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Where Do I Begin?

OK, how about here:

It was cold, and it was wet, and there were 78 minutes of rain delays, and the Cubs lost to the Padres 5-4 in 11 innings today.

That's it! Bye! See you tomorrow!

[sigh]

Seriously, that's about all I want to remember about today's fiasco, but there's more to tell, so sit a while, because eventually it'll all come pouring out of me.

First of all, Jon and I were the only ones there today (other than Jon's friend Dave, who he said was just a FOAF he had met the other day) -- reminiscent of days Jon and I spent together on our bench back in the early '90s when he was a college student and used to come out there every day just like I did, and do now.

And he figured it out.

What, exactly, did he figure out? Why, the answer to this rotten, rainy weather.

THE WHITE SOX ARE IN TOWN!

I think he's hit the nail on the head. While up to now the Cubs have had no rainouts, generally warm and pleasant weather, when the Sox have been in town it's been cold, and they have had three rainouts, one of which (an interleague game against the Phillies) they have to squeeze in on an off-day later this month. And it's no coincidence, I think, that the most torrential downpours of the entire season at Wrigley Field were at the Cubs/Sox game on July 3, the one that had four rain delays and was finaly called in the sixth inning.

The same schedule-makers who scheduled the Cubs and Cardinals to not play after July 20, and who scheduled the Cubs and Brewers to play 63 times in six weeks (it only seems like that many; really only 17), in their infinite wisdom had the White Sox playing home-and-home series with Kansas City, last week and this week -- only last week, when the Cubs were out of town, so were the Sox, and both teams here in Chicago this week. Insanity.

So it's no surprise, really, that when the Sox happen to be in town head-to-head with the Cubs (all three days -- two night games and a day game, all at the same starting times), that we had the coldest August high temperatures in over 100 years. Today, it was 60 at game time, and rainshowers kept sprinkling down, not hard enough to stop play, just hard enough to make me cover the scorecard with a plastic sheet, and at one point I said to Jon, "This is stupid. Either rain or don't!"

Careful what you wish for. It started raining hard in the third, though by the time the field was covered it let up, and the delay was about 35 minutes. A similar little shower moved through, with a 43-minute delay in the 7th, and it was then that I finally got the weather radar cranked up on the cellphone, and figured out what these were -- lake-effect rainshowers.

OK, so I'm a weather geek, but here's the short explanation. In winter, you can get lake-effect snowshowers off the Great Lakes, Michigan being no exception, when the air gets really cold, and the water's warmer than the air, and the wind's blowing the right way.

Today was a weird late-summer occurrence similar to that. At this time of year the water temperature of Lake Michigan is in the 70's. With the air temp of only 60, as soon as the wind shifted from northwest (gametime) to northeast... boom! Rain!

OK, weather lesson over. I have a feeling that's more interesting than the game, too.

There are a couple of bottom lines on today's game, the first being that Cubs pitchers gave the Padres TEN walks, and even so they managed to wiggle out of most of the jams -- San Diego left eighteen men on base, and that would have been more if the Cubs hadn't turned two neat double plays, one on an absolutely fabulous throw, perhaps the best of his career, by Corey Patterson after snaring a line drive by Ryan Klesko on the run, and gunning down He Of The Blond Hair (Khalil Greene, for the rest of you) at the plate.

The second is the fact that veteran Cub-hating umpire Bruce Froemming blew a call at second base on what should have at least been a forceout. Sure, Nomar Garciaparra threw the ball halfway to Fenway Park on the relay, but the result should have been a runner on second and one out, rather than a run in, the same runner on second and nobody out -- this led directly to two San Diego runs, unfortunately earned off hard-luck Jon Leicester, who deserved better.

Amazingly enough, Froemming admitted after the game that he missed it:

You don't like it to happen. On the field I had him coming across the bag, I came in here and looked at the replay. I wanted to know if I had it right. I did not have it right. You don't like to miss them. But I mean I looked at the replay and it's clear that he got the bag.

Yeah, thanks a lot, Bruce. What's done is done, and while this play didn't directly cost the Cubs the game, it sure didn't help matters any.

Still and all, Nomar could have been the hero, as he gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead on his first Wrigley Field homer in the seventh, but our non-autographing pitcher, Dr. Tightpants, gave it ight back in the 8th -- though to be fair, the tying SD run came in after he had left the game in favor of Mike Remlinger.

After the Cubs scored in the first, I said to Jon, "They're telling Matt Clement in the dugout, 'There's your run, and if you want any more, drive them in yourself!'"

Guess Clement heard he, because he hit a sacrifice fly in the second, his second RBI of the season, and this might have been enough if he could have stopped walking people -- five walks and 98 pitches in five innings isn't my idea of winning baseball, even though he allowed no runs. With the wet conditions, Aramis Ramirez was lifted after the fourth, which I agreed with, but that left the bench short -- again, with twelve pitchers, this forced Dusty to let Clement bat for himself in the fifth, knowing he was coming out of the game anyway. It also forced Paul Bako into the game in the seventh in a double-switch, and Bako really, really, really, REALLY can't hit.

Other player news of note: we got several other people yelling, "Corey, you suck!" at him (as a motivational tool, of course!) and it worked -- he drew two walks and had three hits, but Sammy Sosa looked perhaps worse than ever, striking out four times and getting booed (no, that's not "ALOOOOOUUUUU", Sammy, those are BOOOOOOS), and at a certain point, I think Dusty's just going to have to TELL him he's batting sixth. If Todd Hollandsworth were healthy, I'd bet Sammy would be getting a day off tomorrow. Maybe he'll get one anyway.

We didn't get anything from the tomato inning today either -- the sixth. Jon brought me my sandwich today, having called me just before the gates opened and offering to do it, and we agreed that maybe the trick is that Howard has to bring the sandwich, which he'll do tomorrow. If there's Tomato Failure tomorrow again, Jon and I decided that, just as ballplayers need a day off every now and then, the tomato inning will be rested on Saturday.

And with that, I bid goodnight. The Cubs still maintain a one-game wild card lead, with forty-eight games remaining, only six of which (the three this weekend, and the last three of the season against Atlanta) are against teams who currently have winning records.

Faith and hope.