A running log of the 2003 Chicago Cubs baseball season from outside of Wrigley Field on the corner of Waveland & Kenmore.
Key: BP-Batting Practice, W-Waveland, S-Sheffield, ('name')-whoever got the homer.
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Most people have one favorite team -- I'm lucky enough to have four...
#1 - Pittsburgh Pirates: When I was a kid, Roberto Clemente was my baseball hero. New Years Day, 1973, was the saddest day in my life.
#2 - Cleveland Indians: Grew up near Cleveland, went to school and worked there for 10+ years. Suffered through lots of lean years - being in a crowd scene for Major League was probably the highlight of my baseball experiences in Cleveland.
#3 - Chicago Cubs: Having the world's best ballpark in my backyard (I live three blocks away) can't help but make me a fan. Plus being able to catch home runs on Waveland doesn't hurt.
and finally, my fourth favorite team is...
#4 - Whoever is playing the Yankees: Congratulations to the Florida Marlins, the 2003 World Champions. Wish it would have Mark Prior on the mound throwing a five hit shutout to win it all, but hats off to Josh Beckett and the rest of the team for taking care of the Yankees. Can't wait to hear what King George has to say...
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
They say a picture's worth a thousand words...
Wednesday, October 15: BP - 18 [W-12, S-6], Game - 2 [W-2, S-0]
Post-season Totals: BP - 88 [W-74, S-14], Game - 5 [W-5, S-0]
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Did you hear it? Did you hear it? It was right around 9:30 pm Central time as the Marlins were starting to score their 8 runs in the eighth inning. As the crowd at Wrigley Field went from cheering to stunned silence, I could've sworn I heard off in the distance, from far away Arizona, a very painful...
...coming from the home of Ron Santo.
Ouch. This one really hurt. Of course, all the Curse Conspiracy Theorists will go to town on this one. Fine, let them. Doesn't matter - all that matters is this is down to one game. Time for cliche city - our backs to the wall, for all the marbles, game seven, do or die, etc.
Whatever you want to call it, I'm just happy that Kerry Wood will be pitching. I think without a doubt Mark Prior is the best pitcher on the Cubs staff, but Wood is the fiery warrior who will do anything to win. So since this is a Win or Go Home situation, I wouldn't want anyone else on that mound. Unless of course, Bob Gibson wants to come out of retirement.
But hey, no matter how bad you feel right now (unless of course you're a Sox fan), just remember, it could be worse. You could be this guy:
public enemy number one.jpg
Can you imagine what his day is going to be like tomorrow? And if the Cubs should lose Game 7, can you imagine what his life is going to be like? Quick, somebody get him the number of the Witness Protection Program...
Tuesday, October 14: BP - 11 [W-6, S-5], Game - 0
Post-season Totals: BP - 70 [W-62, S-8], Game - 3 [W-3, S-0]
Sunday, October 12, 2003
I normally only make posts after home games, but I did see something today that I think bears mentioning. Actually, it's something I noticed over the last few months, and it was reinforced today.
Ever since Sammy Sosa hit that 536 ft monster blast down Kenmore on June 24th against the Brewers (I still have the ball by the way - guess the Cubs aren't interested in it) and we ballhawks took it upon ourselves to mark where it landed, there has been a constant stream of fans that go out of their way to see the spot. The first few weeks after the blast, sure - I understand that. But four months later?
They still stop and ask "Hey, where did Sammy's home run land?". They walk back there, they stand on the 'X', they turn around and look back at Wrigley, and they mouth silently "Oh sh*t..." or "Wow..." or just smile and shake their heads. They get their pictures taken, they call their buddies on their cell phones - "Hey, you'll never guess where I'm standing", Dads tell their kids "See - this is where Sammy hit that home run. That's a long way, isn't it." meanwhile Mom's getting it all on video...
It's beyond a mere tourist attraction - it's yet another example of the hold Wrigley Field and the Cubs have over people. I've only been here since 1990. Moved here from Cleveland. And yes, I suffered through all those lean years with some extremely horrible Indians teams of the 60s, 70s and 80s, so on that level, I can certainly identify with Cubs Nation. But there's something more here that I can't explain, but I'm starting to experience it more and more; and I gotta tell you, it's kinda neat.
I was in the Wrigley Field neighborhood today and was very surprised at the level of activity going on. People were walking around everywhere - you would have thought there was a game going on. Granted, it was a nice day, and being Sunday afternoon, you'd expect a certain amount of foot traffic with all the NFL games going on in the bars, but it was crowded on Clark and Addison. People lined up to get their pictures taken in front of the Marquee, souvenir stands open for business with paying customers standing three deep, TV crews doing street interviews - about the only thing that was quiet was Wrigley Field itself.
As I stood marveling at all the karma and hoopla, it reminded me of (don't laugh now - I'm serious) that scene near the end of The Grinch That Stole Christmas. (The TV cartoon version, not the Jim Carrey movie). You know, after the Grinch has stolen all the Christmas trees, gifts, lights, food, etc. from Who-ville, and he's waiting to hear them go boo hoo hoo. Instead, they wake up and celebrate Christmas anyway.
Just like all these folks milling around Wrigley Field were celebrating, enjoying the day and savoring the anticipation of a Cubs win - if not today, then surely on Tuesday, everyone all happy and smiling... all this and there wasn't even a game going on....
I'm still somewhat baffled by it, but it's a good baffled feeling. I'm enjoying the ride, even if I can't fully understand and appreciate every nuance. And if you can handle one more cartoon reference -- Charlie Brown never did kick that football, but if he can win a baseball game; and hit a home run to boot, then the Cubs can surely win a World Series. Keep the faith!
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Once again, the Marlins were mashing the ball during BP, hitting 15 out. Guess they used it all up then because they sure didn't do much in the game, as the Cubs won rather convincingly 12-3. The post-season assault on Waveland continued with an Alex Gonzalez blast in the fifth. Without the barricades, it would have been an easy catch on the fly for Marvin, who usually plays down the line.
But with the barricades keeping everyone on the sidewalks, the ball hit the middle of the street and bounced into the doorway area of the red brick six-flat. Of course, there was an immediate rush of people into that small enclosed area. Hmm.... an onrush of people into a small area with nothing but concrete, bricks and glass on three sides. Yep, those barricades are really doing a good job of keeping people safe...
[warning: soapbox editorial/diatribe ahead ]
If Mayor Daley and the police were really interested in safely managing the crowd, they would crack down on the blatant open consumption of alcohol. People are standing around with open cases and six-packs at their feet, and are just drinking away, tossing the empties everywhere. Funny, I thought that's what bars were for.
But the head honchos figured that it's safer to confine more people into a smaller space and put fairly unstable waist-high wooden barricades that will do nothing to stop a crowd rush, except to break and splinter and expose all sorts of jagged edges. I just hope I don't have to come back here later and make a "I told you so" post after somebody gets needlessly injured.
Back to baseball: Sammy's 3rd inning blast was simply spectacular. The ball landed about 500 feet away, on top of the camera booth in center field. It rattled around for a bit and then rolled back towards the front of the booth and dropped down into the juniper bushes below. A few inches either way, and it easily could've skipped off the booth and out of the park onto Waveland. But as they say -- location, location, location...
Wednesday, October 8: BP - 18 [W-18, S-0], Game - 1 [W-1, S-0]
Post-season Totals: BP - 59 [W-56, S-3], Game - 3 [W-3, S-0]
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Wow - it's super late. Made the first entry just before midnight and have come back a few times since - right now I'm barely staying awake enough to write this. But I had no problem staying awake during today's game. Two awesome street homers - Alou in the first and Sosa in the ninth - and about 3,000 people converged on the ball each time. Absolute mob scene. Our buddy Dennis, from the corner, emerged victorious from the Alou scrum, ball in hand. 23-year-old Delfino Guerrero grabbed Sosa's game-tying homer in the ninth.
Pretty wild out there - Santa Claus and IvyMan both made appearances again. People were cliimbing trees, others were walking down Waveland carrying sixpacks of Corona, openly drinking from the bottle as they walked. The looks on their faces were pretty fun when the cops made them dump the beer. Did they really think the cops weren't going to see them??? And of course, there was the usual crowd of drunk guys yelling for any and all women to lift their shirts. Evidently folks were getting a little head start on Mardi Gras...
Tuesday, October 7: BP - 17 [W-17, S-0], Game - 2 [W-2, S-0]
Post-season Totals: BP - 41 [W-38, S-3], Game - 2 [W-2, S-0]
Monday, October 06, 2003
Off day workout. Nothing too fancy - just batting practice. Cubs went first and then the Marlins. Afterwards I was finally able to get Jeff Conine to sign a bat of his that I've been carrying around since 1993.
To make a long story short, on June 16, 1993, Mitch Lyden homered in his very first major league at-bat, I caught the ball out on Waveland, someone from the Marlins came out to see about getting it back, they took me into the visitors' clubhouse, I asked for one of Mitch's bats, he didn't have any of his own (just called up from minors), so they gave me a Jeff Conine bat instead. Plus an ugly golf shirt from Trevor Hoffman, some wrist bands, and a chance to sit around and shoot the sh*t with a bunch of major leaguers. Very cool.
p.s. From the "What have you done for me lately" files... Mitch was sent back down to the minors the next day. Ouch!
Monday, October 6: BP - 11 [W-10, S-1]
Post-season Totals: BP - 24 [W-21, S-3], Game - 0
Saturday, October 04, 2003
Ok, you all already know the Cubs lost Game 4 -- so now they have to go to Atlanta tomorrow and beat the Braves at Wrigley South. Which, considering that Kerry Wood will be starting, sounds like a distinct possibility. Still, it would have been nice to close it out at home, so I'm sure you're all bumming -- unless of course there are a few Sox fans reading this. Wait a minute - can Sox fans read? (just kidding)
So rather than rehash tonight's sobering details, I'll just point out that all sorts of Matt Clement fans were at Wrigley for Saturday's game. Kinda tough to miss them -- they were the ones with the black blob of hair growth on their chins. Most of them were of the fake variety, either through some local promotion or a lot of people had the same idea. There were a few though, of the legitimate type - evidently some guys foresaw the possiblity that Clement would pitch in the most pivotal game of the season and started to cultivate those little hairs on their chinny chin chins awhile ago.
However, I have to give the gold medal award to the guy that was sporting a very real and very bushy beard & mustache, except he had a completely bare chin. Yes, he was the Anti-Clement.
Now if you read last Saturday's post (Sept 27), you'll already know that "Jesus loves the Cubs". With the Anti-Clement on-board, that's a pretty powerful 1-2 punch on our side.
Be afraid Atlanta. Be very afraid...
Saturday, October 4: BP - 4 [W-3, S-1], Game - 0
Post-season Totals: BP - 13 [W-11, S-2], Game - 0
Friday, October 03, 2003
Cubs win! Cubs win! But you already knew that, so I won't bore you with details. But I will bore you with the scintillating conversations I had with various dignitaries, celebrities and ballplayers as I tried to add to my autograph collection.
Sandy Alderson, Executive Vice-President of MLB
Sandy: You sure you want my autograph?
Ken: Sure - I've got an executive wing going in my autograph collection. Besides you ran a pretty good team there in Oakland for awhile
Sandy: Okay, if you're sure you want it...
Commissioner Bud Selig
Ken: I know you can't take sides, but wouldn't a Cubs/Red Sox be the ultimate matchup?
