It took 50 games, but the Cubs were finally able to put together a three game winning streak for the first time this year.
It’s not something that I want to jump up and down about though. The Cubs won three in a row against the only team in the league with a worse record (17-35), and the only other team in baseball that hasn’t won 3 straight, San Diego.
So the Cubs finish May with an 18-32 record overall and 10-17 for the month, last in the NL Central.
Now word comes out, through a USA Today article by Bob Nightengale, that the Cubs are ready to listen to offers for almost any player. Surprisingly, the one untouchable player isn’t Starlin Castro, its starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
Surprising for two reasons;
(1) Coming into spring training Samardzija was a man without a defined job. Since making his first appearance for the Cubs in 2008, Jeff has bounced back and forth as a starter and reliever, as well as between the big leagues and AAA. His biggest issue has been control. Over the past two seasons combined he has walked 5.9 batters per 9. But this spring Jeff was throwing the ball over the plate and earned a job in the starting rotation over 2011 starter Randy Wells and trade pickup Travis Wood. And so far he has continued to throw strikes, only walking 2.7/9. I hope he continues throwing strikes, but I’m not sure that I would shut the door on any trade offers just because of two months of great work.
(2) I’m guessing if asked, “Who is the one player the Cubs shouldn’t trade?”; Cubs fans would overwhelmingly pick Starlin Castro. Yet I have no problem with a trade of Castro. My biggest beef, his defense. Last year he led the league in errors, this year he is second so far, and that just counts “official” errors. I can’t count the number of times he has dropped the ball (or flat out missed the ball) on stolen base attempts for which no error was charged.
One of my favorite stats is Wins above Replacement (WAR). Everyone loved Castro’s season last year, his WAR was 3.2. That was 10th among shortstops, behind Brendan Ryan, Erick Aybar and Yunel Escobar. Castro is good, and he is young, but if someone wants to drop two top flight prospects on the Cubs for Castro, I’d take them.
So as we head into June I think we are gonna see some big changes to the Cubs roster; veterans are going to leave and rookies are gonna get their chances. It will be an interesting two months before the trade deadline.
I love the guys at RSBS. If you haven’t stopped by their site, they have witty baseball posts, spiced with political commentary and the occasional (and almost always necessary for the topic) photo of beautiful women.
Yesterday they put up a post you can read here that I would like to respond to.
Now to be fair, Jeff didn’t write his post as part of a dialog with me and he wasn’t able to change his comments based on what I would have said. However, he did say what he did and I’m going to respond to those particular comments as they were written.
****** The writing in red and italics is from RSBS********
“Here’s an idea that will never become reality, but just for fun, let’s think about it.
Albert Pujols, while somewhat showing glimpses of his old self, is on pace to hit 15 homers and drive in 70-some RBIs — a whole lot less than the Halos thought they’d get from a a man making $24 million a year… FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS.
And how about the $20 million a year the Red Sox are paying Carl Crawford… FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS. Good thing Theo got out of town!
Of course, Theo already knows, you don’t have to go outside of Chicago to find a big, fat pile of head-scratching contracts. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano (yep, sCrUBBIES are still payin’ the bulk of that awful) are the most high profile, but until this year, the Dunn, Peavy and Rios contracts made Kenny Williams one of the south side’s most hated”. -RSBS
First of course is that it’s a little early to hold up Albert Pujols as a poster boy for bad contracts. Sure, he has had a rough go of things early on in the first season of his 10yr contract, but I think he should be given at least a full season, not 7 weeks, before we start to grade the success of this signing.
Second, it’s easy to remember those that don’t live up to the size of their contract (Soriano, Crawford, Zito) because they get the most press and draw the greater ire of the fans. Yet those on the other end of the scale (successful players), seem to be at a publicity “disadvantage”. Look, because of the very nature of a 100+ million dollar contract being so huge, no player will ever seem to outplay that contract. And when they do play well and earn their money (ARod 2001-10, M Ramirez 2001-08, D Jeter 2001-10) ……. well……. most fans will look at it as something that they were supposed to do: (ie – “That’s what their getting paid for”).
