Friday, August 5, 2011

8/5/11 Cincinnati Reds 3, Chicago Cubs 4

Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Game 1 of 3

…a game that will go down in history as

This marvelous “Tony the Blur” Cubs Error card courtesy of The Heckler, via this great post.

My only trip to “hallowed ground” Wrigley Field this year; thanks once again to my friend Bill H, who was generous enough to share his company’s season ticket seats today with me, our great pal Ranny, and my esteemed brother-in-law Mark (you know him from the BIL Tour we did in 2009 and 2010, sadly taking this year off). Also, just like last year, we are here to see the Cubs take on the Reds. Last year’s visit didn’t go so well…absolutely GREAT time, yes, but a Reds shutout of the Cubs, ewwwww…I’m here today confident that the Cubs will WIN and I will be able to hear (and sing along with) the song we all love to hear…

And hey, Cubs…let’s get things running hot right away, instead of waiting until the latter innings to do so. A leadoff single by Starlin Castro brings Tony Campana at bat, who at first squares to bunt for a ball, looks at another outside pitch from Mike Leake, and then the inexplicable happens…Campana gears up an opposite-field scorching grounder to bounce around the left field corner. Yonder Alonso is suddenly lost back there, jumping and flipping around, fidgeting for Campana’s biscuit…Castro barely crosses home plate before Campana screeches across for a standing up INSIDE THE PARK HOME RUN, Campana’s first career HR and, of course, he was nothing less than a friggin’ blur cruising around the basepaths. If you watch the clip, you can just barely spot me in the stands, with my clipboard in the air, chugging Oxygen the whole time.

Now, I have to be straight with you, my friends…after rubbing my eyes in disbelief after this occurrence, and also after having seen Yonder Alonso in Louisville with the Bats for about a year-and-a-half, my first inclination as a scorekeeper was to score this as a Hit and an Error, charged to Alonso. Before you throw fruit, just look at the replay again…the corners at Wrigley can be difficult to negotiate, but where was Alonso’s brain and/or reflexes while that ball was bouncing around like that? My first thought was, “you chump, you should have been able to at least hold Campana to a triple!” The guy behind me asked “how would you score that?” and I told him what I just shared with you, and he frankly commented “OK, sure…but what about home field advantage? [wink]” Yes, how about it…good point, bro. Ultimately, I considered Tony Campana advantage…that dude is really that darn fast, so I reversed my initial knee-jerk judgement and went with the ITP homer. I still feel I have to go on record as saying…”Yonder Alonso, what were you thinking??” UPDATE PUNCHLINE: The very next day, Alonso would again commit a costly mishandling of the ball down the line…this time his acrobatics were blamed on his stepping on a sprinkler head out there. Really???

This fantastic round trip with less than 10 minutes on the clock was a formidable pre-late innings rally for the Cubbies, and they continued their damage against the Reds with a Tyler Colvin lead-off solo HR in the 2nd and a marvelous insurance run scored by Starlin Castro on a Carlos Peña SAC fly in the 7th.

Dempster shook it up a little bit, but was fortunately facing this year’s Mike Leake (who is not last year’s Mike Leake) and with Campana’s offensive boost early on…the Cubs had a great deal to be proud of today.

Oh yeah, and Campana kept up his great game with a spectacult “Ivy Grab” in the 7th to kill a potential XBH for Brandon Phillips. In typical Marmolian fashion, the top of the 9th had me reaching for my Pepto Bismol and Tums cocktail as Carlos Marmol did his usual “enter with a Save attempt, make a great effort at blowing that opportunity, and then somehow come out smelling like a rose.” If you aren’t a Cubs fan, just ask any of us. Pitch for pitch, our Closer can make one sicker to their stomach than any other Closer you got in the major leagues. For real.