Bud: You didn't hear it from me, but you're absolutely right. [knowing wink, and a friendly squeeze of my shoulder]
*** Brief editorial comment: I completely disagree with a lot of the decisions he's made as Commissioner, and I still think he's got a huge conflict of interest going with his Brewers connnection, but I have to admit - up close, he is friendly, engaging, and somebody you wouldn't mind sitting down and talking baseball with for a few hours. ***
Governor Rod Blagojevich:
[passerby]: Hey Gov - get us some more night games!
Rod: Hey, nice to see you. Yeah, we should, shouldn't we.
Ken: But no bleacher expansion - won't be any homers on Waveland
Rod: That's the right answer. I agree completely. Keep it the same.
No dialogue here, he was talking to other people and signed as he walked and talked. I successfully fought the urge to yell "Lieutenant Dang" or some other Forrest Gumpism.
Former Cub Shawon Dunston
Shawon: Why you want my autograph - I'm retired.
Ken: Hey, you can still hit 'em out to Waveland.
Thursday, October 02, 2003
off day workout - cubs 3, atl 6 (1 on sheff)
Thursday, October 2: BP - 9 [W-8, S-1],
Post-season Totals: BP - 9 [W-8, S-1], Game - 0
Sunday, September 28, 2003
Will be posting season ending totals soon - homers hit, who caught them, that sort of thing. Several of us ended up with over 100 each, which is pretty good, considering this was a down year in total balls hit out. Combination of bad weather, Sosa slumps, and not getting Simon and Ramirez until late in the season.
Oh, yes, it was Ron Santo day. Move over Ernie and Billy - there's a new flag in the house.
Saturday, September 27, 2003
To paraphrase Harry Caray... "Cubs clinch! Cubs clinch! Cubs clinch!"
I daresay we saw MLB history today... I have no idea how to confirm this (anyone know anyone at STATS Inc.?), but I'm guessing that today was the first time a magic number of 3 was reached in just one day. Think about it -- what are the odds that a team with a magic number of 3 plays a doubleheader, wins both games, and the second place team loses their game? Pretty high, I think, pretty high.
Game 1: Mark Prior was not sharp at all, but that's often the sign of a truly great pitcher - when he can win without his best stuff. He made it into the seventh before turning it over to the bullpen. Ninth inning, Cubs lead 4-2, Joe Borowski pitching, and he gets the first two Pirates. Seeing as how Milwaukee had already beaten the Astros, things were looking good for the Cubbies. But then Borowski does his best Mitch Williams impersonation by putting the next two guys on, and is now faced with Jason Kendall, one of Pittsburgh's best hitters, at the plate. To the fatalistic, glass-half-empty Cubs fan, the even scarier image is that of ex-Cub Matt Stairs on deck. But JoeB gets Kendall to pop up and the magic number is down to one.
Game 2: Even though baseball games normally go nine innings, this one was over in the first when Sammy Sosa launched a 450+ ft blast to center. Not into the juniper bushes, mind you, but OVER them! He came about 5 feet short of reaching the upper section of the bleachers. As it was, I'm guessing somebody standing in the concession line got quite the surprise... "Yeah, gimme an Old Style, a couple dogs..." WHAM! "Son of a... Better make that two Old Styles."
Anyway, Cubs poured it on with five more runs in the second, and finished off the scoring with a Moises Alou home run to deep left-center. The blast easily carried out onto Waveland Ave, thanks to a gusting West wind, and was snagged on the fly by Mo, as Rich and I converged from either side. The huge crowd that had gathered on the corner in anticipation of a victory celebration quickly surrounded us and it was mayhem for about 5-10 minutes - brought back memories for me of when I caught McGwire's 48th on Waveland in 1998. Wasn't as bad though as Sammy's 62nd later that year. I'm sure that flashed through Mo's mind for a few seconds as everyone crowded around. Thankfully, he wasn't tackled and nobody tried to rip the ball out of his glove this time.
Cheer of the night: About the 6th inning of Game 2, about 20 people on the sidewalk started chanting "Jesus loves the Cubs! Jesus loves the Cubs!" Not quite sure what that was all about, but if it's the Cubs and Yankees in the World Series, then that cheer makes perfect sense, because thanks to Larry Lucchino, we all know that the Yankees are the Evil Empire, with means Satan is probably their biggest fan. So having Jesus on our side could be the final piece of the puzzle that sends us over the top.
First things first -- need to take care of Atlanta in the NLDS.
Saturday, September 27: BP - 7 [W-7, S-0], Game - 1 [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 711, [W-576, S-135], Game - 30, [W-26, S-4]
Friday, September 26, 2003
"Rain, rain, go away. Come back another day..."
Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn't listen to nursery rhymes, Andy MacPhail, or the ballhawks. She let loose with some serious rain action most of this afternoon and evening causing today's game to be canceled, wasting some serious South winds. I figure there would have been three street homers today, easy. But no - instead we have to settle for only the Pirates taking batting practice before the rains came; and they only hit nine out. Guess the Cubs were too tired from that long long plane ride from Cincinnati...
Double-header tomorrow, which probably means no BP. And with the pre-game Ron Santo jersey retirement ceremony on Sunday, there probably won't be any BP on Sunday. Cubs better make the play-offs - I got shut out today and I don't want to end the season on a down note. Maybe Randall will crank a couple gamers out to Sheffield tomorrow - supposed to 20 mph winds blowing out to right.
Friday, September 26: BP - 8 [W-8, S-1], Game rained out
Season Totals: BP - 704, [W-569, S-135], Game - 29, [W-25, S-4]
Monday, September 22, 2003
Bagwell just struck out. Ensberg on first, two outs. It's all up to Jeff Kent...
It will be the top of the order for the Astros as we head to the bottom of the ninth. Let me just take a moment to praise modern technology. Even on a night when the Cubs are off, I'm able to watch White Sox/Yankees on TV, follow the Marlins/Braves game online via ESPN's gamecast, and listen to the Giants/Astros via MLB Audio. And in between innings, I can switch over and watch Goldberg successfully defend his WWE Heavyweight Championship Title by wiping the mat with that weasel Chris Jericho.
Ahhh.... life is good.
Ok, I realize it ain't over til the fat Astro swings, but the Giants just scored 3 runs off of Billy Wagner in the top of the 9th to take a 6-3 lead. Could it be, could it really be? Could the Cubbies actually be tied for first place this late in the season?
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
First off, I apologize for the dramatic drop-off in blog entries over the last couple weeks. It's near the end of the season, and all that typing on the artificial keyboard has really taken its toll on my fingers.... Seriously, I've kinda been under the weather for awhile now, so I've had to curtail my activities a bit.
Like today. I wasn't able to make it for the game, so I had to watch it on TV, and once again, I realized my worst nightmare. Actually, twice again.
You see, it's bad enough when you're sitting at home watching the game, and someone blasts a home run out to the street and you're not there to at least have a chance at catching it. It's even worse when you see the ball bounce back up into view of the TV camera.
Doug Glanville led off the game with a shot over the family section, and Aramis Ramirez added one of his own a few innings later - both of which clearly bounced back up into view. I couldn't stand it any longer, so I called 'Dick the Bruiser' and got an in-game update - he was playing left-center so he's got nothing to apologize for. Didn't hear all the details, but evidently passer-bys got both home run balls, so clearly it's getting near the end of the season for all the ballhawks...
Wednesday, September 17: BP - 2 [W-2, S-0], Game - 2 [W-2, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 695, [W-561, S-134], Game - 29, [W-25, S-4]
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Tuesday, September 16: BP - 16 [W-13, S-3], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 693, [W-559, S-134], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Monday, September 15, 2003
The Ballhawks welcomed back an old friend on Monday - Tony Clark of the New York Mets, all 6'7", 245 lbs of him. Many a spring training down in Lakeland, Florida, has Tony the Tiger contributed baseballs to our ballhawk totals. And now that he's in the National League, possibly making his first visit to Wrigley Field (can't remember if he was with the Tigers when they visited or not), Tony was quick to renew old acquaintances during BP. The Mets hit 6 out on Sheffield during BP - all compliments of Mr. Clark.
Now if only Cecil Fielder would make a comeback...
Monday, September 15: BP - 15 [W-8, S-7], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 677, [W-546, S-131], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Sunday, September 14: No BP, Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 662, [W-538, S-124], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Saturday, September 13, 2003
Saturday, September 13: BP - 26 [W-20, S-6], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 662, [W-538, S-124], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Friday, September 12, 2003
When I'm out there on the corner, whether it's batting practice or during the game, I'm usually pretty focused. See, I'm not as fast as I used to be and the eyes are going, so I need every edge I can get to get a good jump on the ball. Which means most of the time, I'm staring at one spot, just over the wall, listening for the crack of the bat and hoping to see a ball shoot up.
In other words, it takes an awful lot to distract me... an awful lot. Well, on Friday, Q101 hosted a rooftop party and... uhhh... well, there was an awful lot of... ummm... scenery, yeah, that's it, an awful lot of 'scenery' invited to that rooftop party. And that 'scenery' spent a lot of time going up to the rooftop, coming down from the rooftop, walking over to Murphy's, walking over to Bernie's, stopping on the corner talking on their cell phones trying to figure out which rooftop they were on, back and forth, up and down, etc. etc.
Ok, look -- baseball or no baseball, I'm only human. And there's only so much a ballhawk can take before finally realizing that it's okay to look away from the wall every now and then. And Friday was definitely an okay day...
As for the game -- another rain delay, another come-from behind Cubs win. Make that another good win. As in Tom Goodwin with a late inning two-run pinch hit single. Take a bow, Mr. Goodwin.
Friday, September 12: BP - 3 [W-3, S-0], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 636, [W-518, S-118], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Brant Brown, wherever you are, you can rest easy now -- all is forgiven. Thanks to Alou, Lofton and Gonzalez, you're off the hook in the late-season-late-inning-crucial-game-left-field-fly-ball-dropping-who's-the-goat-now category.
Thursday, September 04, 2003
Thursday, September 4: BP - 3 [W-0, S-3], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 633, [W-515, S-118], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
Wednesday, September 3: BP - 6 [W-6, S-0], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 630, [W-515, S-115], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
Tuesday, September 2: BP - 6 [W-6, S-0], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 624, [W-509, S-115], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Monday, September 01, 2003
Labor Day indeed... a labor of love for those fans who stuck around through a 4+ hour rain delay prior to the start of the game. And they were richly rewarded as the Cubs beat the Cardinals by a touchdown, 7-0. Not only was Mark Prior his usual dominant self on the mound, but he also kicked butt at the plate with two hits, a run, and an RBI. Get this - Prior is now hitting .250 for the season. They say a pitcher hitting .200 is the equivalent of a position player hitting .300. Do the math -- that means Prior's hitting the equivalent of .375. That'll get you a batting title most years.
Tomorrow should be most interesting - a day/night doubleheader. Gates open at 10:05 in the morning for the first game, and the second game will probably wrap up around 12 hours later. Wonder how many kegs of Old Style & Budweiser will go to that great big brewery in the sky tomorrow. Based on the average size of the Cardinal fans I saw tonight, I got a feeling quite a few... quite a few.
Monday, September 1: No BP, Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 618, [W-503, S-115], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Sunday, August 31, 2003
What? Excuse me, what was that? You say you have absolutely no desire to read anything about how the Cubs lost two out of three to the Brewers?
Wow, what a coincidence -- I have absolutely no desire to write anything about how the Cubs lost two out of three to the Brewers.
Talk about your win-win scenarios...
