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Dioner Navarro hits 3 HRs against the White Sox

The Chicago Cubs had a big day yesterday.  Despite boasting a losing record and the second-worst record in the National League Central Division, the Cubs have won three in a row.  Yesterday, the backup catcher Dioner Navarro had the best hitting day of his career.  Navarro hit three home runs against the White Sox.  He finished the day 3-for-3, BB, 3 HR, 4 R, 6 RBI.  That’s a pretty good day for a guy that doesn’t play every day.  It brings even more joy that he did this against the hated White Sox.

In honor of this rivalry, I present Ron Swanson vs. Darryl Philbin:

Until later friends…

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Today is the birthday of two of the top baseball players of all time: Jackie Robinson and Ernie Banks.  I respect both of these men for the way they played the game, but more importantly for the way they handled themselves as they were faced with the harsh racism of the mid-1900s.

Jackie Robinson would be 94 years old today.

Jackie Robinson

As you know, Jackie Robinson broke the “color barrier” in Major League Baseball.  Without Jackie Robinson, there would have been no Hank Aaron, no Willie Mays, or no Ernie Banks.  He endured years of abuse, but he never fought back.  The best resistance he could offer to the widespread racism and ignorance was to play better than anyone else.  He won the Rookie of the Year and the MVP.  He also won the World Series with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Jackie Robinson Stats:

Career Batting AVG: .311

1947 Rookie of the Year

1949 NL MVP

1949 NL Batting Title

2x Stolen Base Champion (1947 & 1949)

Every February in elementary school we had to do a report on someone that contributed to Civil Rights and equality.  I always wrote about Jackie Robinson.  I’ve probably read 5 biographies of him.  He is the only player to have his number retired for the entire MLB.  Happy Birthday Jackie!

Jackie Robinson's Number 42 is retired by every MLB team

 

Ernie Banks is 82 years old today.  Happy birthday to you Mr. Banks.

Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks is a super classy man.  He played for 19 years with the Cubs.  He won the MVP twice, but he never made it to the World Series.  When asked if he would go to another team with the chance of making the World Series he said: “I didn’t say anything.  But the answer to that was, ‘No, I’m satisfied playing for the Cubs, playing day-baseball in Chicago, the middle of the United States.’ I was satisfied with that.” (source: Ernie Banks: A Beacon for Baseball).  He put up great numbers throughout his career, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot (a very rare achievement).  As I wrote last week, I recently got to meet Ernie Banks, and it was a joy.

Ernie Banks Stats:

512 Home Runs – #21 All-time (#15 if you don’t count the steroid users)

2x NL MVP (1958 & 1959)

14x All Star

A very hearty birthday to Mr. Jackie Robinson and Mr. Ernie Banks from For Aslan…and the Volunteer State.

Until later friends…

Chicago Cubs fan have faced a lot of disappointment over the years.  If you want to help assuage some of that disappointment, here are some gift ideas for your beloved Cubs fans.  They are ordered by price lowest-highest.  For simplicity’s sake, I have divided these into four categories: $0-$25, $25-$50, $50+, and $You’re Insane$
CUBS GIFTS $0-$25

Chicago Cubs Cups$11.99

Cubs Cups

(http://www.fansedge.com/Chicago-Cubs-Plastic-Tumbler-4-Pack-_-349271733_PD.html?utm_content=pla)

I received these as a gift, and I use them regularly.  I especially like serving drinks to my Cardinals fan friends in them.

Banks to Sandberg to Grace: Five Decades of Love and Frustration with the Chicago Cubs by Carrie Muskat (Cubs beat reporter) – $14.95

Banks to Sandberg to Grace

(http://www.amazon.com/Banks-Sandberg-Grace-Decades-Frustration/dp/0071385568/ref=wl_it_dp_v_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=2EHF2WXVULFV8&coliid=I3IE50JNAAJ4LR)

Carrie Muskat is the Cubs beat reporter, and she does a great job.  This book follows her experience with the Cubs.

Cubs Sippy Cups$14.98

Cubs Sippy Cups

(http://www.shopmyteam.com/store/index.php/mlb/chicago-cubs-sippy-cup-2-pack.html)

Start ’em young.

Chicago Cubs T-Shirt$20.00

Cubs T-Shirt

(http://www.one10threads.com/cubs-t-shirt.html)

This is a sweet, classy T-shirt.

