Fans reach to catch Henry Blanco's home run in the second inning last night.
(AP Photo/Al Behrman)
(Yes, that's a joke!)
About an hour before the storm hit Cincinnati, delaying and eventually forcing the 4-2 lead the Reds had over the Cubs to hold up for a Cincinnati win, a huge storm blew through Chicago, with torrential rain, high winds and reports of funnel clouds as close to my house as Loyola University in Rogers Park.
It seemed a fitting end to astronomical summer, leading to the fall equinox, which occurred last night just after 10 pm CT, and thus, nearing the end of this (at least for the Cubs) misbegotten season.
And, thus, also, the fall logo which now graces this site. (Thanks to Mike for designing all the "alternate" logos!)
There's not much to say about the Cubs' second rain-shortened game of 2006 (they won the other one, June 21 in Cleveland, oddly, another astronomically significant date -- the date of the summer solstice. No, there were no weather problems for the Cubs on the date of this year's vernal equinox, March 20 -- they beat Arizona 10-2 in Tucson.) Rich Hill didn't throw quite as well last night as he did against the Reds last Sunday, though he did strike out ten in the five innings; Reds hitters were clearly sitting on his fastball, though, smacking three home runs (including one by ex-Cub Brendan Harris), and Hill labored through 99 pitches in the five innings.
Too bad the Cubs couldn't have stalled that last of the fifth a little longer, so as to not have it count as an official game. As a result of this game being "official", though, Hill winds up with his second complete game. It's the shortest game the Cubs have played since this 2-2 tie against the Expos at Wrigley Field on May 28, 1993. Note that there's still one player who played in that game 13 years ago who is still active -- Moises Alou.
Record watch: Juan Pierre stole his 54th base last night. That matches Ryne Sandberg (1985) and Eric Young (2000) for the most by a Cub since 1906 (Frank Chance, 57). Pierre also now needs nine hits for 200, and seven more at-bats to break the club record for at-bats. The latter should fall on Sunday.
Today's weather forecast for the Cincinnati area isn't much better than last night's -- with heavy rain and storms expected all day and evening. Expect more delays or even a postponement; if Carlos Zambrano's start is thus delayed till Sunday, he should still get another start after that. Z still has a chance to lead the league in wins and strikeouts, and is currently fifth in ERA; he'll have to have two outstanding starts (like his last one) to still have a shot at the Cy Young Award.
Finally, Chris DeLuca chimes in on the Joe Girardi-for-manager possibility:
Girardi has done more than turn off [Jeffrey] Loria in Florida. Many players reportedly have been soured by Girardi's micro-managing. His late-game decisions have been questioned. Worst of all, he has been compared to Texas Rangers manager Buck Showalter, who has built a reputation of rubbing people the wrong way.
The Chicago media loved Girardi the player, but things would be different if he were managing. The expectations will be as high as they have been since 2003. Girardi would figure to have a shorter honeymoon in Chicago than he had in South Florida.
Many thought Don Baylor was the right choice six years ago, and Dusty Baker the right choice four years ago. Both those choices turned out to be wrong. So would Girardi be the BEST choice?That remains to be seen.