Four weeks from today, Cubs pitchers and catchers will report to Mesa to begin 2017 spring training.
That’s not very far away — and yet, it is, as we count the days to a new baseball season.
Today, I thought I’d pose this question to you: What’s your favorite Cubs regular-season game you have ever attended in person?
I’m limiting the scope of this post to regular-season games because I suspect if I included the postseason, almost everyone who’s attended a Cubs postseason game would choose that one, presuming it’s a Cubs win. Since I wasn’t in Cleveland for Game 7, I’d have to say that including the postseason, the best Cubs game I ever attended in person was Game 6 of the 2016 NLCS. Beyond Kyle Hendricks’ marvelous pitching in that game, the result, putting the Cubs in the World Series for the first time in 71 years gave that game great meaning to me.
So, restricting it to regular-season games — and I easily could have picked probably a dozen others — here are the best five games I’ve ever attended.
This game looked lost in the first inning, when the Brewers scored five off Rich Hill. But the Cubs pushed two across in the fourth and another in the seventh. At 5-3 going to the last of the ninth, they at least had a shot. With one out Alfonso Soriano singled and went to third on a single by Mike Fontenot. Derrek Lee made it 5-4 with a sacrifice fly and Aramis Ramirez slammed Francisco Cordero’s first pitch into the left-field bleachers. It was the loudest I could remember Wrigley being, up to that time. Not only was that a stirring comeback win, but it started to give everyone the thought that maybe that year’s Cubs could indeed win the division, which they did.
This was just the second time in the divisional play era that the Cubs actually clinched a division title by winning a game at Wrigley Field. (The 2016 Cubs celebrated a division clinching at home after winning this game, but they had already clinched with a Cardinals loss the night before. They clinched at home in 2003.)
Not only that, but doing it against the team’s biggest rival made it feel sweeter, and the last out nestling into former Cardinal Jim Edmonds’ glove seemed particularly appropriate.
The “Sandberg Game.” You all know pretty much everything about this game, and again, it was right about then that it became clear that the 1984 Cubs were a serious contender.
The 1998 wild-card tiebreaker game is one of just two winner-take-all games in the history of the Cubs at Wrigley Field (Game 7 of the 1945 World Series is the other). Tense until the middle innings when Gary Gaetti broke up a scoreless game with a two-run homer, this game seemed easy for the Cubs after that until the ninth inning, when the Giants put up a three-run rally. Rod Beck came on to get the last two outs, including the little popup that Mark Grace caught behind first base to end the game. The video below includes Pat Hughes’ radio call (and Ron Santo celebrating).
This game, you surely remember well. It had just about everything, from the stirring comeback from a 6-0 deficit to Travis Wood’s great catch in left field (as well as some other great defensive plays) to Jon Lester’s walkoff bunt.
This game, to me, epitomized the entire 2016 season and how the Cubs never gave up, ever, all the way through the final inning of Game 7 of the World Series.
Now it’s your turn. What’s the best regular-season Cubs game you ever attended?