MLB Infant Chicago Cubs 3 Piece Bodysuit Set$24.99

Cubs Onesies

(http://www.amazon.com/Newborn-Chicago-Piece-Bodysuit-6-9mos/dp/B007DOURBI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1353506233&sr=8-2&keywords=chicago+cubs+baby)

Start ’em even younger.

CUBS GIFTS $25-$50

Cubs Batting Practice Style Hat$27.99

Cubs BP Hat

(http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3875080&cp=3637327)

Pricey for a hat, but it does look nice.

1908 Cubs Personalized Shirt$36.95

1908 Cubs Shirt

(http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_0000000000000000515500000000000000000V8JP?sid=IDx20110310x00001i&srccode=cii_184425893&cpncode=31-52300169-2)

Let them relive the last Cubs World Series Championship with their name on the jersey.

Chicago Cubs Elite Polo$49.99

Blue Cubs Polo

(http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=13114532&cp=1452693.704257)

Help them support their Cubs on casual Friday at the office.

Kerry Wood eGraph$50

Kerry Wood eGraph

(https://www.egraphs.com/Kerry-Wood/photos)

I personally would not want one of these. I prefer meeting a player and getting an actual autograph. That being said, Egraphs are interesting.  You pay money, a digital autographed picture is sent to your friend with a recorded message from the player.  Other Cubs players include: Andre Dawson, Jeff Samardzija, and Brian Lahair.

CUBS GIFTS $50+

Framed 1908 Chicago Cubs Roster$55.26

1908 Cubs World Series Champions Frame(http://www.sportsmemorabilia.com/sports-products/11×14-framed-matted-1908-chicago-cubs-world-series-champions.html?gclid=CPKz1IKe4LMCFQ4EnQodFGIAtw)

Once again, all we Cubs fans have is the past. Help them relive the glory days with this.

1908 World Series Champions Panoramic Canvas Print$65.00

1908 World Series Champions Panoramic Canvas Print

(http://www.etsy.com/listing/112121596/chicago-cubs-1908-world-series-champions?utm_source=googleproduct&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=GPS&gclid=CPXK-YGe4LMCFQ45nAodqBgAmw)

I’m not going to beat a dead horse, but this is cool.

CUBS GIFTS FOR $You’re Insane$

Chicago Cubs Game-used Ball Cuff Links$169.99

Cubs Cufflinks

(http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4254549)

If I were an incredibly rich day-trader, I might consider these. However, this is pretty insane. Cool…but insane.

1969 Chicago Cubs Team Autographed Ball$640

Cubs 1969 Team Autograph Ball

(http://www.legendsofthefield.com/1969-Chicago-Cubs-Team-Autographed-Official-MLB-Baseball-Santo-Sweet-Spot-12-Signatures/Baseball/Baseballs/-p9816023.html?gclid=CNmr17if4LMCFQu0nQodM1IAzQ#.UKzht4eunHY)

Oh the 1969 Cubs.  The Cubs fans’ greatest disappointment post-1908 and pre-Bartman.  What a treasure for any Cubs fan, but if you have this kind of money to spend on a ball I don’t know what you’re doing reading my blog.

Or there’s always a MLB Gift Card, which your Cubs fan can use for most of this stuff or and MLB.tv account so they  can watch every single Cubs win and loss.

MLB Gift Card – $$$

MLB Gift Card(http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4254549)
Until later friends…

Ken Burns Baseball

I’ve been greatly enjoying Ken Burns’s documentary Baseball.  This documentary has been extremely entertaining.  Here are some things I have learned through watching this film.

Buck O’Neil is One of the Classiest People to Ever Play the Game

I’ve greatly enjoyed every single minute of interviews with Buck O’Neil.  He is the most interviewed person in regards to the Negro Baseball League.  He was an extremely charitable and winsome person.  It is worth watching the documentary just to hear this man’s stories.  It is a real shame that men like him, Paige Satchel, and Josh Gibson were not allowed to post their career numbers in the MLB. Baseball would have been much richer if it were integrated from the beginning.

Shelby Foote is a Great Storyteller

Shelby Foote was an extremely well-known (and well-respected) Civil War scholar.  He was also a huge baseball fan.  He has an old Southern gentleman’s way of speaking.  He told a great story about meeting Babe Ruth as a child, and he told it in such a way that I felt like I was sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch instead of a loveseat in a two-bedroom apartment at midnight holding a baby.