“The truth is, when money is on the line, pro athletes perform better. Consider the beyond stellar starts of Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy, Zack Greinke and many, many more. The one thing these fellas all have in common is… THEY’RE IN CONTRACT YEARS!” -RSBS
Actually, there’s little or no truth to this commonly held myth. I could use arbitrary examples like Miguel Montero, Robinson Cano, Jhonny Peralta, Mark Reynolds and others that are not performing well in this, their contract year; but it’s better to use actual empirical evidence.
From Bloomberg Sports in 2010:
“Over the past nine years, 177 players performing in the last year of a contract hit for a collective .282 batting average, with an .824 OPS. They also averaged 19 home runs, 51 extra base hits and 73 runs batted in per 500 at-bats.
That’s not much different from their collective numbers from the previous year: .283 batting average, .821 OPS, 19 homers, 51 extra base hits and 74 RBI”
*** Truth be told, I’ve found addition data from the guys at BaseballProspectus that suggests that performance may be up slightly in contract years using a different metric (WARP); however, their study from 1976-2000 was limited to “prominent free agents”, not all players in a contract season were used. If it’s true that players perform better in contract years; that truth should hold for all players, not just “prominent” ones.
“If your paycheck is on the line, you try harder. This is FACT. But if you have the means to fall back on (Albert, Carl, et al.) and you have no pressure to git ‘er done ‘cuz you already got BAZILLIONS in the bank, what incentive is their to be the superstar you’ve always been? I don’t care how bad@ss you are, the trend in performance speaks loudly: once a player reaches his monetary apex, he regresses.” -RSBS
The clear implication is that players only try to do their best when money is on the line. It suggest that they don’t play to “Win the Game”, play for pride, or just play for the simple love of the game. It says that money is the overriding force that drives the players, and that once they have that money, all bets are off when it comes to performance.
Let’s look at the first part, that players in contract years try harder….”FACT” as you say. The one major problem with that statement is that trying harder doesn’t necessarily translate into playing better. Michael Bourn can try as hard as he wants to hit 20 HR’s this year in order to increase his free agent value, but it isn’t going to happen, at least not without sacrificing another part (AVG) of his game. And as was pointed out in the Bloomberg data, the stats don’t reflect improved play as a whole.
The second part of your statement, which you suggest that players aren’t as incentivized to perform because they already have money in the bank, seems most cynical. Yet you are not alone in this line of thought. I hear fans of athletes from all sports say the same thing. But why is it that we only talk about athletes this way? Why not movie stars? Using this reasoning, I see no reason to view Tom Hanks next movie. Surely he must have phoned-in his performance because he is already rich. How about Warren Buffett? He’s super rich. Should I just ignore his next stock “buy” because he doesn’t really need it to show profit in order to make his next mortgage payment?
“There’s nothing wrong with paying a dude $25 million a year if he puts up $25 million a year numbers. So why not reward those who do and save money (and face) by doing it on a year-to-year basis?” -RSBS
The answer of course is that baseball free agency is one of the purest forms of free-market economics that exist. Each player is worth exactly what each owner is willing to pay and what each player is willing to accept. In Albert’s case, it was $240M. A huge salary to be sure, but the market can move the other way also. Vlad Guerrero was unable to find a buyer for his services this season at a price for which he was willing to perform. Why would we want to put artificial barriers on this market? Besides, to think that if we limited contracts to one year that Albert could have been had for “just” $24M is crazy. Pujols is getting $24M per year because the total guaranteed package is worth $240M. If Albert could only sign a 1 year deal , my guess is that it would take $35+M to get him for 2012. Why? Because if he struggles this year he wouldn’t be able to command nearly as much in 2013, so he has to get his money now. We see this play out all the time in the NFL. They don’t have guaranteed contracts, so the players command huge signing bonuses in order to get their money up front.