Sunday, August 31: BP - 8 [W-6, S-2], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 618, [W-503, S-115], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Saturday, August 30, 2003
It's a final: Brewers 9, Cubs 5. But don't let the score fool you - it wasn't that close. Cubbies got thumped early and thumped often. Yes, Estes and Alfonseca were involved but you already knew that, didn't you.
I knew it was gonna be a bad game when a car pulls up next to me on Kenmore during BP and the driver says "Excuse me, sir. Can you tell me where Waveland Avenue is?"
If you ask my friends, they'll all agree that I'm usually pretty quick with the snappy comebacks, but that one left me speechless. There I was, standing in the crosswalk on Kenmore, with the Waveland & Kenmore street sign 3 feet to my left, and Waveland Avenue itself about 5 feet in front me, and this guy asks me where Waveland is...
I thought for a few seconds, but couldn't come up with anything witty, so I just said "It's right there" and pointed in front of me. He thanked me and drove on.
Now most websites have a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, documenting the questions first time users are most likely to ask when surfing a website. Today's incident got me thinking that I should create a FAQ page for all the questions we've heard on the corner over the years. Before today, the best/worst one I ever heard was "Hey, is there a game today?" but "Where's Waveland Avenue?" might just take over the top spot. I'm gonna have to think about this for awhile...
Saturday, August 30: BP - 2 [W-2, S-0], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 610, [W-497, S-113], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Cubs are back home for a "8 games in 7 days" homestand starting with a weekend series against the hottest team in the Majors. Believe it or not, I'm talking about the Brewers, winners of ten straight. Rumor has it, that after their win in Cincinnati Thursday, the Brewers coaching staff donned Hooters type outfit for their travel to Chicago, paying off on a bet made with the team if they won ten in a row.
Perhaps those shorts were a bit too tight on Ned Yost and his coaches because the Brew Crew started a new streak on Friday - a losing streak. Chicago wins 4-2, thanks to three hits from Sammy, a late inning insurance home run by Damian Miller, and the best performance by the Cubs bullpen in days, in other words, Matt Clement pitched a complete game.
Only three balls in batting practice, probably all due to Richie Sexson. It was so boring, the highlight (or lowlight as the case may be) was Dave and me discussing the finer points of trigonometry, specifically the Pythagorean Theorem (the square of the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle equals the sum of the squares of the lengths of the other two sides). And why were we talking about triangles while waiting to catch spheres hit out of a diamond? Stop by the corner some time and we'll tell you...
Friday, August 29: BP - 3 [W-3, S-0], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 608, [W-495, S-113], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Sunday, August 17, 2003
Another day, another loss, another trade with the Pirates. The Cubs acquired left-handed hitting first baseman Randall Simon from the Pirates in exchange for a minor league outfielder. Yes, that Randall Simon -- he of the "bop the Sausage mascot on the head with a bat at Miller Park" fame. Thankfully for Cub fans, he's pretty good at bopping the ball too. And he'll definitely liven things up during batting practice with more than a few prodigous blasts to deep right center. Murphy's might want check their liability insurance...
Other than the Air Force Thunderbirds putting on another awesome display of power (somebody had to), it was pretty boring out there today. I did find a penny though, which gives me a grand total of two cents in our "What do we do when the game is so boring and there's not a chance in hell of a home run being hit out - I know, let's see if we can find more money on the ground than Moe" contest. I think the contest started the last game of the Houston series. So far, Dave is in the lead with 16 cents, Moe has a dime, and I have my two cents. Meanwhile, Butch and "Dick the Bruiser" aren't even on the board yet.
Man, oh man, do we know how to have a good time or what? We got so much excitement on the corner, we just might have to buy a defibrillator and keep it next to the purple hydrant...
Sunday, August 17: BP - 11 [W-10, S-1], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 605, [W-492, S-113], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Saturday, August 16, 2003
No batting practice, no game homers, no Cubs victory, no longer in first place, no air conditioning on the corner, no shade over my favorite spot, no phone numbers, no autographs (before and after), no beer, no gnats, no arrests, no power outage (except the Cubs bats), no nukes, no woo woo, no streakers, no rain, no more Bobby Hill and no Palmeiro (still).
Saturday, August 16: BP - 0, Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 594, [W-482, S-112], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Friday, August 15, 2003
People walking by always ask us "Don't you ever want to go inside?", and the standard response is usually along the lines of "No, we have just as much fun out here on the corner" and we do. Listening to the game on the radio (or watching it on TV in the van), interacting with the Murphy's/Bernies cross-traffic, admiring (and trying to interact with) the local scenery, and chasing down the occasional home run ball.
However, today's game, a thrilling 2-1 Cubs victory, might have been the exception to that response. Mark Prior pitched another complete game and it sounded like there were several close plays and much high drama that would have been worth seeing in person. Of course, Murphy's Law dictates that if I had gone in, then the Cubs' runs would have been from two Sosa solo shots right over the spot I usually stand. And the Dodger run from a Rickey Henderson pinch hit home run. But all's well that ends well, and at least at this point in time, the Cubs are in first place, pending the outcome of the Astros & Cardinals games tonight.
Addendum to yesterday's post:
It was brought to my attention (rather painfully, I might add) that I neglected to provide all the details of yesterday's Alex Gonzalez homer, specifically who ended up with the ball. A thousand pardons to my reading audience as well as my fellow ballhawks and corner citizenry, and especially to Butch, who was indeed the lucky receipient of that home run ball. Butch was proudly displaying his battle scars today from his little concrete scuffle. Have no idea how the bus driver is going to explain that dent on his hood...
Friday, August 15: BP - 17 [W-17, S-0], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 594, [W-482, S-112], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Did I tell you? Did I tell you? Alex Gonzalez is back! Three hits today, including a two-run homer. He is busting out of his slump big-time and it's all because on Tuesday I got him to sign a home run ball of his from back in June. I could almost see the karma flowing from that ball back into Alex and I could tell, as he walked back into the clubhouse, he had a new aura about him. Alright, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little. According to the local papers, Alex is out of his slump because Dusty sat him for two games to clear his head. Fine -- they have their theory, I have mine.
Cubs win in a laugher, 7-1, and are a mere 1/2 game out of first place as a result of taking 3 out of 4 from the 'Stros. Hopefully, they can keep the magic going against the Dodgers this weekend.
Highlight of the day: Shortly after AGonz hit his homer in the 8th, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds started buzzing Wrigley Field doing their practice runs in advance of this weekend's air & water show. Very loud, very low, and very very cool.
Thursday, August 14: BP - 4 [W-4, S-0], Game - 1 [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 577, [W-465, S-112], Game - 27, [W-23, S-4]
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
These are the days that test one's loyalty... Nothing came out during BP, not totally unexpected since only the Cubs hit. Fairly exciting game, especially after Moises' 3 run blast down the line put the Cubs in front. So there we were, Cubs winning 6-4, late innings, and Houston is trying to rally. Biggio, Ensberg, Bagwell, Kent, Hildago... one right-handed slugger after another. Do I want a home run ball or do I want a Cubs victory? Better yet, how about a solo homer (to make it 6-5 Cubs) and a Cubs victory? While I'm at it, how about wishing for world peace, truth in advertising, and the re-opening of Meigs Field?
Cubs win 6-4. No homers, no roof balls, no batting practice balls -- Wrigley Field held on to its own today...
Wed, August 13: BP - 0, Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 573, [W-461, S-112], Game - 26, [W-22, S-4]
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Ken-fuscious say "Wind blow in, pitchers grin. Wind blow out, pitchers pout."
Carlos Zambrano was doing a lot of grinning tonight. Complete game shutout, tied a career high with 10 strikeouts as the Cubs won 3-0. Z-man got all the runs he needed in the first inning when Alex Gonzalez connected for a 2 run homer, which I have to take credit for. If you've been following the Cubs, you know that AGonz has been in a horrific slump. Well, when he pulled into the Cubs parking lot before the game, I was able to get his attention and he came over to the fence to sign a few autographs, one of which was a home run ball he hit and I caught back on June 20 against the White Sox. When I mentioned that, he kinda half-smiled and signed it on the sweet spot.
So I'm convinced that some good swing karma rubbed off onto AGonz just by him handling an old home run ball of his. You know, some kind of muscle memory thing-- c'mon, you golfers know what I'm talking about. Mark my words, Alex is going to start getting into a groove now, he'll be a key factor in the Cubs drive to the Central Division crown, and he'll owe it all to me. Well, mostly me. Alright, maybe just a little bit to me...
Oh, and this historical milestone -- Moe caught career ball #4200 tonight. I think he's gunning for Pete Rose's hit record (4256).
Tuesday, August 12: BP - 4 [W-2, S-2], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 573, [W-461, S-112], Game - 26, [W-22, S-4]
Monday, August 11, 2003
Absolutely awesome batting practice today. The Houston lineup is pretty much full of right-handed power hitters - Bagwell, Hildago, Kent, Ensberg... even Biggio is known to put a few out from time to time -- so it wasn't much of a surprise when the 'Stros hit out twice as many as the Cubs today. Yep, two is twice as many as one. [just curious - is sarcasm as easy to pick up in an online posting as it is in normal conversation?]
Northeast winds in the 15-20 mph range pretty much put a damper on any street ball activity tonight, although Biggio did wrap one around the foul pole in the ninth inning that was heading out to the street before bouncing off the big support beam rising up above the fence. So with the ballhawks pretty much grounded, and the Cubs on the losing end of a 3-1 score, the only highlight of the evening inside the park was Kerry Wood getting his 1000th career strikeout, being the quickest pitcher in MLB history to get to that milestone (only 134 games).
Highlight outside the park was watching the fans walking to and fro all dressed up in the 70s gear -- platform shoes, afro wigs, tie-dyed shirts, gold chains, and leisure suits. Barry Williams (of Greg Brady fame) sang the National Anthem and The World's Greatest Athlete (Bruce Jenner) sang during the 7th inning stretch to help celebrate "70s night at Wrigley Field".
Monday, August 11: BP - 3 [W-2, S-1], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 569, [W-459, S-110], Game - 26, [W-22, S-4]
Sunday, August 03, 2003
Whew... I'm all rained out. Another 3 hour plus rain delay, followed by another exciting Cubs victory. Hmm... maybe the Cubs are on to something here. Rain delay = victory. I guess this pretty well squashes any thought of putting a dome on Wrigley Field. Luis Gonzalez continued to torment his ex-team, even in defeat. He launched one over the group section in right and onto Sheffield. Dave caught it to extend his street homer lead.
Batting practice was pretty dismal as only one team hit. Three guesses as to which team that was and the first two don't count. Moe and I were shut out - Moe remains stuck on 4199 for his career total. #4200 will have to wait for the next homestand, and the rest of us are going to make sure he earns it -- no easy pickings for him.
High point for me this weekend was getting Carlos Baerga to autograph a game used bat I had from him. Kinda closes the loop I had on him -- back in 1993, I got his autograph on a souvenir bat during the last homestand ever for the old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland. Ten years later, I get him again. I miss my old Indians. I have no idea who's on that team anymore - just a bunch of kids with Omar and Ellis as chaperones. But Baseball America says these kids have a future, and I'm impressed with the job GM Mark Shapiro has done so far, so I'll keep wearing my Tribe hat and I'll be looking forward to the playoffs in 2005, and a Cubs-Indians World Series in 2006.
