Originally posted on Cub Reporter  |  Last updated 8/27/12

 

The plan yesterday was to juggle the two Cub games; the one in Des Moines I’d be attending and the one in Chicago I’d be monitoring via radio. I packed a couple of sandwiches and a couple of cokes and took the sports page along too for some in-depth box score scrutiny. Wow; how ‘bout that AL wild card chase?


Before I entered the ballpark I wandered over to the main entrance to do some anti-scalping. Early in the year I bought a Groupon for some GA ticket packs and I still had a dozen unused to give away. That didn’t take long on a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

Then I roamed the grounds at Principal Park looking for some last-home-game-of-the-season angles. Out behind the right-field bleachers the grounds crew was enjoying a group pregame meal spread. They’d fashioned a makeshift gravesite out of a mound of sand, a couple of rake/shovel handles made into a cross and some landscaping petunias. “RIP sod” was the epitaph. One of their vehicles, presumably the one belonging to their award-winning crew chief, was swaddled in toilet paper with a beer can atop the antenna. It was an ambivalent day of mourning and relief.

In The Backstop Store there were discounts galore. I foraged through a box of $25 caps marked down to $10 and found the last XL of a model that I’ll be sporting for the Iowa football/Cubs baseball doubleheader we’re traveling to next weekend.

Normally the I-Cubs’ MVP is named on the last day of the home season. But this year there are no viable candidates still with the team so that didn’t happen. Guess you could call whoever he wasn’t the player never to be named; now or later.

A crowd in excess of 10,000 showed up to push the turnstiles past half a million again despite a lackluster team whose record got increasingly dismal as the summer deepened and the prospects were plucked. Des Moines is the smallest market in the PCL but the club ran 4th in the league in attendance. The city council here recently approved spending $1.2 million to upgrade the clubhouse facilities over the winter. When they get here Baez, Almora and Soler should find them acceptable during their brief stays.

In the middle innings I drifted back to the parking lot in hopes a foul ball might squirt out to me. None did. So I went to the car for some refreshment. The local station on the Cub radio network has a regular format of soft pop oldies. “Where the legends live,” is the slogan. When I punched the radio on to see if the rain had let up in Chicago I got The Lovin’ Spoonful instead of Pat and Keith. “What a Day for a Daydream,” rang very apropos.

The bike trail that runs through the green space across from our house also runs alongside the ballpark. I keep thinking that one of these games I’m gonna have to ride the 10 or so miles from home - maybe next year. The racks were full yesterday. But even though the game was tied 2-2 after six the crowd was already starting to drift away, like a slow leaking bike tire. I figured I’d stay until the end. After all, this would be it for almost eight months. But in the bottom of the 8th I decided to leave while there was still some baseball left on the bone.

When I got home the game in Chicago was finally underway. The conditions there matched my mood. I sat and watched, waiting for Volstad to break under the combined weight of his winlessness and the water torture. When they stopped the game with a mere three outs to go I thought the Rockies should have just waved a white towel of surrender from their dugout and got out of town. But if not for that farcical rain delay I wouldn’t have seen the closing moments of the ‘72 Pappas no-hitter that WGN used for filler.

The sideburns, the sandlottish field, the voice-cracking hyperbole of Jack Brickhouse, the barking at Froehmming on the borderline call that cost the perfecto, the gloveless batters, the hideous Padre costumes…

I was a homesick freshman away at college in Minnesota then. I wish I could say I remember that game like it was yesterday, but yesterday was a different game altogether, right?

Until next year…

 


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