One last thing. It seems implicit in your overall comments that if teams weren’t under the weight of 10yr $100M contracts that they would have a better chance to win. I’m not really sure what makes you think this is the case. In fact, we can go back to the pre- free agency era and see that it’s not actually the case. Boston went from 1952 to 1966 without ever winning more than 84 games in a season. Philadelphia only had 3 winning seasons from 1954 to 1974. Bad management is bad management, it doesn’t matter if you have 10 year contracts or if you were are able to treat players as property.
“Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.” – Jeff
I certainly don’t hate you, you guys have a great blog and I love reading it, but in this case, you’re wrong.
The Cubs lost their eighth straight game last night to Houston. A loss tonight to the Astros would match their longest losing streak since they dropped 9 in a row back in 2002. That season the Cubs went 67-95, surprisingly that didn’t put them last in the NL Central; Milwaukee actually lost 106 games that season.
Unfortunately, the Cubs are last in the Central this year and their current winning percentage (.349) puts them on pace to go 57-105 for the season.
Let’s put that number in perspective. In the 137 year history of the franchise, Chicago has only had two 100+ lose seasons (1962 & 1966). Yes the Cubs are the “Lovable Losers”, but they don’t lose this much! In fact, as hard as it might be for some people to believe, the Cubs have an overall franchise winning record (10,326 – 9807). Even when you just use their record as the “Chicago Cubs” since 1903, they are still 167 games over .500.
I was at the fifth game of their current losing streak. It was the Saturday night game of the White Sox series. It always fun to go to the game with friends, it’s not quite as fun when those friends are Sox fans and the Sox are in the middle of a 3 game sweep over the Cubs.
Leaving team allegiance aside though, we were joined by my sister and brother-in-law and we all had a good time at the game.
One other thing that I wanted to mention. I’m a baseball card collector; one of the friends that went to the game is also a collector, far more prolific than me. And this season the Cubs have done something that I think is cool with the printed season tickets. They have reprinted a Topps® baseball card on each ticket. Sometimes it just a random card (although it probably isn’t, I just haven’t figured out the connection yet), but most times it is a card of a Cubs player that is connected to the team that the Cubs are playing that day.
This past Saturday it was a 1974 Ron Santo. Santo played with the White Sox the final year of his career.
Here is another example from April against the Cardinals. It’s a 1962 Lou Brock card.
Great idea for the tickets and fun for collectors of particular players.
The Cubs –White Sox series always has a story line; Ozzie and Lou, Barrett and Pierzynski, most beautiful ballpark ever built and “The Cell”; but heading into the first of six games in this Cross-town Classic, the local media hype for this series was unusually quite. I’m sure a lot of the indifference had to do with the records of the two teams. The Cubs (15-23) and the Sox (18-21) are looking like they will be second division players all year.
And so just when you least expect it, baseball comes through again to create new stories.
Just 34,937 show up. I haven’t been able to look it up yet, but that has got to be the smallest crowd for a Cubs-Sox game since Inter-league play has started. That’s a smaller crowd than the Cubs have been averaging this season through a cold April and early May. I hope Bud Selig takes notice, and I hope he reads my post on how to write the schedule next year when the Astros move to the AL.
Dale Sveum was ejected for arguing a play at second base. Sveum was right, David DeJesus was basically barrel-rolled off the bag by G Beckham and then tagged out. Bad call by the ump.
Paul Konerko hits a HR and then gets hit in the eye during his next at bat. Hopefully Konerko is OK and doesn’t miss much time. I really don’t think Samardzija threw at Paulie on purpose, but it was bad timing to hit a batter that hit a HR off you the time before, which meant……………
Phillip Humber buzzed one behind LaHair. LaHair has had an unexpectedly great start to the season. In fact he has become the Cubs main power hitter. Which means, if their power hitter gets hit with a pitch and the other team wants to “even the score”, LaHair is gonna get hit (or at least be the target).
