Wednesday, October 3, 2007

10/03 - The Calm Before The Swarm...

I only live a few blocks from Wrigley Field, so I walk by it quite often on non-game days, especially this week in anticipation of this weekend's playoff series against Arizona. A little cloudy with a hint of rain yesterday, but beautiful warm sunshine today. Feels more like June than October. At first glance, the activity level in the neighborhood looks pretty normal, a far cry from the chaos and madness that will descend upon it this weekend. But in taking a second look, I can definitely see and sense an undercurrent of excitement.

Souvenir stands open for business on the street corners. People taking pictures of the marquee and posing in front of the Harry Caray statue. Beer trucks double-parked in front of bars unloading their wares. Guys on the rooftops making last minute adjustments, somebody in front of Murphy's with a power-washer hosing down the sidewalks. The fire house for Engine Co. 78 got a facelift recently with a new brick driveway and a picnic table. And not long ago, the fire hydrant at Waveland & Kenmore received a fresh coat of purple paint.

But it wasn't just around the park - it was inside as well. That old brick and concrete house of dreams was definitely getting lots of attention. The beep-beep-beep of forklifts as boxes of food and other assorted sundries are unloaded, workers everywhere sweeping up and wiping down. Some of the grounds crew inspecting the newly laid sod in the outfield while others getting ready to spray paint the NLDS logo on the grass by the dugouts. Even Harry seemed to be clearing his throat, ready to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" again. Everyone stepping lively, moving fast and all in good spirits.

I had to chuckle as I made my way around the park - it kinda reminded me of stories my mom used to tell me about how the high school girls back then would spend all that time primping, prepping and getting all gussied up before their big date...

Then I stopped short as a chill went down my spine, for it was at that moment I realized this marvelous beauty of a baseball cathedral was getting ready for her own big date - a date with Destiny.

Go Cubs! Make Wrigley Field (and us) proud!

More pictures...

Friday, September 28, 2007

09/28 - Magic Number is Zero!!!

They say a picture's worth a thousand words.
Well, here's two thousand words' worth...

Congratulations to the 2007 Central Division Champions, the Chicago Cubs!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

09/18 - No Gold Glove This Year

As much as I like watching the game from the bleachers (best seats in the park, IMO), I don't think I'll ever used to shagging balls inside. I always seem to get tangled up in the seats and benches, usually earning a bruise or two in the process.

Today was no exception. Beautiful night for a game, strong wind blowing out, so of course I'm inside. And once again I was treated to watching several balls go over my head and out onto the street. Ahh... but there was one ball that was staying in and had my name on it. Nice high drive down the line. I stepped up into the aisle, then went along the top row, tracking the ball all the way. Once I got under it, I reached up as high as I could, even had the "claw" grip going on the glove (just the fingertips on the inside) and it just wasn't enough. Ball tipped my glove as I was falling backwards (giving me another bruise on my leg) and ended up out onto Waveland - the ball, not me.

Could have been worse, I suppose. At least the ball didn't bounce off my head and out, like Jose Canseco a few years ago in Boston...

Out of the Ballpark Totals:
Tuesday, September 18: BP-15 [W-12,S-3], HR-0, Foul-0, Roof-1 [A-1,C-0]
Season: BP-392 [W-304,S-88], HR-11 [W-9,S-2], Foul-5 [W-4,S-1], Roof-38 [A-22,C-16], Windshield-2 [W-1,S-1]

Monday, September 10, 2007

09/10 - Sweep!!!

Cubs swept the Cardinals today. Ok, so it was only a one-game series, a makeup of an earlier postponed game. But hey, a win is a win, especially when it's of the 12-3 variety and especially when it's against the Cardinals.

Batting practice was understandably boring, given the strong winds blowing in. Only four made it to Waveland and one to Sheffield. Nothing came out during the game, though Jim Edmonds put a charge into one that went into the left field bleachers for a home run. He's always had tremendous power the other way - I got one of his a few years ago, a blast that cleared Waveland and bounced against the Budweiser building. Had he hit this one yesterday (when the winds were gusting out), he might have been the first one to hit an opposite-field street homer since the bleacher expansion.

