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The rainout.

“Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains.” Bull Durham.

Today’s installment turns out to be an unintentional salute to perhaps the best baseball movie ever made.

As if there’s not enough drama already for Cubs fans for what could be an NLDS deciding Game 4 versus a formidable opponent, today’s game is postponed by rain. I can’t imagine how the players feel.

So we wait. We wait for game four. It’s the first Cubs post-season game in history postponed by rain. I don’t know that for sure. Usually I do diligent research to come to such conclusions, but this time I didn’t. So, if I’m wrong, let me know.

As WGN TV used to do during rain delays back in the day, let’s flashback to Monday’s thrilling victory. Keeping with the theme, let’s invoke a “Bullish” analogy.

In the movie Bull Durham, a whiskey influenced Crash Davis describes how a fortuitous hit can change a season’s batting average: “You know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? …. if you get just one extra flare a week – just one – a gork… you get a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes… you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week… and you’re in Yankee Stadium.” — Crash Davis

In game 3 yesterday, in the bottom of the 8th inning, with the score tied 1-1, two outs and a runner on second base, in a crucial game 3 of the NLDS, a fortuitous pop fly changed the game and Anthony Rizzo got ALL of those in ONE HIT.

Rizz hit a dying quall flare into left center field that screamed, “Respect Me” as three Nationals converged on the ball. But, they all stopped at once as the fly ball with eyes dropped to the ground untouched amidst them as what proved to be the winning run crossed the plate from second base.

I watched the replay almost as much as Jim Garrison (Ironically also portrayed by Kevin Costner in the movie JFK) watched the Zapruder film. The blooper dropped perfectly between a triangle of Gnats. This is the best picture I could clip from the internet (The photographer IS credited).

The three Nationals stop or move “back and to the left.”

Perhaps this photo most defines this match-up and why I believe the Cubs will prevail and move on to the NLCS.

Were Cubs converging on the same pop fly, I imagine a picture of players splayed out on all over grass making diving attempts at the flare ending up with Javy Baez catching the ball in his right armpit inches above the grass. “El Mago” saves the day.

We shall see what happens. I’ll be along for the ride for another three dimensional witness of the 3:08 scheduled start game. (Dimension 1: Regular internet score checks on my phone at work. Dimension 2: Listening to the radio broadcast on the ride home. Dimension 3: Catching the final innings on TV.)

Baseball in October on the north side of Chicago. Does it get any better?

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PROOGUE 10/5/17

Here we go again.

In former traditional Cubs lore, this would be an utterance of impending doom. A sighting of a black cat or a hex spewing goat.

But a flash rainstorm on the banks of Lake Erie on a November’s eve washed away all the curses, if indeed they did exist, from Cubs seasons past.

Now, in 2017, “here we go again” means October playoff baseball for the third consecutive year on the Northside of Chicago. The times they are a changin’ for the Addison Street Miracle.

Oh, it was a different ride to playoff-ville this year. Instead of the 2016 express train barreling into the station looking to win games and ask questions later, this year’s team was the local. The 2017 Cubs had a slow start and made several stops along the way before heating up down the stretch.

As seen in the cover photo, some old faces from the 2016 Rally Towel were gone (ten by my count), but the core remained and the result was the same. A National League Central Division title.

Round one opponent are the Washington Nationals. Fondly known to their fans as the “Nats.” I find them akin to the gnats, an annoying little bug. A bothersome roadblock on the path.

GAME ONE 10/6/17

No home field advantage here this year. The series begins in Washington DC.

A classic pitcher’s duel looms. Power versus finesse. Hendrix versus Strasburg.

My notes from the game.

7:55 Game half over. 0-0. Top of 6. Strasburg with a no hitter.
8:00 Feeling a Cubs breakout here. And, it happened.
Two runs. No hitter gone. Shutout gone. Cubs up.
8:40 Defensive changes in the outfield. Hendrix on the hill still. Bottom of 7.
9:00 An insurance run on a double by Rizzo in the 8th inning. The Bryzzo combo coming up big in the late innings with all three RBI.
9:30 Bottom of the 9th Up 3. Old habits die hard. Cautiously optimistic. Sort of loving a silent DC crowd. 1-2-3. Cubs Win 3-0. Home field advantage eliminated.

GAME TWO 10/7/17

A retrospective.

Poof.

If Frank Sinatra was singing a song about this game the lyrics would be, “That’s baseball. You can’t deny it. Riding high in the 7th, shot down in the 8th.”

Cruising comfortably with a two run lead and just five outs to get, Carl’s Jr. delivers a new menu item, the hanging curve burger to Bryce Harper and bang just like that the lead vanishes. Ryan Zimmerman goes yard on normally reliable Mike Montgomery and the gnats get a five spot in the 8th for a 6-3 win.

The bullpen exploded. Series tied. Back to the Windy City for game three on Monday Monday, hoping never to return to that city on the Potomac.

Cubs got two games at Wrigley now. Let’s win two!

Didja ever have a song you hear on the radio that instantly takes you back to a moment in time?

Do you still listen to the radio?

When I listen to the “Oldies Station” I would say nearly 50% of the songs bring back a moment, a time in a place, a memory I associate with the song.

Sometimes the association is rather abstract.

Take for example the connection between High School football two a day practices and the song by Queen called, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

Let’s set the DeLorean for a hot August summer on a football field in Chicago’s northwest side.

Back in the day, two a day football practices in August were a macho way get your ass in shape via drills, sprints and head on hits not dissimilar to physical torture. There was no concussion protocol. They actually called one of the drills “head-on tackling.”

Practice began in the gym with a speech about the goals for practice that day.

On day one, Coach Seevers made it clear that when we left that gym and exited to the adjacent football field, we were to “SPRINT when you see those goal posts. SPRINT when you see those goal posts.”

He pronounced it Spreeent

We then were to SPRINT to the north goal posts and run in position awaiting our next stage of the two-a-day gauntlet.  While running in position, Coach would arrive yelling in a loud borderline squeaky tenor voice, “READY READY.” Then he’d blow a whistle and we’d jump to the side and back to the front.

“READY READY.” He’d blow the whistle again and we’d jump to the side and back to the front.  We’d repeat this five thousand times until we were ready ready to drop before even starting practice.

Which brings us back to that Queen Song. Here’s the Official video in case you’ve forgotten it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO6D_BAuYCI

At about the 1:45 mark the lyrics go like this:

I gotta be cool, relax, get hip
And get on my track’s
Take a back seat (ah hum), hitch-hike (ah hum)
And take a long ride on my motorbike
Until I’m ready ready Freddie

SEE! There it is, “ready ready Freddie”

READY READY

Bang, I’m looking for goal posts to sprint to. I’m sprinting in place waiting for a whistle.  I’m transported in time to two a day practices on a hot August morning. As opposed to a Hot August Night, Neil Diamond. Brother Love’s traveling salvation show … But that’s another story for another time, if you’re ready ready.

FOOTNOTE: Cover photo is the actual site of the goalposts to sprint to.

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