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Ecstasy

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We brought out all the superstitions tonight.

Carole got caught in what she calls "CTA hell"... waiting over half an hour for a bus, with no buses coming. OK, that makes me wonder why she just doesn't start walking toward the ballpark, especially on a gorgeous night like tonight. But she did make the first pitch easily.

I wore my shorts. It's October. We are in the playoffs. And I am wearing shorts.

Incidentally, today is the latest calendar date that there has been baseball at Wrigley Field in my lifetime.

And finally, the one that really did it -- I was waiting in line with a few other people just before gate opening at 5:05. I had my backpack, a newspaper and my Super Big Gulp. As I was trying to open the bag for inspection, I kicked over the drink.

That did it. That's three this year, and it's always good luck, and runs spilled out of the Cubs' batting order just like that drink spilled all over Waveland Avenue, in a fun, rollicking, exciting 12-3 blowout of the Marlins, evening the NLCS at one game each.

It was the first blowout win for the Cubs since the 9-2 pasting they gave to the Brewers back on September 7, and they needed this one big-time after last night's tough loss. This is a way not only for the team to prove to itself that losing a heartbreaker doesn't break them, but to show their opponents that they have no fear.

Mark Prior is the perfect pitcher to do this. He never shows fear, and although he didn't have his best stuff tonight, he didn't really need it, as the Cubs hit early and often, and led by eight after only three innings, chasing starter Brad Penny, which also unleashed a torrent of bad puns from Howard and Jon ("The Marlins are now Penny-less" and when Brian Banks pinch-hit later, "Since they're penniless, they had to go to the Banks." Yes, I yanked on Jon's ponytail for those).

Everyone joined in the fun. Sammy Sosa hit a monstrous home run that clanged off the top of the center-field TV camera hut and then dropped into the juniper bushes. It was indicated on the scoreboard at 495 feet, but I think that's a little overzealous on the part of Gary Pressy, the organist who also doubles as a homer-measuring device. I'd have put that one at about 450 feet.

Aramis Ramirez also launched a rocket into the seats, and Alex Gonzalez, who normally hits well early in the season, must have seen the stat sheet showing he only has five at-bats, and he's started hitting all over again like it's April, hammering two homers. The teams combined for six homers and nearly equaled the record for homers in a postseason game (seven, established way back last night). Mark Prior lost focus for a brief moment and gave up back-to-back homers to Derrek Lee and Miguel Cabrera in the sixth, but apart from that and a double-play-scoring-grounder, that was it for the Marlins today. Personally, I would have lifted Prior an inning earlier, but that's been Dusty's pattern his whole career, to ride his starters harder than necessary. If anyone can handle it, it's Prior.

My dad called in the first inning after an idiot fan interfered with Paul Bako trying to catch a foul popup, saying that the fan should have been ejected. I told him I'd pass that along to security, and in fact I do think the fan was thrown out.

I also ran into Fred, a fellow worker from ABC-7; he had four seats in the bleachers and had been offered $2500 for them today. He turned that down. It's a lot of money, all right, but to miss this? This is what we've all waited our whole lives for.

Sign seen: "My Dad Paid For This Ticket With My Wedding Money". Love it!

Stupid sign seen: "Tim McCarver, Shut Your Mouth". Um, Tim McCarver is doing the Red Sox/Yankees series, not this one.

So, it becomes a best-of-five series, and with Kerry Wood throwing on Friday, I feel confident, confident enough to say to everyone as we left...

"See you Tuesday... or a week from Tuesday."

Three wins to go. I'll report from Miami this weekend. There are quite a few bleacher season ticket holders making the trip, including Mike, who was given a real nice bonus by his boss today -- a plane ticket to Miami. Mike's only been on an airplane a couple of times, and he ought to see this, I think. Bill from Rockford is coming down with some of his family, and Ron, who I hung out with in Puerto Rico, got some really good tickets on eBay, and will also make the trip. I got all the tickets I needed for Friday and Saturday. This will be my first trip to Pro Player Stadium, and will be the eighth ballpark I have seen the Cubs play in this year (Wrigley, the Ballmall, Miller Park, Camden Yards, Skydome, PNC Park, and Hiram Bithorn are the others).

Our journey continues. The best is yet to come.