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Why, I Oughta...

HOUSTON -- So I get to the Juice Box and find that my Crawford Box seat isn't exactly on top of the scoreboard, but instead is behind the foul pole, which obstructs the view of half the infield.

I went to the "Fan Assistance" window to exchange this ticket. What a fiasco. First I got stuck behind two people who were exchanging tickets -- for games in August. That took about 20 minutes.

When I got to the front of the line they found me a nice seat 38 rows behind third base. But due to their computer system, they had to charge me for the new ticket and credit the old one, instead of just charging the difference. Well, their internet line was down -- no credits. Could I just have the cash? Well, no, they don't have enough cash.

Unbelievable. I've never seen this in 1600+ games attended, and they seemed really disinterested in helping. Finally a box office supervisor managed to get the credit through.

I did not, however, let this ruin my enjoyment of the Cubs' come-from-behind 4-1 win over the Astros, their fifth win in a row, all on the road, and now they have a chance to sweep a four-game series in Houston, something pretty much unheard-of for the Cubs, or nearly any other team, tomorrow with Glendon Rusch on the mound.

A couple of stupid things I forgot from yesterday: there's something called the Coca-Cola Patrol which runs around the stands between innings playing annoying games with little hoops, and spews out streamers, and basically just gets in the way. They attempt to shoot T-shirts into the stands too, but generally fail; they had to throw the T-shirts a couple of times instead of using the shooter. I hate to say this, but Minute Maid Park combines the charm of the old Candlestick Park with the mindless advertising, etc. of the 21st Century style ballpark. It ranks very low on my list of parks to attend. The concrete walls that you see in the outfield, evoking the old train station? They look pretty substantial, right? Go behind them and you'll see they're nothing more than facades. Oh, and there are some seats next to columns that are even worse than the one I had.

Oh yes, and the concession prices are too high.

Enough. At least they had the roof open for the entire game, and it was really a lovely evening.

Greg Maddux had some trouble in the first, then settled down and prevented three hits himself with his defense, snagging two grounders and a line drive. Even at 38, he plays his position better than just about anyone. Finally running out of gas in the 7th (must have been the humidity, it was only 85 pitches), Francis Beltran, Mike Remlinger and LaTroy Hawkins finished up easily, saving Maddux' 295th career win. I was a little surprised that Dusty didn't bat for Remlinger with a man on third and two out in the 8th, leaving him in to face the tough righties of the Astros lineup, but maybe someone actually pointed out to Dusty that Remlinger is tougher on righties than lefties. Anyway, it worked.

Meanwhile, the offense clicked at the right time, with two triples in the eighth, from Todd Hollandsworth and Corey Patterson, and Patterson made a nice running catch on a Morgan Ensberg drive deep to center in the bottom of the 8th. Of course, the fans behind the plate think any deep fly is a home run, but Ensberg hit the ball to the deepest part of the park, right next to the hill, where Craig Biggio again misplayed a ball after running up the hill. Bet the Astros wish they'd never put it in there.

You should see the press here -- they are calling the Astros "slow and old", ripping the Billy Wagner trade, and one columnist called for Houston to tank the season and start bringing up their young players. Surprising for a club that was expected in many corners to win the division.

With the Reds and Cardinals both winning tonight, the Cubs remain tied with the Reds for second, two games out. Wasn't it just two days ago that I was saying that Oakland was 18-0 against the NL Central? Darn Cardinals, now it's 18-2.

We remain hopeful for tomorrow, going for the sweep.