Not a great picture, but here it is just because we were there. Monday, Kate’s old boss called to offer us his pair of very good box seats for that night’s game between the Cubs and Giants. It was a nice evening at Phone Company Park if you were partial to the efforts of the Chicago squad. They won 9-2, and the crowd was sparse enough overall and the proportion of Cubs fans was large enough that you might have mistaken which team was playing at home: every time something went right for Chicago, a loud cheer erupted. The Giants fans concentrated their attention and vocalizing on their starting pitcher, Barry Zito. The latest effort from the $17 million a year lefthander featured five walks and five runs in five innings of work. His record at the end of the night: 3-12. The journalist and sports fan in me feels like there’s a great story to be told about how this guy’s career has imploded.
We didn’t go to the second game of the series last night. The Giants won. No connection implied. (In the picture, that’s the Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly at bat and rightfielder Kosuke Fukudome on deck. Oh, and the seats that provided this view? $71.40 a pop, which makes me marvel at the family of five sitting next to us and grateful for Kate’s boss’s generosity.)
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A couple years ago I told my colleague (and San Francisco Giants fan) Endo that a perfect day for me as a baseball fan would go like this: A’s win, Cubs win, Giants lose. Yeah, that’s the bitterly unhappy level to which my rooting interest in baseball has fallen: I take what passes for glee when a team loses (for now at least I won’t go into the twisted psychohistory behind my dark feelings for the San Francisco nine).
Given my leanings, this week has been special: The A’s started it on an epic roll. The aspiring-to-mediocrity Cubs entertained the mediocrity-would-be-an-improvement Giants for three games at the cute little loser’s paradise at Clark and Addison. The results for the first part of the week: Ecstasy. Agony. Ecstasy again. (Translation: On Monday, the A’s won and the Cubs beat the Giants — which is actually a little spite bonus on my definition of perfection; on Tuesday, the results were reversed; on Wednesday, they swung back the other way).
Now the Giants have left Chicago, and their losses will bring only a normal helping of sour satisfaction (though the way the Giants’ division is going, they could win it if they can get back to .500). The Cubs — well, they’ll dance around the .500 mark for the rest of the season and pack the house all the way to the end; neither wins nor losses will surprise or disappoint much; only three years till the centennial of their last World Series championship — it would be a shame to wipe out that streak before it hits 100. And the A’s: Hey, they’re actually fun to follow, especially after their horrible start this year, and anything they can do from here on in will be both pleasing and surprising.