Sunday, August 3: BP - 4 [W-4, S-0], Game - 1, [W-0, S-1]
Season Totals: BP - 566, [W-457, S-109], Game - 26, [W-22, S-4]
Saturday, August 02, 2003
Forgive the lack of baseball info in this post, but I wasn't at the game. Had to go to a friend's 40th birthday party -- an ice-block party no less. That's where you get this big block of ice (40"x20"x10"), set it up on an angle, carve some grooves lengthwise, then everybody takes turns positioning themselves at the bottom end of the block, and someone plays bartender at the high end of the block and pours shots down the grooves all night long. You get the idea -- kinda like a scene from Old School. Frank (Will Ferrell), Mitch (Luke Wilson), and Beanie (Vince Vaughn) return to the college scene and form a fraternity. Funny, funny movie. Great guy flick, a definite rental for your next poker-n-cigars boys' night. Here's some quotes to refresh your memory if you've already seen it or whet your appetite if you haven't.
Before the party...
Marissa: Just as long as you promise to take it easy.
Frank: What do you mean?
Marissa: You know exactly what I mean. You've come along way since Frank the Tank and we don't want him coming back do we?
Frank: Honey, Frank the Tank is not coming back, ok? That part of me is over. Water under the bridge. I promise.
Beginning of the party...
Frank: I told my wife I wouldn't drink tonight. Besides, I got a big day tomorrow. You guys have a great time.
College Student: A big day? Doing what?
Frank: Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we're going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time.
End of the party...
Frank: We're going streaking!
Saturday, August 2: BP - 10 [W-5, S-5], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 562, [W-453, S-109], Game - 25, [W-22, S-3]
Friday, August 01, 2003
How do you get a day/night doubleheader out of only one game? Easy - start at 2:23 pm, play six innings to a 1-1 tie, add a three hour rain delay, resume play at 7:12 pm, play 8 more innings, and end the game with Aramis Ramirez knocking in the winning run almost 8 hours after the first pitch. Add in the time I was there for BP and post game autographs, and it was easily a 12+ hour day.
Arizona should have won this game at least 3 different times, but kept letting the Cubs back into it with some poor baserunning and spotty defense. Brenly and Yount had some words afterwards before boarding the team bus - I couldn't hear what they were saying, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't about the post-game spread.
Believe it or not, Antonio Alfonseca was probably the key to the victory for the Cubs. He was the last pitcher used and went at least two innings, maybe three, getting out of a couple jams along the way. Dusty went through his entire bullpen and even had Estes (Saturday's starting pitcher) warming up in the 14th inning, just in case. Maybe this was just the confidence-builder "Fonzie" needed.
Ok, ok, stop laughing -- I said maybe. You never know...
Friday, August 1: BP - 17 [W-12, S-5], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 552, [W-448, S-104], Game - 25, [W-22, S-3]
Once again, the Giants kicked Cubs butt in batting practice -- 19 to 3. But the Cubs returned the favor during Thursday's game, winning 9-4, and taking 2 of 3 from the defending NL Champs. I guess winning the game is more important, but geez, would it hurt ArimaSamMoisEric to swing a bit from the heels during BP?
Then I get duped by a little girl! After catching a ball during BP, I see a young girl in a big group hanging out on the corner and she has this big cast/brace on her leg. Having recently recovered from knee surgery myself, I walk over to her and give her the ball, pointing to my scar and telling her I could relate to the brace. Then she tells me "oh, the brace is my mother's - I just like to wear it so people think I'm hurt."
Out of the mouths of babes, indeed....
Thursday, July 31: BP - 22 [W-21, S-1], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 535, [W-436, S-99], Game - 25, [W-22, S-3]
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Well, Sir Barry didn't connect during the game, but my sources tell me he put on quite a show during batting practice. Eight out onto Sheffield, with one onto Waveland for good measure. So his nine BP homers matched the combined efforts of the rest of the Giants -- very impressive. And one of those blasts broke a third story window at 3643 N. Sheffield. deep deep deep right-center. ESPN reported it at 520 ft. Again -- very impressive.
And what's the opposite of very impressive? Why the Cubs batting practice of course. Southwest winds, all those right handed bats, and all they can manage is three balls onto Waveland. Heck, even I could hit three balls onto Waveland. Of course, I'd have to be standing about where the shortstop usually plays...
Wednesday, July 30: BP - 21 [W-13, S-8], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 513, [W-415, S-98], Game - 25, [W-22, S-3]
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
The 2003 Barry Bonds Home Run Tour rolled into town today for the first of three shows at Wrigley Field. Kinda reminded me of 1998 all over again. Back then we had a bunch of Sammy-come-latelys, folks that would show up just for Sammy's at bat and then go back to Murphy's, Bernies, the rooftops or wherever they came from. Now we seem to have Barry-come-latelys. Should be interesting to see what happens if Sir Bonds does happen to connect with one.
But not tonight -- Matt Clement pitched a complete game shutout, holding the Giants to just two hits. Holy Moises provided all the offense needed with a first-inning 3-run homer that stayed in the park.
Hey, here's a tip for all you youngsters at home -- don't schedule an eye doctor appointment on game day! I had one this afternoon where of course they did the dilate the eyes with drops thing. It's tough enough picking up the ball when you can't see it until it comes up through/over the screen -- it's darn near impossible when you got pupils the size of flying saucers. Finally started to wear off about halfway through the Giants session and I got a couple near the end.
Tuesday, July 29: BP - 18 [W-15, S-3], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 492, [W-402, S-90], Game - 25, [W-22, S-3]
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Well, better late than never. Usually by this time of the season, we've had at least a few batting practices where the balls were coming out back-to-back-to-back-to-back, etc. but that hadn't happened yet... ...until today. Cubs only hit three out, but the Phillies unloaded, compliments of Pat Burrell, Mike Lieberthal, and Todd Pratt. There were a couple of stretches where at least four came out in a row. Kinda funny watching everyone scurrying around chasing after balls already bouncing away from them, meanwhile another one was descending on them like incoming mortar rounds. Too bad the Cubs can't hit them like that - they used to.
Another day, another loss. Don't recall final score but suffice to say it was too much to not enough. Watched most of this one from home and in doing so, realized one of my worst fears. Sammy puts one out on the street in the first inning and the camera follows the flight of the ball as it goes over the fence. Ok, I'm obviously bummed that I wasn't there to have a chance of catching it but no big deal - that's the way it goes sometimes. But then I see the ball bounce back up into camera view! Bounce??? Ok, now I'm seriously bummed. We can't be having home run balls bounce on the street, especially when there were at least two ballhawks out there. Sheffield, ok, maybe -- it's tougher to pick them up over there. But Waveland -- no way.
Hmm... maybe we should start a ballhawk kangaroo court and levy some fines for bonehead plays -- I know I'd already have gotten my checkbook out a few times this year. We could donate all the monies collected to Cubs Care or some other charity at the end of the season. Could be tough finding an impartial judge though...
Thursday, July 24: BP - 19 [W-18, S-1], Game - 1, [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 474, [W-387, S-87], Game - 25, [W-22, S-3]
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Welcome to the first day of the new-look Cubs, and wouldn't you know it, an ex-Indian played a key role in winning the game. Only it wasn't Kenny Lofton for the Cubs, it was Jim Thome for the Phillies. He blasted a 2 run homer out of the park in deep right center onto Sheffield Ave. Actually, over Sheffield Ave -- it hit the sidewalk on the other side and one bounce, upside some guy's face who just happened to be walking by. He had no idea what was going on, but had the presence of mind to pick the ball up after it dropped at his feet, and he kept walking, rubbing his jaw...
Phillies win, 3-0, and after 100 games, the Cubs are an even steven 50-50. And they're only 5 games or so out of first. Thank goodness for the NL Central.
Wed, July 23: BP - 5 [W-3, S-2], Game - 1, [W-0, S-1]
Season Totals: BP - 455, [W-369, S-86], Game - 24, [W-21, S-3]
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Newsflash: Cubs trade Jose Hernandez, Matt Bruback and a PTBNL the Pirates for Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez.
Well, I would have preferred Manny Ramirez, but I guess Aramis Ramirez isn't all that bad. Seeing as how Jose Hernandez has yet to put one on the street for us, Aramis can't be any worse. And speaking as an old Cleveland Indians fan, I got no complaints with Kenny Lofton patrolling center field for the Cubbies. Hopefully the new Cubs will make it here in time for tomorrow's game against Philly. At least Hendry did something - gotta give him credit for that. Now if he really wants to turn this season around, he ought to own up to making a mistake and see what it would take to get Rod Beck back from the Padres. Man, would he look good in the Cubs bullpen right now or what...
Monday, July 14, 2003
After watching Garret Anderson win the Home Run Derby with an awesome display of front-row power, I thought I'd give a quick update on our own home run race outside of Wrigley Field.
No surprise -- Sammy is leading the street homer race with 7, followed by Moises Alou with 4. Alex Gonzales and Geoff Jenkins have 2 each, and Vlad Guerrero, Hee Sop Choi, Eric Karros, Morgan Ensberg, Albert Pujols, Eduardo Perez, Luis Castillo, and Andruw Jones all have 1 each.
No surprise amongst the ballhawks either -- Dave is in the lead with 8, but Ken is trying to make a race of it with 5. "Dick the Bruiser", Cincinnati Johnny, and Moe have 1 each. Various passerbys (or is it passersby?) have the remaining 7.
Now let me pose this question to the viewing audience. Earlier this year against the Cardinals, Alex Gonzales hit a homer out onto Waveland but the game ended up being rained out. According to MLB rules, players' statistics in a rainout do NOT count. Phew, I guess that's one less homer Barry Bonds has to worry about going up against his single season record of 73.
But what about on the street? Should a non-MLB-recognized home run be counted in the street totals - both for the player as well as the ballhawk who caught it?
Register your vote by clicking on the appropriate link below to send me an e-mail:
Yes, it counts
No, it doesn't
Please note: this is a toll-free e-mail. Kids, get your parents' permission before sending...
Sunday, July 13, 2003
Remember two years ago when the Cubs needed a third baseman [insert your own joke here, like when haven't the Cubs needed a third baseman?] and Vinny Castilla was being cut loose by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? Needless to say, the Cubs braintrust at the time decided that Ron Coomer, Bill Mueller, and other assorted spare parts would be more productive than Mr. Castilla. Well, as I recall, Vinny ended up with Houston and hit 23 homers and 82 RBIs in about 3/4 of a season. Heck, he even stole a base.
Fast forward to the present where Vinny is now with the Atlanta Braves and just finished a 4 game series against the Cubs by going 11-15 (.733) with 10 RBIs. Obviously, he's getting better with age. Meanwhile the hole at third base for the Cubbies gets deeper and deeper and deeper...
Anyway, Cubs lost the game Sunday night 7-2, and go into the all-star break on a down note. Still, they are in the NL Central, where anything is possible. Well, almost anything.
Sunday, July 12: BP - 20 [W-20, S-0], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 450, [W-366, S-84], Game - 23, [W-21, S-2]
Saturday, July 12, 2003
Cubs beat the Braves today, 7-3. I don't know about you but I'm speechless.
See? I wasn't kidding -- speechless. But not typeless, so here's a few quick blurbs. Or 'missives' as Steve would say...
Clement pitched a great game, Sammy hit #517 (stayed in the park), and -- are you sitting down? -- the original Crawfish Dude has quit. Guess there was some truth to his self described 'burned out' status. Jury is still out on his replacement -- he's certainly more vocal than the original, but needs to refine his essence and style a bit if he wants to make it in the big leagues.
