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I Should Have Known Better...

WASHINGTON, DC -- It used to be a running joke. Every time I took my wife Alison to a ballgame, it rained. No, not rained, stormed. Huge storms. It happened at the Cubs' first night game in 1988; at the All-Star Game in 1990, and a couple others before we gave up.

So I should have known that taking both her and both of my kids last night would have resulted in a thunderstorm, and that's exactly what happened at the end of the 8th inning.

But before the game report, yesterday's travelogue.

My friend David picked us up and drove us over to Annapolis, capital of Maryland and home of the US Naval Academy. It was nothing like I expected... it's almost a small colonial-era town, yes, with the requisite fudge and cheap, tacky souvenir shops. But there's also a very nice harborfront, which I had forgotten was also the place where Alex Haley began and ended his search for "Roots" -- there's a memorial right at the harbor where the slave ships used to dock over 200 years ago. We saw the Maryland State Capitol, which has the largest wooden dome in the country constructed without nails. Then we walked around the grounds of the Naval Academy -- as David pointed out, in what other country would they let you wander about freely at a place where they train naval officers? -- it's quite beautiful, and we also saw the crypt of Admiral John Paul Jones, Revolutionary War hero. Lots of school groups walking around, as it seems to be field-trip time of year.

And now, back to baseball.

The Cubs' fourth win in a row, 7-6 over the Orioles, wasn't nearly as close as that score. Matt Clement gave up two earned runs in six innings, and they probably shouldn't have been earned -- a ball that should have been caught was muffed by David Kelton, allowing the two runs to score, and Jay Gibbons got a hit on the play, a play that most major league left fielders would have made easily. Frankly, I question Dusty's choice in playing Kelton in LF and DH'ing Moises Alou -- I think it should have been done the other way.

Just before it started pouring, the Cubs bullpen was starting to implode -- I always worry when Antonio Alfonseca comes in, and he wasn't very good, giving up a walk and a hit; then Mark Guthrie came in and gave up another hit, and finally, with the rain absolutely pouring down, Joe Borowski struck out Geronimo Gil to end the rally.

We left. OK, normally I wouldn't leave, but: I had two tired little kids with me (and in fact, Mark had a little meltdown when the game started and he wound up sitting behind a very large person, and he couldn't see. He could have switched seats but didn't, so he just sat there kind of sulking for three innings. I think he just had a very long day. Meanwhile, Rachel, who doesn't care about baseball, had a great time, throwing 23 MPH at the speed pitch booth)... and we were taking a bus back to DC, and weren't sure if the bus was going to wait around for the end of the game, and it seemed to be raining hard enough that they might have just called the game.

Turned out the timing was pretty good, because the rain delay was nearly two hours, and by the time we got back they were just about ready to finish the ninth inning, which I watched comfortably on TV (the game being on local cable).

The crowd was about 4,000 smaller than the night before and I'm not sure whether that was due to Sammy's suspension (I officially pronounce myself surprised that it happened before the Cubs hit Toronto), or due to the threat of thunderstorms, which exists again for tonight's game. I've seen enough rain this season to last me about five years. At least in Toronto, despite the artificial turf that I dislike, there's no threat of rainouts at Skydome.

We'll be leaving fairly early in the morning for Toronto; if I have a chance tonight or early tomorrow to write, I will, otherwise it'll have to wait till tomorrow afternoon. I still can't get my wireless card in my laptop to work (in fact, if any of you know why I'd be getting the message "Network cable unplugged" on a wireless card, please e-mail me!), so I'm on the B&B's dialup line (and man, am I spoiled by high-speed connections! Dialup is SLOW!)