One of my favorite highlights from the game (that I unfortunately did not capture on camera, but have burned into my memory forever) was Joey Votto’s pure disgust in being struck out by Marmol in the 9th. Like the true 6th grader that he strives to resemble in terms of character, Votto slammed his bat in the brickdust in contempt, in the same way a pimply teenage would. Reds fans, don’t get me wrong, but this is what Joey Votto wants. He doesn’t hate the Cubs, he just hates Cubs fans. Feh.

What a great game. CUBS WIN. I love this team, I love this place. Enough with my half-analysis…let’s get on with the photos!!! A fantastic visit, a fantastic day! Thanks to Bill for the opportunity, and to Ranny and Mark for sharing their time with us.

…and thank you, Dr Shelley, for hosting the ‘real quick’ tour of Marina City for my friends and for the beers and camaraderie…you’re too generous!!

The greatest place in the WORLD…Wrigleyville before the game! (Photo taken in front of Sports Corner)

Ranny, Mark, and Bill at the Cubby Bear before the game

Let’s score the game with The Baseball Enthusiast!!...a boy with his ultra-green clipboard and a few Old Style beers

My posse (L to R: Stevo-sama, Bill, Mark, and Ranny) in our great seats (228-3-8)…note the multi-tasking scorekeeper!

Starlin Castro at bat

Carlos Peña at bat

Right Field stands, from our seats

Closeup featuring the old Torco sign with today’s Miller Lite banner

Jay Bruce at bat, hoping that for today only he is unable to help out my Fantasy team

Ramon Hernandez faces Ryan Dempster, Yonder Alonso on deck

Is this a Cubs game or a Bats game? Of course I know the difference, but Todd Frazier is playing today, so here are a few obligatory Todd Frazier photos

Todd walks in the 4th inning and reaches 1B

Todd approaches the plate in the 6th inning

Dempster delivers the pitch that Todd held back on for Ball Four, his second consecutive free pass today

Yonder Alonso faces Ryan Dempster in the 6th inning

Alfonso Soriano faces Mike Leake in the bottom of the 6th with 2 on and no outs (Soriano magnificently grounds out to 3B)

The beautiful Wrigley Scoreboard during Soriano’s at bat…long may it stay there!!

Starlin Castro at bat in the 7th

Tony Campana at bat in the 7th, still standing after rounding the bases in the 1st!

Tony squares up to bunt

Tony looks at a strike from Jose Arredondo…surprise surprise, on the next pitch he sends a screamer into left center to score Castro!

Carlos Peña faces the bionic man, LHP Bill Bray, with 2 on and nobody out

The Center Field stands and Scoreboard during Peña’s at bat

Soriano faces the high-back-leg-kicking righty reliever Logan Ondrusek

“Kid K” Kerry Wood warms up in the 8th inning

Ramon Hernandez vs. Kerry Wood; Ramon wins with a solo HR to left field

Yonder Alonso looks at a Kerry Wood fastball for a strike

Koyie Hill faces the Cuban MISSile Crisis himself, LHP Aroldis Chapman, in the 8th inning and strikes out swinging

DAR-win! BAR-ney! *clap clap clapclapclap*

Good eye, buddy…take your base!! Chapman walks Barney after 2 back-to-back swinging strikeouts

Starlin Castro faces Chapman; with one swing (this one) he belts a single between first and second

Castro at 1B, Barney at 2B

Carlos Marmol with a Save opportunity…I think that’s Ramon Hernandez again

CUBS WIN!!, here’s a ‘designed shot’ of the Scoreboard during “Go Cubs Go,” where the verse ”to be the BEST in the National League” is displayed…

Final Score, bleachers emptying…

Bill, Stevo-sama, and Ranny – mugshot near the visitors’ dugout

Bill, Stevo-sama (with Heavy Metal fist-pose), Ranny, and Mark…game’s over, let’s go get a BEER!! Go CUBS!!

Today’s issue of VineLine, the Official Magazine/Program and Scorecard of the Chicago Cubs…Darwin Barney on the cover! w00t!

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