In the top of the seventh last night, Dusty Baker came to the mound to remove Greg Maddux, to a loud chorus of boos.
I wasn't among them, I want you to know -- particularly since there has been considerable discussion here, and also here on the topic of booing Cub players (and managers). Maddux had thrown 100 pitchers, nearly all of them magnificent, and was clearly gassed after a couple of walks and a hit got him into trouble. Usually, Maddux is the one who takes himself out of games, but when he went out for the seventh, it seemed like the thing to do.
It was. What removing him right at that point accomplished was getting Maddux a well-deserved, loud standing ovation, something we surely hope we hear more of over the next weeks and months.
It was a perfect evening all around. The weather was delightful -- in the seventies with a gentle breeze, and the Cubs baseball was nearly perfect, resulting in a 7-0 win over the Mets.
It was the second shutout win for the Cubs this year -- the first since a 4-0 blanking of the Brewers on April 9 -- and the seven-run margin was the first time the Cubs have been ahead by that many runs since Opening Day in Phoenix.
This was witnessed in our section by only three of us -- Jeff, Mike and me. With some empty space on the bench, we gave a couple of seats to some rambunctious kids (maybe three or four years old), whose extended family had brought them what sounded like a considerable distance (they were talking about taking a train back to their car after the game).
Good kids; they ate hot dogs and cotton candy, but as kids that age can be (yes, I remember!), they barely sat still most of the evening, though they did stay for the end of the game.
Also sitting in front of us were two very, VERY loud drunks, one of whom carried on the lamest heckling of an outfielder that I've ever heard, just yelling "CAMERON! YOU SUCK!" over and over. The end result was that Mike and I had trouble hearing each other, even sitting right next to each other. Fortunately, these two left after the sixth, which allowed the rest of the two little kids' family to sit down.
Maddux' ten strikeouts had me running to the media guide to find out what his career high was (fourteen, in 1999 vs. Milwaukee), and he hit virtually every spot he wanted. Only Chris Woodward, the Mets' backup third baseman, was able to solve him. Mike Wuertz doused the seventh-inning fire that Maddux had begun, and Wuertz and Mike Remlinger finished up uneventfully.
Meanwhile, the Cubs' bats were coming alive. There may be some complaints about many of the runs (three) coming on solo homers, but the Cubs totalled thirteen hits, including three doubles, and Jason Dubois, in addition to his fourth homer (in 35 AB, a one-in-nine AB ratio), added a second RBI on a groundout. We shall see today if Dusty will, as a result, give him more playing time. He said here that Dubois will, in fact, play today:
Corey Patterson hit two out of the Yard -- and this only continues my lonely quest to get Dusty to realize that Corey sees himself as a power hitter, and thus ought to be batting sixth instead of leading off. Patterson now has eight homers with 13 RBI. Maybe he'd drive in more runs if he'd hit behind someone who got on base.
Maddux' second win of the season was the 307th of his career, tying him on the all-time list with Smiling Mickey Welch, whose last win was recorded nearly 114 years ago, in an era when pitchers could win 30 or more games a year routinely. Next up, another 19th Century pitcher, Old Hoss Radbourn at 309, and then Tom Seaver (311), whose final appearance on a major league field was September 19, 1986, sixteen days after Maddux first appeared on one.
Such is the continuum of major league baseball, something that ties all of us who love the game together.
- Finally, as predicted, Sammy Sosa's on the DL, JUST in time to miss playing in Chicago for the only time this year.
Coincidence? I think not.