I dont know if I have the words to describe how awesome this weekend was at Wrigley Field. I’ll set the stage and let the players and managers do the talking. This was the last home series of the season, the Cubs just broke their record for regular season attendance. Going into this weekend they were 1 game up on the second-place Brewers. The Pirates came out of it not knowing what hit them. In the words of manager Jim Tracy:
“We ran into a buzzsaw here,” said Tracy. “They are very focused and on a mission, and after today, personally, I think they’re going to accomplish it.”
First game: Cubs had 13 runs, 16 hits, 4 home runs
Second game: Cubs had 9 runs on 15 hits, 4 home runs
Third game: 8 runs on 14 hits, 2 home runs
In the words of Adam McCalvy from Brewers.com:
The Brewers fell 3 1/2 games behind the front-running Cubs, who finished an easy sweep of the punchless Pirates with an 8-0 win at Wrigley Field.
yes, the Cubs made it look easy. And the crowd at Wrigley this weekend cast any doubt out of my mind that the fans are passionate about the Cubs and baseball and want to help this team win. Carlos Zambrano struck out the first two batters of the game yesterday (in about 2 minutes) and with strike two on the third guy, everyone was already on their feet yelling.
“This is an environment, this is a baseball environment,” Piniella said. “It’s unbelievably exciting. I can see why so many players want to play here.”
And the players also notice, like Derrek Lee:
“This is playoff atmosphere already. I remember playing here in ’03 in the playoffs [with the Marlins], this is pretty close right now. I’m excited if we are able to get into the playoffs what it will be like,” Lee said.
“They’re very excited,” Soriano said. “I don’t talk to them, but I make signs. They say, ‘How many outs?’ and I’ll tell them. “I have a very good time in left field,” he said. “Those fans make me more excited and concentrate more to play.”
I was watching the game on Mlb.tv yesterday and I also had the Brewers-Braves game open on Gameday. When the Braves rallied and took a 5-4 lead, the excitement was almost the same as watching Ramirez hit that game-winning home run in June off Francisco Cordero. (btw, that was one of two home runs Cordero have given up this year. The other one was yesterday’s 10th blast to Scott Thorman, both HUGE for the Cubs)
“I hate the tomahawk chop,” Cubs reliever Scott Eyre said, “but it was pretty cool to see it in our stadium.”
I hate it too Scott. But yeah, even the other team thought it was cool.
“That’s one of the things that comes with having a good season,” Adam LaRoche said. “Your fans are watching other teams. I respect fans with that attitude.”
In the middle of one of Mark DeRosa’s at-bats, the final score of the Braves-Brewers game was posted on the center field scoreboard and the crowd erupted. It was kind of weird to see in the middle of a less important in what was fast becoming a blowout, but at the same time it was fitting for DeRosa.
“I’ve got to call my buddies back home that 40,000 people were doing the Atlanta chop in Wrigley Field,” DeRosa said. “It was awesome. Guys on the team were following what was going on in that game, and trying to get a ‘W’ here, and to sweep on our last regular-season game at home, it was a special atmosphere.”
So the Cubs beat the Pirates three lefties, including Gorzellany yesterday who had only lost to the Cubs one in his career before. And that was in a 1-0 game. Now they are 19-22 this season against lefties. But the best part about the way the Cubs are playing this month is that they finally look like a playoff team. I can’t get over how well the bullpen has pitched. It was awesome to watch Zambrano go six shutout innings and then have kerry Wood come in and shut them out for 2 more. The 2003 team wishes it was that cool. Then Michael Wuertz struck out the side in the 9th. Obviously the Pirates weren’t having fun towards the end, but apparently it gave them something to think about…
“When you play in an atmosphere like this, you see what a place could be like to play in,” Xavier Nady said. “Hopefully, one day we’ll be there, but we’ve got a ways to go.”
Just for that I hope Mark Cuban buys his hometown club, the Pirates if he is unable to buy the Cubs. I also hope that MLB adopts my four-division league setup and then the Pirates won’t be in the Cubs division but I’m not holding my breath. But for now, Wrigley is where its at and I’m looking forward to the first MIGAMES video Podcast.
“I don’t think there is an environment like this in baseball. I really don’t,” Piniella said.