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39,290 People Can't Be Wrong

But they were, at least according to last night's third base umpire, rookie Justin Klemm.

Unfortunately, his was the only opinion that counted on the screaming line drive that Moises Alou hit in the seventh inning of last night's game, with the bases loaded, that would at least have tied the game, and perhaps given the Cubs the lead.

But the 39,290 in attendance knew it was fair, and so did those of you who saw it live on TV (like a certain 8-year-old in my house who was pretty upset about the call), or the replays, which clearly showed the chalk kicking up on the foul line (despite the protestations of Matt Morris, that is not "paint" out there in the grass, it's chalk, and it flakes up when a ball hits it).

So instead, Alou flied out harmlessly, and the Cubs were stuck with a heartbreaking 2-0 loss to the Cardinals in the "nightcap" of what is technically not a doubleheader -- by baseball recordkeeping rules, it's simply a single day game and single night game played on the same day; a doubleheader is defined as two games with a single admission price.

Kerry Wood pitched well enough for his team to win, and should have given up only one run -- the usually reliable Ramon Martinez made two errors on one play, bobbling a bunt and then throwing it away in an attempt to get Tino Martinez trying to go to third; he scored on this all-Martinez play.

You could say that if the Cubs miss the playoffs by one game, that it's because of this obviously botched umpiring call against Alou, but the umpires made a borderline call in favor of the Cubs in the day game, on Albert Pujols dropping a fly ball that he might have actually controlled long enough to catch, and the Cubs scored two runs in that inning, and without that might not have scored all day. These things do tend to even out over a long season; what disturbs me more is that Alou was either provoked or out of frustration, may have spit on an umpire, which would surely lead to suspension. It wasn't clear whether he actually spit, or just yelled a profanity with emphasis, which was the reason he was tossed. Antonio Alfonseca, who was sitting in the bullpen with a clear view of the play, quite definitely did bump an umpire and is likely to be suspended. Some would say "fine", but he has actually thrown well his last couple of times out and the Cubs can't afford to lose anyone right now.

A tremendous "attaboy" to the Cubs' cleanup and security crews, who managed to get everyone out of the ballpark, clean it up a bit, and make it presentable for a new crowd replacing the old one in just a little less than one hour. As I said in my post from yesterday afternoon, I went home for that hour, had a bit of dinner, posted on the day game, and when I returned I ran into Howard, Sue and Jon (just back from California where he briefly considered running for governor), and we all waited in line together, with Jeff saving seats. Jeff is now up to about 20 hours spent at the ballpark in the last two days.

Yesterday might have been the most amazing baseball day in Chicago history, with the White Sox also home, also playing a contender (Boston), and also playing a tense, tough game which they lost 2-1, both Boston runs coming on solo homers, which were the Red Sox' only hits.

95,223 paid to watch baseball in Chicago yesterday, and that's a tribute to how great a baseball city this is, and how great it would be to see the season continue into October this year.

Keep hope alive.