So we went to see the Cubs play the Phillies last night to witness what can only be described as an out of body finish that would break even the most hardened Cubs fan’s heart. It was Tess and Tucker’s first “real” big league game, and they had a great time between eating pizza, french fries, Italian ice, popcorn, peanuts, cotton candy and god knows what else and getting their caricatures drawn in Cub caps chasing the Philly Phanatic. The Phillies went out to an early lead, but by the time the game entered it’s final stages, many innings after a “gentleman” behind me chastised me for not teaching my kids what a 5-4-3 double play was, well after the city police had dragged away four foul-mouthed, sideways cap wearing heavily liquored up “fans” up the long steps to the stadium lockdown, long after I’d had peanuts thrown at me for cheering a great diving catch by a Cubs outfielder, and soon after Tucker had started holding his stomach, the Cubs had tied it up 3-3.
So the bottom of the ninth unfolds like this: bases loaded for the Phils, one out, the place going nuts. A fair amount of Cub fans in the stands are trying to start a “Let’s Go Cubs” chant, only to be drowned out by the Miller Lite vendor whose long, gruff “beeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaahhh heeeeeeeeeeeaaaah” yell I heard in my sleep last night. I’m trying to explain to my children that the Cubs now desparately need a 5-3-4 double play but their quizzical looks tell me that I’ve been a total failure as a father. Right before the last pitch of the night, I swear I hear a guy a couple of rows back say “Are you kiddin? Even the Phanatic has an RSS feed!” and I turn around just as the batter swings and misses for the second out.
But wait! The ball has squirted away! The runner at third is heading for home! The Cubs catcher grabs the ball! The runner turns around and heads back to third! The catcher, since he is a member of the Cubs, after all, throws the ball to third! The runner, just before the ball leaves the catcher’s hand, turns around again and heads back toward home! The crowd roars! Tess has to go to the bathroom! The third baseman catches the ball and fires it home! The runner sprints across the plate as the catcher tries to dig the throw out of the dirt, fittingly falling on his butt!
Game over. Cubs lose.
Cubs fans all around us become the instant victims of abuse, and I hear some of them arguing, incorrectly, of course (since they are Cubs fans) that all the catcher needed to do is to step on home plate to get a force out on the runner from third on the dropped third strike. Um, not with less than two outs. (If you’re not a baseball fan, see if anyone can explain in any clear way what happens when there are two outs in an inning with a runner on first and the catcher drops what was strike three on the batter. Even better, ask what should happen if the bases are loaded.) My wife Wendy also wants a clarification, which I think she finally gets her brain around about 30 minutes later when the kids are asleep in the backseat and we’re halfway home.
It was a great night. But I still haven’t been able to find an RSS feed for the Phanatic…