What a day, what a night, what a weekend! No, this is not Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, but the rambling thoughts from a “wicked awesome” Wrigley weekend. This fan can honestly say that he was not expecting to walk out of the ballpark Sunday night feeling the way he did. Wind, a little rain, overcast skies and a barrage from the 2006 Cubbies sums up the beginning of the first homestand of the season. After the first two games in Cincinnati, I was excited, yet cautious for the northerly return of the Cardinals. We all agreed that two out of three would be great. Sure, a sweep crossed my mind, but then I reminded myself I was a Cubs fan. We cannot go too large too fast; easy does it buddy, easy does it. But then there was a crack of the bat, a ball onto Waveland and Wrigley was rocking once again!
As I have said before, Opening Day at Wrigley should be a holiday. The atmosphere in Wrigleyville on Friday was nothing short of electric. Restaurants, bars, port-a-potties and parking garages all had long lines. Radio stations had live broadcasts alongside Clark St and thousands of people were caught staring and thinking, “Does that really say Bud Light Bleachers?” Well, yes it does, and in my humble opinion, the whole expansion was done very well while maintaining almost the entire ambiance of the previous structure.
On Friday Greg Maddux took a ride in the DeLorean back to 1993. He was in command, he was mixing speeds and he was confusing a few of the greatest hitters in baseball. Some Dusty small ball and a D-Lee long ball lead the Cubs to a victory at Wrigley on Opening Day. The wind was blowing in like crazy on Friday and when I sat down, I was convinced there was NO way anyone was going long….yea, so I was kind of wrong about that.
Saturday was just frustrating. Zambrano was on his game, we were staying close and then an inexplicable error by Lee, a “debatable call” from our umpire friend and I was angry. Again, the wind was howling in and I did not think we would come back, seriously, after the past few years, comebacks just became a memory from ’03. However, to my delight, Michael Barrett tied the game, Bobby Howry came through and D-Lee put the Cubs ahead for good. (This brings me to another point, Derrek Lee needs a nickname; please include your thoughts on this in a comment.)
After watching Philly Mick lock up his second green jacket, I headed over to Wrigley for some more weekend baseball. We had Sean Marshall on the hill, we had already won the first two, this just wasn’t going to happen. The game got underway, the kid looked pretty good and then Jacque went from being the goat to answering a curtain call in one swing of the lumber. You have to love the fans of this wonderful city and its phenomenal franchise. I kept hearing shouts for Pagan and Mabry at the beginning of the game and in 3.8 seconds Double J was quickly a temporary hero.
STL went back ahead, but Isringhausen came in, did his best Mitch Williams impression and then Michael Barrett quieted his critics quickly. In one weekend, he caught Greg Maddux, hit a pinch-hit game tying homer and hit a game winning Grand Slam, all while finding out his house had been badly damaged by the weather near Atlanta. I just ask that you be patient with him, I said he would be an All-Star and he will….I think.
It is truly amazing how three baseball games and Opening weekend can provide such a vivid series of memories, but here are just a few of mine:
– Wow, you can barely tell they changed the bleachers, nice work.
– I better be able to TASTE that $.25 increase in this hot dog!
– The mean usher is still in my section, she is just mean, more about her in a future column
– The smoking ban affected Wrigley as well
– I love Michael Barrett
– I love Derrek Lee
– Bobby Howry is a lot better than I thought
– Still loving Barrett and Lee
– Sean Marshall could actually pull this off
– I really do not like Jim Edmonds
– Ronny C. is impressive
– Grand Slam!
And one final note from the memory bank, when Jim Edmonds was taken out of Sunday’s game, I could have sworn he dove into the dugout when he simply could have just walked down the stairs.
By my count there are 12 more home weekends this year and if this past one was any indication of those to come, I should clear my schedule for October. This team is good, they can compete, they enjoy each other and if you did not know better, you would have guessed it was September based on the crowd.
In August of 2002, with the season already lost, my buddy Mike and I agreed that we would be thoroughly satisfied if we could have ONE meaningful September game in 2003. I am going to get greedy now, but here’s hoping for ONE meaningful October game in 2006, Go Cubs!
Thanks for reading, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and until next time….
Stay Classy Cub Fans
Click here for a photo gallery from Saturday