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You Won't Believe The Ending

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Oh, not of the game -- a crisply-played 7-2 Cubs win over the Brewers -- but what happened to me after the game.

I decided yesterday afternoon to hie myself up to Milwaukee for the game, it being a gorgeous Midwestern summer evening approaching, and me not having been to Miller Park since last year.

Despite the ballpark being sold out (41,727, the sixth sellout in Milwaukee this season), I managed to find myself a seat 17 rows right behind the plate.

And there, 90 miles from home and eight years from the last Chicago Bulls championship, who do I find sitting one row in front of me?

That's right, former Bulls GM Jerry Krause, now an advance scout for the New York Mets, who will be the Cubs' next opponent after the All-Star break. Don't believe me? See the photo I took of a bored-looking Krause holding up a radar gun below.

There were a couple of scouts for other teams sitting near Jerry as well; Krause was scribbling what one person sitting near me said looked like "algebraic formulas" in a notebook, but when I looked closer he was simply keeping score. One of the other scouts was also keeping score, but the third was taking detailed notes on the game. He looked familiar, but I couldn't place him nor the team he was working for, and I couldn't climb over the half a section between my seat and his to ask.

The "climbing" thing didn't stop a large (in numbers and otherwise) family from climbing in and out of their seats the entire game -- not to mention, they arrived in the third inning. OK, maybe I can understand the late arrival -- but really, what's the point of paying for a near-front-row seat and not really even paying attention to the game?

And, for once, a Cub game was worth paying attention to -- despite the fact that with eleven walks being issued, it slogged on for three hours and forty-four minutes. This included a five-minute delay after home plate umpire Mike Everitt was put to his knees by a foul ball that hit him in the collarbone. It looked pretty serious, but he wound up staying in the game.

Carlos Zambrano gave up a triple and a walk in the first inning and then settled down, allowing only a single that I thought he could have gotten a glove on, in the third -- until the sixth, when he got himself into trouble with a single, a walk, and two more singles that resulted in a run. By then, the Cubs had fashioned a 3-1 lead rather nicely, with a leadoff Juan Pierre double (just how many times HAS Pierre led off games with hits this year? Not many, to my recollection); he scored on a Michael Barrett single, and then two more runs came in after Brewers starter Zach Jackson started walking people in the top of the sixth. It was one of those innings -- the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out -- that you worried that they'd not score at all, and they had two runs in with only one out and runners on first and second, but Ronny Cedeno and Z struck out.

Even so, it felt pretty good till the Brewers scored that run and had the bases loaded with one out. Z then got out of it with a stylishly completed 1-2-3 double play, and then a strikeout of Gabe Gross where you could almost feel the energy coming from the Cub fans (about half the crowd) and from Z and back and forth to the same.

After that the Cubs scored nearly at will; Todd Walker hit his first HR since May 29, Matt Murton had two hits, and Pierre singled in a run (this after barely missing hitting his second HR of the season earlier in the game, on a long fly that went just foul, after which I heard the inevitable "Straighten that out!" from someone in my section who thought he was the first person to ever say that at a ballpark).

Miller Park has some new video boards this year; they've added a ribbon board below the third deck, which doesn't really serve as anything except extra advertising, and also, after being one of the ballyhooed retro parks with a manual out-of-town scoreboard, that's been replaced by a video board on the LF wall which rotates scores from both leagues, instead of showing all the scores at once.

I took some other photos which you'll see below; one of Z pitching, the other of him at the plate in the third inning (he fouled off a number of pitches before hitting a line drive to Rickie Weeks), and one of the scoreboard photo and ID of Jacque Jones, which had his name misspelled as "Jacques". Right after I took the photo and put my camera away, they fixed it.

Ryan Dempster was given an inning of work just to... well, I suppose just to give him an inning of work, in a non-save situation. He gave up a HR to a 29-year-old journeyman catcher, Mike Rivera, who hadn't played in the majors since 2003, and was making his season debut for the Brewers last night, their former backup (Chad Moeller) having been DFA'd a couple of days ago.

And about Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee: Lee got the night off; nothing's wrong, he just rested his wrist. It's a bit odd considering after Sunday he gets FOUR days off, but the choice appears to have been Lee's. And the same link says about Ramirez:

If you had $1,000 for every time Dusty Baker has said he's talked to Aramis Ramirez, you'd have a nice nest egg. Add another grand to it.

Baker said Friday he talked to Ramirez after the third baseman admired a deep drive running to first Thursday, thinking it could he a homer. Instead, it caromed off the Miller Park wall, and Ramirez was thrown out when he tried to stretch a double into a triple.

"We talked to him about it and talk to him about it all the time," Baker said.

"He's been hustling a lot more. Before, the chances of him pulling something in his leg was big."

The injury excuse always seems to be there for Ramirez.

So maybe the blame for this one goes to Ramirez, who has a reputation as being a bit lazy.

Oh, and the ending you were wondering about? When I got to my car, I could see a couple of twentysomething men standing behind it. And one of them was ... well, peeing. On the back bumper of my car.

Gross, I know. I gave them a "WTF are you DOING here?" look and they walked away without saying a word.

Jerry Krause; Jacque Jones' name misspelled on the scoreboard; Z pitching to Rickie Weeks; Z batting. Photos by Al

(as always, click on thumbnail to view full-size in new browser window. If you are using IE, you may have to click the lower-right corner of the image in the new window to expand it to its full size; in Firefox click anywhere on the image.)