Tonight was yet another beautiful Southern California evening, perfect for baseball, and because my best friend and fiancée was at her evening class, I attended the game at Dodgers Stadium with a Wrigley Field bleachers season ticket holder who some may know - Tony Brown. I must admit, I, a much more skeptical Cubs fan, and Tony, a more optimistic, "Yellon-esque" fan, both entered this game acknowledging that it was a mismatch which pitted John Konseco/Koleco/Karunko (I couldn't get his unfamiliar name right all night) - John Koronka, newly up from AAA, against Derek Lowe whose been 4-1 lights out at home so far this season. However, as I'm sure you are already aware, Derek Lowe didn't have his best stuff and Derrek Lee did.
As I didn't keep score this game and instead partook in a discussion with Tony regarding baseball, Dodgers Stadium, and Wrigley experiences, I'm not going to go into detail recapping the game. I will only say that despite a lack of control, Koronka kept his cool and this impressed both Tony and me. It was nice to see the Cubs getting it done with offense when they needed to. The first base umpire made a couple of close calls against the Cubs that had me miffed. Although he was probably right. Oh, and Derrek Lee went 5 for 5!
This trip made me remember why Dodgers Stadium is a highlight to living in Los Angeles. We sat in the Reserved Section behind home plate, which is the third of four levels and gives a great view of the field for the money ($17). Also, from that vantage point you can see rolling hills and palm trees along with the "Think Blue" Hollywood-esque sign mentioned in Josh's earlier post just beyond the bleachers. Recently there's been talk in L.A. about building a new stadium downtown, but Tony and I discussed this and while Tony likes the idea of a ballpark in the middle of the city, my point of view is that Chavez Ravine gives the ballpark a better feel and more character. By looking out at the hills you forget the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and knowing you're in the Ravine makes you feel like you're on an island, on a bit of a vacation.
This game had the largest attendance of the three games, reported to be 54,093. Cubs fans, while still there in numbers, appeared far more outnumbered than last night's game and this probably had something to do with the 50,000 Cesar Izturis bobbleheads being handed out at the gates.
There was one heckler behind us who kept yelling "Where's Sosa?!" "Sosa would've caught that!" "You traded Sosa!" and the Dodger fan sitting next to me sarcastically said, "Oooo, I bet that stings... and Ernie Banks retired." We all laughed at that one. This is the second night I had a heckler use a Sosa remark like this and I think it's interesting (and appropriate) to see what an impact Sosa had on baseball fans in general. That is, like Tony said, there probably would've been 2000-5000 more fans at the first two games if Sosa were here and 5,000-7,000 if he was playing well. The heckles suggested to me that much of the general baseball public thinks that all of Cub-dom feels betrayed by the organization since Sammy was traded. Though my point of view is that it was sad to see Sammy go, but it was just something that had to be done - we had grown apart. While the heckler was trying to get on my nerves what he really did was made me think about how much I do appreciate what Sammy did as a Cub and a baseball player (along with a couple mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes, right?), and yeah, I guess I do miss the big guy and the excitement he brought every time he went to the plate. But enough reminiscing - Cubs 2005 seem to be finding a rhythm, and it's not necessarily the one we all expected (referring to the names on the current rotation).
It was a great night of baseball. I'm not sure why Dempster threw in the ninth in a non-save situation thanks to Derrek Lee's three-run dinger, but it was an efficient four-pitch outing. The Cubs won their sixth in a row 9 to 5, sweeping the Dodgers at home. Now on to San Diego where the Cubs swept the Padres last year, but this year the Padres are a much better team. I'll be there for the last two and try to post something if and when I get the chance.