Let's see, what else... oh yes, Robert Fick will autograph cards but not baseballs -- "I don't sign baseballs, man."
Saturday, July 12: BP - 2 [W-2, S-0], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 430, [W-346, S-84], Game - 23, [W-21, S-2]
Friday, July 11, 2003
Remember our Tour de France-like chain reaction ballhawks-falling situation a couple of days ago on a Sosa homer? Well, Sammy must have seen the highlights of that little tumbling drill and felt sorry for us because he blasted #516 of his career in almost the exact same spot. I again was victimized by someone who had no idea what was going on and prevented me from getting close to the landing zone, but it wouldn't have mattered because this time Dave successfully avoided the falling bodies and made the catch. My hope is that Sammy will be kind enough to shift his sights about three degrees to the east on his next swing and hit one so I don't have to move to catch it.
I did get a consolation prize though -- I was 'spotted' drinking Aquafina bottled water. So what, you say? Well, it seems the Aquafina folks are running some sort of promotion where they send reps out into public gatherings, like a ballgame, and see if they can spot anyone drinking their product. If they do, that lucky person gets to choose from several envelopes where they can win anywhere from $2 to $10,000. Man, I felt like I was on 'Let's Make A Deal' -- I kept looking around, waiting for Monty Hall to show up. Anyway, my envelope netted me $5. Sssssshhhhhhh.... don't tell the IRS.
Game highlights - not many. Cubs lost 9-5 as Prior got knocked around a bit on the mound and on the basepath. He was running from first to second as Marcus Giles was fielding a grounder. Prior tried to jump over him, Giles caught a knee in the head, and Prior flipped over and landed hard on his upper back, rolled over and came up clutching both shoulders. Giles left the game with a concussion but Prior was able to shake it off and pitched a few more innings.
Friday, July 11: BP - 16 [W-16, S-0], Game - 2, [W-2, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 428, [W-344, S-84], Game - 23, [W-21, S-2]
Thursday, July 10, 2003
Wow - the Cubs managed to get a game in WITHOUT a rain delay! Of course, judging by the results (13-3 loss), perhaps a rain delay would have been welcomed. Still, it was nice to have everything get back to normal for a change -- Batting practice for both teams at the regular times, lots of sunshine with the wind blowing out, a Caray (Chip) singing during the seventh inning stretch, Greg Maddux earning yet another victory at Wrigley Field, and Antonio Alfonseca giving up yet another home run.
Probably the highlight of the day was when Gary Sheffield blasted a long foul ball out of the park down the left field line. The ball cleared the fence, hit a parked bus and bounced around for a bit as Dave and some passersby gave chase. In the process, one guy shoved Dave out of the way so he could scoop up the ball. Not so fast, tough guy. Dave quickly regained his balance and let his glove fly, hitting the ball just as Mr. Shove was about to pick it up. Touche! Of course this resulted in somebody else getting the ball, but that's ok. The important thing is Mr. Shove didn't profit from his bad form.
Ok, I admit it. If that was the highlight of the day, things must have been pretty slow on the corner. And they were. But tomorrow should be a different story as All-Star game excitement starts to ramp up a bit. Hopefully, there'll be a few baseball celebrity sightings around Wrigley this weekend.
Thursday, July 10: BP - 26 [W-23, S-3], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 412, [W-328, S-84], Game - 21, [W-19, S-2]
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
There's an old golf adage, "you're only as good as your next tee shot", meaning that even if you chipped in for an eagle, that doesn't mean squat if you flub your drive on the next tee. What does that have to do with ballhawking? Well, yesterday I was on cloud nine having caught Sammy Sosa's 513th homer. Today, I was sprawled out on the ground watching #514 bounce down Kenmore.
Yep, Sammy blasted another one and for a few seconds, I thought I had a bead on it. I could see it was going over Moe's head, and Dave was coming in from the side. But then someone tripped me up from behind and as I went down for the count, unfortunately I got tangled up with Dave and he went down as well. Kinda like one of those Tour de France bicycle crashes, except without the bicycles. Dave got up and joined in on the scrum down Kenmore, and for a few seconds, I thought Eddie Bench was going to end up with the ball. But eventually a passerby emerged victorious, ball in hand, and grin on face.
Me? I got up, dusted myself off, and then quickly went to my car to change my shirt and hat so afterwards if anyone were to come up to me and say "hey, wasn't that you that fell down on that Sosa ball?", I could just say "Nah, that was some amateur in a blue shirt and white hat."...
Oh yeah, Cubs won 5-1. Kerry Wood pitched a complete game with 12 K's, and in addition to his game-winning homer, Sammy made a helluva catch against the ivy in right field. With any luck, this All-Star snub is going to light a fire under Sammy and he's going to have a great second half.
Wednesday, July 9: BP - 14 [W-14, S-0], Game - 1, [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 386, [W-305, S-81], Game - 21, [W-19, S-2]
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
It must have been Little League day at Wrigley Field Tuesday -- scattered throughout the upper deck were several groups of youngsters, each group with its own distinctive shirt color. Very cool to hear a bunch of little voices yelling in unison "We want a hit! We want a hit! We want a hit!" or the classic "Hey batter, hey batter, hey batter, s-w-i-n-g!!!" Quite refreshing change of pace, considering I'm so used to hearing the R-rated standard bleacher bums cheers/jeers over the years.
Pretty much had Waveland Ave all to myself today with a Southeast wind blowing, so imagine my dismay when an honest-to-goodness pitcher's duel broke out -- Carlos Zambrano for the Cubs vs. Dontrelle Willis for the Marlins. Score was 0-0 in the 7th when the rains came. After a 90 minute delay, both teams changed pitchers and the fireworks began.
Luis Castillo hit one to the street in the 8th that I corralled after a few bounces. Yep, I was sleeping on the job - I forgot he was a switch hitter and was batting righty against Remlinger. Then Pudge Rodriguez hit one that just missed coming out by a foot or two. I was all lined up for it -- catching back-to-back homers would have been sweet. In the bottom of the 8th, Sammy Sosa answered with a solo shot over the high fence and right into my glove. #513 of his career, moving one ahead of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks for 14th on the all time list.
Cubs ended up losing 4-3, but I caught two homers. And if you ask me if I'd rather have no homers but the Cubs win, the answer would have to be 'no'. Sorry, Dusty...
Tuesday, July 8: No BP, Game - 2, [W-2, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 372, [W-291, S-81], Game - 20, [W-18, S-2]
Monday, July 07, 2003
The Florida Marlins are in town, and apparently they brought their hot humid muggy weather with them. It was an icky sticky night at Wrigley, but any time there are some serious Southwest winds, you won't catch me complaining about the weather. Batting practice was very action-packed, with the Cubs earning a slight 13-11 advantage, which they carried over into the game and came away with a 6-3 victory.
Perhaps more important than the Cubs winning [Note: I said perhaps...] was the return of the Crawfish dude. Yep, 'Cranky' made a short appearance this evening, so perhaps he's rethinking his career plans. Maybe he realized that he spent his whole life clawing a baseball, when at the end he realized that it was the other way around... Hmm, maybe not.
We also had a camera crew from Fox Sports Network on the corner for most of the evening. They were doing a followup on Sosa's titantic 536 ft. blast from a couple of weeks ago. Wasn't part of the game telecast tonight -- I think it's something that will air later this week or maybe next week on their weekly sports wrapup show. If I get specifics before it airs, I will post the details on the website somewhere.
Since I ended up with the HR ball, they definitely wanted to talk with me to get a better sense of what was going on, what was I thinking, had I ever seen something like that before, etc etc. They had me all miked up with the wire running under the shirt and everything. I'm not sure how I will come across on camera, but it was a lot of fun talking with them. And I did have the actual ball with me, although at one point I almost lost it. It's too long a story to tell here, but stay tuned -- it will show up somewhere on the website soon. Suffice to say, a dog was involved and thank goodness for leash laws.
Monday, July 7: BP - 24 [W-23, S-1], Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 372, [W-291, S-81], Game - 18, [W-16, S-2]
Sunday, July 06, 2003
We have a saying on the corner - any hitter named Perez is okay by us. Today proved that adage to be very true as Eduardo Perez (Dave) ripped a line drive over the family section and across Waveland. And like the previous two games, this early inning homer enabled St. Louis to jump out in front, thereby putting the pressure on the Cubs right from the get-go. Today, the Cubbies just didn't have it in them and went down to a 4-1 defeat.
Game results aside, I have an early candidate for sign-of-the-year. Saw this one in the bleachers today, being held by a rather attractive young woman. The sign said "Kyle, Tackle Me!", an obvious reference to Kyle Farnsworth's body slam of Paul Wilson a few weeks ago, although I'm guessing this fan was hoping for a somewhat softer landing.
Also wanted to let our readers know that we may have seen the last of the Crawfish dude. If you've watched any games on TV lately, you know who I'm talking about -- a red, costumed crawfish has been scuttling up and down Waveland Ave the last several weeks as part of a promotional effort by the nearby Heaven on Seven restaurant. Despite a petition drive by some concerned campadres on the corner, 'Cranky the Crawfish' told me today he doesn't need the money any more. He's already working two other jobs, just finished paying off his car, and frankly, he said he's just burnt out.
Wow, if it can happen to him -- I mean, he was as strong as any of us...
Sunday, July 6: no BP (photo day), Game - 1, [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 348, [W-268, S-80], Game - 18, [W-16, S-2]
Saturday, July 05, 2003
I'm not sure who's got the hotter bat these days -- Sammy or Moises. Actually it's probably Jim Edmonds - that guy just absolutely kills Cubs pitching. As for Albert Pujols, it doesn't matter what team he's facing -- he kills them all. All four of those guys hit homers today, with Alou's (Moe) and Pujols' (Dave) making it to Waveland. And yes, with his homer Sammy is now tied with Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, at 512 on the career list. A towering blast into the wind, landing in the left field bleachers. Were it hit earlier in the game when the wind was blowing out, it would have easily made it onto Waveland.
Oh yes, the game.... after spotting the Cards a 5-0 lead after only two innings, the Cubbies came back and won in stirring fashion in the bottom of the ninth. Hmm... bottom of the ninth, buses lined up on Waveland, and Alex Gonzalez at the plate. Sound familiar? Well, AGonz decided to keep yet another walk-off homer in his bag of tricks for another day. Instead, he ripped a sharp grounder past a diving Scott Rolen at third that shortstop Edgar Renteria just couldn't quite handle, and Corey Patterson came in with the winning run.
So, that's one game apiece with the all-important rubber match coming tomorrow. And hopefully the homer activity will continue - I'm in a bit of slump lately, and I need a gamer to get back on track.
Saturday, July 5: BP - 5, [W-5, S-0], Game - 2, [W-2, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 348, [W-268, S-80], Game - 17, [W-15, S-2]
Friday, July 04, 2003
Well, I suppose I could tell you about Sosa's 511th career homer which ties him with Mel Ott for 16th on the all time list. Or about the total of eight homers hit today, of which only Sosa's (Dave) made it out onto Waveland. Perhaps you'd like to hear about Moises Alou's first 3-homer day of his career. Or heck, I could even regale you with another tale of Cubs' pitching woes, but I'm sure you've grown weary of that. Besides, you can read all about those things in tomorrow's paper.
So I'll just mention that after years of hanging outside of Wrigley and seeing all the marketing efforts by various companies with their free handouts, I finally found something I can use. None of those paper-thin breath mint slices, multi-berry cheerios or caffienated mango-ade; No radio buttons, magnetic schedules, or low-carb power-bar bites. Nope, nothing like that. Instead, today's marketing freebie was a ThermaCare air-activated heatwrap. Just what my back needs before, during, and after a long day of ballhawking. I heartily recommend it for all you weekend warriors out there.
