Hallelujah!!! (Opens Windows Media Player, or whatever player you have for .wma files)
(Yes, if you read this earlier Monday evening, I have changed the title. Seemed more appropriate, plus I've spent the evening watching "Holy Grail" with Mark.)
Jeff sat with his legs splayed out on the bench in front of him, as if he were on the beach.
Dave sat a row in front of Jeff, seemingly lost in thought about the grand opening of the new stadium for his Rockford Riverhawks, which will be on Wednesday night.
All of us scampered downstairs for a half-inning, the last of the seventh, when a short, sudden downpour occurred -- and none of us had brought rain gear, because the thunderstorms that are at this writing surrounding the Chicago area weren't supposed to hit till evening. As a result, we saw Todd Walker's home run, the one that iced the Cubs' 7-3 win over the Reds, snapping their six-game losing streak, on a TV monitor beneath the new bleachers.
Dave, Mike, Phil, Howard, Mark & I ran downstairs while Jeff sat in the rain along with some twentysomethings who couldn't find seats but wound up sitting/standing on the steps adjacent to us, holding our seats. The newcomers got, as people like this always do, BCB cards, and if you're here -- welcome!
We can afford to be a bit effusive today.
No, this win does not mean that everything is right. It's not, and we all know it's not. But for once, the Cubs got good pitching from the starter -- Kerry Wood, throwing six good innings without allowing a home run, and taming Adam Dunn on an 0-for-3 (his HR was off Scott Eyre) -- and the bullpen, which, apart from Eyre, did a nice job today.
I was especially impressed with David Aardsma, just recalled, who for perhaps the first time since the Cubs acquired him, threw strikes consistently (11 out of his 17 pitches, even though he walked one).
If you throw 98 MPH -- which Aardsma does -- and can get the ball over the plate consistently -- you are going to be a great success at the major league level.
I know, I know, it's only one game.
But the Cubs got some timely hits, including two from Wood, one of which was a nicely placed RBI single up the middle. We all knew he was going to be pulled after the sixth, having thrown 85 pitches (56 strikes, also a good sign), but we also felt he might as well have hit for himself -- especially when Freddie Bynum reverted to form and struck out hitting for him.
Matt Murton had a nice day, with a HR and a single, and Juan Pierre had a RBI single as well (to which I announced to the group: "You have just witnessed one-fourth of Juan Pierre's season RBI total". To general laughter.)
As I said, we can afford to be effusive today, even if it is only for one day.
Mark continued his streak of ball acquisition; today, Scott Eyre threw him one during batting practice. If any of you are looking for tips on how to do this, it helps if you are a fairly ambitious and enthusiastic ten-year-old. Kids always get the players' attention first. And that's as it should be, don't you think?
In the third inning, Jason LaRue hit a popup toward third base. Ronny Cedeno appeared to have a bead on it, but it was a tweener right near both him and Aramis Ramirez. Cedeno gave ground, as if to say to A-Ram, "Here, you can make up for yesterday!"
Ramirez caught it, to one of the loudest sarcastic ovations I've ever heard.
Later in the day, after the sixth inning (I think this was supposed to be timed for 3 pm local time), there was a National Moment of Remembrance observed, a moment of silence for all those who have given their lives in the defense of our country and our freedom.
I don't think I have ever heard such a "moment" quite as silent as this one was. It really was quite moving, and another loud ovation, this one heartfelt, ensued.
It's only one game, but for one day, at least, the Cubs looked like a team that could come out of this funk, for a time, at least. What's gotten into Tony Womack? He is now 7-for-12 in a Cub uniform, hitting .367 (yes, I know, "small sample size", 11-for-30), and actually looks like he can still play.
About Ryan Freel's disputed double -- it definitely hit IN the basket, and then bounced back onto the field. It should have been called a home run -- the umpires blew this call in favor of the Cubs. It didn't matter, of course, in the end.
One day at a time. A couple of us were leafing through the Cubs media guide today, and came across a note, which tells you of the magnitude of the task the Cubs face: only one team in Cubs history has come from even as many as ten games under .500, to have a season over .500. That happened in 1968, when the club was 35-45, and finished 84-78 (thus, a 49-33 finish).
That means one of two things. Either this team simply cannot and will not finish over .500, or they'll be the first in 130 years of team history to come back from more than 10 games under (low point: after yesterday, 13 under). Yes, I am well aware that the latter is extremely unlikely.
Finally, I thought you should all see this hilarious recreation of the Pierzynski/Barrett brawl, courtesy of Bat-Girl, the terrific Minnesota Twins blog. A classic.