Out of the Ballpark Totals:
Monday, September 10: BP-5 [W-4,S-1], HR-0, Foul-0, Roof-0
Season: BP-367 [W-283,S-84], HR-11 [W-9,S-2], Foul-5 [W-4,S-1], Roof-37 [A-21,C-16], Windshield-2 [W-1,S-1]

Key: W-Waveland, S-Sheffield, A-Addison, C-Clark

Thursday, September 6, 2007

09/06 - Aramis Goes Bus

Aramis Ramirez nailed a charter bus today during the game, leaving a window rather significantly smashed. Unfortunately the ball left the park about five feet foul, so it was all for naught as the Cubs lost to the Dodgers, 7-4. Got kinda ugly at the end (again) but I suppose you already knew that.

Once again, I was inside the park as it was a 'value day' at Wrigley, if you can call a $17 ticket a value. I guess it is compared to $32 regular price and $40 for the 'prime' games. Anyway, I had fun watching the balls fly over me and out of the park during batting practice - five on each side. Luis Gonzalez put on quite the display by launching several bombs out onto Sheffield. Nothing came out during the game, even though there was a pretty decent wind.

Out of the Ballpark Totals:
Thursday, September 6: BP-10 [W-5,S-5], HR-0, Foul-1 [W-1,S-0], Roof-0
Season: BP-362 [W-279,S-83], HR-11 [W-9,S-2], Foul-5 [W-4,S-1], Roof-37 [A-21,C-16], Windshield-2 [W-1,S-1]

Key: W-Waveland, S-Sheffield, A-Addison, C-Clark

Thursday, August 30, 2007

08/30 - Waveland's Revenge...

Yesterday, even though Prince Fielder was sure to put on a show over on Sheffield, I [stubbornly] stayed on Waveland during Milwaukee's BP in the hopes that Ryan Braun would be equal to the task. Well he wasn't, Prince blasted, and I learned a lesson. Or so I thought.

So today with the wind blowing in again from left, I - and just about all the other ballhawks (at one point, I think we had ten over there) - played Sheffield during BP for both teams. Our reward? A big fat zero. Don't know what Prince did last night or what he ate before coming to the ball park, but he didn't do squat during BP.

Meanwhile as we fruitlessly stood watch on Sheffield, two balls came out over on Waveland. Needless to say, none of us got them. Which begs the somewhat rhetorical question... if a ball comes out and there's no ballhawks around to catch it, did it really come out?

Out of the Ballpark Totals:
Thursday, August 30: BP-2 [W-2,S-0], HR-0, Foul-0, Roof-2 [A-2,C-0]
Season: BP-326 [W-255,S-71], HR-10 [W-8,S-2], Foul-4 [W-3,S-1], Roof-35 [A-21,C-14], Windshield-1 [W-0,S-1]

Key: W-Waveland, S-Sheffield, A-Addison, C-Clark

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

08/29 - It's about time...

Finally - Sheffield gets more action than Waveland... at least in batting practice as strong north winds put the damper on any balls hit to left field. Only one made it out to Waveland in BP, probably from Soriano as it was before the gates opened. It was hit right at me, just had to take one step in and caught it all the way across the street in front of the yellow brick building. Pretty impressive blast, considering it was into the wind. No telling where it would have landed had it been hit yesterday (strong southwest winds).

But that was it for Waveland and me as I stayed there the rest of BP. Meanwhile the other ballhawks gathered on Sheffield for the Prince Fielder show. And it was a pretty good show - six came out, compliments of Prince, Geoff Jenkins, Gabe Gross, and switch-hitting Johnny Estrada. Sounded like a good mix - some down the line, some deep to right-center and at least one bounce-out.

So for those of you scoring at home, that's the Sheffield Brewers 6, the Waveland Cubs 1.

Strangely enough, the final score of tonight's game was also Brewers 6, Cubs 1.


Out of the Ballpark Totals:
Wednesday, August 29: BP-7 [W-1,S-6], HR-0, Foul-0, Roof-0
Season: BP-324 [W-253,S-71], HR-10 [W-8,S-2], Foul-4 [W-3,S-1], Roof-33 [A-19,C-14], Windshield-1 [W-0,S-1]