Inspiring

I have taken way too long of a hiatus. Since I last wrote, I moved to Chicago and then to an apartment 5 doors down from Wrigley. Lots of things have kept me from writing, but last night’s game provided more than enough inspiration to get back in the game.

Since I’ve moved so close to Wrigley, I’ve been really lucky at getting tickets. This was my 22nd game, and I’ve probably only paid for 5 of those. Usually I get tickets from my boss, and every once in a while I’ll go out with 10 bucks in my pocket looking for any ticket to get me in.That was my plan last night. It took me an inning or two, but in the 4th, a nice guy just gave me a ticket. That ticket just happened to be on the second row right behind the visitor’s dugout.

So I was already feeling pretty lucky. I went ahead and spent the 10 bucks I had planned to spend on tickets on hotdogs and beer. The seats turned out to be even better than I thought. There were cool people all around: the nice guy that gave me the great ticket, three really nice, really cute girls in front of me, and four fun guys who just happened to be Brewers and Sox fans behind me (they were, of course, rooting for the Rockies). At first I was worried about them and wondered if there wasn’t some kind of security to keep out opposing fans who weren’t even watching their own teams, but they turned out to be pretty cool guys. Amazingly, they even came up with a few funny heckling cheers. I guess they’ve taught some of those guys to read after all.

The girls were really cool too. They adopted a little nugget of a girl who was sitting next to them. The girl was visiting from NYC and told us stories of "Mark Jeter". After she yelled "Hey Number 8" at Yorvit Torrealba for a couple of innings, he ended up bringing up a ball in his mitt and rolling it to her on top of the dugout. When she thanked him, he winked. Priceless. Made me think maybe I should rent a cute kid for games. The girls also made friends with the nice guy who let me in. When he spilled mustard on his shirt, one of them whipped out a Tide to Go pen. It would have made for a great commercial.

The best part of the game for me was all the Tigers on the field. Fontenot, Theriot, and Hawpe all played for LSU while I was in school there. It has been so much fun to watch Fontenot and Theriot have such great seasons, even more fun to see another Tiger visiting. I got to see Hawpe up closeFontenot_picked_off
since I was right behind his dugout. One time when he was in the hole, I shouted " Hey Brad, you’re Tiger Bait tonight" ( a cheer chanted endlessly at opposing players at LSU). He nodded his head at me. Kind of a proud moment. Overall, the Tigers had a great night. Fontenot had an amazing 5 for 5 game, and the three of them went 9 for 12 on the night.

Besides the ending, the most exciting part of the game actually came after the bullpen and Bob Howry blew and 8-3 lead by giving up 6 runs on no outs in the top of the ninth. An aggravated fanFan_on_field
spoke for all of us when he ran out onto the field to the mound, put his arms up in a question and screamed at Howry, presumably asking how the **** he gave up that homer. He was, of course, tackled by the overenthusiastic ball boy and taken off to Cubs jail, but the guy really deserves the save for the game, because once he screamed at Howry, he settled down and got out of the inning.

I was worried that my mojo on the night was wearing off. Going into the bottom of the ninth down Soriano_wins_it
9-8 is pretty scary. But the guys pulled it together with some solid base hits and an error. When Soriano came up with two outs and the bases loaded, the place went nuts. When he knocked the go ahead and winning runs, the stands went absolutely wild. It was electric. People were jumping over rows to high five strangers. Even the Brewers/Sox fans (who had been yammering for "free baseball" all night) had to admit it was a good game.

I walked the half block home with a bounce in my step. I knew this had to be the game to bring me back to writing. Plus the Brewers fan was so **** bent on getting into my blog, I had to write. I’ll have to share some stuff from earlier in the season in later blogs. It’s been a crazy ride. And we’re just getting started.

Three for Three

How many people can say that the Cubs have won every game they’ve seen? I do realize that as I’m writing this I am jinxing them out of a win tonight. But it’s been fun so far. I think if my streak goes on much longer, the Cubs should look into getting me season tickets.

The game yesterday was fabulous! Cold but fabulous. Luckily for Dusty, he started Walker. I didn’t have to rush the field or anything. Still, he pulled him late in the game. What is up with that? He hasn’t been pulling any of his other "starters". ****, Jaque Jones doesn’t have a hit yet this season.

