Last March, the Cubs signed an 18-year-old Korean named Jim-Young Kim, a righthanded pitcher. According to this cubs.com article, he had a bullpen session at Wrigley Field last night in front of Larry Rothschild and will be heading off to instructional league this fall.
The article also notes that Kim's uncle is the assistant pastor at Hebron Korean Church. About 1,400 congregants from the church in this small town near the Illinois-Wisconsin line made the trip to Wrigley Field last night to watch Kim's bullpen session and stayed for the game.
I say "stayed for the game" because a large number of these people wound up in our part of the bleachers during the game last night. They didn't actually watch the game -- not one of them. Standing, yakking, laughing, but not paying the least bit of attention to the Cubs' 7-3 loss to the Astros, despite repeated entreaties from crowd control to, at the very least, sit down so others could watch.
Not that there was much worth watching. The Cubs and Carlos Silva, just back off the DL, gave up a run in the first inning and then took the lead back 2-1 in the bottom of the inning. That was the extent of any Cub participation in actually looking like they could come back and win the game.
In the second inning, Houston's Brett Wallace hit his first major league home run into the shrubbery in center field and that started a hit parade that made it 4-2 Astros. The Cubs cut it to 4-3 in the third, but that was as close as it got. As Houston extended their lead to 6-3 off Silva -- who didn't pitch all that badly, considering a month of rust -- and then to 7-3 off Scott Maine, the main entertainment on a windy night was wondering whether Michael Bourn would hit for the cycle.
Bourn had led off the game with a triple, then doubled and singled and had two more chances. Those resulted in a sacrifice fly for the final Houston run and a strikeout. We almost got to see something extremely rare over the last four years -- a three-inning Cubs relief appearance. Thomas Diamond threw two perfect innings and was probably going to be allowed to finish the game, except Brian Bogusevic, leading off the ninth, reached on catcher's interference. That brought Mike Quade out, and James Russell finished up. Quade strides quickly out of the dugout in a purposeful walk to the mound; you know he's made up his mind before he even gets there.
Brad Snyder made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter for Maine after 845 minor league games and 3500 minor league plate appearances; he hit 124 home runs in eight minor league seasons. Astros reliever Tim Byrdak struck him out. Speaking of Byrdak, as a lefthander he had not been permitted, in five previous appearances vs. the Cubs this year, to face Marlon Byrd. Last night, with both teams far out of contention, Astros manager Brad Mills allowed the first Byrd vs. Byrdak confrontation, which resulted in a fly ball to center field.
About 300 or so gathered at the corner of Addison & Sheffield before the game to watch the unveiling of the statue honoring Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams. Here's a view I took from inside the ballpark; that's Ron Santo at the podium speaking. Here's more on the statue including some video.
Finally, although last night's crowd was announced as 31,596 paid, there couldn't have been half that many inside the park, including the 1,400 Koreans. That makes the season total 2,807,294, which means the Cubs must average 27,529 over the seven remaining dates to draw three million. That seems likely with the Cardinals coming to town to end the home season, but there won't be even 15,000 in the ballpark tonight, on a cool night with no ceremony and no young phenom Asian pitcher to watch.