Ass Whuppin'

Yeah, I know, this is usually a family blog, but how else could you describe today's 14-6 Cub annihilation of the World Champion Red Sox at Wrigley Field?

The Cubs hit four home runs today -- after a batting practice in which ball after ball sailed onto the streets, and one BP ball zinged past Jeff's head while neither one of us was paying attention. That one hit the concrete right beneath the back fence and bounced all the way back onto the field. But none of the Cub homers -- and none of the three Red Sox dingers, either -- needed any help from the wind blowing out.

Where on Earth did all these Red Sox fans come from? I know they won the World Series and all, but there were probably more of them at the Yard today than there are Cardinal fans when the Redbirds come up from St. Louis. They were dressed in all sorts of Red Sox garb -- World Championship caps, one guy in a green Red Sox Jason Varitek jersey (that one looked odd), a Carl Yastrzemski T-shirt, just about anything red.

These people must have been the ones buying all the tickets at premium prices that Cub fans wouldn't buy. And though they started a few "Let's Go Red Sox" chants, all of which were quickly drowned out, mostly they just sat on their hands as the Cubs blasted their pitching staff for twenty hits.

One somewhat drunk Red Sox fan walked down our aisle in the middle innings, spotted one of his compatriots and said out loud, "This really blows!" Then he saw he was surrounded by Cub fans and he continued, "And the Yankees really suck!"

To which he was treated to a loud round of applause. There is something Cub and Red Sox fans (and fans of 27 other teams, too) share.

Everyone hit today. Jeromy Burnitz hit two homers. Todd Hollandsworth started -- we figured it was a matchup thing again -- and he sent a long bomb onto the street, and also doubled in the three-run seventh. Even Greg Maddux got into the action, hitting his first home run since May 30, 1999, and his first Cub home run since 1992. As he was rounding second base he gave a look toward the left field bleachers as if to say, "I saw it, but I still don't believe it went out."

The game-time temperature was 89 and it was even stickier than it was on Wednesday, and that, perhaps even more than the wind, was the reason for the offensive onslaught. Mike and I discussed this at length during the game, and we agreed that this team looks completely different from the way it was when they were losing. Part of the reason could be the warm weather -- maybe these guys are warm-weather hitters. If so, they ought to enjoy the rest of the homestand.

The Red Sox were never in the game, even when scoring a run in the top of the third to cut the lead to 3-1. Neifi Perez nearly made a spectacular play, backhanding a ball with Bill Mueller on third and then dropping it, allowing Edgar Renteria to be safe at first and the run to score. Dave said that a major leaguer has to make that play, not drop the ball, but I'll give Neifi! some slack because he made a great effort even getting to the ball.

By the bottom of the inning the game was essentially over, as the Cubs pounded four straight singles and one out later, a double off Bronson Arroyo. I was astounded that Terry Francona left him in as long as he did -- he threw 97 pitches in the humidity to get twelve outs, but after the Red Sox bullpen did what they did, maybe it's not so surprising.

David Ortiz hit two homers, the first one of which landed about a section over toward right-center from us and was grabbed by a Red Sox fan, who was booed when he didn't throw it on the field.

Hey -- think about it. The Red Sox' first home run ever in Wrigley Field? You think I'd throw that back? No way. (I'd use my throwback ball, thankyouverymuch.) That ball might be on eBay by the end of the evening.

Ortiz' second homer, a consolation shot in the ninth off Cliff Bartosh, sailed across Sheffield and hit one of the rooftop club buildings. The three runs Bartosh allowed weren't surprising, considering he hasn't pitched in six days. This is yet another reason the Cubs simply don't need a twelve-man pitching staff.

But the way the staff has hung in there without Kerry Wood and Mark Prior -- this gives good reason for optimism, because it appears Wood may be back by the end of June, and Prior maybe after the All-Star break, and Jim Hendry always has a significant deal up his sleeve near the trading deadline (we all agreed -- a left fielder is tops on the shopping list), and the Cubs are now 19-9 in their last 28, and 10-3 since the Prior injury, which I think energized them in a way they had never been earlier in the season.

So, this was a good day, and in listening to WGN radio on the way home, there were the typical worriers ("Can't we save some of these runs for tomorrow?"). But each game is a discrete entity -- you can't do that, of course, but I feel pretty good about tomorrow's game with Carlos Zambrano going. He ought to be pretty pumped -- if you can't get psyched for this series, there's something wrong with you.

I'm going to give today's last word to Mike. Till tomorrow.



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