The Cubs saw the rain leaving the area in the late morning and figured they had a window of several hours in which they could play today's game before thunderstorms came into the area again tonight.
They may as well not have bothered. An announced crowd of 36,595 (maybe half of them in the house) dwindled to less than 1,000 by the time the Cubs' dreadful 12-2 loss to the Dodgers was completed just before 6 p.m.; the game began 74 minutes later than scheduled after some heavy rain and wind came through the Chicago area early Friday afternoon.
It got so awful that the loudest cheer of the day went up for several inebriated patrons down the left field line in the field boxes took their shirts off -- that behavior, apparently, is only allowed in the bleachers, so they were asked to leave, but not before it took ten different Cubs security employees to escort them out to cries of "Let them stay!"
It really was that bad. On a day when you'd have thought players on both sides would have liked to get things over with as soon as possible, Cubs pitchers prolonged the agony by issuing ten walks. Six of those were given up by reliever Jeff Stevens, who allowed just one hit in his 3.1 innings -- mainly because he kept walking people. The last Cubs reliever to allow six walks in a game was a guy very much like Stevens -- Joe Kraemer, who made 19 appearances in 1989 and 1990. Kraemer walked six Mets in relief in an 18-9 loss on June 12, 1990.
On that day 21 years ago it was sunny and 76 degrees. Today, it wasn't anywhere close to that -- 41 degrees with a howling east wind at 19 MPH made it unsuitable for just about anyone except the hundreds of ring-billed gulls who started invading the ballpark about the fourth inning, figuring it was dinner time. There seemed more gulls than people in the park by the eighth inning, by which time the Dodgers' Juan Uribe had homered and driven in four runs. The gulls, incidentally, are getting so popular they now have their own Facebook page. Seriously. Check it out.
It's much more interesting than telling you more about today's game. Marlon Byrd -- maybe he's the gulls' leader, who knows? -- tripled today in front of his winged audience, and apart from a four-single outburst in the seventh inning that chased Dodger starter Chad Billingsley, the Cubs really didn't do much offensively today. Mostly, this game was just offensive.
I still like Casey Coleman as a fifth starter, but he had nothing today -- he walked four and gave up hit after hit in a six-run Dodger third, after which Mike Quade did his traditional two claps on coming to the mound, and gave him the rest of the day off.
Which is something the rest of us probably should have done. Tomorrow, Ted Lilly faces Ryan Dempster in what should be an emotional game for both of them. Ted has never faced the Cubs. Driving by his former home on Waveland after the game -- it's still on the market -- I saw some lights on and it looked like some people were inside. Maybe Ted's hosting some of his new (or old) teammates tonight. Let 'em have a party and then let's have the Cubs bats have one at Ted's expense tomorrow; if the Cubs can win, they'll set a new major league record for the most times at .500 to start a season, every step from 1-1 to 10-10.
When it is promised to be sunny and in the low 60s. I'll believe that when I see it.