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So You Were Saying?

So I stopped by Dave's seat to say hi today; he was there with his daughter Lauren, who was supposed to come yesterday but got stuck behind a train for two hours -- this has become a standing joke among us with members of Dave's family, particularly Brian, who always calls on the way to the game and says, "Traffic's terrible!" (and when you say that, give HUGE emphasis to the word "terrible"!)

Anyway, since Lauren never made it to the game Friday, that's why Mike got a chance to sit with Dave then, and today Dave, who also follows the Sox, was saying how bad they are, how they'll finish under .500, they have no bullpen, etc. I asked him about Felix Diaz, an emergency callup from AAA to be today's scheduled starter for the Sox after they put Scott Schoeneweis on the DL, and he said, "Don't worry. The Cubs will light him up." He had an 11.42 ERA coming into today and Dave said he had seen a game earlier this year where Diaz had been lit up for four home runs.

Me, I was worried. Guys like this usually give the Cubs fits and today was no exception. Mr. 11.42 ERA pitched six credible innings, allowing three earned runs, and it was Carlos Zambrano who struggled with his control, and the White Sox beat the Cubs 6-3, evening this weekend's series at a game apiece.

Oh, Dave also said (and he's observed baseball closely for many years and as I have written here, is now a team owner) that if the Cubs don't win the NL pennant this year, it'll never happen -- he says this is the best all-around Cub team he's ever seen.

Man, I hope he's right this time.

The crowd was a little more feisty today than yesterday. I was in the LF bleachers, and there were at least two fights behind me, none serious, at least as far as I could tell. At one point, some Sox employees came out to do one of those T-shirt tosses, and one wound up in the hands of a guy wearing a Cub shirt, who thought it would be funny to throw it on the field.

They brought down three uniformed Chicago police officers along with several white-shirted Sox security people to throw the guy out, and presumably, arrest him.

If only they'd be this strict in the Wrigley Field bleachers.

I actually had a nice time talking to a couple of Sox fans who weren't there just to bait Cub fans, but were actually just rooting for their team, and knowledgeable besides. I also ran into Jesus, sitting in the same section, who I had met during the Sox day game I went to on May 13. I think he was surprised to see me in a Cub shirt, but he wasn't nasty about it. See, there are decent people who are Sox fans, believe it or not. Anyway, one of them got into a spirited discussion with the guy sitting behind us, who was trying to convince him that Jerry Reinsdorf is a good owner. The two Sox fans I was talking to were amazed, because they said they'd never heard anyone say this before, and frankly, neither have I. At one point he asked the guy "Are you related to Reinsdorf or something?"

Answer: "No, I'm Irish Catholic."

Seriously, that's what he said. I don't make this stuff up, you know.

When Paul Konerko hit the three-run homer off Zambrano in the third, I said to the same guy, "Three runs isn't going to win this game." As if the Sox players had heard me, two batters later Joe Crede homered to make it 5-0. It was clear that Zambrano didn't have his game today, not only from the five walks but the fact that he couldn't get any outs on ground balls, his forte -- only five outs on ground balls, and six strikeouts. He threw 127 pitches and it seemed like more -- in fact, the Sox scoreboard people thought it was more. At one point I looked up and nudged the Sox fan and said, "Look at the pitch count." It said 207. We both laughed. But seriously, 127 pitches is way too many, even for eight or nine innings, much less six. The only justification for this is that there's an off day Monday, which means that all the starters will get five days' rest, rather than four, before their next start. Zambrano's next start will be Friday, also against the White Sox, at home.

The Cubs possibly could have gotten Diaz out of the game early except for a really bad baserunning error by Ramon Martinez, who got doubled off first in the second, after singling, when Mark Grudzielanek hit a rope right to Timo Perez in left. The Cubs made some noise in the fourth, scoring two runs on a double and three singles, and then Corey Patterson homered in the fifth, which meant he could spend the rest of the day looking up at us in the LF bleachers. I kept pointing at him and yelling, "FOCUS ON THE GAME!" Patterson does this all the time; I saw him doing it in Houston, though I think he might have been admiring himself on the big screen.

The last thing I want to say about the baseball today is:

Shingo Takatsu.

What the heck is that stuff he is throwing? The loopy, fading sinker or whatever it is -- geez, half the adults, men and women, in the stands, could probably throw that hard. Mike says that he has just enough 90 MPH fastballs and spots them well enough, that he can get you out by throwing your timing off with the slow junk. After today he has allowed a ridiculous 12 hits in 28 innings and has a 0.95 ERA. Shame, though, on the Sox staff people who play some kind of Japanese war song when he comes in the game, unless that's at his own request.

As I've said before, I like tomorrow's pitching matchup much better -- the Cubs hit Esteban Loaiza pretty good a year ago, and Greg Maddux is the kind of fast worker who won't allow the Sox to sit and wait him out for walks, which is what killed the Cubs today. So, I'm still optimistic for a series win.

Sign seen:

"WELCOME Ticket Scalpers And Bandwagon Jumpers"

(nicely printed and hung from the CF patio area -- points for creativity and neatness)