The weather was beautiful Thursday afternoon so I took the motorcycle out for a spin. I was kind of in the neighborhood so I decided to head over to Wrigley Field to check out the vibe.
I was northbound on Clark St. and caught a red light at Addison, which gave me time to admire the edifice right in front of me. The red and white “Wrigley Field Home of Chicago Cubs” sign, all the brick work, the statues. The light changed. I passed McDonald’s on the left and the employees’ parking lot on the right. So far, nothing out of the ordinary.
The ballpark itself was deserted, of course, but I’m used to that. My dad and I used to stop by the Box Office on off days and at off hours all the time. I didn’t get the “funerial” feeling that others have recently described.
I turned right onto Waveland. I noticed the bleachers cantilevered out over the sidewalk and I noticed the scoreboard on the right. On the left, a sign attached to a fence at eye level proclaimed: “It’s Gonna Happen”. The thought which immediately struck me was: “Oh Yeah, It Happened All Right”.
I turned right onto Sheffield at Murphy’s and that’s when it hit me. The question came pouring over the right field bleachers like a tidal wave covering the entire block. And it surprised me because I hadn’t paid much attention to it before. But this is what came rolling out of Wrigley Field at me Thursday.
How come nobody’s talking about the balls and strikes called for Ryan Dempster in Game 1? I understand that the players can’t question balls and strikes, and maybe the team management can’t either, but we sure can.
Ryan Dempster (or was it his evil twin Sean?) seemed to have excellent control in the top of the 1st as he struck out Rafael Furcal. But I noticed that his pitches, which were nibbling at the corners of the plate and looked like strikes to me, were being called balls. The second batter, Russell Martin, drew a walk on exactly those type of pitches. And Ryan/Sean was getting visibly more agitated with each called ball.
He started throwing some erratic pitches. The third batter, Manny Ramirez, grounded into an inning ending double play, but it was obvious that the Cubs’ pitcher was getting torqued off, and maybe beginning to lose his composure.
In the top of the 2nd Andre Ethier, the 1st batter, drew a walk but Dempster retired the next three.
In the top of the 3rd Dempster walked 2 and gave up an infield single to Manny Ramirez. No runs scored but, as I recall, the wheels were starting to come off.
In the top of the 4th Ryan/Sean faced 4 batters. Blake DeWitt got a bloop single but the other 3 were put out.
In the 5th, of course, Dempster walked 3 of the first 5 batters, then gave up the grand slam and a double. That was the end of Dempster, and that was the end of the Cubs.
After he got pulled, Dempster was shown sitting in the dugout talking to his pitching coach, and he looked pissed! It didn’t look to me like he was just trying to explain why he had had no control. And I can’t help wondering if some creative umpiring didn’t contribute to the turn of events.
Now, I realize that I might be imagining this whole thing. It wouldn’t be the first time.
I just wanted to share the thought that came over me as I circled Wrigley Field Thursday.
Because, like I said, It Happened.