If Scott Boras ever returns my calls, maybe he can get me some sort of endorsement deal. Hmm... Nike gets LeBron for $90M, Procter & Gamble gets LeKen for a couple heatwraps? I guess that's the difference between a 18 year-old superstar-on-the-rise and a 40-something ballhawk-on-the-wane....
Friday, July 4: BP - 13, [W-13, S-0], Game - 1, [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 343, [W-263, S-80], Game - 15, [W-13, S-2]
Thursday, July 03, 2003
"Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend. Step inside, step inside..."
Of course, anyone near my age knows that's from an old Emerson, Lake & Palmer song. But with the Cubs coming home from a road trip, temperatures flirting with the 90s, and a nice Southwest wind, those words could also describe batting practice tomorrow. Let's hope Mother Nature keeps her Independence Day fireworks show under wraps until after the game tomorrow.
The only thunder I want to hear tomorrow is the boom-boom of Sammy's bat as he hits #511 to tie Mel Ott, and #512 to tie Ernie Banks & Eddie Matthews. But even if he whiffs-whiffs, it's still going to be a glorious weekend 'cause anytime the Cubs & Cards face off, it's just a great baseball atmosphere. Best rivalry in the game -- check out my Friday, May 9 post for more on that.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Well, it's offical - 536 feet, 2 inches, or at least as official as GPS gets. FoxChicago-32 enlisted the aid (and equipment) of a local surveying company, and with the permission of the Cubs, took readings at home plate and out on Kenmore where X marks the spot. Then using GPS technology, they came up with a reading of 536.170 feet. Add to that, eyewitness accounts from Rich and Moe on the two Kingman blasts ('76 with the Mets and '79 with the Cubs), everyone seems to be in agreement that the Sosa home run is the longest one ever hit out of Wrigley.
The home run barrage continued on Wednesday with Moises Alou jacking one out onto Waveland. But it was for naught as the Brewers scored 6 runs in the top of the 10th to win 12-6. Ouch. Then today, Sammy hit his 509th career homer and Mark Prior struck out 16 in 8 innings. Unfortunately, a baseball game is 9 innings, and in the top of the 9th, Geoff Jenkins parked his second one in three days out on to Sheffield, this one a 3 run blast to win it for the BrewCrew. This should put the Cubs in the perfect frame of mind as they head down to the Sot side of Chic-cah-go for their weekend series against the Sox.
Wed, June 25: BP - 16, [W-12, S-4], Game - 1, [W-1, S-0]
Thur, June 26: No Batting Practice, Game - 2, [W-1, S-1]
Season Totals: BP - 330, [W-250, S-80], Game - 14, [W-12, S-2]
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
You know how baseball announcers all have their own way of calling home runs? Harry Caray would say "It could be, it might be... It is, A home run!" Jack Brickhouse would say "Hey hey!", and of course Chris Berman with his "Back, back, back, back... Gone!". So on the slim chance I ever make it into the broadcast booth someday, I came up with my own. Nothing fancy, just a simple understated "Oh my!" and then let the crowd noise take over.
Well, in the bottom of the 5th in tonight's game, I'm standing in my usual spot -- Kenmore Ave crosswalk, about 5 feet from the purple fire hydrant. Sammy Sosa has a 1-0 count on him as Luis Vizcaino delivers the next pitch. I hear the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd, and I see the ball rising up into the night sky, heading right towards me. Perfect time for me to say "Oh my!", right? Wrong! It was more like "Oh sh*t"!
Sammy just absolutely crushes that ball! It's no longer heading towards me -- it's heading over me! I start drifting back on Kenmore, under some mindless delusion I can still catch this thing on the fly. What was I smoking? I mean, this ball is easily clearing the trees on either side of Kenmore! Forget drifting, I'm in full running mode now. The ball finally comes out of orbit, hits the street about ten feet in front of me and takes a huge bounce off to the right, over the cars and ends up rattling around a small fenced in grassy area on the boulevard. I slip between the cars, hop the little fence and dive on that ball.
Now I've heard the Kingman story many times, and I've seen McGwire take batting practice at Wrigley. Heck, I was standing in the doorway of the yellow brick apartment building the day Glenallen Hill put one on the roof. And I've never ever seen anything like this. Without a doubt, the longest home run hit out of Wrigley Field. I suspect over the next few days, we'll figure out a way to measure it and I'll be sure to post the findings. Somehow somebody (can't imagine who) already did a little 'tagging' and marked the spot with some spray paint.
Tuesday, June 24: BP - 22, [W-14, S-8], Game - 2, [W-1, S-1]
Season Totals: BP - 314, [W-238, S-76], Game - 11, [W-10, S-1]
Sunday, June 22, 2003
Okay Sox fans, what are you going to do with all those brooms now? I bet the Cubs fans can tell you where to stick them... yep, the Cubs successfully avoided a sweep and at least partially restored their dignity with a 2-1 victory today, thanks to some late-inning heroics from Grudzielenak, Martinez and Patterson. Unlike the first two games, this one turned out to be a real pitchers duel with Zambrano and Colon going at it. Unfortunately that meant not much action baseball-wise out on the street, so we had to find other things to pass the time.
First, Luke stopped by and handed out about 25 frisbees, some of which found themselves flung up to the rooftops, but most were aimed in the general direction of the Heaven on Seven red crawfish guy. But that didn't last long, so after a few innings, it was back to dullsville, until... [cue the music]
................................A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away................................
............................................Darth strikes out..........................................................
...............................It was the bottom of the Sith, when.............................................
...........................Darth Vader and his Imperial Stormtrooper......................................
........................invaded the Waveland Quadrant in an attempt to................................
....................crush the Ballhawk Rebellion. But the South Side of the.........................
.................Force was no match for Moe-bi Wan Kenobi who teamed with....................
............Dave SkyHawker and defeated the evildoers in a fiery glove sabre duel.............
.....and sent them back to the remote wastelands of the US Cellular galaxy. Master......
Lou-da, Princess Laura, Senator Diana, C2J2, and Ken Solo cheered from the sidelines.
In case you weren't watching the game on WGN and have no idea what I'm talking about... Darth Vader and a Imperial Stormtrooper paid a visit to the corner in full uniform. With the temperature well in the mid-80s, ol' Darthie had to be sweating up a storm in that all-black getup, but he didn't complain a bit -- just did a bunch of that heavy breathing thing from the movie. "Sam-my, I am your father..."
This actually gives me an idea for future entries - perhaps I need to start tracking all the 'celebrities' that pass by our little corner of the world out there. So far, we have Darth & Trooper, the Crawfish guy, Gary Miller (ESPN), Rick Sutcliffe, Chris Chelios, and some guy in a Chicken suit - no, not the San Diego Chicken. This one was advertising insurance scams or something like that.
Sunday, June 22: BP - 28, [W-28, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 292, [W-224, S-68], Game - 9, [W-9, S-0]
Saturday, June 21, 2003
The Southsiders jumped out to a 7-0 lead before the Cubs' bats (and crowd) woke up and made it interesting. 7-6 was the final score, and from the sounds of it, the Cubs definitely had several chances to win it, but it was not to be. Another gorgeous day weather-wise in Wrigleyville, so it's been a very enjoyable weekend so far, even if the Cubs are on the verge of being swept. And winds are turning southwards even as I type, so all around Chicago, little ballhawks are asleep in their beds with visions of huge batting practices dancing in their heads...
Saturday, June 21: BP - 8, [W-8, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 264, [W-196, S-68], Game - 9, [W-9, S-0]
Friday, June 20, 2003
You know how when a player has a big day but his team loses, and afterwards in the locker room when the reporters ask about the personal stats, the player is supposed to shrug it off and say 'hey, when the team loses, the individual stuff doesn't matter...' At least that's how it used to be. As you might imagine, it's a different story today, and yours truly is no exception.
Sure, the Cubs got their butts kicked by the Sox today, 12-3. But my day started off just fine with Paul Konerko signing a home run ball of his I caught two years ago in a Cubs/Sox game. Then I snagged a few during batting practice, and in the bottom of the first inning, Alex Gonzalez was kind enough to send a blast my way out onto Waveland Ave which I corralled on one bounce. I would have caught it on the fly, but I was busy talking to Mario - we were exchanging notes on the attractive, er, 'scenery' nearby.
A few innings later, Gary Miller from ESPN came by with a camera crew to do a live on-the-street segment. He asked me some questions about ballhawking and the Gonzalez homer. Then he closed by asking who the King of Waveland Ave is, and of course I said Moe. Wish I could have seen the broadcast because right before I was on the air, he was talking to two girls who had a half-naked male mannequin with them on the corner. That must have been one helluva segue....
Finally, the day ended with me getting Carlos Lee's autograph on a home run ball he hit against the Cubs three years ago. Unlike today, I did catch that one on the fly. So, all in all, it was a great day, the Cubs butt-kicking notwithstanding. Here's hoping for similar good fortune tomorrow.
Friday, June 20: BP - 12, [W-11, S-1], Game - 1, [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 256, [W-188, S-68], Game - 9, [W-9, S-0]
Sunday, June 08, 2003
Mother Nature must be a Cub fan -- rained all afternoon, but clear skies were in place just in time for Sunday night baseball at Wrigley Field. Started off great for the Cubs, thanks to a 3-run homer by Moises Alou in the first inning that cleared the fence and landed in Dave's glove, but not before severely bruising, if not breaking, some guy's finger who tried to bare-hand it. Things got a little dicier as the game went on but the Cubs managed to hang on for an 8-7 win. Yankees had three homers (Giambi, Mondesi, and Ventura) and Cubs had one more (Martinez), but all stayed in the park.
Man, Cubbies took two out of three from the Yanks. Not bad. Doesn't quite make up for 1932 and 1938, but it's a start...
Sunday, June 8: No BP, Game - 1 [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 244, [W-177, S-67], Game - 8, [W-8, S-0]
Saturday, June 07, 2003
Can't decide which pleases me more -- A) the Cubs winning, B) the Yankees losing, C) Roger being denied his 300th career victory in my backyard or D) getting Rick Sutcliffe's autograph. Guess I'll just settle for E) all of the above. It was a glorious day at Wrigely -- beautiful weather, lots of attractive, err... umm... "scenery" all around, and a tremendous amount of hype and hoopla over the Master vs Student pitching duel. Only things didn't turn out like all the 'experts' predicted -- instead of Clemons winning his 300th, Wood got his 50th.
People who don't quite understand why we hang out on Waveland Ave. always say, "But you can't even see the game...". Brudda, I didn't have to 'see' that game - I heard it, I felt it, I enjoyed every single pitch. Well, except for that horrible checked swing call on Matsui. I expect Santo to b*tch and moan in the booth over every close call, but when Pat Hughes raises a fuss, that's good enough for me. Still, it was without a doubt, the best game I never 'saw'.
Quote of the day: When Acevedo came in to pitch to Karros, I walked over to Marvin and said "Sounds like a home run." One pitch later - BAM! 3 run homer. I should've went out and bought a lottery ticket right then and there...
