I almost feel like I need to write something awesome to start this thing out. You know, like in the movie Almost Famous, where the kid writes for Rolling Stone, “I’m flying high over Tupelo, Mississippi with America’s hottest band. And we’re all about to die.”
Unfortunately, I’ve got nothing like that for you right now. I’m sitting in the top row of the Press Box in Wrigley Field and Jeff Samardzija is going to make his first start on his young major league career. He'll be facing the Phillies’ newly-acquired Pedro Martinez, who doubles as one of my top 5 favorite pitchers since I’ve been alive.
Chris and I arrived at the ballpark around 5:00pm, over 2 hours before the start of the game. My head is dizzy. I literally ran in to Derrek Lee, Chris was nearly trounced by a herd of players warming up, and I finally saw the mythical translator for Kosuke Fukudome.
About an hour before game time I moseyed on up the ramps to the Press Box, where I saw the likes of Ronny Santo and Len Kasper, and I even exchanged head-nods with Cubs’ announcer Bob Brenley. Awesome. So, I walk in to the Press Box and walk up and down the aisles, everywhere there are name tags for accredited media, so I’m looking for the one that says “Brett Fuller”. No where to be found. I looked on the seating chart: nope.
Apparently, you don't need to show up until the third inning to cover games anymore. Thanks for the temporary seating though, Les.
So, I’d like to give a special thanks to ABC Radio’s Les Grobstein for not showing up tonight. I will keep your seat warm for you, Les.
Which brings us to the start of the game: Cubs vs. Phillies. Samardzija vs. Pedro. Let’s get it on.
7:10: Former MVP Jimmy Rollins leads off for the Phillies. First pitch: ball. Samardzija does get out of a full count to force Rollins to ground out to second. The second batter hits one off the wall, which Milton Bradley mis-plays, so Victorino legs out a triple. MVP candidate Chase Utley hits a double, almost in the same spot as Victorino. Howard comes up next and LEGS OUT A TRIPLE? IN THE SAME SPOT AS THE OTHER TWO HITS? Ugh. 2-0 Phillies.
7:15: Boo birds are out early today.
7:19: Samardzija gets out of the inning with a strikeout and a flyout, leaving what could have been a terrible inning with only limited damage.
7:24: Derrek Lee rips a double down the right field line, landing almost exactly where Philly's last first three hits landed. This is strange in particular because the wind, if anything, is blowing in toward left field.
8:10: I know you may be looking at the timestamps and saying to yourself, why was there just an almost hour-long gap in updates? Well, Mr. Les Grobstein came back and was none-too-pleased that a young fellow like myself was in his seat. So, I had to
Pedro is bringing back the 1980's hair style one ounce of SuperGlo at a time.
scramble & pack up, and find a seat in an already over-crowded pressbox. Special thanks to ESPN Radio's Bruce Levine (I know, Bruce Levine! Chicago's version of Peter Gammons!) for helping me out and letting me sit between him and the ESPN Radio Sportscenter Update Guy.
8:11: An update on the actual game: Samardzija has struggled. Runners in scoring position, no outs in the top of the fourth, with Philly leading 5-1. Bullpen activity begins from recent ValpoLife interviewee Sean Marshall. Marshall now replaces Jeff after he retires Pedro Martinez.
8:17: Disclaimer: I was born in 1986. I feel like I should let you know I was only four when the 80's ended, so I just don't have the arsenal to be firing off Pedro Martinez jerri-curl jokes.
8:22: To say the least, Marshall doesn't really help the cause a whole lot. To be fair though, at this point the Cubs' bullpen has been overworked and smacked around quite a bit in the past couple of weeks. Anytime you give up two 3-run home runs in an inning, you aren't going to win the game. I will continue to blame Chris for the outcome of tonight's game, since he interviewed Sean before the game, and tried to interview Jeff before the game. I mean everyone knows you don't interview a pitcher before the game, right? Next time we go to a Cubs game, I'm sending him to the visiting team's dugout.
8:32: The one real restriction I am given as a writer here at ValpoLife.com is that everything needs to be written from an exclusively positive angle. I have to idea how to spin a 12-1 score in the
Cubs releiver Sean Marshall gives us an interview before the game. I apologize for that.
fourth inning. I just recieved a text from my buddy Justin who lives in Philly that only said, "I'm sorry." Yikes.
8:40: After Marhsall got out of the inning, the crowd booed the loudest boo I've ever heard at Wrigley Field. I receive a text from Chris: "Let's beat the crowd out of here." That didn't take long. I'm looking around the press box, and it seems like that scene from Anchorman, "That really got out of hand pretty fast."
In defense of Samardzija, the circumstances surrounding his first major league start were not the greatest. It was Wednesday Night Baseball on ESPN, playing one of the hottest teams in the National League, who my buddy Justin claimed "thrive in the spotlgiht." He had to make the start on short notice while trying to simultaneously make the transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Add all of that together, and combine it with the fact that he's playing making his first major league start. Do you think you'd be a little shaky to start out? I'm sure that, long term, this start will just be a blip on the radar for an otherwise awesome Cubbie career.