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What a strange day at the ballpark. I arrived about 11:30 A.M. in time to see the Iowa Cubs' GM unloading champagne out of the back of his SUV. Special shampoo for the clubhouse showers. I had to leave five hours later for a wedding reception with the potential pennant-clincher still unresolved after 10 innings. Turns out I'd only seen two thirds of the game.

On my way into the ballpark a team official in a championship frame of mind mentioned to me that 18 of the players had been to the clubhouse chapel service that morning. It wasn't clear if he thought that somehow boded well for the game ahead. I asked him if Jeff Samardzija, the appointed starting pitcher, had been there. No, apparently he has neither a prayer nor a clue. What would Touchdown Jesus think?

Thanks to a 33 year-old journeyman who's probably had all he's likely to get of the big leagues, what remains of the Iowa Cubs took another big step toward a division pennant and the PCL playoffs with an 8-5 win over the Memphis Redbirds last night in Des Moines. Jeff Samardzija will take the mound this afternoon and try to toss the clincher.

The newly named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year, Iowa's Ryne Sandberg, must be assembling his lineups at this point like Mr. Phelps uesd to put together his teams on Mission Impossible. The Phelps character would listen to the tape describing his task, should he choose to accept it, and toss 8x10 glossies on the table of the available personnel best suited to accomplish it.

Last night Sandberg was without Sam Fuld due to an injured foot in addition to all the horsepower already summoned to Chicago. His starting pitcher was Chris Carpenter, a touted prospect yet to throw well since his promotion to Triple A. The opponent was the Memphis Redbirds who arrived in town deadlocked with Sandberg's club for the top spot in the PCL American North. This weekend's games are the last four of the regular season.

Iowa scrounged a gutsy 4-2 win to nudge a game in front with three to play.

This topic doesn't really merit a full post, but the site won't allow me to reply directly to inquiries aimed my way about Marquez Smith so I took another route in.

He said he would meet the press on Wednesday afternoon but word was he jetted back to Chicago instead. Then the plan was to talk with media types after a pitching cameo Thursday night. He pitched a little but didn't talk at all, using the Iowa Cubs media relations people the way bigshot execs use secretaries to dodge phone calls. The enabling continues.

To his credit, Carlos Zambrano took it upon himself to scribble a few marks of Zorro for unaccountably adoring fans before last night's game in Des Moines. The biggest crowd of the year, nearly 13,000, had assembled, but Zambrano wasn't the only attraction. It also happened to be Casey Blake bobblehead night and Casey Blake is big in these parts. He hails from Indianola, a village not too far south of town.

After getting stood up at a mid-day press conference with a once angry pitcher in exile from the big leagues I went home after work to change into shorts and sandals and then headed back to the ballpark. Last night I pulled my first shift of the summer in the "Ryne Line," the nightly queue that forms in the stands to get a brief audience with the only HOF'er currently at work in baseball's minor leagues.

Since I was there alone I was left to pass the wait by watching the Oklahoma City Redhawks take BP before the grounds crew painted the infield a dark red and bright white. I couldn't help but eavesdrop on some of the conversations going on around me. One guy a few spots back remarked that he can't stand the Metrodome and doesn't plan on going to a Twins' game again until or unless they get an outdoor stadium. Good luck with that, pal!

Eventually I got the manager of the first place Iowa Cubs to sign a PCL ball and one of the cards they were passing out at the Wrigley Field turnstiles on the day in 2005, about a month after his induction at Cooperstown, when his #23 was retired and hoisted up the foul pole.

I don't know enough about big league baseball or Ryne Sandberg to know what kind of a manager he would be at that level. I do think he has grown into his role as a manager at this level.

Deep Threat beat Rich Harden Friday night, a guy he relieved effectively a few times in late 2008 when both were better pitchers than either of them has been in 2010...Brad Snyder mashed TWO three-run homers last night as the I-Cubs won again to preserve their one-game lead in a division where all four teams are separated by a mere one and a half games. If the Iowa record could be promoted to Chicago the Cubs would find themselves a scant half game behind the Reds...let's see, there was one other thing - oh yeah, Zambozo's coming to town on Tuesday and Wednesday on a rehab assignment before assuming his new duties as the Cubs' anger manager. I suppose it's too much to ask that the tranquilizer darts wear off while he's back in town for the first time since playing here on his way up as an allegedly teenaged man-child, but I'll try to drop in just in case.

Hey, consecutive weeks with three-day undefeated stretches! Do you think…never mind.


Ever been to an all-star game? I’ve been to two which ties with holes-in-one on my personal list of something-you-don’t-see-every-day experiences.


I went with some pals to the 1983 game at Comiskey Park where Fred Lynn hit the first [and still the only?] grand slam in AS history off of Atlee Hammaker. What I remember more than that is drinking across the street at a joint called McCuddy’s [I think] that was presided over by an old matriarch proprietress who regaled us with stories about Ruth dashing over for a cold one between innings when the Yankees were in town. Speaking of the Bambino, the other highlight of that trip was another old gal, the Babe’s sister, who was in attendance and whose autograph I got on a game program which I cannot locate now. I don’t remember her name but I remember that she noted herself as “Babe Ruth’s sister” in a parenthetical p.s. to her signature.


On Monday, June 28 I watched the Cubs snap the Pirates’ 17 game road losing streak from the vantage point of Bob Uecker seats in the last row of section 506 at Wrigley Field. They didn’t look any less ugly from there than they would have up closer.

Five days later was my maiden voyage at sparkling new Target Field in the Twin Cities. What a contrast of premises AND tenants.

Is it just me or has the number of good old fashioned slugfests at Wrigley Field dwindled in recent years? Even throwing out the fact that this year's Cubs couldn't hold up their end of one, my sense is that there are lots less of the 10-9, 11-7, 14-10 type scores that used to tax the old green abacus on a regular basis once the summer wind started to blow out of the south.

Who else listened to or saw the Cub-Phillie classic that I think was 8-7 after one and ended 23-22? I remember moaning that the Cubs were the only team that could put up 22 and still get beat.

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