

"Ask, and ye shall receive..."

In yesterday's post, I mentioned something about a strong Southwest wind, and lo and behold, what did we have today? A very strong Southwest wind. Man, if I'd known I had this kind of power, things would have been muuuuuuch different in Game 6 last October...

Highlight of today's batting practice was a 480 ft blast by Mike Piazza that did some serious windshield damage to a parked car on Kenmore. If I get pictures, I'll post on main site. I should've caught it on the fly (thus saving the windshield), but I took two steps in and by that time, it was way too late and way over my head.

Highlight of today's game was an amazing pitching performance by Matt Clement. Wind blowing out at 25 mph, and he takes a no-hitter into the seventh inning! Struck out 13 to boot. That makes six in a row for the Cubbies, all of them featuring strong starting pitching. Will certainly be glad when Prior gets back, but am even gladder that we don't seem to be missing him that much. At least so far...

Sunday, April 25: BP-21 [W-14, S-7], Roof-0, Home Run-0
Season Totals: BP-150, [W-106, S-44], Roof-8, [A-7, C-1], Home Run-12 [W-11, S-1]

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Not too much to report today. With Kerry Wood on the mound and the wind blowing straight in, no surprise that it was another well-pitched Cubs victory, 3-0. In fact, only two balls were hit out of the park - a foul ball over the roof by Karim Garcia and a home run on to Waveland by Sammy Sosa. Good news was that I got one of them. Bad news was it wasn't the home run.

Oh well, it could have been worse. I could've been the guy in the top row of the bleachers who had a clear shot at catching the Sosa homer, only to have it bounce off his hands (glove?), go straight up and over the back fence straight down onto the sidewalk, where once again, a passerby just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and calmly scooped it up before any of the regulars could get there.

Clearly, we (the regulars), are not at the top of our game right now. Like the saying goes, it's all about location, location, location. Of course, a strong southwest wind never hurts. Maybe tomorrow...

Saturday, April 24: BP-4 [W-4, S-0], Roof-1 [A-0, C-1], Home Run-1 [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP-129, [W-92, S-37], Roof-8, [A-7, C-1], Home Run-12 [W-11, S-1]

Friday, April 23, 2004

Even though the sun finally broke through the clouds... and even though Greg Maddux finally got his pitching groove back... and even though the Cubs won 3-1... it was a bittersweet day after hearing the news about Pat Tillman.

Certainly made me take a step back and think about things a bit. It's just too bad it takes events like this to give you pause to reflect on what's really important...

Friday, April 23: BP-6 [W-4, S-2], Roof-0, Home Run-0
Season Totals: BP-125, [W-88, S-37], Roof-7, [A-7, C-0], Home Run-11 [W-10, S-1]

Monday, April 19, 2004

Had to work so couldn't make the game today, but my operatives tell me I didn't miss much -- at least nothing out of the park. All the action was inside, to the tune of a 8-1 victory.

Sure, the Cubs won, but the big news (from a ballhawk's perspective) was Derrek Lee's grand slam home run. Ok, so it didn't come out to the street, and it's not like he blasted it - from what I saw on the news highlights, it looks like it was just a deep fly ball that took advantage of some 30 mph winds from the West and made it into the bleachers. But perhaps this is the burr under the saddle that wakes the sleeping giant. And at 6-5, 248 lbs., this giant could do some serious damage to the houses on Waveland. Can't wait...

Monday, April 19: BP-21 [W-14, S-7], Roof-1 [A-1, S-0], Home Run-0
Season Totals: BP-119, [W-84, S-35], Roof-7, [A-7, C-0], Home Run-11 [W-10, S-1]

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Let's see... the scores of the last three games have been 11-10 on Friday, 3-2 on Saturday, and 11-10 today. Now here's a test question that would make Jim Harrick Jr. proud... Which day was the wind blowing in?

Another high-scoring game today with seven home runs, but only one made it to the street (Moises Alou). And of course, since we ballhawks still haven't gotten on track yet, that ball hit the ground, ricocheted off the fence in front of the Budweiser building and headed back across the street, resulting in yet another wild scramble and pile-on. I'm sure there are more than few people that'll wake up very sore tomorrow morning.

