EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – JULY 16, 2008
By Rich Trzupek
We’re barely halfway through the season. It’s still early. We know that. Dare we hope? Oh, what the hell. Let’s dare…
Game 1 – The Cell: White Sox 1, Cubs 0.
Ozzie was roundly criticized for starting Mark Buehrle, after the veteran left-hander finished off a disappointing .500 season. For Mariotti, this was the final sign of Ozzie’s insanity. “Not only would I rather start Gavin Floyd, I would sooner hand the ball to Floyd the Barber than give it to Mark Buehrle,” Mariotti huffed.
Yet, the next day, the headlines screamed: “One For The Ages!” This could refer equally to the thrilling one run result, or Buehrle’s masterful one hit performance, or possibly to the number of bats that survived Carlos Zambrano’s three strikeouts at the plate. Either way, it was a pitcher’s duel to remember, with Carlos Quentin’s shot to deep left the only blemish on either pitcher’s record.
There was remarkably little carnage, either in the stands or in the streets. Perhaps the impassioned pleas for calm issued by Mayor Daley, President Bush and Pope Benedict had something to do with it.
Game 2 – The Cell: White Sox 5, Cubs 4.
Another one-run thriller, with both Dempster and Floyd struggling early, before they finally settled down. The score was 3 to 3 after the second, and stayed that way until the sixth, when Soriano crushed one into the gap in left-center. A collision between Quentin and Swisher knocked both outfielders out temporarily, which might have lead to an inside the park home run, but this was Soriano after all. He pulled a groin muscle going around first, hopped into second on one leg, where he pulled a quad on the other leg, before coasting into third with the post-season’s first and only “crawl-up” triple. A pinch-runner and sac-fly later and the Cubs were ahead, only to lose the lead in the eighth when Quentin once again rescued the Pale Hose, this time with a two-run bomb off of Marmol.
Three north side fans and two south side faithful were flung from the upper deck into the lower bowl. All would claim to have been pushed, but there is still some dispute regarding the circumstances, especially given the oxygen depravation associated with being in the upper deck of the Cell. In any case, no-one was injured, the victims having thoughtfully relaxed their muscles beforehand with an average of fourteen beers apiece.
“The Cubs shouldn’t bother showing up for the rest of the series,” Mariotti proclaimed. “Not that they’ve showed up so far.”
Game 3 – Wrigley: Cubs 11, Sox 1
Harden struck out 11. Vasquez walked 7. Soriano, playing from a wheelchair, hit two homers and drove in five. Theriot stole 4 bases, including home, and DeRosa went five for five in a devastating offensive explosion.
On the streets, it was quiet.
Game 4 – Wrigley: Cubs 7, Sox 2
Lou opted to bring Big Z back, while Ozzie went with Danks. Zambrano went seven strong, before getting ejected in the bottom of the seventh after breaking yet another bat, this time over A.J.’s head. Seemingly suffering no ill effects after the game, Pierzynski shrugged: “All I did was ask him how his brother in Venezuela was doing these days. Why am I always the guy to get clubbed over the head with a bat?”
“The White Sox are finished, because they’re playing like they’re Finnish – ice cold and completely disinterested,” Mariotti declared.
Game 5 – Wrigley: Cubs 17, Sox 15
It was a slugfest on the north side, in more ways that one. But it wasn’t the total of eleven home runs between the two teams that grabbed the headlines on a windy day, it was the brawl that erupted in the middle of the White Sox eight run, sixth inning comeback try.
With AJ on third and one out, the wily Sox catcher duped Aramis Ramirez into believing that there were in fact two outs. After Ramirez caught a foul pop, Pierzynski casually strolled toward the dugout, before breaking for home after the Cubs’ third baseman rolled the ball toward the pitcher’s mound. Piniella charged out of the dugout, insisting that AJ be called out for running out the baseline, while Guillen hotly insisted that Ramirez should get the heave-ho for being an idiot.
The argument escalated, first into a shoving match, then into fisticuffs, and finally into a full scale brawl, with both benches, and half the stands joining in. It took an hour and a half to restore order, and another twenty minutes for Roger Bossard to re-sod the devastated field.
Game 6 – The Cell: White Sox 3, Cubs 2
The twenty-three inning marathon – the longest game in post-season history – ended at 3:27 in the morning after Alexi Ramirez scored from first on a Cabrera bloop single. The game blew out both bullpens, leaving Jermaine Dye to finish up on the hill for the White Sox, and Jim Edmonds pitching for the north siders.
With emergency rooms full though out the city, medical teams were flown in from as far away as California and Florida.
The city braced for what was to come: Game Seven – The Mother of All Games: Armageddon in the city of Chicago.
(To be continued…)