Field of Dreams was Too Kind to Shoeless Joe Jackson

Shoeless Joe Jackson was Guilty

Shoeless Joe Jackson wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box.  He also had a very productive series batting-wise in the 1919 World Series.  But he did accept money to throw the series, and it affected his fielding.  He confessed to his crime, and his own wife turned him in.  Sure he was underpaid and well-loved, but there was no excuse for throwing the World Series.

Christy Mathewson was a casualty of WWI

Christy Mathewson

He wasn’t killed during the war, but exposure to poisonous gas during the war ended his career, and eventually led to his death.

Babe Ruth was a Terrible Person

Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth may have been the most dominant player to ever play the game, but he was so lecherously unfaithful that his wife had a nervous breakdown.  The media ignored his debauchery, because he was such a beloved player.  Granted, he did a lot of great things for kids, but overall, I was surprised by the level of his immorality.

Louis Armstrong Owned a Baseball Team

Louis Armstrong owned a negro league team

Louis Armstrong owned a negro league team called the Secret 9.

Carl Hubbell Developed an Arm Deformity by Throwing a Screwball

Carl Hubbell had a Deformed Arm from throwing a screwball

Carl Hubbell was a two-time MVP screwball pitcher.

A Japanese Pitcher Struck Out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx in an Exhibition Game in Japan

Eiji Sawamura Struck Out Ruth Gehrig Foxx

Eiji Sawamura gave up a lone home run against a collection of MLB All-Stars.  He struck out Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, and others.  He was killed in WWII.

I heartily recommend this documentary.  It is incredibly informative and entertaining.  Ken Burns masterfully combines great storytelling/storytellers with photos, videos, and music from each era.  If you like baseball and you like history, you have to watch this.

Until later friends…

News just in: the Cubs have announced that Mike Quade will not be the manager next year.

Mike Quade

I like Mike Quade. He is a stand-up guy. He shoots from the hip when talking with the media, and I like that.  He is a great bench coach/assistant coach.  He was, however, not ready to manage at the Major League level.  Happy Trails Mike. I hope you find a great job elsewhere in baseball.

It is now time for Ryno-Watch.  Dear Theo and Jed, please hire Ryne Sandberg now.

Ryne Sandberg Signing an Autograph for me

Ryne Sandberg is exactly what the Cubs need.  He is a superb baseball player and manager.  He has done exceedingly well managing in all levels of minor-league ball, and he is ready for the MLB.

Ryne Sandberg HOF

Ryne Sandberg Stats:

10x All-Star

9x Golden Glove

.989 Career Fielding Percentage (Number 1 all time of Second Basemen)

7x Silver Slugger

1984 NL MVP

2005 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee

To quote an earlier post:

Ryne Sandberg is the perfect candidate for the new Cubs manager.  They should sign him for ten years and let him work his magic.  Ryne Sandberg is one of the classiest guys to ever pick up a bat.  This picture is when he signed a ball for me while coaching for the Tennessee Smokies.  He should have been hired as the manager last year, but Jim Hendry went with the emotional decision…Mike Quade.  Ryno has proven that he can manage – and manage well.  He is the best second baseman of all time, and Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro would quickly stop making errors under this .989 lifetime fielding percentage player.  He also has a thing or two to teach these modern players that don’t want to sign autographs and are more concerned with making money than playing ball.  He is a fan favorite, and his hiring would rejuvenate the Cubs team and fan base.  Mr. Ricketts, make Ryne Sandberg the manager now.  Thank you.

Until later friends…

It is time for the World Series.  The Cards trashed my bracket, but I’m excited to see this matchup.

2011 World Series Rangers vs CardinalsThe best part about this series is that it will exhibit two of the classiest guys in Major League Baseball: Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols.

Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton is ClassyI’ve written a lot about how much I respect Josh Hamilton.  Here is a great story about him catching the first pitch from the son of the man that fell to his death at the Rangers’ stadium this year.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols Charity

As much as I hate the St. Louis Cardinals, I love Albert Pujols.  He too is a classy guy, and I love all the charitable work he does.

Prediction

I predict the Rangers win the series in 6 games.