I think things are supposed to be warming up here. And the sun has indeed come out. It came out for the first time yesterday while I was on a first date at Wrigley. I’m going to go ahead and take that as a sign. Yesterday was pretty much the best birthday I’ve ever had. They don’t make them much better than a beautiful day game at Wrigley.

I continued my exploration of Wrigleyville bars after the game. I sure do wish I could remember the names of the places I’ve been. I remember the beers, though. The beers were good.

So this trip is really shaping up to be an incredible one. I’ll try to share some more of it along the way.

Quick Post from Chicago

I haven’t had any time to post on this vacation. There aren’t words to describe how great it is to be out of the swamp and in Chicago for opening weekend at Wrigley. I didn’t have to fly through any hurricanes to get here this time, but it felt like an escape nonetheless.

We didn’t have tickets to yesterday’s home opener, but we hung out in Wrigleyville bars and drank through the game. Good times. Well, from what I can remember. I have to say that I found a penny (face up) right in front of Wrigley before the game. Of course, the Cubs won yesterday, but I hope the good luck lasts for longer than that. Maybe some will run off on me too.

It was great to see some pitching. How many games can Maddux go in a row? Of course, I was extremely let down to see Neifi starting at second. Baker just named Todd Walker the starting second baseman one week ago. Why would he already sit a guy that’s hitting as well as anyone on the team? He didn’t bench any of the other starters. Let me tell you, other teams have learned the hard way that you don’t get the great stuff out of Walker when you play him every other day. And here’s a fair warning to Dusty, et al:

If Todd’s not starting today, I’m coming down there!

Today is my 28th birthday. I’ve got a "date" for the game; the Cubs are over .500; I’m in Chicago with two of my best friends; I don’t have to work for a week; I’ve got job interviews next week; and the sun might actually come out in Chicago.

More from my adventure in the Windy City as time permits.

Let’s Go Cubbies

GoalToday is the best day to be a Cubs fan. Hope springs eternal on the North Side of Chicago (and the South Side of Baton Rouge). Today there is no L in the loss column, no number of games back. Sure, Wood and Prior are on the DL, but Wood and Prior are always on the DL. And today Crazy Carlos is on the mound. The controversy at second base is over for the time being. Dusty came to his senses and named Todd Walker his starter. Now maybe I can stop cringing every time I open cubs.com, thinking that I’ll see he’s been traded. I think the offense could be really hot. We’ll see about pitching.

But we’ll worry about that later. Right now all is right with the world. Baseball is back. One hour until first pitch. I can’t believe it’s actually here. It’s been a long winter and a crazy spring. But today is not a day to think about student loan payments, taxes, and the fact that both LSU’s men’s and women’s teams were annihilated in the Final Four. I’m going home for lunch to have a hot dog and a couple of innings of the game. They don’t make lunch breaks much better than that.

I have to say that for someone looking to break a curse by moving to Chicago, the long rain delay at the White Sox game last night made my stomach turn a little bit. Not that anyone really cares about the White Sox. I was mad that was the game I had to watch to kick off the season. But still, you hate to see rain on the first game of the season. Yeah, maybe I should try not being so superstitious. Probably not. That might anger the baseball gods.

Here we go, Cubs fans. T- 1 hour and counting.

Could This Be Next Year

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And I should know.

If you asked anyone who knows me, they’d tell you that I lead a pretty cursed existence. It’s not the severity of the bad luck I encounter, but rather the sheer number of "occurrences". The last few years have seen a freak softball to the shin injury; an unexplainable car accident involving garbage men; a mysterious tailgating injury; a concussion caused by a car sun visor; my purse being stolen from my car; and one especially bad week that included a tree going through my roof, my car being totaled, and an explosion in my sewer pipes. And those are just the few that I can remember off the top of my head.

Of course, I don’t need to tell you about the curse on my team. There’s no real need to go through the manifestations of that curse during the past few seasons either. I hear fans and baseball experts alike saying how moronic it is to believe that a team could be cursed. I’m pretty sure those people aren’t watching the Cubs. When someone tries to tell me there are no such things as curses, I remind them about a team who only had to win one of two games at home with two of the best pitchers in baseball on the mound. Forget Bartman and Gonzales, they were just pawns. The curse got the Cubs in 2003. And I’d like to see you try to prove me wrong.

