I had a chance to go to Saturday's game at SBC Park, what will most likely be my only chance to see the Cubbies up close this year. Here's a few things I noticed, pardon my bullet pointing:
- Did the insane thing of driving up from L.A. to San Francisco for the day(and then back). Don't ask why, but I have my reasons, none of them were all that comforting when I was up at 4:00 am though. I made the trip with a pal of mine who's never been to SBC park and then introduced me to the Carl's Jr. breakfast burger
, which we affectionately named "Death on a Bun". Not only does it include hash brown nuggets on the burger, they throw an extra dose of hash browns as a side order, for an extra cost you can purchase a defibrillator.
- So through a friend of a friend, I scored some free tickets through some folks who work with the Cubbies. The tickets are available through the standard will call windows but you have to wait for some Cub employee to bring that day's stash of tickets. We arrived rather early and took a tour around the park and were ready to go in, but the tickets hadn't arrived yet. So we were left waiting with an eclectic mix of player's wives, friends of the trainer and such not. After about an hour of waiting around, my buddy piped up with the following, "What are the chances that Corey is f***ing this up too?" It was immediately deemed the line of the day.
- SBC is easily my second favorite park in the league, behind the Friendly Confines. Much like Wrigley, it has a feeling of being part of the neighborhood, in this case the neighborhood are the boat docks. Anyway before we hit our seats, we found the world-famous Gilroy Garlic Fries and they're as good as I remember, topped off by a $6 Home Run Dog and then a Ghirardelli Hot Fudge Sundae. Should of bought the defibrillator.
- We missed the lineups being announced, so when we settled into our seats it was just in a time to see Corey Patterson leading off the game. Wow, my one game of the year and I'm going to have to endure Corey leading off a game. Thanks Dusty!
- Being the in the Cubs employee section, gave us a chance to sit right behind the Scott McClain family. They cheered loudly everytime he flied out in the game.
- Mark Prior's first inning struggles continued, I think he neared 40 pitches for the first inning. The Cubs actually had Todd Wellemeyer up in the pen. I immediately told my friend that he'll shut them down the rest of the game.
- I had a haunting feeling that Ronny Cedeno was going to leave the game eventually after getting hit in the hand. My buddy and me had a quick discussion on who we thought would come in for Ronny. Of course most teams wouldn't have a discussion when the replacement options are either Nomar vs. Neifi, of course most teams aren't managed by Dusty.
- It was a pretty good Cubs contingent at the game, obviously more so in our section. But when Henry Blanco hit his homer, I didn't notice one person get up in anticipation when the ball left his bat. Normally, the fans rise when a ball is well struck, hoping it leaves the park. In Blanco's case, I assume everyone was just assuming it end up foul or something. I don't think I've ever witnessed such a delayed reaction to a home run.
- Amusing observation in between innings. In the first, Jose Macias came out to warm up Jeromy Burnitz when he took his spot in right. By the second inning, most of the Cubs bullpen made it's way down and Todd Wellemeyer, fresh off of warming up, started playing catch with Burnitz. Macias had assumed it was still his job and was a good way down the first base line before noticing. He then promptly threw a baseball at Wellemeyer's feet. I couldn't hear what Macias said when he threw the ball, but I think it sounded like this: "DON'T TAKE MY JOB, you punk! I have to look like I'm helping the team at all times, otherwise they may realize how useless I am."
- I was hoping to get a good read on just how bad Hairston goes after flyballs in the outfield. He just didn't get too many opportunities. Hairston took one bad route on a ball hit by Dan Ortmeier in the fourth, sort of circling around the ball before coming in on it, rather than a nice direct route to the ball. Patterson, on the other hand, took a brutal route on a double by Winn in the second. He bee-lined straight for the ball and then realized it was going over his head. He tried to recover and let his speed take over, but then ended up over-running the ball. Luckily Winn stopped at second. Hairston did make a great catch on another Ortmeier ball in the bottom of the seventh, going straight out to the left-field corner, reaching up a few feet in front of the foul pole and then adding a little flair by running up the padded wall.
Apparently that play, coupled with a few nice catches on Thursday were enough for Brenly to tell us that Hairston takes better routes on balls than Patterson. Lack of long-term memory must be a wonderful way to go through life.
- On the gun at SBC, Prior was hitting between 93-95 in the seventh when he struck out Todd Linden. I'm amazed that he made it that far, since he was near 80 pitches by the third. After the strikeout, Dusty came out and headed straight for the umpire and I knew I was about to witness some double-switching bufoonry. In comes Jose Macias to replace Todd Walker at second. I'm guessing moving Hairston to second and putting Murton out in left didn't even cross Dusty's mind. Naturally Macias ended up getting a single in his only at-bat.
- Fun game, great ballpark, crappy ride down the 5 through California that was topped off with dinner at Denny's. I've been jogging since Sunday morning to burn off the calories.