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Throw It Back!

If you were watching the game today on Fox, you saw me and our little group, because Rafael Furcal's third-inning homer landed among us, the first HR up in our section in about five years.

Now I'll let you in on a little secret. For two years I've kept a ball in my backpack, one I got in BP years ago, inscribed "THIS IS NOT THE HR BALL. THIS IS A THROWBACK BALL, COURTESY RF BLEACHERS". Been just waiting for the chance to use it. Jon grabbed the HR ball (got a scrape on his hand, after it bounced off Tom's right hand), I quickly grabbed the throwback ball out of my bag, we switched the balls and Jon threw the throwback ball back on the field. We watched the bullpen pitchers, who usually are the recipients of such balls, all examine it and then start looking out at us.

We figure this ball will be on exhibit at the All-Star FanFest by tomorrow. I'll be there tomorrow, so will look for it, and also report on the Fest here sometime late tomorrow or Monday.

As for the rest of the Cubs' decisive 7-3 win over the Braves, it was as big a blowout for the Cubs as the last two days have been against them. Five extra-base hits including another HR for Sammy Sosa (OK, into the basket, but with the wind blowing in, that'd have been an easy HR any other day), in a six-run fourth, did in Horacio Ramirez. And Matt Clement threw one of his best games of the year; Furcal's HR was really his only major mistake, as the other two runs were partly because of a Ramon Martinez error. Clement threw an efficient 99 pitches, with no walks, in his eight innings, and if the Cubs are to go anywhere in the second half, a recovery by Clement to 2002 form is critical.

I was a bit puzzled by Dusty's use of Joe Borowski in a non-save situation in the 9th, especially since:

a) closers tend not to do well in non-save situations;
b) Borowski threw an inning yesterday;
c) Dave Veres had been warming up and actually could have used the work.

But it worked out OK.

Jose Hernandez played CF for the first time in two years, and doubled and walked. I suspect we may see more of this, but I don't think I'd do it on a regular basis. If the Cubs decide over the break that they're still in this, which I think they are in the Comedy Central, they ought to go out and get some hitters to complement what still is the best pitching staff in the division.

I had arranged to get Sue's extra tickets to Brian (a different Brian, FWIW) and his brother-in-law and son for today, and I was going to get them from Sue and then meet Brian. Once the gates opened I figured, why not just have them contact each other and meet, which they did. I tell you, this ticket-arranging thing can get to be almost a fulltime job! That, plus saving fifteen seats, kept Jeff & me busy for most of the pre-game time.

It was as perfect a day as you can find. The weather was gorgeous, sunny and upper 70's; the Cubs won and played sound fundamental baseball, and in addition to all the other people joining us, Craig from the Cubs Usenet newsgroup was also there, his first time in the bleachers in nearly 20 years. I told him that with the win, he has to come out there more often. Click on the link above to read his report on our afternoon, in the newsgroup itself.

Now, to spend the evening rooting for Pittsburgh and San Diego.