Sunday, April 18: BP-27 [W-19, S-8], Roof-0, Home Run-1 [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP-98, [W-70, S-28], Roof-6, [A-6, C-0], Home Run-11 [W-10, S-1]

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Cubs lose a close one 3-2; Kerry Wood gets ejected, Moises Alou makes a terrific diving catch, but most important of all - today, I heard my first Santoism for the year. Most baseball fans have heard of Yogi Berraisms ("nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded"; "when you come to a fork in the road, take it"; "This game is ninety percent mental; the other half is physical.") and though I can't recall any off hand, there have been some real beauties out of the mouth of long-time Mets announcer and former Pirates slugger Ralph Kiner. Naturally, his are called Kinerisms.

Well, our very own Ron Santo is slowly but surely making a name for himself in this category. At one point during today's broadcast, Ron was describing how similar he thought Ryne Sandberg as a player was to an earlier Cubs 2nd baseman, Ken Hubbs, by saying they were "identically built the same."

Identically built the same. I dunno, maybe it's me, but that just has a nice ring to it. Thanks, Ron.

Saturday, April 17: BP-7 [W-4, S-3], Roof-3 [A-3, C-0], Home Run-0
Season Totals: BP-71, [W-51, S-20], Roof-6, [A-6, C-0], Home Run-10 [W-9, S-1]

Friday, April 16, 2004

Wow - what a day and what a game! Wind blowing out; five street homers (including a Griffey opposite field blast); and a thrilling come-from-behind, bottom of the ninth, back-to-back homers Cubs victory. [Aside to Gene - man, you sure picked the right day to hang outside to do some research for your book, eh?]

The crowning moment was obviously Moises Alou's game-winning homer onto Kenmore. Much like Sosa's 536 ft blast from last year, my first reaction was "Cool - right at me." But I quickly figured out it was going to go over my head so I turned around hoping to run it down like I did with Sammy's. Unfortunately, a taxi had picked that moment to pull up behind me and pretty much block the street. So all I could do was stand there and watch the ball land on the street.

Except the ball didn't actually land on the street. It zeroed in on an unsuspecting Reds fan who was standing well back from all the action, most likely enjoying the cool shade and contemplating where the next cocktail might be coming from. At the last second, he looked up, and managed to get a hand on it, but we're talking a crushed home run ball smacking onto bare flesh. It wasn't pretty -- some serious immediate swelling, and if you looked close, you could almost make out a reverse imprint of Bud Selig's signature.

Ball ricocheted back towards the park and within seconds the corner had transformed into a rugby scrum or a greased pig contest - take your pick. After much scraping, bruising, swearing, tearing of clothes and spilling of beverages, somebody finally emerged from the pile all the way back on the other side of Waveland and ran for cover into one of the waiting charter buses.

Somebody's got one helluva souvenir story to tell their grandkids someday...

Friday, April 16: BP-32 [W-22, S-10], Roof-0, Home Run-5 [W-4, S-1]
Season Totals: BP-64, [W-47, S-17], Roof-3, [A-3, C-0], Home Run-10 [W-9, S-1]

Thursday, April 15, 2004

April 15 -- the Tax-man cometh, and the South winds bloweth. And seeing as how I only have a few hours left to file my taxes, this post will be brief. The Cubs continued their pounding of the ball, both in batting practice and the game, but it was two Pirates (Jack Wilson and Humberto Cota) who continued the early season onslaught on Waveland Ave. These balls bounced as well, but at least this time, two regulars (Butch and Dave) ended up with them.

Zambrano pitched well, Cubs win 10-5, and it looks like I'm getting a refund. With any luck, it will be large enough to acquire a bleacher ticket sometime this summer, and with maybe, just maybe, enough left over to get one of them $6 Old Styles I've been hearing about.

Thursday, April 15: BP-28 [W-21, S-7], Roof-1, [A-1, C-0], Home Run-2 [W-2, S-0]
Season Totals: BP-32, [W-25, S-7], Roof-3, [A-3, C-0], Home Run-5 [W-5, S-0]

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Couldn't make it to Wednesday's game, so was forced to live vicariously through the highlights on the news, which showed three homers (Alou, Ramirez, Mondesi) making it to the street -- and they all bounced, which of course, is the capital sin of ballhawks everywhere.

Further on-site intel confirms that Alou's was kicked around almost all the way to the firehouse before some kid walking towards the crowd scooped it up. Ramirez's was another scrum in motion until the ball squirted out right into the hands of Eddie "Bench". And Mondesi's blast ended up causing another free-for-all until somebody finally snagged it and then barely made it onto the field when they threw it back.

So after two home games, it's Passers-By 2, Eddie 1, and all the ballhawks hanging their heads in shame...