Texas Rangers Logo

Until later friends…

Marlon Byrd's New Batting Helmet - (July 8, 2011 - Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America) Today is Marlon Byrd‘s birthday.  Happy Birthday Marlon.  I’ll admit it, I was unfamiliar with Marlon Byrd when the Cubs acquired him, but I am so glad they did.  Marlon Byrd is legit.  He has an excellent work-ethic.  I love that I can always count on him to do everything he can to make a play.  He hustles when he makes contact, and he sacrifices his body to make plays in center field.  He is a true veteran that has played on several teams, and has earned respect from everyone along the way.

Marlon Byrd Has ClassHe was great in the All-Star last game (even if Joey Votto was a royal jerk towards him).  He made a spectacular put-out on David Ortiz, and he scored the winning run.  That couldn’t have happened to a classier guy, and I was thrilled for him.

I was at the game where Marlon Byrd got hit in the face by a fastball.  It hurt from where I was in the outfield seats.  I was scared that it could be the end of his career.  Seriously, people have died that way.  Remember the Kirby Puckett beanball?

Marlon Byrd BeanedI am so glad to see Marlon Byrd playing again.  Especially with the sweet custom-helmet he is wearing (see picture at the top).  Marlon Byrd exudes manliness and class. I hope he has a great birthday today by beating the San Francisco Giants.

Happy Birthday Marlon

Until later friends…

Marlon’s BlogThe Byrd’s Nest

Jim Hendry Dismissed as Cubs GM

In case you haven’t heard, Jim Hendry was dismissed as the Chicago Cubs General Manager.  In other words, Jim Hendry got fired.  Why did Jim Hendry get fired? Because the Cubs have royally stunk for the past two years.  Jim Hendry did some great stuff in his career with the Cubs.  The Cubs won three division titles under him, and he signed such players as Kerry Wood, Derrek Lee, Starlin Castro, and Darwin Barney.  However, he also signed Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley.  Between Sammy Sosa storming out under his lead, Soriano being the most lazy player in the league, Milton Bradley being Milton Bradley, and Kosuke Fukudome never living up to his hype, Jim Hendry had awful luck with outfielders.  Other than that, and the atrocious record the Cubs have had the past two seasons, Hendry was a decent GM.  I met him personally in Boston, and he was great.  Everyone in the organization has a lot of respect for him.  The team just didn’t win enough games under him.  He finished with a 749-748 career with the Cubs.  I’m glad he got to leave with a winning record (that’s better than the Cubs are going to do this season).  He also left with class.  After receiving notice of his dismissal, he stayed with the team long enough to trade away Fukudome (thank you), and sign some great young talent from the draft.  So…Happy Trails to you Jim. Thanks for the good memories.  Good luck with some American League team.

The question remains…So, now what?

Here are my suggestions to make this team a playoff contender, and eventually, a world series champion team.

1. Hire Andrew Friedman as General Manager

The Cubs need to hire Andrew Friedman

Remember when the Tampa Bay Rays were awful? That was before Andrew Friedman.  He has made them what they are.  He does not blow money on stupid contracts (like Alfonso Soriano’s).  He builds a good team around good young players.  This is exactly the kind of guy we need in Chicago.

2.  Get rid of Mike Quade and Hire Ryne Sandberg

Mike QuadeThis is not just me being bitter about my childhood hero getting passed over last year.  Quade did ok at the end of last season winning games that didn’t matter.  He has proven this season though that he does not have what it takes to manage a professional team.  He’s a great assistant coach.  He’d make a great bench coach, but not a manager.  He does not have a good grasp on how to manage a pitcher.  He alternately leaves pitchers in three batters too long, or takes them out an inning early.  His hiring was my biggest problem with Jim Hendry, and now that it is time for a new GM, I think it is time for a new manager.

Ryne Sandberg Signing an Autograph for me

Ryne Sandberg is the perfect candidate for the new Cubs manager.  They should sign him for ten years and let him work his magic.  Ryne Sandberg is one of the classiest guys to ever pick up a bat.  This picture is when he signed a ball for me while coaching for the Tennessee Smokies.  He should have been hired as the manager last year, but Jim Hendry went with the emotional decision…Mike Quade.  Ryno has proven that he can manage – and manage well.  He is the best second baseman of all time, and Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro would quickly stop making errors under this .989 lifetime fielding percentage player.  He also has a thing or two to teach these modern players that don’t want to sign autographs and are more concerned with making money than playing ball.  He is a fan favorite, and his hiring would rejuvenate the Cubs team and fan base.  Mr. Ricketts, make Ryne Sandberg the manager now.  Thank you.

