NOTE: This post was originally made last night right after the game; I've changed the posting time to move it to the top of the page Sunday morning. This is the reason for the "tonight" references.
Normally, as you know, I don't write recaps after night games until the next morning.
But tonight, I'm so wound up that I have to write this before going to sleep, or I won't get any.
The Cubs lost to the White Sox 3-2 on an eighth-inning home run by Paul Konerko, and I'll talk more about the game itself after the jump.
First, however, White Sox security needs to get a new one ripped, so here goes.
A number of years ago, the Sox decided not to have any home night games during the Cubs series; as far as I can tell, the last Cubs/Sox night game at the Cell before tonight was in 2001. There was a good reason for this; there were a number of incidents at Cubs/White Sox night games, and the Cubs never had any at Wrigley until last year (the only time there has been a weekday series between the Cubs and Sox). One of those night games was rained out and there were no incidents at the other one.
When Fox-TV came calling, though, the Sox acquiesced and scheduled a Saturday night game for this series. I should have known there would be trouble, and indeed, there was.
Security, at first, was fairly proactive. They emptied out half a section next to me, but could not keep the rest of the people under control. To be fair, this is not about Sox fans -- because there were just as many drunk Cubs fans causing trouble -- it's about Sox security being outnumbered and failing to help out when asked.
In my section, I missed a number of plays because people just would not freaking sit down even when asked politely; I missed some others because vendors stood right in front of me during play, overserving a number of people who were clearly already plastered and at one point spilling beer on people without apologizing. Another vendor asked the person next to me for an ID -- after he had already opened the beer bottles and given three of them to his group!
The last straw was a number of Cubs fans passing a joint around behind me. Despite complaints from me and other people in the section, Sox security would not remove those people, causing me to have to get up and leave my seat and watch the ninth inning standing in the top of the aisle.
It also appeared a fight broke out in the right field corner, because most people were watching that right after Konerko's home run.
The Sox need to never, ever, ever, EVER have another home night game against the Cubs, period. There's too much drunkenness, and at the risk of sounding like "get off my lawn", there was far too much idiot behavior, people not caring about nor watching the game; the next time Fox or ESPN calls the Sox to say, "Play at night!", the Sox have to politely decline. Again, to make it clear, I am not calling their fans out because fans of both teams were involved. It's Sox employees who dropped the ball tonight.
It's a shame, because the game was actually pretty good. Carlos Silva had another solid outing, though inexplicably, he hit three Sox batters -- hard to believe, because control is normally Silva's best attribute. He had hit only four other batters all season before tonight. The last of the three (Carlos Quentin) happened after Silva's only walk of the game, to Konerko, and that helped lead to a run without a hit.
This would prove to be significant; the Cubs came back twice from deficits to tie the game, the second time on an Aramis Ramirez home run (he's alive!), but after Alfonso Soriano hustled out a double and was sacrificed to third (I wouldn't have done that), he could not score.
Andrew Cashner threw a really nice seven-pitch seventh before allowing the game-winner, the homer to Konerko. Wish I could have seen it.
There's one more thing that's important with this loss. It dropped the Cubs to ten games under .500 at 32-42, a season low. There has been only one team in franchise history that has come from ten games under .500 to even have a winning record -- that's the 1968 Cubs, who had a similarly awful 35-45 start (and in a similar way, having terrible offensive troubles despite good pitching), only to have a 49-33 finish and win 84 games. They didn't come close to the NL pennant, finishing third, 13 games behind the Cardinals. Incidentally, that team set and still holds the major league record for most consecutive scoreless innings -- 48. Yes, that's right -- the '68 Cubs failed to score in the last eight innings of a 3-2 loss to the Braves on June 15, then got shut out four straight times (three by 1-0, one in 11 innings), then finally broke the streak in the third inning of a 3-2 win over the Reds on June 21. After that they lost seven more games in a row, before finally turning on the winning.
In late June 1968, you could have said the Cubs were bad, and guess what, they were. Same thing with this year's team. And that's a shame, because the NL Central this year isn't very strong and might be won with 85-88 victories, but unless there's some kind of 1968-style miracle finish in this bunch, that team won't be the 2010 Cubs, who are now 11-17 in one-run games.
Sad to say, but there it is. The 2007 Cubs went to nine games under before turning it around, and I thought this team might have a comeback like that in them. They don't, and part of it is a reflection of their manager, who only in the last couple of days seems to have awakened; he went out onto the field to argue a call tonight and just briefly, I thought he might actually throw his hat and show some emotion. No such luck, and I'm not a huge fan of those tirades, either, but if this is Lou Piniella's final year as a major league manager, he's not going to go out on a high note. It's not all Lou, of course; there is talent on this club, but it has underperformed all season and seems to go out of its way to find new and creative ways to lose.
I am optimistic by nature and want always to think about the Cubs doing well, turning the corner, but I just don't see it right now. Maybe it's because of tonight's experience, which ranks right up there with the bleacher mess at Wrigley in May as the worst I have ever seen at any sporting event I have attended, but right now I'd love to see the 80% chance of thunderstorms currently forecast for Sunday to come true and dump rain all over the South Side all day.
I'm not hanging around tonight for comments. I'll check back here early in the morning. Perhaps I'll feel better then. Right now, I'm as down a fan as I have ever been.