- First of all, indulge me and allow me to address an issue from Game 4, the Adrian Gonzalez play where he was thrown out at the plate, had the play reviewed and the had the ruling on field stand. I can completely understand the frustration of an out like that., especially in such a high-stakes game. However, MLB upheld it upon review and the freeze frame shots show that his hand was above the plate as Willson Contreras tagged him. What I really don’t like is Mr. Gonzalez going on Twitter immediately following the game and continuing his whining there. I have always been a fan of Adrian, back to his Padres days as a hometown hero and to see him acting like a spoiled child is frustrating. (Yes, I also realize the Cubs had John Lackey on the mound and he is no stranger to wearing his emotions on his sleeves.)
- I wish Willson Contreras was starting tonight, but Joe knows best and consistency has been the key for the Cubs. Having the flexibility to put Contreras in the game later might be a big factor in a close game.
- Having Steve Garvey on the field to open the game was a gut punch, but having Vin Scully actually start the game was a nice touch. I don’t care who you root for, you can’t wish anything but great things for Vin.
- Rizzo used Matt Szczur’s bat, evidently Addison Russell wore his underwear…who has dibs on his cup?
- I do not like Justin Turner, Sam-I-Am.
- Playing Beethoven for every out gets really old really quickly.
- Jon Lester’s “inability to hold runners/field his position” is not a compelling storyline. It doesn’t bear repeating every time an opposing runner advances or hits the ball to him.
- I don’t know why, but the sight of Larry King in his suspenders sitting right behind home plate looking like he is about to fall asleep to an episode of Jeopardy! makes me smile.
- God Bless you, Joe Blanton!
- Now I’m afraid Adrian Gonzalez is going to have to get on Twitter to complain that he was safe at first on the overturned call.
- Pedro Baez and the 30 seconds between pitches is utterly ridiculous. He may single-handedly be the reason MLB institutes a pitching clock.
- 8 runs per win is something I can get used to.
- I’m much happier with Pedro Strop getting his jitters or whatever it is in a situation with a seven run lead than a one run affair in Wrigley…or God willing, Cleveland.
- Clayton Kershaw’s tank top is one of the best articles of clothing that I’ve seen in recent memory.
- I had little faith in Aroldis Chapman coming into this series and even that is beginning to wane. It feels like when Carlos Marmol used to come into games and it was a crapshoot as to what was going to happen.
- Clayton Kershaw is good. There is not argument there. He might be “the” pitcher of my generation, assuming I’m slightly too late for Greg Maddux. However, Kershaw has never gone undefeated and despite what some would have the baseball world believe, he is HUMAN. That means beatable. It does not mean that it’s going to be easy. It just means that it is possible and the possibility is all that this Cubs team needs. I’m not guaranteeing it by any means, but the Cubs COULD beat Kershaw and take the pennant in Game 6. Believe!
Let me make this clear. The Angels are my second favorite team in baseball. Most years I will root for them to go 162-0. This year, however, I was pulling for a 158-4 record and the first two games of the season were two of my anticipated and hoped for losses. And they try to tell me that dreams don’t come true.
We arrived to Angel Stadium shortly before the gates opened and parked literally right next to the home plate entrance. The stadium lot is only $10 this season, either due to more parking now that the Amtrak station moved down the road or the fact that the Angels were tired of getting undercut by nearby businesses renting out spaces in their parking facilities. I was prepared to pay up to $20 due to my lack of mobility and discomfort walking the half mile from the outlying parking options, so to see the price at half of the cost to park at Disneyland, I was elated.
The aforementioned lack of mobility discouraged me from heading to the first base side of the ballpark, where the Cubs dugout was, to seek autographs or baseballs and Lauren and I headed straight to our seats above the bullpens. I spent much of the pre-game as close to the field as I could get, watching the Cubs take batting and fielding practice, watching Jon Lester warm up and chatting with fellow Cub fans.
The interesting thing about the pre-game activity was the fact that Manny Ramirez was hanging out in left field with Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber and even shagging a few baseballs himself. No one called to him for autographs or baseballs, and I wonder if no one recognized him, or if people just didn’t care. I tend to think it was the former.
While I didn’t notice any of the Cubs signing autographs at all during the pre-game, I later heard that Jake Arrieta was shagging baseballs in the outfield, pulling a pen from his back pocket, signing the ball and tossing it into the stands, which I happen to love. Post-game I saw the bullpen guys throw at least a half-dozen baseballs into the crowd, so the early reports of the Cubs being not so fan friendly on the road seem to me to be a few jilted autograph dealers upset that maybe the players weren’t signing a dozen baseballs for every fan who asked.
While I was watching the Cubs get ready, Lauren did a reconnaissance mission of our seating area so that we could plan our food for the evening. I like nothing better than a basic hot dog at the ballpark, but sometimes it’s nice to branch out. We opted for the burger bites, which are essentially White Castle sliders, minus the onions. They were topped with a sweet “thousand island-esque” sauce that was fine, but really, I could take it or leave it. They were served in a bucket with fries that were average ballpark fries. Overall, I’d get them again.
In the same vein, later in the game we shared a sticky sweet strawberry “rum-a-rita” in a lurid shade of red and the basic Angel dog. Both items will easily be repeated as the season goes on.
The game was great, as Jon Lester was dealing against an anemic Angel offense and the Cubs bats must have brought some of the heat of Las Vegas with them when the came to Anaheim. Home runs by Matt Szczur, Dexter Fowler and one-half of the Bryzzo Souvenir Company as well as a pure hustle double by David “Grandpa” Ross highlighted the offensive onslaught.
There was a very curious moment in the top of the second inning when Angel pitcher, Andrew Heaney threw one pitch to Anthony Rizzo, stepped off the mound and disappeared into the dugout. I wasn’t sure whether he had been caught doing something illegal to the baseball, but I never saw the umpire gesture that he had been tossed from the game, and immediately jumping on Twitter, learned that he was dealing with a nosebleed. I don’t know if there is any correlation at all, but the Angels placed him on the disabled list today with a muscle strain. Not a good thing for a franchise that is already very thin in the pitching department.
Lester pitched 7 strong innings and only allowed 4 hits, which marks a significantly better start than his first Cub start last season. Later, Trevor Cahill, Travis Wood and Pedro Strop all made appearances out of the bullpen and all looked very sharp.
As I said, we were seated right above the bullpens, in an area with a few fairly vocal groups of Cub fans, including a drunk man in a Cubs onesie and two of my favorite people from work, Shaun and Arvin. I really want the Cubs hockey-style sweatshirt that Arvin was showing off.
We left the game with little to no hassle and as we sat in the parking lot of the Big A I plugged in my iPhone and played “Go Cubs, Go” since the Angels didn’t have the common courtesy to play it for us after the “W.”
Thank you Angels for the 2-0 start. You can start winning now. At least until you head out to Wrigley later this summer! As usual, a gallery of game photos can be found right here.
Until next time,
Keep Tripping Baseballs!