I often dwell on my favorite moments of being a Cubs fan. Those times that were so euphoric. you could barely feel your extremities; that ultimate, non alcohol related buzz. These are the moments one will be able to re-tell fifty years from now as if they happened yesterday, a second by second regaling so etched in a person’s memory, it will never be erased. It’s a story one will continue to tell in heaven, or heck, relive it!
With that being said, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my favorite ten moments of the Aughts, 2000-today.
(Editors’ note: I believe the following details to be true, however, I may be off an inning by one, or have the score wrong by a run or two, but this is what I remember.)
10) Ricky Gutierrez’s game winning slide in 2001.
If you do not remember this game, Steve McMichael was thrown out of Wrigley after threatening to have ‘words’ with the umpire for a bad call right before he began his rendition of the Seventh Inning Stretch. Anyway, Gutierrez came around 3rd to score the game winning run and fell down. He started to retreat back, but then went again. His brain took over and he again began retreating to 3rd. When the catcher tried to nail Girardi going for two, Gutierrez again broke for home, this time going all the way, he made a head first dive, and somehow his left shoulder blade avoided the glove and the Cubs won. Later that night on ESPN, Linda Cohn said, “After seeing that, you know Cubs fans are thinking ‘This has got to be our year.'”
9) Mark Prior’s 18 strikeout performance against the Brewers in 2003
I do not need to remind you, but our bullpen blew the game and we lost, however, I remember thinking, I am so glad we got this guy! I hope I think that again very soon!
8) Aramis Ramirez/Kenny Lofton acquired in July of 2003
Some people do not remember that the Cubs were only a game or two over .500 at this point of the season. The trade was made during a night game in Cincinnati I believe (please don’t hold me to that, I was at a bar) and when the game ended, I recall Chip Caray saying, “Help is on the way”, as the announcement of the trade scrolled on the bottom of the screen. Well, A-Ram is still here, and now we have a lead off hitter, 25 days folks, only 25 DAYS!
7) The Yankees weekend in 2003
Need I say more. This was one of the most enthralling and exciting weekends I have ever spent at 1060 W. Addison. I have the night and weekend package so I did not attend Friday afternoon’s game, but I remember the aura driving into Wrigleyville on my way home from work. “IT” began a mile before it normally did on Addison and did not end for 50 some odd hours. So much happened…
An ambulance pulling on the field through the Sheffield gate because Hee-Seop was knocked out, Wood v. Clemens, Eric Karros’ homerun, shelling Andy Pettite, Borowski’s pick-off to win and the beer vendor shaking my hand right in front of my father. You can imagine his response, and pride was not part of it.
All these and more, a truly unforgettable weekend.
6/5) Ryne Sandberg and Ron Santo’s jersey retirements.
Two of the most beloved Cubs of all time have their flags raised at Wrigley among swarms of adoring fans, what I would not give to know that feeling. Most people have their own memory of the feeling, I just remember having issues with ‘eye sweat’ those two days.
4) Moises Alou’s homerun in Game 7 of the NLCS in 2003
If I have ever had a “I am sure we are going to win this” moment, it was right here. We went up 5-3 and had Kerry Wood on the mound. My memory is hazy past this point.
3)Kerry Wood’s homerun in Game 7 of the NLCS in 2003
I called this, I totally did, you have to believe me, I totally, totally, like SO called this homerun. Ask my mom, she was there, I really did. We were down 3-1, it was the bottom of the second, and I just kept thinking, if he could only hit one, we would be tied. Then, well, then it happened, and I saw and felt something like never before. I stand here to tell you that Wrigley Field was actually shaking, 40,000 some people more ecstatic than any other moment in life. This was my first, “We are so going to win this” moment of the night. (Okay, so maybe I think that a lot) It is hard to put into words, but this was AWESOME.
2)Double-Header clincher day against the Pirates in 2003
I had been out at a local neighborhood tavern on Friday night when I saw that the Brewers had beaten the Astros, and my dream began. Well, if we sweep the double-header tomorrow and the Brewers win again, we win the Division. Well, that is exactly what happened the following day, and as Alex Gonzales started the double play, I knew, oh, I knew, and hence was that euphoric moment where you go numb. You will hear a great deal more about this day in a future article, ‘My Favorite Day at Wrigley’.
1)The FIRST time in 98 YEARS!
Really, could it be anything else? I was standing on my couch, next to my buddies Patrick (Toucan) and Kevin (Tex) praying harder than ever. (I used to get in trouble when I was younger for praying for things that were not important, well this was DARN important) Our right fielder had made a nice catch to start the inning, and that prompted McCarver to say, “Luck be a Cubbie tonight!” The Polish Prince, Joe Borowski, struck out Javy Lopez for the second out and had two strikes on Andruw Jones. Then, well then it happened, strike three. I went screaming down the hall to my bedroom where I called my mom in a heap and we celebrated over the phone, but for all intents and purposes, we were standing right next to each other. After the call, I put on my coat, and the three of us ran the four blocks down Clark to the epicenter of celebration. (Please note that none of the three of us will be gracing the cover of Men’s Health anytime soon) That was the first time in my life I ran a half-mile and was not out of breath. Grown men were crying, police officers were laughing at the amount of beer being drunk in the middle of the street and young men all over were bear-hugging complete strangers. I proceeded to Murphy’s Bleachers to continue the celebration. A picture of Patrick and me from that night is still the cornerstone of my mantle display. This will remain until a woman makes me move it. I could go on and on about this moment for pages, but I will spare you. It was the greatest Sunday night EVER. Oh, and by the way, I was at work at 8:00 on Monday morning.
So those are my top ten memories in order, the ones I can remember at least. Sure, there were plenty of others, but as far as baseball goes, those are my top ten, and guess what, there is one more memory. However, this memory is not about baseball per say, but about Wrigley Field, and it will always be my favorite. Indulge me for a moment, if you will.
On April 5, 2002, I went to Opening Day with my mother, the first day of my “Season Ticket Holding Experience”. I proceeded to row four in section 407 and took my seat. About five minutes before the game started, a couple in their early 30’s sat next to me. In the bottom of the first, DeLino DeShields hurt himself sliding into second base. In the row in front of us, four men stood up and were drinking and talking as the trainers were on the field.
The woman then said, “Could you please sit down?”
The men replied in unison, “It is a dead ball.”
And she replied, “Well maybe I want to SEE the dead ball.”
At this point her husband leaned over and whispered the following to me,
“First “expletive” game of the year and she is already pissing people off!”
Well, Mike and Suzanne are now two of my best friends in the entire world. I have had season tickets with them for years and as they begin a new chapter of their lives in Dallas, I just wanted to say thank you to them for making every moment at Wrigley a good one, and for truly being the older brother and older sister I never had! You never know what may happen at Wrigley, but better yet, you never know who you will meet! To that girl, if you are out there, I sit in Section 409 now and I am single, you would make my mother very happy.
These, like many great memories in life, will always make me smile and think that the unthinkable will eventually happen. I hope that 2006 will deliver a brand new top three, but if not, no one can ever take these away from me.
Thanks for reading, if you would like to contact me, please drop me a line at [email protected], and until next time….
Stay Classy Cubs Fans