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Two Days Till The End Of The World

MIAMI -- I spent a tremendous amount of money on tickets for these games, and it wound up being even more when I had to eat one ticket; I had three extras because I thought more people were coming, but so many of my friends couldn't get on flights.

It was worth every penny.

Mike and I agreed, and between the two of us we have been at literally thousands of baseball games -- this was probably the single greatest game we have ever attended in person.

In front of a rocking, loud crowd of 65,115 which included at least 15,000 Cub fans, the Cubs beat the Marlins in a -- well, I have no superlatives for this -- 5-4, 11-inning game which gave them a 2-1 lead in the NLCS and put them two wins from the World Series for the first time since 1984.

Before I describe our emotions during the game -- and it's a good thing this isn't a talking blog because my voice is pretty well gone -- let me tell you about my attempt to sell the extra tickets.

One guy bought two right away, and he and his friend sat with us. They got pretty drunk (they were Cub fans, of course), and somehow they decided to leave in the eighth inning. I was actually amazed at the number of people who left this tense game after nine innings. Maybe they all figured Bud Selig was going to call it a tie. About 10% of the crowd, I'd say, didn't stay till the 12:35 am ET ending, but I'd also say not a single Cub fan left.

I see I'm digressing. In my travels around the parking lot to try to sell the other ticket, I met a cool Cub fan from Ft. Myers Beach who had driven down, and offered me a grilled sausage from his grill -- it was really good! He didn't buy the ticket but might buy some of the three extras I have for tomorrow -- say, if you want them, e-mail me!

Pro Player Stadium is huge. This is my first trip here, and it is so much better designed for football. The ramps and signage are somewhat confusing, and I didn't get to my seat until about half an hour before game time, so my trip around the park will have to wait for tomorrow or Sunday. I did have a chicken sandwich which was decent, and I'll try some of the other ballpark food later on. The seats in the RF corner were OK, and that was the side that most of the Cub fans were on, and we were loud -- I hope that came across as well on TV as it did in person. That has to be the largest group of visiting fans at any league championship series game ever. I will say something about Pro Player -- that it was surprisingly easy to get out of the parking lot. The main lots were filled, two hours to game time, so we had to park across the street, which actually was a good thing, because one right turn out of the lot and we were on I-95 going south to the hotel.

Two fans were overcome in our section and had to be carried out by paramedics. I have no idea if it was the baseball, or something else. Hopefully, they'll be OK.

In the tenth inning, a fight broke out across the aisle from us, and I have to say, stadium security took its time getting there, and it was only after dozens of people pointed out the culprit, that they took away the right guy. For the most part, though the Marlins fans waved the white towels they were given when we came in (Jessica spent the day tying hers in knots), they just didn't seem as into the game as we were at Wrigley Field.

By the way, tonight's game broke a long losing streak for me. Before today, I had attended five Cub postseason road games (2 in San Diego in 1984, 3 in San Francisco in 1989) -- all losses.

So you see, cosmic things are happening.

And I trotted out something I usually save for desperate situations -- when Doug Glanville came up to pinch-hit, I said: "If you never get another hit the rest of your life, get one now!" He did. Jessica could barely watch the bottom of the 11th, and Mike Remlinger had to get four outs when Paul Bako dropped a third strike, and almost had to get a fifth out when Aramis Ramirez bobbled Derrek Lee's grounder, only to have Luis Castillo caught in a rundown.

This was the game the Cubs had to win, with Kerry Wood going, and Wood was a mere mortal tonight, throwing well but throwing one really bad pitch, the one that Ivan Rodriguez inside-outed to right field to drive in the go-ahead run. But after that, there were so many Cub heroes. Kyle Farnsworth threw well. Randall Simon (my friend Phil would say: "Randall Simon: Professional Hitter") hit a two-run homer. And finally, Glanville and Remlinger (who got his first save in more than three years).

We wouldn't have cared if the game ended at four in the morning, as long as the result was as it was. That's where playoff baseball can take you -- to the heights, or to the depths. Tonight, we are soaring, and it is now nearly 2 am, and in some ways I don't want to sleep, I just want to savor this night, the night of one of the most dramatic wins in 127 years of Cub history.

Of a St. Louis Cardinal playoff win, the late Jack Buck once said, "Go crazy, folks, go crazy!" We did.

And in two days, we hope we will again.