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Who Wants To Be In Pictures?

So I get up to the gate at my usual time and there are literally thousands of people in line, and I figure, "uh-oh, these are people who have been out drinking all day, and they're just waiting to drink some more."

I had forgotten it was Photo Day, where you can go on the field and swarm around Cub players and attempt to point out to your friends that the little speck of blue in the background really is Derrek Lee. I didn't bring my camera (but always have my camera phone; more on that later), so I didn't bother. Phil wanted to go on the field (after his disappointment when the wind blew over his Super Big Gulp -- I tried to grab it but failed, and this proves that anyone in our group can spill over a drink and the Cubs win as a result) but I was busy checking the radar on the phone, so he couldn't borrow it, and we wound up both sitting there watching, among other things, two people parade by us holding up a sign saying "Right Field Sucks". Creative, at least.

About 30 minutes after the gates opened, when the line outside was still almost half a block long, we suddenly heard booing coming from behind us. Phil & I turned around and saw a busload of Cardinals fans walking down Sheffield -- and the entire line was booing them, yelling "Hey! I-55 is that way!" Too funny.

When Mike got to the ballpark it started pouring. No, that wasn't his fault, but it was weird -- a 15-minute storm in bright sunshine. We could not figure out where it was coming from. After that it cleared out and though breezy, it began as a pleasant evening.

It got pleasanter (is that a word?) in the bottom of the first when Aramis Ramirez smacked a three-run homer, and with Michael Barrett's subsequent RBI double, the Cubs made up for Matt Clement's wildness in the first inning, when two walks led to a St. Louis run. Mike commented that he didn't think four runs would win the game, and with the wind blowing out, I agreed.

We were wrong. Clement settled down and allowed only two more hits -- solo homers by Albert Pujols (that ball is somewhere in orbit) and Scott Rolen, and LaTroy Hawkins and Joe Borowski slammed the door and the Cubs hung on to win 4-3 and take another exciting series from the Cardinals.

At the end of the game Borowski struck out Jim Edmonds on a pitch reminiscent of the way he struck him out last September in that pulsating 8-7 Cub win in the middle of the 5-game series. This was just after he somehow got away with throwing three straight changeups to Pujols (who originally wasn't even going to play tonight, having hurt his hip flexor yesterday), but Pujols just got under the third one and hit a lazy fly to left, and the final out was a fly ball to Corey Patterson, who must have listened to Dave, because he was playing relatively shallow and actually backed up on the ball to catch it.

Phil didn't want Borowski in the game, but if he's your closer, and he still is, you have to do this -- if you don't, and this was clearly his situation, that wrecks his confidence, which I think is just starting to return. His 11-pitch outing tonight was very much like all his saves last year... with the caveat that the velocity is still down. Nevertheless, if he can keep locating those slower pitches where he wants them, and he did tonight, he'll continue to be successful.

In about the third inning it started getting ... well, the sky turned some awfully strange and interesting colors, and the radar on my phone showed a storm that looked like it was headed straight at us. Jeff had gone to the bathroom and came back and reported that a guy was on the phone saying to a friend, "You mean there's no way it's gonna miss us?"

It missed us. Brian called from the Southwest Side to say it was pouring, with heavy rain, wind and lightning, and he wasn't going to come. He should have -- it stayed totally dry after the pre-game shower, but the sky was absolutely amazing, and here's what I took with the camera phone:



I've never seen a sky quite like that, at Wrigley Field or anywhere else, and with the ballpark in the foreground, those are two pretty spectacular-looking pictures, if I do say so myself, even taken with a camera phone.

It was right after I finished taking the pictures that I somehow, in sitting down, managed to stab myself in my left leg with my pencil.

Don't worry, I'm fine. Seriously.

There have been paramedics stationed at our stairwell all year -- apparently a new MLB edict. Tonight, my little stabbing incident actually gave them something to do -- I had them go get me a couple of bandaids. All is well, though it hurt like heck for an inning or two.

Jeff finally figured out how to use the light-up cap tonight. Not only does it have to be turned on only during Cub at-bats, and off during visitor at-bats, but it also has to be turned backwards during visitor at-bats. This worked like a charm.

With Cincinnati's third straight win over Houston, 7-0 today, the Cubs remain tied for first, but with the Reds, and Houston moves a game behind. This means that if the Astros can salvage one game of the four-game wraparound series tomorrow, the Cubs would be alone in first place, as they travel to Houston for a mini two-game series Tuesday and Wednesday.

Despite the lineup alterations; despite the pitching staff being decimated by injuries (and there's bad news about Kerry Wood -- he left a sideline session after only eight pitches today and will have a bone scan tomorrow), the Cubs finish the homestand on a high note, taking two of three from a tough division rival, and are now 13-9 at home, which is a pace for a 48-win home season.

Oh, incidentally, if you think the Sports Illustrated jinx is a myth... right after he appeared on the cover this past week, Roger Clemens had his worst start of the year last night against the Reds. I was pleased to help out by posting a copy of that photo here.