Saturday, June 7: No BP
Season Totals: BP - 244, [W-177, S-67], Game - 7, [W-7, S-0]
Friday, June 06, 2003
Well, the Yankees picked up right where they left off 65 years ago, by beating the Cubs today, 5-3. A few homers (Giambi, Martinez, Patterson) but all stayed in the park. Lots of "Yan-kees-suck" chants. Jeter got booed every time he came to the plate. All in all, a fairly uneventful day, given all the pre-series hype. Outside of a Brian McRae sighting, no other sports/entertainment bigwigs made an appearance, so all my autograph aspirations will have to wait another day. Tomorrow's Wood vs Clemens duel should bring them all out of the woodwork.
BP was fun, though. Sammy is starting to hit a little better, and the Yankees were not shy about launching a few. Giambi put on a show by blasting four consecutive pitches out of the park onto Sheffield. Soriano cranked a few to deep left-center, and Mondesi kept me busy in straightaway left, including one that backed me up just past the crosswalk on Kenmore. Hopefully the fun will continue tomorrow.
Friday, June 6: BP - 22, [W-12, S-10]
Season Totals: BP - 244, [W-177, S-67], Game - 7, [W-7, S-0]
Thursday, June 05, 2003
Today's BP numbers brought to you by Dave, since yours truly was cooped up inside an office all day. Evidently it was a bee-yoo-tiful day at the ballpark. Lots of sunshine, southerly breezes, and amazingly enough, it was even kind of warm. Sounds like Moe and Dave had their hands full with lots of ballhawks-in-training stationed along Waveland and Sheffield. Advance scouts for this weekend's games with the Yankees? Could be -- we'll see tomorrow...
Thursday, June 5: BP - 23, [W-11, S-12]
Season Totals: BP - 222, [W-165, S-57], Game - 7, [W-7, S-0]
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Day 2 of Cork-Gate. Quite the media circus around Wrigley Field today. I guess it was a good warm-up for this weekend when the Yankees come into town. Probably the biggest news was that MLB x-rayed the other 76 bats Sammy had in his locker and every one came up negative, i.e. no cork. That doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me though, is the fact that Sammy has 76 bats in his locker to begin with. First of all, that must be a pretty big locker. Second of all, why does he need 76? I could see maybe having a couple dozen around, but 76? Man, he must buy pine tar by the gallon...
Anyway, Cubs looked horrible again. Lost 5-2. To the Devil Rays, no less. This keeps up, and Dusty will be buying Maalox by the gallon.
Wednesday, June 4: BP - 13, [W-7, S-6]
Season Totals: BP - 199, [W-154, S-45], Game - 7, [W-7, S-0]
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
Say it ain't So-sa... Sammy Sosa was ejected from tonight's game after shattering his bat in the first inning. Too much pine tar? Nope. How about a little cork instead? Yep. He was quick to 'fess up after the game, said it was his mistake, it was a bat that he normally uses only during BP or for home run exhibitions, but somehow it got mixed up with his game bats, and he mistakenly grabbed it. MLB confiscated several of his other bats for further examination. Should be an interesting next few days...
Sammy said he likes to put on a show for the fans during BP, and speaking as one of the beneficiaries of those shows given all the BP balls I've gotten from him over the years, I can't fault him for that. But what about his 505 homers? Are they tainted now? Should I throw away all the Sosa homers I've caught over the years?
Tuesday, June 3: BP - 9, [W-4, S-5]
Season Totals: BP - 186, [W-147, S-39], Game - 7, [W-7, S-0]
Sunday, June 01, 2003
Ok, I realize one game does not a swoon make, but Sunday was June 1st, and the Cubs looked terrible. Wood got pounded and the Cubs' bats were pretty silent. Karros did hit another homer but this one stayed in the park while Berkman lined one into the Family Section. The only action outside the park, besides a few roof balls, was a late-inning blast by Ensberg that bounced off the top of a bus, rattled around a bit on its way to the ground and ended up under a bus. "Cincinnati Johnny" was the closest to it and managed to grab the ball without dropping the mango flavored popsicle in his other hand. Impressive display of coordination and grace...
Sunday, June 1: No BP, Game - 1 [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 177, [W-143, S-34], Game - 7, [W-7, S-0]
If Eugene ONeill had written plays about baseball, Long Days Journey Into Night would have been the perfect title for Saturday's game. It started at 3:05 pm in the sunshine, and ended 16 innings and almost 5 hours later under the lights. 1-0 Cubs victory when Sammy Sosa hit a sharp grounder off the glove of Jeff Kent, scoring Alex Gonzalez from 3rd. Good thing too, because Sammy had struck out 5 of his previous 6 at-bats. I think 4 strikeouts in a game is called the 'golden' sombrero, so does that mean 5 K's is a 'platinum' sombrero?
Saturday, May 31: BP - 4, [W-2, S-2]
Season Totals: BP - 177, [W-143, S-34], Game - 6, [W-6, S-0]
Friday, May 30, 2003
Southwest winds & the Astros in town - music to any ballhawk's ears... Unfortunately, the Killer B's (Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman) only played a few chords today in BP - like four. With these winds, it should've been at least 14. Cubs didn't do much better - they only managed six. The game was a laugher, 9-1 Astros. Estes got shelled, and the Cubs' bats were missing in action. Hmm... lemme check the calendar. Yep, the June swoon is almost upon us...
Friday, May 30: BP - 10, [W-8, S-2]
Season Totals: BP - 173, [W-141, S-32], Game - 6, [W-6, S-0]
Thursday, May 29, 2003
Off day, which means most of the Cubs were home. But a few of them, most notably Sammy, Lenny, and Corey showed up for a little batting practice. And even in the face of a pretty stiff North breeze, Sammy put a fair number out onto Waveland. Corey jacked one out to Sheffield to try and provide a little balance. Dave, "Dick the Bruiser", and myself had a good time enjoying the late afternoon BP, after which we hung out for awhile trading spring training stories from years past, waiting for His Samminess to make an appearance. I had brought my Sosa HR ball from 1998 with me hoping that he would stop and sign, and sure enough, he did. Now all I need is McGwire to sign his HR ball I caught in '98 and I'll have my baseball bookends all ready to go.
Thursday, May 29: BP - 7, [W-6, S-1]
Season Totals: BP - 163, [W-133, S-30], Game - 6, [W-6, S-0]
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
A little rain in the morning put the damper on BP, literally. And a decent wind from the North kept the two Cub game homers in the park. Miller's just barely made it into the family section basket, while Gonzalez crushed his, but it was to center, about a third of the way up into the bushes. And thankfully this was enough to keep the Cubs from being swept by the Pirates. Tomorrow's an off day, but with any luck, Sammy will have a little private workout in advance of coming off the DL for Friday's game against the Astro's.
Wednesday, May 28: BP - 0, Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 156, [W-127, S-29], Game - 6, [W-6, S-0]
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
The Good: Sammy took early BP and put 4 out on the street. Then he took his regular turn with the rest of the team and parked 3 more.
The Bad: The rest of the Cubs didn't do diddley, and the Pirates only hit 2 out.
And The Ugly: Cubs lost again to the Pirates, 9-4. And it was worse than the score indicates. One can only imagine what the Cubs will do against Tampa Bay next week...
But all was not lost. Eric Karros did hit his first Waveland Ave. HR in a Cub uniform -- a line drive over the family section fence. I was playing left-center so I just started running down Waveland, thinking there might be a big bounce off the yellow apt building. Some guy was standing on the curb, took a step up and tried to catch it barehanded. Bad move - ball bounced off his chest, and headed right towards me as I'm running full speed. It was Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception all over again. And just like Franco (although he'll never admit it), I bobbled it a bit, ball hit the ground, but I scooped it up for my first gamer of the season.
Tuesday, May 27: BP - 9, [W-9, S-0], Game - 1 [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 156, [W-127, S-29], Game - 6, [W-6, S-0]
Monday, May 26, 2003
Well, the Cubs must have left their bats on their road. After a two week road trip where the Cubbies went 8-5, they come home to the Friendly Confines, and proceed to stink up the joint with a 10-0 loss to the Pirates on Memorial Day. And to add insult to injury, they didn't even take batting practice. The Pirates did though, but the result was the same -- nothing out. Of course, maybe the 10-15 mph winds out of the North had a little something to do with it. Hopefully tomorrow will be a different story -- like maybe Sammy taking a little early BP to test out that big toe of his...
Monday, May 26: BP - 0, Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 147, [W-118, S-29], Game - 5, [W-5, S-0]
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Can there be such a thing as too much wind? Evidently so. Today's winds were a minimum of 25-30 mph, with gusts of at least 40 mph. Mostly out of the West, but at times they turned Southwest. Absolutely galing. All the ballhawks agreed they were the strongest winds they've ever seen for a game. On the radio later, Ron Santo echoed that assessment. And how many balls came out in BP? Only a stinkin' 14 combined! That's unbelievable. There should have been 14 just from the pitchers! The only thing I can figure is with all that wind, it must have been tough for the BP pitchers to get the ball over the plate.
Wasn't tough for the pitchers to get it over during the game though. 11-9 Cardinals after 4 innings. 7 home runs, 4 by the Cubs, but only one came out - Alex Gonzalez. Dave got it, 1/2 step ahead of me. But all for naught as the rain came down and the umps called it in the top of the 5th. According to MLB rules, stats do NOT count in a rainout, but I'm proud to say Commish Bud got no juice around here, so AGonz' homer counts in our street totals.
[no BP on Saturday, rained right up to almost gametime. nothing out during the game.]
Sunday, May 11: BP - 14, [W-7, S-7], Game - 1 [W-1, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 147, [W-118, S-29], Game - 5, [W-5, S-0]
Friday, May 09, 2003
Ahhhh..... Cubs vs. Cardinals. In my opinion, the best baseball rivalry in the game. Tradition, fans, history, aura, the sea of red and blue intermingling -- you can't beat it. Please note - nowhere in my criteria for 'best' does 'hate' enter the picture. If you want the most 'hated' rivalry, i.e. where the two teams/fans combine for the most mutal hate, then the obvious winner is RedSox/Yankees. However, if you're looking for the most one-way hatred for another team, look no further than the South side of Chicago. The contempt that a White Sox fan holds for the Cubs knows no bounds. Interestingly enough, most Cubs fans could care less about the Sox. Once again, I draw upon the wisdom of Eddie 'Bench' -- "That's baseball..."
Speaking of which, it was a beautiful day for baseball -- 80 degrees with winds gusting from the southwest. Decent batting practice (15 out), and one gamer off the bat of Moises Alou. "Dick the Bruiser" snagged it on the fly, a half step ahead of Dave, with Moe right there in the mix. Me? I was hoping for a ThreeStooges-like collision and I would have been there to grab the rebound. Maybe tomorrow...
Friday, May 9: BP - 15, [W-13, S-2]
Season Totals: BP - 133, [W-111, S-22], Game - 4, [W-4, S-0]
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Nothing like a wind shift to bring things crashing back to reality. Yep, a strong North wind was a-blowing, almost as if Wisconsin didn't want their Brewers back. Only two came out on Tuesday, both by Sexson in the very last group. These were huge blasts into the wind that made it to the middle of the street in left-center. The amusing thing (unless you're Moe) is that they came out about 5 minutes after Moe left his normal spot to go play the line. If he had just stayed there, he would have easliy caught both of them on the fly. Instead, Dave gets one after it bounces around in the tree, and I get the other as I run up and catch it on the fly.
Then only one came out on Wednesday, a blast to right field by a Brewer (Jenkins?). Over the fence and onto Sheffield. Don't know who ended up with it - a scalper most likely.