3.  Do Whatever We Have to do to Get Rid of Alfonso Soriano and His Ridiculous Contract!

Alfonso Soriano is incredibly lazy

Alfonso Soriano has the worst work-ethic in all of professional sports. OK, that might be a bit harsh, but he at least makes the top 5.  He does not care at all.  He is fast, can knock the cover off the ball, and has a great arm.  Yet, he misses routine fly balls, and he averages 1 less base per hit than he should (Come on dude, you’re being paid 18 million. HUSTLE FOR GOODNESS SAKES!!!!!).  His contract his hamstringing this organization.  To quote Ted Williams, “If I was getting paid $30,000 [or 18 MILLION!!!] a year, the least I could do is hit .400.”  Let’s find a way to get rid of him, even if we have to eat a chunk of his contract.  We have Brett Jackson, and I’m sure we can afford another decent outfielder that hustles like Reed Johnson.

4.  Teach Carlos Marmol to Throw Strikes or Trade Him to Someone Who Believes He Can.

Carlos Marmol Throwing a Wicked SliderWhen Marmol is on his A-game, no one can touch his slider.  When he is not, he can’t throw a strike to someone with the strike zone the size of Andre the Giant.  Someone either needs to teach him to throw somewhere near the plate, or we need to trade him when his trade value is up.  Sorry Jim Hendry, but you never should have deemed him “untouchable.”

5.  Build Around the Young Guys – Especially Castro and Barney

Darwin Barney and Starlin CastroThese kids are going to be great.  Sign them to long contracts, and let’s build the team around them.  Don’t be concerned with all the errors they’ve made this season, they’ll get better defensively if Ryne Sandberg is their manager.  These guys have the potential of being a double-play combo on the same plane as other Cubs greats Tinker and Evers or Sandberg and Dunston.

6. Do Whatever We Can to Make Greg Maddux our Pitching Coach

Make Greg Maddux the Cubs Pitching Coach

Maddux is one of the best pitchers of the past 50 years.  He was dominant and brilliant.  Please bring him in.  If he were to coach the Cubs’ pitchers, I bet even Jeff Samardzija could be good.  The Cubs’ two greatest deficiencies this year are defense and pitching.  Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux could fix both of those in under a year – fact.

7.  Do not go after Albert Pujols

Jim Hendry hugging Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols is an incredible player.  He will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but I’m begging the Cubs to not spend $30 mil/year on him.  With our luck, he will get injured and his numbers will decline – just like Alfonso Soriano.  Let’s take that $30mil/year and go after three (or four) young and talented players that have their best years ahead of them.

If my beloved Cubbies follow my advice, we will have winning seasons for the next ten years and at least 2 World Series appearances.  Let’s go Cubbies! Until later friends…

cubs-logo

I have lived in Louisville for over three years now.  Yet, this weekend was the first time I have been to the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum.  As an avid baseball fan, I am a little ashamed of that.  In my defense, I have been to several Louisville Bats games.

Louisville Slugger Factory and MuseumWe had a great time at the museum.  It was my dad, Jen, my friend Bryan, and me.  When you purchase a ticket, it has a time for the factory tour.  While waiting for your tour to begin you are able to walk around the museum, which was super cool.  They have bats in the museum from Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Joe Tinker, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Cal Ripken Jr, and many others.

Bats at Louisville Slugger Museum include: Ruth, Wagner, Tinker, Jackson, Griffery Jr, and Ripken, Jr.Most all of these bats were under glass, but they did have bats you could handle.  They had a section where a guy with white gloves would allow you to hold one of four game-used bats (once you put on gloves) from: Cal Ripken, Jr., Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, or David Ortiz.  (I don’t really know how David Ortiz slipped into a group with those three, but it was cool.)

After looking around the museum, the tour guide called for our 2:15 tour.  The beginning of the tour included a video talking about the trees used to make the bats, which were white ash and maple from forests in New York.  They made a big point to say that these forests are in great shape, and more trees are planted every year than are harvested.  I think they said they get around 60 bats per log.

Next, the tour went to a guy at a lathe.  He talked about the history of Louisville Slugger.

Bud Hillerich - Founder of Louisville Slugger

Up until 1980, each bat was made personally at a lathe.  Each bat took around 30 minutes to make.  The batmaker would receive an order from a player (like Lou Gehrig or Ernie Banks), he would go to the bat vault (which I wish I could step in there for 5 minutes!) and get the master copy of that player’s bat.  Then, he would carve a new bat based on the master.

