On Friday I attended my first Cubs home opener. My trips to Wrigley typically coincide with the start of summer. I’m a Floridian, and I don’t do well in the sub-arctic temperatures that the Midwest winters bring. This year, however, I wanted to experience the home opener. I bought a ticket from a broker and crossed my fingers that the weather would be somewhat forgiving. And because God hates Cubs fans, Friday could not have been colder.
Here’s how the Chicago Tribune presented the Opening Day forecast: "Cloudy with strong NNE wind gusts above 30 m.p.h. later this morning/afternoon lowering temperatures to around 40 degrees – a level 15 degrees below normal. Afternoon wind chills near 32 degrees. Some lake-sprinkles/flurries near the lake."
How cold was it? After the player introductions, Carlos Zambrano sprinted into the dugout and down the stairs to the clubhouse. It doesn’t get this cold in Venezuela. It doesn’t get this cold in my freezer.
My seat was less than stellar, about even with the on-deck circle on the first-base side in the upper deck. There was only one row above mine, and my back was to a chain-link fence. I sat in a wind tunnel. A 15 degrees below-normal wind tunnel.
As Wayne Messmer concluded the national anthem ("home of the-ahhhhh….bray-eeve"), I realized that my four layers of clothing were not anywhere near sufficient. I stood up, unhinged my legs, and walked over to the Cubs souvenirs stand. For the low price of $30, I purchased a stocking cap and gloves. One of the gloves lasted four innings before ripping. Like Kerry Wood.
In the bottom of the first, Derrek Lee deposited a Jeff Suppan hanging curve into the bleachers. Sorry. The Bud Light Bleachers. Jim Hendry should have been standing at the plate holding Derrek Lee’s contract extension. I have no idea why that hasn’t happened yet. Hey Jim, you locked up Jacque Jones for three years. Why can’t you lock up Derrek Lee? Stop screwing around.
After Greg Maddux retired the Cardinals in the 2nd, the 2006 version of Corey Patterson stepped to the plate. Jacque Jones is so awful. So very, very awful. And he has a three year contract. Why? Who knows. It goes without saying that Jones made an out. After the game today, I have exactly as many hits in 2006 as Jacque Jones. If he keeps this up, Dusty will put him in the leadoff spot.
Matt Murton reached, and Ronny Cedeno tripled, making it 2-0 Cubs. A couple innings later, Ronny Cedeno doubled, went to third on a Maddux grounder, and almost came home on Juan Pierre’s attempted suicide squeeze that rolled foul at the last minute. Pierre would later single, driving home Cedeno. The Cubs have some speed this year. And they have a couple of young players that add some excitement at the bottom of the order. Not Jose Macias-like excitement, but excitement nonetheless.
The Cubs ended up winning the game 5-1. Greg Maddux pitched well, relying on a strong wind to get him out of a couple of jams. The play of the game came on a liner by Jim Edmonds that looked like a sure home run. It ended up dying in front of the track, and Matt Murton doubled. Juan Encarnacion off first base with a strong throw to Derrek Lee.
Bob Howry and Ryan Dempster finished off the Cardinals. Dempster struck out Edmonds to preserve the victory. As the Cubs celebrated, Jim Edmonds wiped away the tears as they streaked down his face, mixing with his mascara and creating black streaks. Okay, I made that last part up. Or maybe not. I was about ready to pass out by that point, so I don’t know how Jim Edmonds reacted. He probably ran into the clubhouse to catch the end of Oprah.
Despite the weather, opening day at Wrigley Field was a success. Once I get the feeling back in my hands, I’ll post my entry on Saturday’s game.