Wednesday, April 14: BP-2 [W-2, S-0], Roof-0, Home Run-3 [W-3, S-0]
Season Totals: BP-4, [W-4, S-0], Roof-2, [A-2, C-0], Home Run-3 [W-3, S-0]

Monday, April 12, 2004

Hmm... the spirit was willing, but the flesh (not to mention the pitching and hitting) was definitely weak. Cubs lose, 13-2. Ouch! That's certainly no way to start off the home season. Still - I think we can all take comfort in the following Opening Day story relayed to me by a good friend of mine.

* * * * *
...As I was leaving my house at 7:15AM this morning, my successful sales executive neighbor was also leaving. He had a thin windbreaker in hand and was practically skipping out of his door. He's a mid 30's-ish guy. As we walked to the street, I asked him where he was going. He had a big smile on his face and was carrying something in his hand and allowed me to see it: a 1.5L bottle of Ketel One vodka. He only had to say two words and I understood:

"Opening Day".

* * * * *
Well, at least we know one Cub fan that was feeling no pain today.

With 20 mph NE winds, only two balls came out in batting practice, both by the Pirates. And only two roof balls that I know of during the game. I snagged one, compliments of Sammy in the 3rd inning. Had the special Opening Day 2004 logo on it. Very cool.

Monday, April 12: BP-2 [W-2, S-0], Roof-2 [A-2, C-0], Home Run-0
Season Totals: BP-2, [W-2, S-0], Roof-2, [A-2, C-0], Home Run-0

Sunday, April 11, 2004

'Twas the night before the Home Opener, and all around the park
All the creatures were drinking, especially at Addison and Clark.
The police barricades were lined up on the streets with care,
In hopes that St. Sammy would soon send a ball out there.

The ballhawks were all home, breaking in their new gloves,
With visions of home run blasts falling down from above.
From Sammy, from Moises, from Alex and Corey
From Derek, from Aramis, and don't forget Kerry....

Monday, April 05, 2004

You know what's great about Opening Day? To quote Billy Joel "It's either sadness or euphoria...".

That would be sadness for the South side of Chicago to the tune of six runs by the Royals in the bottom of the ninth as they beat the Sox 9-7; and euphoria for the North side as Joe Borowski does his best Mitch Williams impersonation to save a Cubs victory over the Reds, 7-4.

Even more euphoric is the Devil Rays sporting the same record as the Yankees. Now if I can say the same thing come October 3, then truly this will have been a season for the ages. For now, I'm happy with the Cubs being in first place.

And I'll be even happier next week when the Cubs open their home schedule against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Of course, since it was 50 degrees and sunshine today, it'll most likely be 35 and raining then. Oh well - just goes to show that Murphy (of Murphy's Law fame) was probably a Cubs fan.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Closure... it's all about closure.

July 31, 1997. Another beautiful day at Wrigley Field, the Cubs entertaining the Dodgers. Raul Mondesi, their star right fielder, steps to the plate, here's the pitch.... whack! Going, going, gone! Deep drive to left center, out of the park and into my glove as I'm standing on Waveland Ave, in front of the Budweiser house.

Fast forward to today - March 5, 2004 - almost seven years later. Mondesi is with the Pirates now, and they're just finishing up a spring training game against the Tigers. Mondesi is heading towards the bus and stops to sign a few autographs. I'm right there, third in line, with - you guessed it - that very same home run ball. I tell him the whens and wheres of how I caught that ball, he half-smiles and gives me a "huh", and then signs it right on the sweet spot. Not even 5 miles of backed-up traffic on I-4 heading back to Tampa could wipe the smile off my face after getting that autograph.

That's how you bring closure to a baseball's existence. No need to blow it up in some made for tv media event like they did with the "Bartman" ball. If you want to achieve closure, all you have to do is just set things right. In my case, it was getting Mondesi to sign the ball, which will now go on display in my home. In Bartman's case, they should have put the ball where it belongs, in Moises Alou's glove. Then seal it in Lucite, and put the whole thing on display at Harry Caray's.

Closure. It's all about closure...

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

"Insanity, thy name is Cub Fan..."

As many of you know by now, the Cubs are doing the wristband thing again for regular season tickets going on sale this Friday. You go to Wrigley Field (actually the old YumYum Doughnuts building) and get a numbered wristband. Then Friday morning at 6am, the Cubs draw a random number, and whoever has that number is first in line, and everybody else lines up sequentially. You basically have a two hour window to buy tickets at Wrigley before the rest of the free world joins the fray via phone, internet, and all sorts of ticket outlets at 10am.

