Home Sweet Home

I apologize for being late with this–work (along with my upcoming weekend trip to Montreal) has kept me busy this week.

But here you go: some thoughts on Monday afternoon’s Expos/Marlins game, such as they are.

1) Luke and I met at 12:45, because MLB.com said the game was to begin at 1:35. Alas, the game began at 1:05, which meant that many fans were already there ahead of us and we were reduced to sitting on the sixth row, behind the on-deck circle. We were so far away I almost couldn’t count the crows feet around Jeff “The Original Marlin” Conine’s eyes.

2) Our estimates of the crowd size, apparently, were wildly inaccurate. The upper decks were closed completely (In fact, there were some construction–or, I suppose in this case, destruction–guys ripping out a section of seats in the upper deck in left. Not like the Sox have another ten home games or anything.), and the lower deck, though more full than I would have guessed, wasn’t anywhere near capacity. I guessed 900 or so, Luke dithered between 800 and 1200. Attendance wasn’t announced during the game, but it was later listed at 4,003.

3) Luke and I had both expected the fans to be rooting for the Expos, hoping for a Marlins defeat that would push Florida farther behind the Cubs in the Wild Card race. There’s nothing like a little North Side blindness, which we all fall prey to sometimes. Turns out about half the audience was composed of Sox fans rooting for a Marlins rout, a Sosa suspension, and more concrete cave-ins at Wrigley. One funny side effect of the general admission seating was that people chose sections like at a high school game: the Expos fans sat on the Expos dugout side, the Marlins fans did the same with the Marlins dugout.

4) The Marlins brought their hometown PA announcer and graphics package, which included the obligatory scoreboard races, a gratuitous shot of Steve Bartman, and a lot of “your Florida Marlins.” One of the scoreboard races was an exotic Florida-type race: fan boats, being raced by several different Billy the Marlin. Bill was also in attendance, as was Marlins owner (and Expos destroyer) Jeffrey Loria. The only thing missing was local traffic information to help us get home to South Beach after the game.

5) The atmosphere at the game, Luke and I agreed, was one of the most pleasant of any game we’ve been to. No one (except the players) had much invested in the game’s outcome, so the cheering was genial, and people seemed to be really enjoying being part of a weird occurrence on a beautiful late summer day. It felt a lot like attending a minor-league game with major-league players–until the Expos made four errors in the 8th inning, at which point it seemed like, well, maybe a T-Ball game.

6) Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I made the day into a doubleheader, hurrying home after the game to get some dinner, then turning around and heading to Wrigley Field for the Cubs/Pirates game. Greg Maddux, given an early lead, did what he nearly always does, and a fine day of baseball came to a pleasant end.

7) And one unrelated note: let’s take a moment to congratulate the Big Unit, who last night fanned Vinny Castilla to move into third all-time on the strikeout list. He might even eventually catch Clemens for second, since he shows no signs of aging.

Original comments…

Jim: You wanted local traffic information for Miami?

“I-95 north is backed up due to slow-moving Cadillacs with turn signals on in all lanes. The Turnpike south is temporarily closed due to alligators crossing the roadway. A1A is flooded due to this week’s hurricane.”

Luke, hanger-on: One of the Florida papers on Tuesday — sorry, I forget which one — said it was the Marlins who wanted the later start Monday, but MLB nixed it. And it said Loria was annoyed at Bartman’s visage — A regular feature after fan interference at Sox Park? The story made it sound like it was. — and made an enraged call to the scoreboard operator to get it yanked. Apparently he’s a bit defensive vis-a-vis the idea that anyone but the Marlins had anything to do with Florida’s unlikely championship.

In addition to the absence of “You suck!” heckles and “Yo, four beers!” bellowing, there was another pleasantness to the game that I’m surprised that Levi didn’t mention: very few children. It was a weekday, so they must have all been in school or jail, where they belong. There were just enough there — youngsters too young for school or out on parole — so that just about every foul ball seemed to get passed on to a nearby child, an indicator of the genial, generous mood that the crowd was in.

Luke: Found that story. (Login: bugmenot2; pass: whatever .)

Luke: And it wasn’t Loria, but Marlins President David Samson.

