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It All Depends On Your Perspective

When the fourth rain delay hit, Howard, Phil and I decided there was probably going to be no more baseball on the North Side today and we all left. (See below for the results of our prescience!)

A few minutes later after he had gotten to his car, and before I had gotten to mine, Howard called me and told me that all the sports talk radio stations were talking about the weather conditions and how wet the field was and how players were slipping and sliding (Willie Harris nearly killed himself rounding first in the wet top of the 6th, and Moises Alou let Paul Konerko's drive fall in front of him, when in normal conditions that'd have been an easy out), and how the game shouldn't be resumed.

Then he mentioned that on the Sox radio station, they were saying the game ought to be suspended, while on the Cub broadcast, they were saying it ought to be called!

This sounds funny, of course, but according to major league rule 4.11, a game in this situation cannot be suspended unless the visiting team has either tied the game or taken the lead, which the White Sox didn't. The umpires were conferring with Ozzie Guillen before the top of the sixth, with the skies darkening and rain on the way (the inning was played in a pretty heavy rain), and I think they must have told him, "You're playing this half-inning as if it's the top of the ninth and you're behind." Another clue that the game was going to be called early was Guillen's use of Frank Thomas to pinch-hit in the fifth -- yes, it could have been one swing and game tied, but generally you'd save a hitter like this for the later innings. Thomas had never faced Greg Maddux before and Greg tied him in knots before striking him out.

Given the weather conditions, the Cubs will take their 4-2, rain-shortened, 5 1/2-inning win over the White Sox, their third win in a row, lifting the club to a season-high ten games over .500.

We can't complain too much. This is only the second time in forty home games this year that there have been any rain delays at all -- the first being the 5-4, 13-inning win over the Rockies on Mother's Day.

Dave brought his daughter Lauren for the second consecutive Cubs/Sox Saturday, and they didn't bring rain gear. Luckily, Howard had an extra umbrella for them. The rest of us had our umbrellas and of course Howard brought his pink Teletubbie-like poncho, so we managed to keep mainly dry, particularly the scorecards, which is the most important thing.

I had just gotten finished discussing with Dave what we had talked about regarding today's Sox starter, Felix Diaz, last weekend at the Cell, and said to him in reference to how well Diaz pitched last Saturday, "Every dog has his day". At that moment Rey Ordonez hit a two-run homer off Diaz. Howard thinks Ordonez ought to be National League Player of the Week. I think he was joking. Then Moises Alou slammed a homer for a 3-0 lead and Dave reminded us that Diaz has now allowed eight homers in 15 innings of major league work this year. That's pretty awful.

No one scored in the Tomato Inning (the fourth) today, but that may be because of the rain, plus I say that Rey Ordonez hitting a home run (raising his average from awful, .128, to horrible, .143), shows the Power of the Tomato.

Meanwhile, in between raindrops Maddux had his stuff working very well today, inducing eight groundball outs in the first five innings. We were all very surprised to see Maddux come out for the sixth, despite a low pitch count, because of the third rain delay of 59 minutes after Sammy Sosa hit an opposite-field homer (his 14th of the year and 553rd of his career, putting him ten behind Reggie Jackson on the all-time list) into a pouring rain in the bottom of the fifth. Even so, this might have been the best stuff Maddux had all year, and the win, his seventh, is also the 296th of his career.

These were no ordinary rain delays, either. The first one hit with no warning at all -- just a sheet of water coming past the right-field upper deck. There was a bit more warning for us for the second and third delays, since I had time to look at the radar image that I now can get on my cellphone (worth every penny of the $4 a month that I pay for it).

NEWS FLASH! As I am typing this at 5:10 pm, word from our local Fox station that the game was called, according to the local reporter, because of "deteriorating field conditions". That's the right call, in my opinion. The infield got incredibly muddy right before the third delay because they played a couple of at-bats in heavy rain, and it took the ground crew (Dave was impressed by their hustle and said that the ballplayers ought to hustle that fast all the time) nearly half an hour to put enough Turface on the field to dry it off (200 bags of it, compared to the 40 or so used during most rain delays). Incidentally, did you know that Turface is mostly made of dried corn starch? That's from Mike, incidentally. Thank him for that bit of trivia. Since he stayed till the end, he also reported to me that after the fourth delay, the umpires and managers came out, peeled up a corner of the tarp, and pronounced the field unplayable. Dusty and Ozzie then exchanged low-fives and that was that.

So, the four rain delays were:

1) 30 minutes in the top of the second

2) 16 minutes just before the top of the third

3) 59 minutes in the bottom of the fifth

4) 75 minutes after the top of the sixth

That's a total of three hours of delays and (by my stopwatch, which I tried, in the rain, to stop and start when play was called and restarted) one hour and thirty-nine minutes of playing time. (The boxscore says 1:40, so I got pretty darn close!)

One more baseball-related note: to no one's surprise, Todd Hollandsworth was placed on the 15-day DL today, retroactive to June 28, and Triple-A infielder Brendan Harris (who will wear #19) was recalled to take his roster spot. It appears that Aramis Ramirez won't have to go on the DL (whew!) but may miss three to five days. Today, Rey Ordonez played the role of Ramirez, but I hope Dusty at least tries Todd Walker at 3B, to get his bat in the lineup as well as Mark Grudzielanek's. Baker says he's emphasizing defense (and Ordonez turned a nifty force in the pouring rain in the top of the 6th), but the Cubs could use some offense too.

Finally, the weirdest thing during any of the rain delays: a woman plucking a man's eyebrows over toward right-center field. The Metrosexual Revolution has hit Wrigley Field!