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Let's clear up any misconceptions on both of the balls that were hit toward the bleachers and disputed today:

  • Derrek Lee's ball appeared to absolutely, positively bounce out of the basket, a home run. This play has happened several times in the last two years, since the reconstruction of the bleachers, and the umpires have gotten it wrong more than they have gotten it right. However, I've been told that one of the regular ballhawks was the person involved in this play and that whether he interfered or not, he was tossed out of the ballpark -- and then nearly grabbed Alfonso Soriano's sixth-inning HR on the street afterward.
  • The ball hit by the Padres' Adrian Gonzalez was interfered with, somehow, in right field (the baskets aren't quite as wide at that point) -- this was confirmed by BCB reader, the San Diego Smooth Jazz Man, who called me just afterwards to tell me (and I looked over to see this myself) that a fan was being escorted out of the ballpark. That said, the ball should have been scored a double -- and someone ought to tell Cliff Floyd that the first thing you do when a ball hits through the ivy is stand there with your arms upraised, pretending that you can't find it. The result of the play would have been the same -- a run would have scored, since Hiram Bocachica (what a great name!) had led off the inning with a double -- but at the time, having a runner on third with one out was a little nervewracking.
Fortunately, Ted Lilly got out of that jam with two popups, just as he was good at not creating jams all afternoon, and the Cubs won their third in a row, 4-1 over the Padres, and ninth in their last thirteen.

And incidentally, I hate when national sportswriters (this time, the culprit is Rick Gano of the AP, who wrote the Yahoo recap linked above) write nonsense like this:

Both plays recalled the 2003 NLCS, when fan Steve Bartman interfered with a foul ball in the eighth inning of Game 6, the Cubs collapsed and went on to lose the series to the Florida Marlins.

That's absolute BS. Neither of those plays were anything like the play in the NLCS, which was along the LF line and on a foul ball. Why do these writers do this? First, we don't have to be constantly reminded of that. Second, as I said, it's a complete stretch to make any comparison to today's incidents and the one from four years ago.

Shame on you, Rick Gano.

For a while it didn't seem like Lilly would make it out of the first inning -- again -- this time because his control briefly deserted him. After a single, he walked Gonzalez on four pitches and Jose Cruz stole third uncontested. But Lilly settled down and got two lazy flyouts to end the inning. After that, except for the two-extra-base-hit sixth that scored SD's only run, he gave up only two hits, a two-out double by Josh Bard that went just out of the diving reach of Mark DeRosa, and a single by Khalil Greene in the 7th, that was promptly erased by a double play.

Props, by the way, to DeRosa, who after Bard's double, speared a wicked line drive by Greene to end that inning.

Meanwhile, the Cubs took the lead on a DeRosa double and Michael Barrett single in the fifth, gave it back in the top of the sixth on the aforementioned "interference triple", and then took it back when Mike Fontenot hit his second HR this week with Barrett on base. Then Soriano followed with his solo shot that glanced off the hand of someone in the back row in the section next to us, and out onto the street.

Look -- Fontenot's not this good. His minor league numbers, not including 2007, are .287/.364/.427 -- good, but not great. He plays a decent second base and runs the bases well. As long as he's on this hot streak, they ought to run with it until he cools off. I don't know if he can play any other IF positions, but if he can, he might make a decent utility player once Aramis Ramirez returns.

Ted Lilly threw an outstanding game today. Maybe he was a little too strong in the first inning, given that he's had a lot of rest (10 pitches in the last 10 days), but he seemed to make adjustments pretty well and threw only 92 pitches (60 strikes). We thought he might have been left in to try to finish, and maybe if the Cubs had extended the lead to more than 3 runs in the last of the 8th, he would have. Ryan Dempster's efficient 11-pitch (7 strike) 9th inning means he'll be available again tomorrow.

It was hotter than yesterday and more humid and got even stickier when Mark spilled the Coke he had just bought all over the concrete beneath our seats. (Yes, I meant to embarrass him) So we put the paper from my Jimmy John's sandwich on the ground to avoid sticking our feet to everything in sight.

And, David Wells -- man, why is he still playing? Standing out there with his shirt untucked, what a mess -- and why did he try to bunt his way on with two out and nobody on in the 5th? Not that I minded, but I imagine Bud Black did.

Finally, tomorrow is BCB Day in the LF bleachers. I have tickets for some of you, but for those of you who have your own tickets, please arrive as early as you can to help us save seats. See you then! We are also going to be joined by some members of the Rockford Thunder team in the women's pro fastpitch softball league.