Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Take me out to the ballgame

“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.” — Yogi Berra, American professional baseball catcher, manager and coach, almost as famous for the things he said

PAUL LIKES baseball. So do I, actually. He's a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan; meanwhile I root for the White Sox. Paul calls it a mixed marriage.

As usual, I have really sound reasons for my preference: I like the name better. 

Calling a team of grownups the Cubs is just too cloying, cutesy and syrupy for my tastes, and when I hear them referred to as the Cubbies, that's exponentially worse. Ewww! Plus the White Sox are blue-collar, south side, working class. They're a better fit for my philosophical shoes. (Little pun there . . . sox/shoes . . . you get it.)

I keep telling Paul that we need to drive into Chicago when the Cubs and White Sox play each other and catch two games: one at Wrigley Field and one at . . . wait . . . hold on a minute. Comiskey Park is now Guaranteed Rate Field? That's a game changer . . . literally! When Comiskey was rebuilt in 1992, it retained the old name at first, but as of 2016 it's GRF — can't bring myself to say it. That's it. I'm picking a new team.

In the meantime a high school classmate of mine, Jim Kinney, who is a serious baseball fan (he has a collection of signed, major league baseballs currently numbering at 1035) and is even more an earnest and committed Cubs and Iowa Cubs fan (he buys three season tickets every year) — invited us to attend an I-Cubs night game as his guests July 18.

A couple of rabid Cubs fans.

The Cub Club offers a stunning view of the field.

And what a game it turned out to be! We had dinner at the Cub Club before hand; when we relocated to our seats in the stadium, we discovered they were first row seats directly behind the Cub pitcher's bullpen. 

It was fun sitting so close.

The game started precisely at 7:08 (games always start at eight minutes after the hour because TV 8 is a sponsor), and we got home . . . at midnight! And not because we went anywhere afterward! The game lasted 3 hours and 46 minutes, the longest nine-inning game the Iowa Cubs have played in over five years.

I thought we'd never get out of the first three innings. 

1st inning: 7 hits, 5 runs, 1 error

2nd inning: 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 error
3rd inning: 8 hits, 6 runs

Things calmed down in the 4th with 1 hit, no runs 

5th inning: 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 steals 

The 6th inning was quiet with only two hits

7th inning: 6 hits and 1 home run

8th inning: 3 hits, 2 runs
9th inning: 1 hit 

There was, in short, what we doctors call A LOT of activity: 37 hits, 23 runs and 4 errors. And oh yeah, the Cubs won 16 to 7.

A new pitcher just brought up from the Double-A Chicago Cubs affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies, pitched the 8th. I thought he looked like he's got the right stuff, and as it turned out, whoever wrote the game story on the I-Cubs website agreed with me: 

"Dillon Maples made his Triple-A debut and was the most effective pitcher of the night, retiring the side in order, two on strikes."

Pitching coach, Rod Nichols, was amazingly patient with prankster pitcher David Rollins.

Thanks, Jim

I got curious as to what the longest professional baseball game was. It took place between two Triple-A teams: the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. Beginning April 18, 1981, it wore on for 32 innings before being stopped. It was resumed June 23 for the final inning, settling the game in Pawtucket's favor, 3 to 2 in the bottom of the 33rd inning — a total of 8 hours and 25 minutes of playing time!

I also got to wondering what the record for highest number of hits in a single game is. According to minor league baseball historian Lloyd Johnson, one contender is a 55-run game that took place in 1896 between St. Paul and Kansas City. In the major leagues, the record is a 49-run, Chicago Cubs 26 to 23 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in 1922. 

Perhaps there's a future in baseball for me after all. Oh wait. Tom Hanks said there's no crying in baseball. I'm out.

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