Kane County 5-0
POTG: RP Jon Lieber (3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K, somehow 0 R, W [1/130])
Runner Up: C Mr. Soto (3 H, 2B, R, RBI), CF Reed Johnson (H, 2 R, 2 BB), 1B D Lee (2 H, 2B, R, 2 BB), RF Fukudome (3 H, SB, 2 BB, 2 R), SS Ryan Theriot (2 BB, R, 2 SB)
POTG: RF Todd(ric) Johnson (4 H, HR, 3B, 3 R, 4 RBI)
Runner Up: CF Corey Brown (3 H, 2 R, RBI), 2B Ray (2B, 2H, R), 1B Dowling (4 H, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI), LF Lissman (3 H, 2 R), RP Walters (2 IP, 0 H)
I kinda waited a day to see if any of this would make sense with a bit more time. It does not.
The Cubs played a great game they should’ve won easily, then played a horrible game they should’ve lost easily, and then ended up winning in the end because the Pirates last option was an actual Last Option and the Cubs last option was their Best Option who was supposed to have the day off. The Cubs happen to win because the Pirates aren’t 100% trying to win this season and so a Rule 5 pitcher way over his head ended up in the game when no one else was available. The Cubs didn’t earn this win in any way, it was handed to them by circumstance.
It’s pretty improbable for the Cubs defense to be this bad, everyone all at once, and I think it’s impossible for it to stay that way. Stupid plays are being passed around like an infectious disease. Theoretically, everyone wakes up and realizes they are baseball players playing the game of baseball and stops screwing around.
I listen/followed to the this game on my computer, with an eye towards making the KC home opener. Pirates home opener started at 12:30 (or so, whenever way too many celebrations for a decade of losing concluded), Cougars started at 3, but I wasn’t going to be able to start heading that way until 4 anyway, so I figured one game would be resolved by the time I wanted to shift to the other. That didn’t quite work out, and while the Pirates tied it up in the major leagues, I checked the Minor League scoreboard to see the Cougars were winning as lopsided a game as the Cubs had been a few innings before.
When I got to Cougars Stadium, the Cubs had just escaped the 9th (much thanks to the bunt play gone bad, an all time classic bad Pirates baseball moment) and I heard Pat opening up the 10th inning as I parked. I had no idea how the Cubs/Pirates would turn out, but I was pretty sure if I stayed around to listen for a minute more, I was never making it inside the gates. My ticket was free, a bonus for my ticker package, but I figured I might as well use it if I came out here. So I turned off the radio and went in.
The official attendance is listed 2,236, but there were not more than a 1,000 people (and probably a bit less) inside the park when I arrived in the 4th inning. I noticed odd empty spots in the rows of parked card and a few people headed the opposite direction as I came in, which should’ve been a tip off. Also possible tips: the temperature dropping while the wind picked up.
I did not put this together until I got into my (relocated) seat. It’s a nice spot, two rows behind the home dugout, among the people who come for a lot of games and actually seem to be paying attention to what’s going on. The only small problem is, on this day, the seat was also apparently located in the Arctic Circle. It was so cold, maybe a few degrees above freezing and howling wind to make it feel like a few degrees above 0F instead. The rug had been pulled out from me, because it was beautiful the two days before before flipping back into early December weather. It was cruel.
I got a barbecue chicken sandwich for the heat as much of the food, but wolfed it down in three bites, while somehow drenching a pant leg in excess sauce. If it had been a hotter sauce, this might have worked out well. I washed it down with a Mountain Dew, attempting to drink fast enough to override the stupidity of a ice cold drink on an ice cold day.
I looked around at everyone else seated in the stands. They were dressed warmed them me, but seemed to be having no more fun. I looked at the umpires, and the second base ump was trying to close his ski mask tight enough to cover all but the iris’ of his eyes. I looked into the Bees dugout, and saw someone passing out packets of heat to everyone on the bench. I was given no heat packed. I hated the Bees. April baseball in the Great Lakes can be a miserable experience.
At that point, I decided I was unlikely to be following two games on the same day where 6+ run leads would get blown (which is true) and that everyone in the game would likely mail it in to get into the warmth quicker (which was not true), so there was no reason to sit out there, tired, miserable, and doused with barbecue sauce. I decided I might as well get another warm food that makes a mess – the sugar bread who’s name I forget whenever I’m not at the stand buying it – and decided to take off as soon as I was finished. The Cougars started turning the 6 run lead into a 7 and 8 when I started to take off for the exit, so I felt like I made a decent decision.
In between getting my food and leaving, the Cougars premiered a new in between feature, a stadium wide karaoke sing along to a random song shown on the not-so-jumbotron. “Sweet Caroline” played, the lyrics were shown on the screen, and not a single person sung. They looked for someone to show singing in hopes of getting everyone else started, and could only stadium personal acting as plants. This failed. I cackled. The song concluded, PA Announcer thanked everyone for singing along, and everyone clapped and laughed at their own non participation. I don’t know if everyone was too cold and beat by the wind to sing, or if everyone has had enough of Everyone Who Are Not The Red Sox trying to steal their song, but I hoped this would mean a quick, sweet death to the bit.
It won’t die, they’ll play the same song in the middle of the summer, all the families who are there for the day and not for the game will sing, and I’ll remember the bottom of the 6th is for making a food run.
(This is getting way to long as it is, but I must also mention this was the greatest Ozzie Race in the history of such things. It might still be going.)
Anyway, I left, hustling to my car more to get into the heat than anything. I threw my free opening day t-shirt into the backseat, and decided I might as well turn on the radio, just in case.
Pat announced the start of the 12th inning. So great.
I looked at the clock. I was in the park for roughly 45 minutes.
I think this makes me a failure of a human being, but I was okay with it.
From there, you may know the rest. Basbeall-refrence has added the win likelihood to their boxscore this inning, and it’s funny to see the five biggest plays of the game were all Pirate plays – getting on base, getting Cubs out, and a mindblowing bad bunt play. There was no great big play in the 12th to win the game. it was a lot of wildness from a pitcher not ready for this level and baserunning advances during the count or from sacrifice flies. The Cubs nearly batted around without actually getting the bat on the ball for a hit, and there was a lack of a big hit to focus on.
I’d like to break the game down more, or examine the Cubs SB trend (looks like Kendall isn’t the only one they’re going to be running wild on), but the measly 45 minutes I spent at the game appears to have given me something. I’ve got a sore throat, a runny nose, watery eyes, and people expecting me to wake up at 6:30 tomorrow morning and so much more to do today. I hope this post was good and coherent, because I don’t expect the next one will be.