Kerry Wood calls it a career. What a nice way to go out. The last couple of seasons have been up and down for Wood. Actually I guess you could say his entire career has been up and down. Today however, Kerry was able to go out in style. Wood came on in relief in the top of the 8th to face Dayan Viciedo and on three pitches he recorded his 1,581 and last strikeout. The official retirement press conference will be tomorrow before game two of the series. But for now, let’s relive all 20 strikeouts from just over 14 years ago, May 5th, 1998…………
White Sox win Game 1: 3-2
Cubs vs White Sox Inter-league Play Edition
1. The Cubs are 39-45 in Inter-league play against the White Sox.
2. 42 different Cubs have hit HR’s vs the White Sox. Aramis Ramirez has hit the most (13). Paul Kornerko has the most for the Sox (18).
3. Carlos Zambrano has the most wins (6) vs the Sox, he also has the most loses (4).
4. I’m not really a big fan of either, but I think Phillip Phillips is gonna win over Jessica Sanchez on this years American Idol.
Bonus: Mark Grace has the longest hit streak (15) in the Cubs – Sox matchups. Magglio Ordonez is second with 12. Paul Konerko had two 9 games streaks.
I know this is a Cubs blog, although I usually don’t spend that much time actually talking about the Cubs, but I find myself writing about the Washington Nationals for the third time in the past two weeks. And why not, they are a hard story to ignore right now. They have one of the most hyped rookies ever in Bryce Harper (he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16), they are in first place in the NL East, and they have one of the finest young pitchers in the game with Stephen Strasburg.
While everyone is talking about Harper, who hit his second career HR today after hitting his first last night, its Strasburg and the team I want to focus on.
Since leaving Montreal in 2005 and moving to Washington, the Nationals have yet to have a winning record. However this year they have started out strong. They are 8 games above .500 and find themselves at the top of the standings with the perennial powerhouse Atlanta Braves. Despite injuries to their starting first baseman (Michael Morse, 0 GP), their closer (Drew Storen, 0 IP), and losing both their primary catcher (Wilson Ramos) and his replacement (Sandy Leon); the Nats have proven that they have a good chance to win the NL East.
It’s the chance at post season that will make the pronouncement of Nats GM Mike Rizzo that Stephen Strasburg will be limited to 160 innings pitched this year one that will be questioned all summer.
Before looking ahead though, let’s see how we got here.
Strasburg was drafted number 1 overall by the Nationals in the summer of 2009. He made his MLB debut on national TV on June 8th, 2010. And what a debut it was. Despite being on a 90 pitch pitch-count (he actually threw 94 in 7 inn), Strasburg recorded the second most strikeouts (14) ever for a pitcher making his first major league start, and the most for one that didn’t pitch a complete game. The baseball hype machine went into over-drive afterward like it has done in the past with rookie pitchers like Mark Fidrych**, Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden. Strasburg was being compared to the likes of Walter Johnson, Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan after just one start. Unfortunately it all came crashing down just 59 innings later in Philadelphia when Strasburg walked off the mound with a sore elbow that ended up requiring Tommy John surgery. Strasburg missed the remainder of the 2010 season and all but the last three weeks of the 2011 season.
This brings us to the 2012 season and the edict from Nationals management that Strasburg will throw no more than 160 innings this year. The innings limit being set in an attempt to mitigate the stress on Strasburg’s elbow in his first “full” season.
What makes 160 the right amount of innings? Nothing. Saying 160 is the right number of innings to pitch is like picking a number out of a hat to play roulette, it might be a winner, but unlikely.
There is absolutely no evidence that suggests that “saving” some wear on Strasburg now will prevent another arm injury. Remember, he blew his elbow out the first time after just 68 innings.
