>On Friday, I had the opportunity to do something that I had never done before.  I got to ride a bus with a bunch of old people, and a few obnoxious ones, to Wrigley Field and see a game.  There is a tour company out of Lafayette, IN that sells tickets, gives you a ride to the game, drops/picks you off/up at the gate and brings you home.  It was a good experience.  I don’t know how willing I’d be to do it again, and I’ll say more about that in a bit.

We got on the bus at 9:00am and headed north.  Along the way, the tour guide pointed out some things… like a cattle farm and windmills.  Yes, folks, that’s northern Indiana for you.  We got dropped off on Waveland Ave, where there was a crowd of people ready to catch some of the batting practice home run balls that may come flying over the wall, and entered at the left field gate.

As I entered the stadium, some kid was standing there handing out shirts.  I, always the eager receiver of free stuff, was quite disappointed when I actually looked at the shirt.  It was a Cubs shirt…. sponsored by Budweiser.  I don’t drink.  I especially don’t drink beer, or Budweiser.  I also don’t wear Cubs shirts unless I am planning to working chest-deep in feces, which has never happened.

I was immediately overwhelmed by how crowed the concourse seemed to be.  In reality, it wasn’t all that crowded at this point, it’s just really small.  One of the members of my church was kind enough to give us the money to go to this game, so we thought we’d get him something at the gift shop while we were there.  I thought it would be funny to get him a shot glass (after all, who doesn’t want a shot glass from their pastor?!?), but we ended up getting him a Cubs hat… and immediately hiding it in my wife’s purse for the duration of the game.

We made our way up to our seats.  We were on the lower level, in Section 224, in the very last row.  These were pretty good seats in one sense: we were in the shade.  On a 90+ degree day, shade is a good thing.  I also got to see why Chicago is called the Windy City because we had a fairly nice breeze the entire game (which was not so nice when it helped a couple of balls go over the fence).  The major downside to our seats had to have been that there was a slightly obstructed view.  If there was a left-handed hitter in the box, I couldn’t see him.  Not that there’s a lot of lefties I actually care to see…

As for the game itself…. eh….  I have seen the Cardinals play a long time.  I’ve watched some bad Cardinal teams, but this was the most lackluster performance that I have ever seen in my life.  I’ve seen apathetic little leaguers play a more competitive game than this.  I knew it was going to be a rough outing as soon as I saw Suppan was the starting pitcher.  To put it bluntly, Suppan sucks.  I like the guy.  He was an integral part of the 2006 World Series team, but he has just been awful this season, and I don’t even think that Duncan can fix him.  That’s not a good sign for a pitcher.

The Cards went down quietly in the 1st, and the Cubbies led off the game with a home run to right.  The rest of the game was pretty much a droning blur from a Cardinal fan perspective.  Perhaps the play the epitomized the game for me was a pop-up in the later innings.  At this point in the game it is already 4-0, thanks to three dingers.  There’s two outs, and a runner on second.  The batter pops one up.  This bad boy was hanging in the air for a good ten minutes before it decided to come down.  It couldn’t have been more than 20 feet away from home plate in fair territory.

LaRue goes out, Suppan comes in, and Lopez comes in from third.  About three second before it drops, all three players realize that they are just standing there looking at one another.  LaRue tries to dive for the ball, which couldn’t have been more than 5 feet away from Suppan, but he misses, and the runner scores from second.  It was horrible.

We were sitting in a place where we could see the WGN broadcast, and they showed LaRussa repeatedly slamming shut the door on the bullpen phone.  I realize that they had a rough, extra inning game the day before, but it was just a terrible performance by the Cardinals all around.  There were several defensive mistakes (besides the dropped pop-up), the hitters couldn’t piece anything together, and the pitching was terrible until the bullpen came into the game.

As I said above, it was a good experience, but I don’t know if I would take the bus again.  Not because I didn’t like the bus, but because seeing all the different things in Chicago as we drove through made me want to spend some time in the Windy City to take in all the sights.  When you go on the bus, you’ve got a schedule to maintain, and you don’t have the freedom to explore the city and see the sights.  If I just wanted to see a game, then I would definitely do it again.

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