In other words, it's a crapshoot. If you're not within a couple hundred of the lucky number, there's no way you're getting any of the good games, i.e. Saturday bleachers against the Sox, Cardinals, Astros, etc.

Why do I bore you with all this? Well, I just got back from an evening stroll around Wrigley. The line to get wristbands goes from the YumYum building, north through the parking lot, past the carwash stalls, turns right on Waveland and stretches all the way down the left field wall, ending up at about left center field. Mind you, it's about 9:30 and they stop handing out wristbands for the night at 10pm. And this line is moving slower than Steve Trachsel on the mound. Yet, they're all lined up by the hundreds.

Amazing... simply amazing...

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Well, it's official - Mad Dog is in the house! Cubs signed Greg Maddux to a three year deal late yesterday - lots of cheers and smiles all around Chicago today. Heck, even Little Big Man, one of the city's biggest Sox fans, said "'s a coup for the Cubs."

Is Maddux the missing piece of the World Series puzzle for the Cubs? Maybe - it sure can't hurt. I think the key here is not how much this improves the #3 spot in the rotation (behind Prior and Wood) - it's how much it improves the #4 and #5 spots. BM (before Maddux), Cubs were depending on Zambrano, Clement, and Cruz ALL having good years. AM (after Maddux), they only need to get good years from TWO of them. And I think you'll agree, two out of three ain't bad.

My favorite Maddux moment? It's my first year in Chicago (1990), I'm actually inside Wrigley Field (this is before I found out about 'ballhawking'), and I'm down in the front row of the bleachers trying to get autographs during batting practice. One of the bleacher bums told me Maddux is a tough one to get, but if you ask nicely, you got a good chance. So Maddux is out there shagging flies with the other pitchers, a ball goes over their heads and lands near the wall, Maddux jogs over and as he picking up the ball, I say "Hey Greg, could I get your autograph..." and he doesn't look up, doesn't break stride, just turns around and starts to head back...


He stops, looks up, turns back around, comes over to me, and signs my ball. I say "thanks", he nods, and then he heads back to his spot.

I don't quite know why, but that moment has always stayed with me. Maybe it's because I see so many obnoxious fans shouting/yelling/crowding, basically doing/saying anything just to get an autograph; then cursing up a storm and tearing the player a new one when he doesn't come over to sign. I guess in the grand scheme of things, it just kinda warms my heart knowing that sometimes, all it takes is 'please'.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Time for another Monday musing...

Not much has changed in Cub-dom this past week -- everyone is still playing the waiting game on Greg Maddux. His agent Scott Boras is trying to get a bidding war going, but so far nobody else is biting. I suspect the Cardinals will come through with some sort of contract offer - if nothing else, just to mess with the Cubs' head. Hopefully Dusty will pick up the phone, work his magic, and Mad Dog will come back and finish off a fine career by taking the Cubs to the Promised Land.

And who knows - maybe some of that winning attitude will blow South, and the Sox will get a little ornery this year with Ozzie Guillen at the helm. I mean, somebody has to win the AL Central, though chances are it won't be the Sox. But they may keep it interesting, at least until Reinsdorf figures out another way to wreck the team.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed on Maddux, but it's not the end of the world if he signs somewhere else. Cubs still have an awesome rotation, and remember -- any money not spent on Maddux now could go towards a mid-season acquisition later.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Well, the Super Bowl is over, and outside of the occasional LeBron James sighting, there really isn't much worth watching sports-wise on TV. Well, maybe some NCAA hoops every now and then -- I do get a kick out of seeing Princeton run the back door play, and I do enjoy watching Marquette's Travis Deiner come off a pick and attack the basket or launch a three. I haven't seen that kind of fearlessness on the court since Cleveland's Mark Price; you know, back when the Cavs were almost good.

Of course, it doesn't help that Chicago is under a winter storm advisory tonight. We already had about 4 inches on the ground, and probably going to add another 2-4 in the next day or so. And last week, we woke up to subzero temperatures on more than one occasion.

And with Valentine's Day approaching, it brings to mind those three words that every baseball fan loves to hear.... Pitchers and Catchers. The Devils Rays are the first to report (Feb 14) and the others aren't far behind.

All in all, it seems like a perfect time to start up the 2004 Waveland Chronicles. Stay tuned as I go through my own spring training to get ready for a great season of ballhawk blogging.