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I'm not just talking about the weather, either.

Here was my evening:

4:30 pm: Leave house for ballpark.

4:31 pm: Rain starts.

5:05 pm: Ballpark gates open. Receive Bruce Sutter 1979 road jersey scratch-off card. "You Did Not Win." (Like I'm surprised to see that)

5:20 pm: Check weather radar via web-enabled cellphone. See lots of pretty green, orange, red and yellow colors covering the entire screen.

5:30 pm: Begin discussing with various other season-ticket holders whether or not the game will be played.

5:40 pm: Learn that Mark's playoff game has been postponed for the third consecutive day, for the third consecutive different reason (heat, scheduling conflict, rain). They'll play this evening -- the weather's supposed to be great the rest of the week.

6:05 pm: My Super Big Gulp, nearly empty, blows off the bench in the wind. Nice security guard picks it up for me.

6:08 pm: I finish the SBG and deliberately drop the cup on the ground. Tell nice security guard to just leave it there.

6:45 pm: More discussions about whether the game will be played or not. Rain appears to have at least four hours to go.

7:05 pm: Decide that even if the game is going to be played, it won't start before 10 pm and thus, since I must get up for work at 3:30, there's no way I can stay. Leave park, go home.

And that, my friends, is how I missed yet another milestone. Last year, just before Greg Maddux' 300th win, which I did see in San Francisco, I wrote about several major milestones -- the 3000th hits of Lou Brock, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount, Roger Clemens' 300th win and the 500th HR of Sammy Sosa -- that I missed due to various and sundry circumstances.

I spent the rest of the evening drying out, and checking the weather radar, not believing they'd actually start a game that late. Howard and I exchanged several phone calls; we both hemmed and hawed about perhaps heading to the park (I had another ticket and thus could have gotten back in), but in the end, when the first pitch was thrown by Greg Maddux at 9:43 pm, I was watching from home.

More records missed: as far as I know, this was both the latest-starting, and latest-ending (1:19 am, and when I found that out, I didn't feel so bad -- there's absolutely no way I could have made that on a work night) game in the history of Wrigley Field.

I'm pretty sure Mike was there. I'll try to get a report from him later today. Actually, considering the lengthy delay, I was very surprised to see via TV, that the ballpark appeared to be about 3/4 full at the time of the first pitch. It also appeared to empty out quickly after the 3000th strikeout.

That was the best news of the night. Sure, Maddux got the milestone strikeout in the third inning, on a nice backdoor-slider for called strike three on Omar Vizquel, a guy who doesn't strike out much (about once in every ten career at-bats) Maddux wound up throwing eight innings -- only the fourth time all year he's gone that far -- and oddly, had only one further K, Vizquel again in the sixth, this time swinging.

But as Greg himself said:

It would have been nice to win. And if it happened, great, and if it didn't and we won, I would much rather have gotten no strikeouts and won. Trust me.

Absolutely right. The Cubs lost in 11 innings to the Giants, 3-2, and to me, it felt like a West Coast game -- I had to go to sleep after the third inning, vaguely disquieted by the fact that the Cubs had made Noah Lowry throw seventy pitches to get the first nine outs -- yet could not score. They left four men on base in the first three innings, when they coulda-shoulda-woulda had at least three or four runs, and maybe have gotten Lowry out of there early.

Think that might have been a good idea the day after the Giants went through their entire bullpen?

The Cubs wound up with a disturbing total of twelve on base altogether (a lot even for 11 innings) -- and when you have ten hits and four walks, you simply must generate more than two runs' worth of offense.

Before I pick apart this soggy mess of a game, let's talk a little more about the milestone -- and yes, Chuck, it is the first milestone since 1970 -- the "event" of Pete Rose tying Ty Cobb's record, or maybe breaking it if you believe the new research, in 1985, was a record, not a milestone, and yes, I'm splitting semantic hairs here.

Maddux, despite calling the whole thing "pretty cool", seemed almost embarrassed when his teammates came off the field to hug him after the milestone K -- he gestured as if to say "Get off me!", although he was later quoted as saying, "I appreciated it a lot for those guys to do that for me."

I can only imagine the scene if it hadn't been the third out of an inning; the ballclub was coming off the field anyway. And I was further surprised when the very modest Maddux made a curtain call, waving his cap high over his head to the crowd.

The rest of the game, of which I know only from the game summaries and recaps, proves the following:

  • Michael Barrett has been an unsung offensive hero for the Cubs this year. His 44 RBI trail only Mike Piazza and Jorge Posada (tied with Jason Phillips) among all major league catchers.
  • Glendon Rusch has to be placed back in the starting rotation, replacing Kerry Wood. Using him in relief is not only not using his strongest suit, it's hurting the team.
  • Jose F. Macias simply does not belong on a major league roster. As I've said before, the only way to stop Dusty Baker from playing him is to have Jim Hendry release him -- just as he did in 2003 with Lenny F. Harris.
On the other hand:
  • Matt Murton had three hits and deserves more playing time, especially at the expense of Dusty's pet Todd Hollandsworth.
Nevertheless, a loss by the Nationals has kept the Cubs still only four games off the wild-card lead, and I still think the most likely scenario is for the NL East teams to all knock each other out of said race, which will then come down to the Cubs and Astros.

A couple of notes: the rain did wash out last night's Class A game in Peoria, and thus Nomar Garciaparra's rehab assignment is delayed till tonight. They'll play a doubleheader -- I've never quite understood this, but in the minors, doubleheaders become seven-inning games -- and Nomar will play in only one game.

And, here is hoping for a quick recovery for former Cub Matt Clement, who was hit square in the head by a line drive off the bat of Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford in last night's Red Sox win over the Devil Rays. It looked very scary, but he apparently never lost consciousness.

In more mundane news, I'll have a game thread up in a couple of hours. Win the series today and all, again, is forgiven.