Myself, Mark, and Cubs Trip newcomer Levin this year on our annual
odyssey to Chicago and Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play – and
here’s how it played out.
Monday July 30th
We took off
fairly late due to a few things that needed to get done –
money-fetching, ticket-printing and so on – and finally arrived in
Chicago around 4:00, only three hours before game time. Now, I had
cancelled our Red Roof reservation after realizing that my debit card –
currently frozen because of PIN trouble – would not be chargeable.
However, when we arrived in Chicago, we discovered, much to my shock
and dismay, that Red Roof – and every other hotel in downtown Chicago –
was full due to “some sort of convention”, as a Fairfield hotelier put
it. We later suspected that Big Ten football media day, taking place in
Chicago this week, was the guilty party. Nevertheless, with game time
drawing near, we headed for Wrigley, deciding that the hotel business
And so we sat, in the top row of the left field
bleachers at the greatest edifice in sports, Wrigley Field, for a
Cubs-Phillies game. It was unofficially ex-White Sox day on the North
Side, as Tadahito Iguchi and Aaron Rowand both took Cubs starter Ted
Lilly deep and the Phillies beat us 4-1. We did briefly get glimpsed on
TV once again when Ryan Theriot homered for the Cubs only run – you’d
have to be looking for us though, as the camera flashes on us for a
second before following The Riot’s ball into the third row. It was a
missed opportunity for the Cubbies, who entered the game a half-game
out of first place in the Central, and with the Brewers off, could have
moved into first place by percentage points over Milwaukee.
the game ended, we headed for O’Hare, as we’d been told that this is
where available hotels were. And indeed there were. Only a few miles
outside downtown – actually, pretty conveniently located near Lake
Shore Drive – was a Lincoln Inn. One slight issue – it was a blatant
cover for a prostitution ring. The 1st giveaway were the rates –
different for overnight and 10 hours. The 2nd was the fact that not one
room in the place has more than one bed. The 3rd was the form they made
us sign – that we weren’t using the room for illegal activity. And the
4th were the mirrors – above the bed on the ceiling, behind the
headboard, and behind the TV. Oh, and the 5th was a porn channel on the
TV. However, it was ridiculously cheap ($52 a night for a room with a
king-size bed and a large couch pull-out), and it gave all of us a
large amount more spending money than we’d banked on having. So we
eagerly snapped up the room and paid for fans to cool the room down
(the room was stiflingly hot, and the air conditioner, while decent,
wasn’t sufficient to cool the whole room). After a couple of games of
poker (Levin won both), we went to bed, anticipating the trade deadline
day the next day.
Tuesday July 31st
We awoke late (nearly
1 pm), and immediately headed for the ESPN Zone for our traditional
lunch there. Today had the added wrinkle of being on the day of the
trade deadline, so we were hopeful that we’d see if anything happened.
disappointment quickly set in when we found out that the top area – the
one with a billion TVs – was closed off, supposedly for an ESPN
personality to film a segment there, although we didn’t see one.
Nevertheless, we ate at the downstairs area, saw a few minor deals go
down over TV, then went to go play some video games. The Cubs elected
to stand pat, a decision I wholeheartedly agreed with, if only because
no one I was interested in was available.
After all of this, it
was game time. I bought three shirts before we went in – Soriano and
Pie jersey T-shirts, and a baseball T-shirt with “It’s Gonna Happen” in
blue on the front – the unofficial slogan of the 2007 Cubs. We got to
the front row and immediately were barraged by BP home run balls. I
even got my hands on one – Mark DeRosa shot one three rows behind me
and I climbed up and grabbed it since hardly anyone was inside yet.
Later, Mark would catch a ball thrown into the bleachers by Cole Hamels
of the Phillies, who’d just owned us yesterday.
fireworks came the game, which was thoroughly enjoyable – the Cubs took
it 7-3 and Levin made TV in Philadelphia because of an Aramis Ramirez
double that rolled to the wall right in front of us. Afterwards, the
Brewers game was on a TV in a bar, so we stood outside and watched (I’m
not 21, alas, so I couldn’t go in) as Lastings Milledge made a
game-saving catch in the 9th to send the Mets and Brewers to extra
innings. After that, we decided to move out to the hotel.
and Levin bought some beer and we went back to the hotel to play some
more cards. Mark won both games tonight. It was here that my brother
told me, after I wheedled the information out of him, that Milwaukee
had beaten New York 4-2 in the 14th. The Cubs remained in 2nd place.
Wednesday August 1st
was such a beautiful day (for the third day in a row, as a matter of
fact) that we made a snap decision to go to the beach. And so we did.
The skyline looked unbelievable from there. We all swam and, as is the
guy custom, eyed pretty ladies. There was one girl in a yellow swimsuit
– my good lord. Only Mark and Levin really know what I’m talking about.
we left to go to the game. I bought a green Wrigley Field shamrock
shirt for my sister’s birthday, and we almost immediately got more BP
fireworks. Aaron Rowand shot one right at me. I stuck my hat up in an
effort to make the play, but the ball snuck underneath, bounced off a
seat behind me, and bounded back onto the field. Embarrassing on my
part. Later, a ball ended up being hit so hard that it bounced off a
guy’s hands in the top row and onto the street behind. I was getting
food at the time and had Mark taken a couple more seconds to give me
his money to buy him a pop, I could’ve caught the ball. Oh well.
the game. Easily the most exciting. The Cubs jumped out to a 4-1 lead
and Milwaukee was behind, so everyone in the park could sense it. A win
might put the Cubs in 1st place. However, Philly stormed back to tie it
at 4 at the same time as Milwaukee was completing their defeat, 8-5 at
the Mets’ hands.
The game turned out to be even more thrilling.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Cubs loaded the bases against J.C.
Romero, but could not finish. Then, in the top of the 9th, Ryan
Dempster allowed Philly to load the bases (with some help from the
umps) before getting out of it. So the crowd was absolutely jumping.
lead off the 9th, Matt Murton shot one into the left center field gap,
and Jayson Werth – ironically a defensive replacement for Pat Burrell,
who’d been taking all sorts of abuse from the bleacher bums, including
us three – couldn’t make the diving catch, as it hit off his glove.
Murton ended up at 2nd. A wild pitch by Brett Myers put him almost
immediately to 3rd.
The Cubs ended up getting into a
bases-loaded, 2-out situation, with Murton still stuck at 3rd and Cliff
Floyd up. Floyd hasn’t had an extra-base hit since June. But it
Myers tossed another one into the backstop.
Murton raced home, fist raised. Everyone in the park went nuts. “Go
Cubs Go” began to play. (All this happened in about 10 seconds but
seemed to last much longer.) The Cubs were in first.
to leave until they changed the flags on top of the scoreboard, and
change them they did. The blue and red Cubs flag rose to the top of the
middle pennant column. Everyone loved it. I shook hands with Ronnie
Woo-Woo on my way out. You could have put a gun to my head outside
Wrigley and ordered me to frown, and I’d have been a dead man. I
couldn’t do it. Everything was just too special. I drank it all in.
high-fived strangers. We made fun of Werth to Philly fans (BTW, there
were more Philly fans than I’ve ever seen visiting fans in Wrigley,
including Milwaukee in 2005 and 2006). We started “First place Cubs!”
chants. It was probably one of the happiest days of my life.
And with that, Cubs Trip 4 – my favorite one so far, honestly – was over.