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The Leaving Is The Hardest Part

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The stupidest thing about the flight today to San Juan was that after being all the way out on the runway, fifth in line for takeoff, the pilot announced that we had to go back to the gate because "we left about 20 bags behind."

That done, we arrived in Puerto Rico about half an hour late, and (SHHH! Don't tell the airlines!) before we even got to the gate I had to turn on my web cellphone to find out if the Cubs had won (they were leading 3-0 when the flight took off).

Sure enough, they had completed their 9-2 win over the Brewers, sweeping the series and winning all seven games in Milwaukee this year, but the webphone had the Houston/San Diego game in the 9th, with the Padres leading 7-1, and it wouldn't update!

Finally, the Padres completed the 7-1 win over the Astros, putting the Cubs in first place by half a game with 20 games remaining, which is (for the moment) also the magic number. There's a day off for the ballclub here in Puerto Rico tomorrow, while the Astros take on the Brewers in Milwaukee, and we hope that the Brew Crew suddenly remembers what it's like to be the hottest team in baseball, which is what they were before the Cubs cooled them off. Meanwhile, the Cubs have won five in a row, equalling their longest winning streak of the year, and at 76-67 they are nine over .500, also equalling the high-water mark of the season. With Carlos Zambrano scheduled to throw tomorrow here in San Juan, I have high hopes that the streak can be continued.

I went out for a walk briefly after checking in, and discovered what life in the tropics is like. It literally poured... for about two minutes, then stopped, then did it again about 20 minutes later. Interesting living. Other than that, so far it seems pretty much like any other large American city, only everything's in Spanish.

Tomorrow five of us are taking a trip to El Yunque, the only rainforest on US soil. P.S. Thanks to Chris for letting me borrow her laptop to make this post!

Three weeks to go. Hope is nervous, but happy tonight.