And so here’s the thing, all of this talk about 160 innings would probably be mute and would only be cared about by fantasy players this year except for one thing, the Nationals unexpectedly find themselves in first place. And at his current pace, Strasburg is due to hit the 160 inning mark around September 1st, just in time for the final stretch drive and the playoffs.
So what will they do if they are still in the race? It will be interesting. Personally I would let him continue pitching innings, but maybe limit his in-game pitch counts to say 100 or less. And yes, I do know that picking 100 pitches is as arbitrary as 160 innings, but you gotta make a trade-off somewhere and I would rather have him pitch 6 or 7 innings instead of none at all.
** Mark Fidrych won his first Major League start 36 years ago today against the Cleveland Indians. Despite not making his first start until May 15th, Fidrych went on to win 19 games, throw 24 complete games and pitch 250 innings. Of course he ended up hurting his arm. Over the next four years he won only 10 games and pitched just 162 innings before calling it quits.
According to a report on ESPN.com today, MLB has fired arbitrator Shyam Das. Das was the arbitrator that decided against MLB and reversed the leagues 50 game substance abuse suspension of Ryan Braun.
Das was actually a part of a 3-member panel, which included him and one representative each from management and the players union. In most cases brought before the panel, Das would be the tie-breaking vote, just as he was in Braun’s case.
According to the report, Das has served as the League-Union agreed upon arbitrator for the past 13 years; he also currently serves the NFL in the same capacity. However, the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners allows for either side to fire the arbitrator at any time, and the owners just used that power.
After the decision was handed down to overturn Braun’s suspension, MLB made it very clear that they “vehemently disagree” with the ruling and that they believe the testing program in place is working. Although today they dropped a 100 game ban of Colorado Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo because of the same procedural error that played a role in Braun’s case.
As I said at the time, I didn’t know if Braun used PED’s or not, but I said the most important part of the story was that the system worked. The player, Braun in this situation, had his grievance heard, both sides made their case, and an independent arbitrator made a ruling.
Now however, I think the system just broke. At least for this arbitrator and for his successor’s.
While the 3-member panel remains in place, and the system for choosing an impartial third member is fair to both sides; MLB made it clear today that any future arbitrators better know that if they render a decision that MLB doesn’t agree with, they will be gone. And you can be sure that the MLBPA will use the same power.
All I can say is, if you are planning on applying for the vacant arbitrator position and you get the job…..rent, don’t buy.
It’s a rare case when the baseball writers vote unanimously to give one player the Cy Young or MVP awards. An example of this happened in 2011 when Justin Verlander deservedly received all 28 first place votes for the AL Cy Young. However most years the writers split their first place votes; and while most times the majority makes the correct pick, sometimes they don’t. This is one of those times.
Don Baylor won the 1979 AL MVP Award, in fact he won it quite handily. Baylor received 20 of the 28 first place votes and won the award over second place finisher Ken Singleton by over 100 points (347-241). Singleton received 3 first place votes and third place finisher George Brett received 2. The winner though should have been the guy that finished fourth, Fred Lynn.
Unlike the Cy Young Award which generally goes to the best pitcher in each season regardless of the final standings of his team, the MVP Award seems to be more closely tied to the success of each player’s team. You can almost be assured that the winner of the MVP will come from a playoff reaching team, or at the very least, a team that was in the hunt for post season play right up until the final weekend. That line of thinking was clearly at play in 1979.
Don Baylor’s California Angels won the AL West by 3 games over the Kansas City Royals. It was the first playoff appearance in the then 19 year history of the Halos.
Entering September, the Angels had a half game lead over the Royals and they had a great month, going 16-11. Naturally a lot of the credit for that final push went to team leader Don Baylor. And Baylor did have a good month, but it was probably only his 3 best month of the year. That Sept he hit 6 HR’s, drove in 21 runs and had a .297 batting average; compared to May when he went 7-23-.354 and July when he went 11-34-.349
Meanwhile, Boston entered September eight games behind Baltimore and played poorly, going 13-16 to finish out the year.
