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Nothing's Ever Easy, Part Deux

Here's how you can tell that playoff time is coming.

No, really.

There's an empty lot I drive by every dayon my way to the game, located at the corner of Racine and Roscoe, which is used as a parking lot for Cubs games by whoever owns it (and whoever owns it is putting it up for auction next month, which means that by next season, there will be expensive condos there).

All season it's been $20 to park there. Today it was $30. In 1998, for the tiebreaker and playoff games that we played at home, people were asking up to $80 for parking near the ballpark, and getting it. I'd expect it to cross the $100 barrier if we get in this year.

What is it about the Reds, who have guys even the Reds fans standing behind us had never heard of, that makes Cub pitchers suddenly give up rope after rope? Juan Cruz struggled through a 99-pitch five-plus inning appearance, and he hit better than he pitched (a triple in the gap where he was absolutely flying around the bases).

But Cub hitters put on their hitting shoes also, and Eric Karros had his biggest day since hitting the game-winner against the Yankees back in June, and the Cubs came from behind yet again, beating the Reds 9-6, with Antonio Alfonseca actually throwing well today, and getting his second win in as many days. At this moment, the Astros lead the Cardinals, but it's only 1-0 in the fourth, and if St. Louis can come back and win, the Cubs will be tied for first.

With his 28th save, Joe Borowski is now tied for sixth in the league (with Braden Looper). Ahead of him are Gagne, Smoltz, Wagner, Worrell and Biddle (who has lost the closer job for the Expos). That's a terrific season. Sure, he's had his blown saves, but every closer does. I admire his personality and perseverance in staying with a baseball career that appeared to have ended a few years ago in the Mexican League; the only reason he signed with the Cubs is that a scout for the club was down there looking at someone else and Joe pitched lights-out.

Other than that, the game was pretty somnolent; it didn't rain, fortunately, but the sky was kind of that early-fall slate-gray, even though the sun came out for an hour or so, the pace of the game (it wound up lasting 3:11) was putting us to sleep. We looked over into the next section and saw Cheryl wearing a funny-nose-glasses with "Go Cubs" written on the nose. And in the ninth inning, a man who was an absolute dead ringer for Dusty Baker appeared, standing behind us. If that's not a sign of good things to come, I don't know what is.


Wrigley Field bleacher policy says that smokers must stay along the back fence; this is still kind of close, but at least they are separated from those of us in the back row by eight feet or so.

Today a guy decided he was going to stand right behind me and blow smoke in my face, despite me asking him nicely twice to please go back to the fence. I had to go get security to ask him, and that began a torrent of obscenities from the guy.

Really -- how hard is this? Most ballclubs have banned smoking entirely except for designated areas; I think the Cubs are doing smokers a big favor by letting them smoke that close to the seats. Anyway, the guy left almost right after he finished his smoke, which only goes to show that so many of these people aren't even watching the game, so why would it be a big deal to restrict smoking to the ramps?

[end rant]

In a public service to any of you who want to try it, click here for a direct link to the Cubs' Division Series ticket sale page; tickets for the first two possible postseason games go on sale at 8 am Central time tomorrow. There are approximately 7,500 seats for each of the two games and they'll probably go in about half an hour. As a season ticket holder I have mine already (paid for last week), so good luck to any of you who want to give this a shot tomorrow morning.