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And Now For Something Completely Different

(title changed from "Well, That Was Different" due to the Monty Python-esque nature of the game)

Not today's game, but where we all watched the game. Brian's bachelor party continued this afternoon... in Skybox (or properly, Mezzanine Suite) #62 along the RF line. So Brian, his dad Dave, his brothers Jake & Kevin (who were the hosts), and Mike, Phil, Jeff, Howard and I, gave up our bleacher perch today to sit with about 20 other friends of Brian's, and see the game from a different angle.

On the way out I said to Mike, "Well, they lost. Now we can't come back up here again."

Once again, I'm starting at the end of a hugely disappointing 10-inning loss to the Reds, as they paid us back for Friday (more on that later), 11-10.

First, naturally, Jake was late showing up with the tickets, so we were standing on the corner waiting for him, catching a bit of the 76-degree sunshine, and then the five of us (me, Mike, Jeff, Howard and Phil) walked in through gate F, directly opposite where we usually go in, at Clark & Addison.

We were like five little kids who were in a new candy store, standing behind the field box seats, just looking around. It's probably been three or four years since I'd been over there, and Phil said the last time he was on the other side of the park was the 1989 playoffs.

From the bleachers, you can't really see the plexiglas shields they have put on either side of the screen in front of the new dugout seats. Also, the angle of the wall there, next to the dugout, looks completely different up close -- from the bleachers it appears to be almost a 90-degree angle, but when you walk up near it and look, the angle is much more gentle.

Other differences: they've replaced several thousand seats in the last few years, with new-style seat number plates; we walked over to the foul line and were standing again behind the field boxes when an usher actually asked us if we wanted to go stand by the wall. A bit surprised, we did go down there, though all everyone was doing was trying to get the autograph of the Reds' Phil Norton.

Having seen all we wanted to, we trooped up the ramps to the skybox level. Mike said it looked like the hotel corridor where we stayed in Miami. I agreed, only to add, "but it has nicer carpeting."

The food is catered by Levy Restaurants, which also does the United Center suites and the food at the Ravinia festival, and though there was ballpark fare like hot dogs, there was also a large deli sandwich sliced into about a dozen pieces, and then a dessert cart came by. OK, I shouldn't have, but I indulged in a chocolate chip cookie. Special occasion, you know.

The seats are... well, they're awfully close together. This box is called the "Double Play" box, twice as large as most, and it has 30 seats in 3 rows, but there's hardly any knee room, and though they are nice and padded, we all felt kind of scrunched in. Phil, of course, sat there trying to rebuild the ballpark's architecture.

The view's nice, although it's hard for me to pick up pitches since I'm so used to looking at them from a different angle. It's also easy to see how everyone on that side of the park thinks every fly ball is a home run. The place looks much smaller from that perspective.

And they really do cut off TV replays of what might be controversial plays on the monitors in the box. There were some close plays shown, but not the real iffy ones, and there was at least one that was blatantly missed by C. B. Bucknor at second base today.

Was it fun? Sure. Would I do it again? Probably not, not even if I could afford my own box. I like the bleachers, the sunshine (naturally, it was the warmest day of the year so far, 25 degrees above normal), and my friends out there.

They all shared this frustrating loss with me, and of course, part of the day was caused by the wind, though I don't think any of the seven homers were wind-aided. Greg Maddux has got to start throwing strikes -- that's always been the hallmark of his career, and in three starts he's been uncharacteristically wild, hitting another batter today, though he only walked two, he was constantly behind hitters, not something he usually does.

Sammy Sosa, as you probably know, broke Ernie Banks' club record for homers with his 513th as a Cub, in the first, then extended the record in the third. Mike, who has known Dave for 30 years, asked him if he ever thought Banks' record would be broken, and he said no. Dave doesn't stand up and applaud very often, but he did so for this record.

But Dave was also very critical of Corey Patterson's play today; even though Patterson had two hits, he had four really bad at-bats and wasn't very selective at the plate today, and didn't play Juan Castro's triple very well off the wall.

Moises Alou, still on fire, got three-fourths of the cycle, missing only the single, and had two chances to get it, lining to right in the 8th and reaching on a dropped third strike in the 10th.

But the worst thing about today's game was what I thought was a terrible baserunning choice by Todd Hollandsworth, who had reached on a pinch-hit single in the bottom of the 9th. Jose Macias followed with a bloop single to left, and with the play right in front of him, Hollandsworth tried to take third, and was thrown out easily. So instead of having runners on first and second with one out, there was only a runner on second with two out.

I also quibble with Dusty Baker's choice of pinch-hitters. Instead of pinch-hitting Hollandsworth leading off the inning for Kyle Farnsworth, he pinch-hit Jose Macias. Macias made an easy out, and even though Hollandsworth did get a hit batting for Paul Bako, that forced Baker to use Michael Barrett, and of course the Reds started running on him in the 10th. Besides that, Bako had two hits today (his first hits of the season), and hits the Reds like crazy (he hit .381 against them last year and is 22-for-65 against them since 2001, including today). In fact, I'd start Bako again tomorrow.

It's only one game, I keep telling myself. There have been twelve games played, and look what a pretty good team like the Mariners have started out with -- a 3-8 record.

I'm going to end this post with an e-mail I got from Carole, which bore the subject line "boooooooooooooooooooooooboooooooooooooooobooooooooooo":

Well you sure got your money's worth in the skybox today. Too bad it didn't come out the right way.

I can't take a year's worth of these games. In August I let myself start thinking about the possibilities. In Sept. I start to believe & then these games make me crazy.

But, dammit, I believe NOW & will lose my mind or have to move to Alaska if it is like this all year.

I'm not worried, yet. It was a good sign the way Farnsworth pitched today. Let's hope he's tracked.

I still stand by what I said about Maddux. He is a concern. I'm more worried about Borowski but at least we have Hawkins. Come back soon Remlinger.

They had a cute stat before the game yesterday.

They called it 'Freaky Fridays.' They compared the last 2 Friday games:

Hollandsworth pinch hit homer: check
Trailing after 8 inn.: check
game tying homer: check
Cubs victory: check

I though it was cute anyway. For a Chip thing especially. Dork. "Look, I'm
in the dictionary -- d-o-r-k." Duh, that's right Chipper.

I know that someone at WGN must have read my post from Friday and stole the heading for that graphic. It's OK. I hope next Friday is a more calm and ordinary game, anyway.

Sight seen (on the TV monitor in the skybox): A very large man, shirtless, who had "I ATE BARTMAN" painted on his chest.

Stupid, but give him points for originality.