So while all the media attention was focused on California and Baltimore during that last month, Boston and Fred Lynn finished out the season in relative obscurity. Here’s the thing though, when you look at the final records of each team, Boston won 91 games while California won 88.
So when the writers factor in the whether or not each of the potential MVP candidates have reached post-season play, and they certainly do factor it in, I believe they should at least take overall record into account when you are dealing with players from different divisions. After all, every division is not created equally, and this case, the AL East was clearly tougher than the AL West. I’m going to declare the team performance of each player, Baylor and Lynn, a push.
If team performance is a push, we need to look at individual performance to determine our MVP. Here are the stats and league rank in parentheses for each player.
Player Runs HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS WAR*
D Baylor- 120 (1) 36 (4) 139(1) .296(18) .371(17) .530(10) .901(10) 3.5(24)
F Lynn – 116 (4) 39 (2) 122 (4) .333(1) .423(1) .637(1) 1.059(1) 8.6 (1)
Baylor did score a couple more runs (4) than Lynn did and he also had more RBI, but those two stats are as much a function of your teammates play as it is your own. You can’t drive in runners that aren’t on base, and when you’re on base somebody has to drive you in. If you look at the purely individual stats, (HR’s, OBP, SLG, AVG) Lynn dominates over Baylor.
The last thing that really pushes Lynn over Baylor for me is defense. Lynn was a Gold Glove player, Baylor was a liability. And that’s not just my opinion; it’s born out of the stats. It’s most evident when you look at their WAR numbers.
WAR numbers can be broken down between hitting (oWAR) and fielding (dWAR).
Baylor – oWAR=5.0 + dWAR=-2.5 : WAR = 3.5
Lynn - oWAR=7.6 + dWAR=1.0 : WAR = 8.6
Baylor cost his team an estimated 14 runs compared to the average outfielder. Fred Lynn saved his team 9 runs. I think when you put everything together the final answer is easy.
So Congratulations Fred Lynn! You Are……….
Wrigley Regulars 1979 AL MVP Award Winner
Last week when the Cubs were in Cincinnati to play the Reds I had the day off and so I took the opportunity to drive down there, a little over 5 hours, to see the Cubs play. It was my first time at Great American Ballpark.
The drive wasn’t bad; the game was scheduled to start at 11:30, so I left my house at 4am. With one bathroom/coffee stop, I was in the parking lot near the stadium at 9:20.
The gates to the park were to open at 10am, so I went to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame first.
(You can click on this picture and all the other to see in full size)
The entrance to the Reds Hall is just outside “Nuxy’s Entrance” to the park, named after Reds pitcher and broadcaster Joe Nuxhall, who was the youngest pitcher to appear in a major League game when he pitched on June 10th, 1944 at the age of 15……………take that Bryce Harper. Also just outside that gate is a statue of Johnny Bench.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll happily say it again, Bench was my favorite player when I was a kid.
Inside the museum, the first exhibit is about the 1975-76 Champion Reds. It’s also the third, fifth, sixth, and ninth. I will just say this, everywhere you go in the museum and in the ballpark itself, you will find one reference or another to the Big Red Machine. Not that I blame them, they were a great team. I’m sure if the Cubs ever win a World Series that team will be celebrated for decades to come too.
There are plenty of jerseys and bios of all the players. I took a couple of pictures.
Here is a picture of game worn spikes from Johnny Bench.
Look at those things. I was playing Little League when Bench was wearing those spikes and I had a better pair. Those things look they should have been worn by Gabby Hartnett in 1930, not All-Star Johnny Bench in the 70’s.
Surprisingly, or not, I’m not sure, there is not as much Pete Rose stuff as I thought there might be. There is a jersey and some pictures, but not overdone. There is a wall that is covered with 4,256 baseball’s. Here is the plaque that goes next to it.