Tues-Wed, May 6-7: BP - 3, [W-2, S-1]
Season Totals: BP - 118, [W-98, S-20], Game - 3, [W-3, S-0]
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Cheesehead alert! Yep, the Brewers are in town for a three game series. Basically a weak hitting team -- whaddya expect from Bud -- but they do possess one of the best righthanded power hitters I've seen in a long time, Richie Sexson. He may not hit many, but when he does, whoa baby, do they go a mile. I still remember down in Spring Training one year, when he was with the Indians, he was taking early BP at Winterhaven. The gates weren't open yet, so there I was, first in line by the left field entrance which was some 30 feet beyond the foul pole. And the fenceline went farther back before curving around the bleacher stands and cutting across the parking lot. So that back fence line was probably 100+ feet beyond the left-center field wall. Richie blasted one that went up up up up and away -- over the wall, over the bleachers, and over the back fence and into the parking lot on the fly. Truly amazing. Luckily there were very few people around at that time in the morning, so I was able to shake myself free from my trance and ran the ball down in the parking lot. Truly a thing of beauty to see one launched into the morning blue sky like that. Those are the brief moments of time that define my love of baseball and ballhawking. If you can understand that, I need not explain further. If you can't, I'm not sure that there's anything I can say that would help.
Anyway, Monday's damage at Wrigley Field wasn't that bad -- 16 total with a pretty strong mostly West wind blowing. Bellhorn was amazing for the Cubs. He was launching them deep into right-center. One ended up about two bldgs south of Murphys. Nothing in the game though.
Mon, May 5: BP - 16, [W-9, S-7]
Season Totals: BP - 115, [W-96, S-19], Game - 3, [W-3, S-0]
Sunday, May 04, 2003
Only the Cubs hit today, if you can call it that. Strong SE winds and only 4 came out. A rather disappointing weekend, considering who was in town - the Rockies have a lot of sluggers and this was their only trip to Wrigley. But an excellent weekend from an autograph perspective. I was able to get Todd Helton and Jose Hernandez to sign home run balls I've caught from them in years past, and Preston Wilson was kind enough to sign a bat I acquired from the 2001 season, same year that I caught one of his homers as well. I still have a Larry Walker home run ball from the early 90's -- I've been asking him for 10 years now to sign it, and he's been saying no for 10 years. Hey - at least we're communicating. :-)
Sun, May 4: BP - 4, [W-3, S-1]
Season Totals: BP - 99, [W-87, S-12], Game - 3, [W-3, S-0]
Saturday, May 03, 2003
Saturday's update: Winds not as fierce, but still in the wrong direction. Only 5 came out - Moe, Dave, and myself got one each, Dick the Bruiser showed up late and was shut out, and amazingly enough Butch was the day's leader with 2. But I tied him later by snagging a Charles Johnson roof ball during the game.
But all that pales in comparison to what happened during BP. As we were standing on Sheffield waiting for the Walker/Helton onslaught that never came, something fluttered down onto the sidewalk from the bleachers. Wasn't money, but it wasn't trash either. Hmmm.... today was a giveaway day, so I start to edge slowly towards the curb. Out of the corner of my eye, I see that Butch is starting to make a move as well. A car goes by so we both have to stop, and then I make a mad dash across the street - in front of a cop car no less - and scoop up the object in my glove. Yep, I'm risking life and limb for a special Wrigley Field edition of a Bobby Hill rookie card. Feel free to question my sanity at any time. By the way, Bobby Hill is currently playing for the AAA Iowa Cubs. As Eddie 'Bench' says.... "that's baseball."
Sat, May 3: BP - 5, [W-5, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 95, [W-84, S-11], Game - 3, [W-3, S-0]
Friday's update: Rockies in to open a weekend series. Helton, Wilson, Walker - oh my. Wind blowing in - oh sh*t. Yep, same old story. Mother Nature just isn't 'warming up' to us ballhawks yet. Northeast winds off the lake blowing in pretty strong - only one out in BP. A mighty blast by Larry Walker, headed right at me. Too many passersby to try for it on the fly so it landed right in the middle of Sheffield, bounced right over my head, up against the building, all I had to do was turn around, and right into my glove. One of my easiest ever.
Friday, May 2: BP - 1, [W-0, S-1]
Season Totals: BP - 90, [W-79, S-11], Game - 3, [W-3, S-0]
Monday, April 28, 2003
Cubs had a very short homestand last week - three games against the Padres. Temperatures were still on the cool side, and the winds were not favorable. Only 3 balls came out during Tuesday's BP, Wednesday was a little better with 10, and then 7 on Thursday. Nothing came out during the games.
"Dick the Bruiser" pretty much cleaned house for the series - he's probably got the season lead right now for the Ballhawks. He keeps saying he's going to be working more this summer, spending more time with his girlfriend, going golfing.... yeah yeah yeah. I ain't buying it. He's going to be there every single day, just like Dave. They can't help it -- they're addicted. That's okay, so am I.
Apr 22, 23, 24: BP - 20, [W-15, S-5]
Season Totals: BP - 89, (W-79, S-10), Game - 3, [W-3, S-0]
Thursday, April 24, 2003
Ok, here's the scoop on the Cincinnati series last week. As forecasted, winds were blowing out pretty well the first two days. My Waveland sources tell me 15 came out during batting practice on Monday, and 14 on Tuesday. No word on Sheffield activity. Kind of surprising, actually. I was expecting more. Reds have lots of sluggers and Cubs have been on an offensive roll. Still, it is only April, so things should pick up later when it gets consistently warmer. Only one came out on Wednesday, and nothing on Thursday.
The Choi homer on Tuesday did end up in the yard and a passer-by got it. Dave was on Sheffield, playing Choi to pull - what was he thinking? Don't know where "Dick the Bruiser", Moe, or any of the other regulars were. So here's the updated tally:
April 14-17: BP - 30, [W-30, S-0], Game - 2, [W-2, S-0]
Season Totals: BP - 69, (W-64, S-5), Game - 3, [W-3, S-0]
Friday, April 18, 2003
Still haven't heard how BP was for the Cincy series with the wind blowing out big-time on Monday and Tuesday. Winds shifted on Wed and Thurs, blowing pretty hard in, so it's doubtful anything came out. From watching the highlights, though, there were at least two game homers out on the street. Hee Sop Choi had an opposite-field one on Tues, and Sammy blasted one down the line on Thursday, one bounce off the yellow apt building. SportsCenter showed some guy jumping out the first story window, grabbing the ball, and then jumping back inside.
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Pirates outhit the Cubs again in batting practice, 11 to 6. Cubs won the game though, 4-3. I snagged 4 pushing my season total to 7.
Wind supposed to be gusting from the southwest tomorrow and Tuesday, temperature pushing 80 degrees. With Cincinnati in town (Dunn, Kearns, Mateo, Pena, etc.) I'm predicting at least 30 balls hit out each day. Of course, I'm out of town on business. Well, as Eddie says "that's baseball".
Today's Totals: BP - 17, [W-16, S-1] Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 39, (W-34, S-5), Game - 1
Saturday, April 12, 2003
Nothing out today. A 25 mph wind coming out of the North usually has that effect on batting practice. Moe did find a nickel though. That man has a nose for finding money. He still tells the story of how he found a $20 bill on the sidewalk after BP one day. Then there was the $10 bill he found on the concourse inside Wrigley another day. So if things get boring this summer, I might have to keep track of Moe's "retirement" fund...
Today's Totals: BP - 0, Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 22, (W-18, S-4), Game - 1
Friday, April 11, 2003
Things are heating up on the corner. 13 balls came out in batting practice today - only 2 by the Cubs though. Their bats must still be in hibernation, as evidenced by the Cubbies being on the losing end of a 3-2 score against the Pirates. No game homers, but did get the scoop on yesterday's blast by Vladimir Guerrero. Turns out that Butch had the best shot at it, misjudged it, ball bounced over his head, and a passerby got it. Such is life...
Today's Totals: BP - 13, (W-11, S-2), Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 22, (W-18, S-4), Game - 1
Thursday, April 10, 2003
Much better weather today -- lots of sunshine with the mercury approaching 50. My first batting practice (BP) of the year, but unfortunately, only the Cubs hit. Why unfortunately? Because Montreal has Vladimir Guerrero who likes to bounce them off the yellow brick building on the corner of Waveland & Kenmore.
Cubs hit three out during BP. I got the first one, compliments of Mark Prior - yes, the pitcher. Don't let that fool you -- this guy swings a mean bat. Definitely some competition amongst the regular ballhawks as to who's gonna get Prior's first game homer on the street. It will happen -- it's only a matter of time...
Anyway, Sammy blasted the other two out in deep left-center that I just watched bounce towards the alley and ricochet off the wrought-iron fence. Mad scramble ensued on both but I'm not in fighting shape yet so I stayed away.
Game update: Vladimir Guerrero just blasted one out onto Waveland. making it 7-0 Montreal in the 7th. From what I could see on TV, looks like it was one bounce into the Budweiser building yard. I'll have to find out tomorrow who was sleeping on the job out there. Hate to see them bounce...
Today's Totals: BP - 3, (W-3, S-0), Game - 1
Season Totals: BP - 9, (W-7, S-2), Game - 1
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Monday's home opener (April 7) was postponed, thanks to 3 inches of snow on top of an inch of slush. Check out www.ballhawk.com to see some pictures.
Game-time temperature of 28 numbing degrees on Tuesday. Dusty Baker was quick to praise the fans who braved the cold, acknowledging that they probably had a bit of help from a strategically hidden flask here and there, and wishing that he'd brought his own. My kind of manager...
Sammy hit his 500th career home run last week in Cincinnati. Impressive feat, but to the Cub purist, the real milestone homers will be 541 and 542. Those two will be his 512th and 513th in a Cub uniform, tying and breaking Ernie Banks' record for most homers by a Cub. Not sure if the Cub purist will be happy or sad -- as the occasion draws nearer, I'll ask around to some of the old timers and see what they say.
Update: "Butch" tells me they actually had batting practice on Wednesday and 6 baseballs came out (4 on Waveland, 2 on Sheffield).
Today's Totals: BP - 6, (W-4, S-2), Game - 0
Season Totals: BP - 6, (W-4, S-2), Game - 0
Monday, March 31, 2003
And the winner of the 2003 Tuffy Rhodes award for Best Opening Day Performance is... Corey Patterson!
Corey was the hitting star in today's Opening Day victory over the Mets, 15-2. Four hits, two home runs, seven RBIs. Wow! At this rate, at the end of the season he'll end up with 648 hits (MLB record is 257, George Sisler in 1920), 324 home runs (MLB record is 73, Barry Bonds in 2001), and 1134 RBIs (MLB record is 191, Hack Wilson in 1930).
And since we're extrapolating out the wazoo, let me also point out that at this rate, at the end of the season, the Cubs will be 162-0 and in first place. 'Nuff said.
Friday, March 21, 2003
The 2003 Chicago Cubs HOME baseball season officially starts at 1:20 pm (Central) on April 7, with the first pitch from Matt Clement in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. But the 2003 "Ballhawk" baseball season will hopefully have started several hours earlier out on Waveland Ave. with the first crack of the bat during pre-game batting practice. Who will get the first ball hit out of Wrigley Field? Who will get the first game home run? Perhaps more importantly, who's going to make the first error? :-)
Stay tuned as I try to keep a running commentary on the 2003 Cubs season from the corner of Waveland & Kenmore. Could this year finally be the year for the Cubs??? Extremely doubtful, but I'll try to keep things interesting, even after the Cubs are eliminated from the race.