Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Free Baseball Is Exhausting

After beating up on the reigning World Series champions on both Friday and Saturday night, I was in good spirits heading to Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon. My trip to Beantown had been a raging success thus far and although I was obviously hoping for a win, I was in a good enough state of mind that I'd convinced myself I would have the mental fortitude to handle a loss with sublime grace and dignity. The fact that I didn't should come as a surprise to exactly no one. It was one of the most draining games I've ever seen! After jumping out to an early 2 run lead, the BoSox bounced back with the aid of Chris Perez who did his best Jason Isringhausen impression and walked in the go ahead run. I don't think that guy threw a single strike and I'm pretty sure he was in the game for month. At least it felt like it, anyway. Adam Kennedy knocked in the tying run in the ninth and provided new life for the Cardinals, which seemed like a great thing until we'd been sitting at Fenway for 37 hours watching a nailbiter with NO BEER. Rain showers delayed the start time by an hour, which meant they stopped selling the suds early in the 7th. I thought I was going to cry. It should be illegal to make people sit through 13 innings of something that stressful without any sort of sedative. After Chris Duncan was thrown out at home, I think several of my arteries exploded.

Further hampering my docile demeanor was the fact that there were THREE Cubs fans sitting in my section. How on earth is that even possible? I'm about ready to take out a restraining order. Not to mention the fact that I got no fewer than a 100 emails and text messages about Jim Edmonds hitting two home runs in one inning against the White Sox on Saturday. I've really got to find new friends. It's either that or go into witness protection.

ANYWAY...one thing I find interesting is that Adam Kennedy seems to come through with some clutch plays when I'm in attendance. He hit his first and only home run of the year last Saturday when I was down at Busch catching the Phillies game and of course had that heroic RBI on Sunday. Despite both of these instances, I still have zero faith in his hitting abilities whatsoever. I don't know what that means, but I have a feeling I'm not the only one who feels that way. That has to really suck for him.

Another thing I'd like to mention is how impressed I was with the Boston fans. I went into Sunday's game expecting to get heckled and harassed mercilessly and had meager hopes of escaping without getting spit on or thrown at. Boston fans have a reputation for being kind of obnoxious, after all. However, I'm happy to say these people left me alone all day! Less one guy yelling at me that the Cardinals suck, I was able to panic and freak out in relative solitude. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is because these fans are so obsessed with all things Red Sox that it's entirely possible they didn't even know there was another team on the field. It's very difficult to say. The only thing I know for sure is that there were some prime opportunities for them to exploit my embarrassment and make fun of me and my Ankiel T-shirt, but they didn't take them. Not even when he fell on his ass in center field after overrunning a Coco Crisp fly ball. I'm starting to wonder if we were even watching the same game.

Anyway, I was heckled well and good by some of my friends in Southie after the game, but by then I was hooked up to a Tangueray and tonic IV and couldn't be bothered to put up much of a fight. Frankly, after being treated to four free innings of baseball I was exhausted. They could have started poking me with a stick and I probably wouldn't have noticed. These types of situations are just too much for a delicate little flower like myself!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

No One Is Safe!

I'm starting to think I might be a jinx on poor Alfonso Soriano. I was there to see him sustain both of the injuries that have put him on the DL this year. First was the leg injury he incurred while doing that little hoppity bop thing he does after making a catch and last night I saw him get drilled by a pitch that broke his finger. Yeesh. It was kind of a shooting gallery at Wrigley Field last night anyway, as fly balls ricocheted into the stands all night at incredible rates of speed. Mr. Sucky Dome actually drilled some guy in the side of the head sitting about fifteen rows behind home plate on the third base side. I'll tell you, I was happy to escape the night unconcussed! Adding insult to injury, (pun intended because I'm cheeky!) the Cubs beat up on the Braves and won 7-2, improving their home record this year to 27-8. That's just disgusting. I mean, if I have to hear "Go, Cubs, Go" one more time, I think I'm going to rip off my ears and fill them with concrete.

