Monday, May 29, 2006

Obligatory ninth inning rallies

The Cubs made me a criminal
Sent me down a wayward path
They stole my youth from me
(that's the truth)
I'd forsake my teachers
To go sit in the bleachers
In flagrant truancy
--A dying Cub fans last request written by Steve Goodman (1983).

I have many memories, some a little more blurry than others, of Vehere, gm, a few other cronies and myself standing at the backwall of the ole right field bleachers 40+ games a season. There was the time Gary Sheffield flipped us off. There were all the Sammy homeruns. There was the time a friend of ours missed the entire 98 playoff game against the Braves because he had a "disagreement" with one of the fine ushers in the park. But one of my lasting memories will be a theory that we developed about the "obligatory ninth inning rally".

The "obligatory ninth inning rally" was something that I think I stole from a Cubs book I read back in my youth. It works like this. In games at Wrigley Field when the Cubs are down, don't lose interest. There is normally gonna be a rally in the ninth inning. In said rally the Cubs will get the tying run to the plate. That way we can all stay around for the end...good or bad. The rally does not guarantee any outcome, lord knows they seem to come up short most of the time. The funny thing about the "obligatory rally" is it happens more than you would ever think to the Cubs in games they play at Wrigley Field.

So why do I mention the "obligatory ninth inning rally"? Well, as I sat in front of the tube yesterday afternoon watching the ballgame, I wondered to myself: "why am I wasting my time watching this game?" My wife even came in, looked at the score and asked "why do you put yourself through this?". That's when it hit me. I was waiting for my "obligatory ninth inning rally". And guess what, the boys in the blue pinstripes obliged yesterday. I got my obligatory rally in the ninth inning. It's been a while since I had my fix.

This ninth inning rally saw the Cubs come all the way back from 4 runs down to tie the Braves at 12-12. The rally saw a clutch triple from Neifi Perez, he of the frustrating failed bunt attempt to lose a game in a recent "ninth inning rally". Even with all the heroics in one of the strangest games of the year. Stranger things were ahead of us.

The Cub defense invented another way to lose a game. A routine popup to Aramis Ramirez to start the inning hit him in the head. What happened?

"What can I say?" Ramirez said. "It hit me in the head, but I'm fine."

The wind? The sun? Something?

"I have no excuses. I just missed the ball," said Ramirez, who admitted he may have taken his eyes off the ball momentarily.

Thanks to Dave van Dyck's Tribune articlee for the quote. Langerhans who reached second on Ramirez's gaffe scored the winning run and the "L" flag went up again.

They say in baseball you can see something different everyday. The recent slump makes me wonder: when will the Cubs run out of new ways to blow ballgames?

No comments: