I had been tipped off by the bartender that a number of Cubs players were hanging at another table in the restaurant. Between courses I decided to take a stroll through the lightly populated restaurant. Sure enough, at a large table in the back, I found Mike Fontenot, Kevin Gregg, Aaron Miles, Rich Harden and Reed Johnson seated with a few other guys (tough to remember everyone as I was waltzing past). At a smaller table next to the large one, Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija seemed to be banished to the weeds by the older players.
After another drink, I decided to return and let the boys know that while they would likely prefer anonymity on the road, it was my role to wish them the best over the upcoming weekend. They seemed genuinely appreciative, and in our brief exchange, it struck me that Johnson was the ringleader of the group.
As I returned to the bar to finish my drink, I noticed an older, bald gentleman enjoying a beer at the end of the bar. Sure enough, it was Mike Quade, sucking back a Bud Light, oblivious to the youngsters having dinner in the back of the restaurant. I offered Mike a re-fill, which he politely declined, and at this point I was ready to leave as the Cubs Crew had made their way into the casino.
Seems Alfonso Soriano was already seated at a blackjack table -- a $10 minimum limit table, I might add -- when the dinner crowd caught up to him. I took up a seat across the pit, and while watching these guys, gave back most of my previous winnings. Eventually Soriano left, and according to an informative pit boss, he took $20K in chips with him. Now, that said, he had no idea how much Soriano had bought in at the start, so it wasn't clear if Fonzie was up or down on the night. The crowd thinned to just two guys, Shark and some other guy (don't think this guy was a player), with Jeff playing to a large stack of green checks ($25 chips).
Our intrepid reporter on the scene in St. Louis, BCB reader tville, filed this report late last night from Lumiere Place, a casino/restaurant/hotel complex at Laclede's Landing in St. Louis: