Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Home Opener

I had the privilege to attend the Cubs home opener on Monday. It was a really good time (up until the game started). My brothers, my uncle, and I took the ‘L’ in and got to the park just as the gates opened. There was definitely an amazing buzz around the park.

First Things First

The first thing we did was to go get some wonderful ballpark food. You could really tell it was the home opener – they weren’t so smooth on the “giving us the food” part. But we’ll always allow the “it’s my first day” excuse, right? We soon noticed that warm nachos and pretzels don’t hold up to the frigid Chicago wind.

Maybe He Should Get a Contract

Bill Murray was pretty funny to watch warm up. He was down in the Cubs bullpen before the game with a monstrous crowd of media on hand to see him throw some pitches to get ready for the opening pitch. He threw about 8 or 9 balls into the stands (Pratt-type control). He even wound up and threw couple behind him when he reared back to throw.

Ironically, Greg Maddux got the loudest cheers from the fans when they announced the starters and he got the loudest boos when he left the game. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that big of a turn-around. He was getting booed louder than last year’s Tony Baloney (Alf).

Remarks

I’m not going to go into the painful statistics of that game, but I will make a qualitative statement about the pitching: it stunk. Maddux couldn’t find the strike zone and I don’t think I should even get started on Andy Pratt. Check up on this, but I believe he has walked the last 7 batters he’s faced. Pratt is the Cubs version of post-season Rick Ankiel. Pratt just topped Hideo Nomo in my books for the worst major league pitch I have ever seen. Not only did this pitch hit the grass about five feet short of the dirt (not the plate, the dirt), but it also bounced up and hit the batter. He swiftly followed this up with a ball off the net behind home plate. From what I’ve seen, I’d like to renege on this trade and ask the Braves to give us Juan Cruz back.

Joe Borowski pitched equally as crappy. I’m not too worried about that as I am about Pratt though. Closers never have their stuff when they come in with either a huge lead or a huge deficit. Mike Wuertz, however had decent stuff. He wasn’t really sharp, but still OK.

The Wrong Day for Power

I was hoping to see Sosa tie Ernie Banks for the most Cubs home runs, but the wind would see that that would not happen. Sosa absolutely crushed a ball. I think that might have been the hardest hit ball I’ve seen in person and Modesi caught it well short of the warning track. We’ll have to wait another day for that. I’m hoping Sosa will tie this record before I see them down at Busch on May 2. For the record, Hollandsworth crushed a ball to the opposite field that would have been out on any other day as well. He’s looking like a great pickup.