The wall itself is right along a three story staircase that takes you to an upper level of the museum. It’s nice as you walk up the stairs they highlight certain numbered balls that you can read about, but it makes it impossible to get a nice picture. However, from the third floor you can look out over the “Rose” garden.
UPDATE: I just found a video description of the Pete Rose Baseball Wall and Garden, and now with the ability to add MLB Video’s here it is:
Once you are on the third floor they have another Big Red Machine exhibit, just in case you forgot who won the 1975 WS.
To finish up the tour, you see the 1990 World Series Trophy…
….and the plaques of all the Reds Hall of Fame members. There are 72 players and 6 executives honored, and no, Pete Rose is not one of them. Here are two pictures.
It was now 10am, time for the gates to open.
As you can see, there were probably less than 100 people at the gate. As we waited there was some friendly banter going on back and forth between Cubs and Reds fans.
When the gates opened I went straight into the seating area and took this shot.
It was really kind of weird being one of the first people inside a huge empty stadium. I then went back into the concourse to look around. One of the first things I saw was an LED sign hanging overhead with the starting lineups for both teams. For people like me that like to keep score at the game, this is a great feature.
If fact, during the game I was shown on TV writing something into my score book.
BTW, this game featured two starting pitchers (Ryan Dempster and Homer Baily) that were celebrating birthdays that day. That was the first time in Major League history that that had happened.
As I started my walk along the concourse, guess what I saw first. Yes, it was a mural of the 1975 Reds.
With no batting practice that day, I had plenty of time to walk around the entire stadium, and I did. Here are just a few of the pictures I took.
I just walked around, taking pictures and talking with ushers. I was wearing a Cubs hat and jersey and almost every usher asked me if I drove down for the series, when I told them that I just drove in that morning for the game most thought it was crazy, but then they all wanted to tell me about “their” park. I’ve found that no matter where you go, baseball fans are proud of their park and when given the chance to talk about it with other baseball fans, they will gladly do so.
It was about 25 minutes before game time and I headed to my seat. I had a GREAT seat. Row 1 right behind the Cubs dugout. Here are two pictures of Soriano and Castro warming up right in front of me.
I took a few shots during the game, but I brought my cheap camera with me instead of the nice one and it doesn’t do very well with action shots.
Here is DeJesus leading off the game for the Cubs.
Here is Castro rounding third after hitting a first inning solo HR
I took this shot of Garza and Samardzija between innings
Somehow I get the feeling they weren’t looking into the crowd to see if they could spot dorks like me with a scorebook and camera in hand, they were probably doing a different kind of people watching.
Here is a shot of LaHair after a solo HR
In the middle of the game I went for a snack. First I had a hotdog. The women behind the counter asked if I wanted to get a red shirt also. At first I didn’t realize what she meant. I thought maybe it was a snack to go with the hotdog. Then I realized that she was talking about getting a Reds shirt instead of wearing my Cubs shirt, I laughed and said I was just fine the way I was. I ate the hotdog quickly and went looking for nachos to take back to my seat. I had to walk all the way out to the outfield concourse before I found them. I wished I hadn’t. I don’t know what kind of cheese that they use there, but it just didn’t taste that good to me.
The middle innings went fast and both pitchers were doing a good job.
The Cubs were leading the game 3-0 going into the eighth after hitting three solo shots early in the game. Then the Reds brought in Aroldis Chapman. I’ll just say this, he throws hard
The Cubs entered the bottom of the ninth leading 3-0. They lost the game 4-3 in ten innings. I could go through the gory details, but I’ll just let the pictures tell the tale.
After that is was back into the car for the 5 and a 1/2 hour drive home. Ugh.
Update: Thanks to Mark and MLBlogs Network for featuring my post on the front page. For all the new readers that have been directed to this page you can click HERE to read my most recent posts or subscribe to my page to receive email updates. Thanks for reading.