ANYWAY...over in Cardinal Land, things are equally as interesting. Despite whooping up on the Cincinnati Reds last night in a 10-0 assault, one can't help but sob uncontrollably and curl into the fetal position over the news that Albert Pujols is going to be out for at least three weeks with a calf strain. WHY GOD, WHY??? With all of our best players on the DL, I'm surprised I haven't had a complete mental breakdown. That certainly wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility, although we've actually still been playing well enough that I've resisted the urge to skip rope with a downed power line. We'll see how long that lasts in Pujols' prolonged absence. Things seemed to go well enough last night with Chris Duncan getting the call up to fill in for Big Al and Braden Looper pitching out of his mind, but we shall see. You know how I feel about optimism! Joel Pineiro is getting the nod today for the finale against Cincinnati and it ought to be interesting considering I don't think anyone actually believes he's healthy.

With that said, it looks like the next month is going to be just one big giant mystery. Will the Redbirds be able to stay on track and put the pressure on Chicago? Will Ankiel, Ludwick and Glaus be enough power to compensate for Pujols' injury? Will I recognize anyone in the rotation by July? I have no clue. What do I look like, a fortune teller? I'm guessing Professor Plum, in the library with a candlestick. That seems just as reasonable as anything else at this point.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Now, Where Were We?

Hello, friends! As hard as it is to believe, it has been almost a month since my last post. Where o' where does the time go? It seems strange that the hot summer days are upon us and the 4th of July is only a few weeks away. I suppose that's getting old for you. Time flies and you always find yourself talking about the weather. Anyway, there has obviously been much to discuss in my absence. The Cardinals have continued their early season pattern of not making me want to chew on sandpaper and now rest a respectable 2.5 games out of first place. Considering the Chicago Scrubbies have been literally unstoppable this season, that is no small feat.

To recap the past several weeks, in no particular order:

1. Albert Pujols injured two players in the same inning on freak plays. By crushing the pitcher's face and twisting the catcher's ankle in ways it isn't supposed to go, Pujols managed to single-handedly dismantle the already beleaguered Padres. I have a sneaking suspicion that might haunt his dreams for awhile.

2. Carlos Zambrano beat up a water cooler. I cannot make this stuff up, people. I saw him break a bat over his leg earlier this year, but my LORD, this just took the cake. The best part of the whole ordeal was just how painfully AWKWARD it was. The cooler was very clearly still full and Big Z was enormously unsuccessful at gracefully throwing the cumbersome and unwieldy vessel. It didn't come across as aggressive and fiery as much as it seemed...well, wobbly. I haven't laughed that hard since the Cubs got knocked out of the 2007 playoffs.

3. Joel Pineiro and Adam Wainwright went on the DL. People that I'm not familiar with and who are presumably gifted at throwing baseballs then joined the rotation. I have not yet bothered to learn their names, as I'm sure they'll be injured or sent down to the minors before they become even remotely relevant. What with all the drinking I've already done this season, I've got to conserve brain cells, you see.

4. I ventured out to a Cubs game in May and was fortunate enough to sit in fancy front row CBOE seats. After trying unsuccessfully to distract Alfonso Soriano and Reed Johnson with my blinding white skin, I was rewarded with two Soriano home runs and a lobster-red hairline.

5. The very next day, I finally saw my first Cubs loss of the season against the Pirates on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the bleachers. Despite multiple applications of sunblock, I came away with crimson arms to match my forehead. I also left bitter after having to see Alfonso Soriano hit four home runs in two days.

Despite the Cubs being incredibly irritating, (leading the majors? Don't you think that's a WEE BIT over the top?) I'm excited for the rest of the summer. I have all sorts of baseball related adventures planned, starting tonight with a work event at a suite in Wrigley. Then this Saturday I'm headed to St. Louis with three college pals to see the Phillies game. Even though the people I'm going with are all Cubs fans, I'm confident that will be cancelled out by the 43,000 Cardinals fans surrounding us. Then NEXT weekend, I've leveraged my life savings in order to head out for a Saturday afternoon St. Louis vs. BoSox game at Fenway. This will be followed promptly by a 4th of July trip up to Milwaukee where I'll make my first visit to Miller Park for a Pirates/Brewers contest. With my annual family trip to St. Louis in July and another family field trip to an August Cards vs. Cubs game at Wrigley, I'm in for a whole bunch of hot dogs and beer over the course of the summer. Tragic, isn't it? The pity party for me officially starts....NOW.