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I Want This One

In 1979, I went to St. Louis to see the Cubs play the Cardinals. It was a "wrap-around" series, Friday through Monday.

I went to the Friday, Saturday and Sunday games, but had to return to Chicago for work and couldn't stay for the Monday game -- and that was the day that Lou Brock got his 3000th hit, off Dennis Lamp. In fact, it was literally off Lamp, because it hit him in the shoulder.

That was the first of many of these major milestones that I missed. In 1992, Jon, Mike and I drove to Milwaukee in hopes of seeing Robin Yount get his 3000th hit. He got two hits and got to 2999 and was in the on-deck circle when the game ended. The two of them went back the next day and saw it, but I was unable to go due to work.

The following year, I was changing planes in Minneapolis and considered stopping over to see the Twins game, as Dave Winfield was approaching 3000 hits. He needed two hits. If it had been one hit, sure, that'd have been a reasonable reason to spend the money changing my plane ticket. But two?

The game went thirteen innings and he got the two hits, and the 3000th was off Dennis Eckersley.

I missed Sammy Sosa's 500th home run, which was hit in Cincinnati last year. We all had at least the chance to see Roger Clemens' 300th win at Wrigley Field when he faced the Cubs for the Yankees last June -- although I'm glad the Cubs beat him that day!

So THIS one, I want.

And I figure I'll get this milestone, because based on the upcoming schedule, again with no rainouts, injuries, etc., I will see all of Maddux' starts through the end of August, and he ought to win at least one of them, the first of which will be this Sunday at home against the Phillies.

The only other wrench that could get thrown into this would be if the idiots who run this city coming through on their idle threat to close Wrigley Field due to the chunks of concrete that have fallen. Though this isn't something to be laughed off, I have to laugh at the words of Ald. Bernie Stone, who happens to be chairman of the city council's Buildings Committee, trying to bluster and pretend that he knows more about this, and that city inspectors would know more about this, than the structural engineers that the Cubs have had in all week, checking out and repairing the problem (nets will be in place by Friday, underneath the concrete of the upper deck).

Stone was quoted in today's Sun-Times:

I don't want to be Chicken-Licken, but the sky is falling. If it's falling in one place, it could be falling all over the place and it has. It's not just one place and one incident. It's fallen three different times.


What he doesn't remember from this fable is that Chicken-Licken (or "Chicken Little" in the version linked above) got eaten by Foxy Loxy, and that the moral of the story is:

Don't be a chicken little. Don't be afraid. The sky is not falling.

Be careful what you wish for, Ald. Stone.

Anyway, back to the exploits of Dr. Maddux. He carefully dissected the Brewers and the Cubs won 7-1 last night, and finally seem to be putting together some offense other than solo homers (though they had one last night from Sammy Sosa, who appears to be heating up -- his 21st, and 560th career home run), and with the pitching continuing to be solid even in losses, we can continue hope (c'mon. You never lost it, did you?) -- and with the Giants beating the Padres 7-4 last night, the Cubs pull to within one game of the wild-card lead.

There are many in the Cubs Blog Army who view the wild card as an abomination, and truth be told, in a perfect world I wouldn't like it either.

But it exists. And the last two World Champions have been wild cards (and in fact, the 2002 World Series was an all-wild card affair). Will I take it? You bet.

So let's get in.

Now, about the third straight incredible start for Maddux since the All-Star break.

Seriously -- this is almost like a team having Shawn Estes for the first half, then trading for the Cy Young version Maddux of the mid-1990s. Since the ASB Maddux is 3-0, with a 1.13 ERA in 24 IP, with ONE walk and 16 strikeouts. The only runs he's allowed have been on solo homers.

He threw only 79 pitches last night, and usually Maddux tells Dusty when he's had enough, and after two consecutive CG's, he most likely had had enough. This is also good for this reason: perhaps he'll have more stamina on Sunday. So few complete games are thrown these days, it'd be nice to think that he might actually be on the mound when the last out is recorded. I still recall watching on TV, Tom Seaver's 300th win, for the White Sox against the Yankees in New York in 1985, and the expression of joy on his face when the last out was recorded, and he finished a complete-game 4-1 win.

The Cub offense revved up last night -- gee, there's Todd Walker leading off the game with a double, and I hope that Dusty will perhaps put Walker and Mark Grudzielanek into a straight platoon (and I see Derek at "The Big Red C" is thinking along exactly the same lines); at least that would allow both of them to know exactly when they're going to start, rather than the hit-or-miss schemes of the last few weeks. Walker also homered, his twelfth, just before Sammy's in the third inning.

The only run Maddux allowed was a monstrous homer by the just-acquired Russell Branyan in the sixth, which was originally measured at 480 feet, later revised to 440.

By the ninth, the Cubs had the game well in hand, but that's when the Brewers decided to play like a T-ball team. For some unfathomable reason, with Derrek Lee on first and Moises Alou on second, Dave Burba must have thought it was Tom Goodwin on second, because he threw there four times before throwing the ball into CF, allowing both runners to advance, and one out later, something you never would think you'd see -- an intentional walk to Corey Patterson -- followed by a sac fly by pinch-hitter Michael Barrett off yet another reliever, Jeff Bennett, who wild-pitched in the final two Cub runs.

The Brewers are self-destructing, just like I told my Phoenix friend John Aldrich they would.

I wish I had as good news to report on Mark's Park District Diamondback team; last night, in the first of the best-of-three World Series, they lost 5-2.

What's worse is that they lost to the White Sox. GAH!

Mark had a good game with two hits and an RBI, and they'll try to even up tonight, while the Cubs, who have now won five of their last seven, send Kerry Wood out to make it three in a row over Milwaukee.

One hundred games into the season, there is reason to hope.