Louisville Slugger Bat Vault

The next section of the tour introduces you to modern bat-making.  There are machines that crank out commercial Louisville Slugger bats every 30 seconds.  These automatic lathes were very impressive.  Then, they showed us the machine that makes the MLB bats.  It looked like that cylinder in the old Hulk movies in which Bruce Banner transformed.  They also had some MLB players bats you could handle.  I was excited to hold one of Starlin Castro’s bats.

Starlin Castro

Afterwards, we were shown the process in which they dip the bats in finish and dry them.  I was a little surprised at the lack of finesse the drying machines exhibited.  It was basically a metal frame with a bunch of box fans you can buy from Wal-mart mounted on it.  I like to see that they are fiscally responsible at Louisville Slugger.  At the end of the tour we each received a free Louisville Slugger mini bat.  To which my dad said, “I bet crime went down for a three-block radius once they started handing these things out.”

Louisville Slugger Mini BatAfter the tour, we enjoyed visiting the Norman Rockwell exhibit they are currently featuring.  It had a cool video about Rockwell, as well as several original sketches and paintings.  I really enjoyed seeing the original sketch of a game called due to rain.

Game Called Due to Rain

So, if you ever come to visit Louisville, I heartily recommend the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.  Tell ’em For Aslan sent you, and maybe they’ll cut me a deal on a sweet bat or let me in the bat vault.

Until later friends…

Related Links:

Today, I will continue on with my Fields of Dreams blog series.  In my last post in this series I talked about the first Cubs vs. Red Sox game we went to, and what a shellacking it was. Friday night after game 1, we didn’t get back to the hotel till around 1:00am.  On Saturday, we got up and went on a Duck Tour of Boston, which was a lot of fun.


After we finished riding a duck around, we met up with my friend Matt.  He gave us a walking tour and took us to a cool coffee shop called Thinking Cup (where I had a nice cup of Kenya from a Bee House).  After that, we went to Fenway for a tour.  The tour was fun, and we got to watch some of the Red Sox batting practice.  After the tour, I looked for a t-shirt for Jen.  While walking down Yawkey Way, I ran into Bill “Spaceman” Lee.  He was very friendly – even though I was wearing all Cubs gear.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee

Once again, I waded my way through the crowd to get close to batting practice.  This time I changed my strategy and went to left field.  I was really hoping to get Kerry Wood to sign a ball, but he never came close.  I did, however, get to meet 1984 Gold-Glove winning Bob Dernier.  He was super friendly, and he signed stuff for a lot of people (would you really expect any less of a teammate of Ryne Sandberg?).

Now onto the game.  The game was great.  They decided to celebrate that this was the first series these two teams played at Fenway since 1918 by wearing throwback jerseys.

Carlos Zambrano started for the Cubs and Alfredo Aceves started for the Red Sox.  We were seated in center field for this game, and it was great.  Whereas Boston had jumped out to an early lead the night before, this game started off pretty even.  The first play worth noting was an awful HBP.  In the second inning, a fastball got away from Aceves and hit Marlon Byrd right below the eye.  It hurt from where I was sitting.  It was a really scary moment, and Byrd got taken to the hospital immediately (he is ok now, and hopes to return to play in a couple of weeks).

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the third, but then the Sox went up 2-1 in the fourth and 3-1 in the sixth.  I thought for sure the Cubs were going to hand this one in too, but then the 8th inning came.  The Cubs scored 8 runs in the eighth inning to make it a 9-3 game.  It was beautiful.  The Cubs held on to win, and I was very pleased.

One interesting feature of the night was all the references to the 1918 World Series.  In honor of that series, Fenway Park regressed to 1918 technology for two innings.  That meant: no broadcaster announcing names of batters, no digital pitch count or mph for all to see, and the only ball/strike counter was on the Green Monster.  I was keeping score throughout the game, and I became really popular at this point in the game.   It was amazing how quiet the whole park got.  Everyone was intent on watching the game, because they had to in order to know what was going on.  I really liked it.

Overall, it was a great experience.  I loved Boston.  The Boston fans were still friendly, even after the Cubs laid it on the Red Sox that night.  I like Boston as a city, and I recommend that you visit if you haven’t already.  Stay tuned for a post on my first trip to the Bronx.

Until later friends…

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