My life is so often intertwined with the trials and tribulations of the lovable losers that I wonder if I’m cursing them or if they are cursing me. Am I fan because I am also cursed, or are they partly to blame for my bad luck? I think the passionate fan is somehow led to their team by fate. It disturbs me to think of what fate already had in store for me at the age of 12 when I picked the Cubs (or when the picked me).

But as  Cub fan, I have to leave plenty of room for optimism. And this year I have big plans in the works. This will be the year I try to break my curse. My own personal spring training has been intense. I’m dieting, working out, budgeting, working seven days a week, saving money, applying for jobs, meeting guys on match.com, and preparing to move to Chicago. That’s right…Chicago.

I realize that moving so close to the potential source of my curse is risky. But I just fell in love with the city. And this hurricane weary Louisianian is ready for a change. And it’s going to take a big one to change my momentum. Who knows. Maybe I can even be the good luck charm the Cubs need. We’ll just have to see.

But spring training is over now. I’ll be in Chicago for opening weekend at Wrigley. And while the Cubs are kicking off a season in which they’ll try to be the third team to break a creepily long curse,  I’ll be in town looking for apartments and going on job interviews. Both the Cubs and I have a lot to prove. Here’s to hoping that we can both turn things around. Maybe we won’t get all the way this year. But maybe we can take some really important first steps.

I’m sure there will also be some bumps in the road on the way. Join me in my daily adventures of following the Cubs, preparing for and making the move to Chicago, and trying to avoid goats.

 

 

Big Day for Baseball

After a winter of waiting through hockey highlights to catch 3 words on some obscure baseball topic, yesterday was overflowing with baseball and baseball news. While the baseball world was reacting to the death of Kirby Puckett, the whole world tuned in to see the first marquis games of the World Baseball Classic. I listened to Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, evenLeeteamusa took my lunch break to catch some of it. Now that was some good baseball.

I decided to pull for Venezuela because Carlos Zambrano is pitching for the team. Unfortunately, he got shelled in the fifth inning. Let me tell you, it’s not a good feeling to see your ace give up four runs in an inning. Thankfully, Derrek Lee redeemed the Cubs today by belting out a solo, opposite field homer for the US to take the lead against Mexico. I seriously love that guy. I can’t wait to see what he does this year.

Then news broke of a book chronicling the steroid use of Barry Bonds. The office was buzzing over it. I’m still not sure why. Did anyone really need a book and solid proof to make them believe he used? Will this change anything? MLB will still treat him with kid gloves. He’ll still break Babe’s record – and maybe Hank’s. Regardless of what people are saying now, he’ll still be voted into the Hall of Fame. And honestly, I just don’t care.

I think it’s ridiculous to try and compare players from a steroid era with those who played without minorities or those who played significantly less games in a year or career. Plus, it’s hard to compare home run records when the size of parks differs so greatly. If everyone would put less stock in records, then players would have to stand on how they played during their time on the field and how they treated the game.

Tigerball After listening to/watching two WBC games and reading about Puckett and Bonds (Seriously, could the two be any different? It feels strange to put their names in the same sentence.), I tuned into the LSU/Tulane game – a great instate rivalry. My tigers came from behind to beat the Green Wave (Easily one of the lamest names in the NCAA). After 3 baseball games and countless articles, I really felt like the season has already started. I also felt that my baseball itch had been scratched. And I haven’t felt like that in months.

We Lost One Of The Good Guys

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It’s a sad day for baseball. We lost one of the great ones. And not just because of his HOF numbers. It didn’t matter which team you pulled for – you knew who Kirby Puckett was. And you liked him. I’ve talked a lot about my dislike of prima donna superstars whose mouths were bigger than their bats (or gloves). Puck was a superstar who gave it all back…to his team, his fans, his community, and the game of baseball.

It breaks my heart to think of him being as unhappy as he was reported to be in the end, especially because he brought so much joy to so many people. You just have to think that if there’s a baseball heaven, he’ll be the one welcoming everyone at the gates.

Kirby, I hope you know how you were loved and how you and your smile will be missed. There is no way to replace you.

Jim Caple said it much better than most of us ever could. Be careful, though, the room might get a little dusty when you read this: As A Player, Puckett made everyone happy.