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Starting Over

For the first time since April 6, the Cubs are at .500 after today's dispiriting 9-5 loss to the Braves. It also dropped my personal record in games I've attended to .500, at 27-27 (that's 22-22 at home, 5-5 on the road; I've missed three home games in which the Cubs are 1-2, so they are now under .500 at home, a truly miserable mark).

I did get my first batting-practice ball of the season today. I wish I could tell you I made a great leaping catch on it, but instead, while it was early and the bleachers were pretty empty, I simply walked over where it landed and picked it up. This will be good practice for the HR derby on Monday.

You probably already know about the baserunning collision between Mark Prior and Marcus Giles, which sent Giles to the hospital with a mild concussion. Prior stayed in the game and seemed to be OK, but he blew up in the fifth inning and had his worst outing of the season, throwing 96 pitches in his 4 2/3 innings of work. I have to say, Prior, though a great and smart athlete, was wrong here -- he was right in the way of Giles fielding Mark Grudzielanek's ground ball, and the fielder has the right of way. Prior, obviously, was called out for interference.

Prior now does rank second in the majors to Kerry Wood in strikeouts, 150 to Wood's 156.

Usually when people give me extra tickets to sell, I make the rounds of the bleachers with them. Today, the "Al-Master" service stayed right on the bench, as between people walking up to me and phone calls, I sold five tickets for this weekend's games, as well as my fourth All-Star ticket. Brian will be joining me, my son Mark and my dad, who's coming into town. I went with my dad to the 1984 All-Star game in San Francisco, so it'll be nice to share this year's game here with him.

Jessica finished up her week with us and will be in her terrace season seat this weekend; the Cubs Usenet Newsgroup will be represented tomorrow by Craig. Today was Jon's day to wear the Sausage Race t-shirt; if you haven't seen a copy of USA Today, go get one over the weekend; their articles on the topic were filled with groaner headline puns, which are much more creative than you usually see from the McPaper.

Needless to say, the Cubs must win the next two games if they want to go into the break with any momentum or chance to catch the Cardinals and Astros. I will mention to Tom tomorrow, that usually when he's in town the Cubs tend to split series, so that's probably a good sign.

Finally -- when will Dusty Baker learn that Lenny F. Harris is no longer a major league player? The next time I see his name in the paper, I want to see the words "Unconditionally Released" next to them.