Jason: Did they have any south Florida items at the concession stands, like oranges or cocaine?

maura: (we weren’t really sure of what time monday’s game was going to start until about five minutes before it actually did. so much confusion.)

How could I pass it up?

I’ve decided to attend Monday’s Marlins/Expos game at Comiskey Park.

With Hurricane Pudge approaching, MLB has rescheduled the first two games of the Marlins/Expos series for Comiskey on Monday and Tuesday aftenoons. Tickets will be general admission, $15, with $5 going to hurricane relief. I’m going because I can’t pass up the chance to be one of a couple hundred people at one of the weirdest games ever.

Who’s with me?

Original comments…

thatbob: If you root hard enough for the Expos in Comiskey, maybe they’ll move here.

Jason: Maybe BOTH the Expos & Marlins will move to Comiskey, if the Fish don’t get their new stadium.

Levi: I think Alan Keyes already moved there, but he’ll be back in Maryland by the end of the World Series, so no conflict there.

Jon Solomon: How was the game?!

It’s late, but here’s the Monday wrap-up: Game 1

After Sunday’s game, hospital we truly entered the home stretch of our trip, remedy getting back to the Rocketship in time for the late dinner Stacey had waiting for us Sunday night. In exchange, treatment we offered her the last of the Hostess Baseballs, a treat she declined. Bob ate it later, to no one’s surprise.

Monday morning dawned cloudy and gray, but who cares? We had survived eight nights in hotel beds without getting scabies or being devoured by bedbugs. We had survived nine days of road food without getting scurvy. Jim even ate all the vegetables that were put in front of him, which I hope will reassure his mother. So who cared that it looked rainy? Like Team USA Basketball, we were sure of our powers. Our luck would hold. Unlike Team USA Basketball, we were right, for the most part.

Needing to run 20 miles to keep up with my marathon training, I decided to run the sixteen miles to my office, plus a bit, then shower at the gym, go through my email for an hour, then head back north to Comiskey Park. Jim, demonstrating yet again that he’s by far the most sensible member of BRPA 2004, slept in, then he and Bob met me at the ballpark.

I suppose I should describe Comiskey Park. I’m guessing most of our legion of fans have been there, but a few words are in order in case. Those words are: sterile, boring, styleless, loud, and a right impressive ripping-off of the taxpayer. But for all that, I do think Comiskey is a bit better than the terrible reputation it has. The vertigo-inducing upper-deck seats are a bit better these days, as the team in the offseason replaced the top rows of them with a roof, and when there are 50,000 people in the park and the Sox are soul-destroyingly bad, it can be a fun place to see a ballgame or, apparently, attack a base coach.

Mondays at Comiskey Park are half-price days, and every Illinois resident should go to a couple a year, as they’re paying for them, via a shady deal the Sox signed when Illinois built the new ballpark for them whereby they only pay rent if they draw X large number of fans at full price in a season. Only about 5,000 of them decided to exercise that option Monday. Maybe they knew what Bob, Jim, and I didn’t: that the baseball on Monday would be of about half-price quality, too.

Entering this game, the White Sox were 7 for 67 with 20 strikeouts in 18 scoreless innings. Today, they fell behind early, made a couple of errors, ran the bases in extravagantly bad fashion, and just looked like a team that was determined to break BRPA 2004’s perfect rooting record. But then Joe Borchard hit a 504-foot home run, the longest in the history of New Comiskey (Bob, Jim, and I didn’t think it was that long, but we don’t have the official How-far-did-it-fly calculator, so what do we know?), the Phillies, taking their defensive cues from the Pale Hose, botched a rundown and had their pitcher and catcher trip over one another while failing to field a bunt, and suddenly, the Sox were leading 9-6. It was about the most lackadaisical and sloppy 9-6 attainment of a 9-6 lead that you’ll ever see, but a lead’s a lead.

Fan favorite Shingo Takatsu entered the game in the 9th, to the joy of the 5,000 faithful and the five camera operators, who got a chance to put their finding Asian fans in the stands skills to the test. He promptly surrendered a 2-run homer to Jim Thome, but homers by Thome are like cat barf: you never want them around, but once a while, there they are, and you just hope they don’t ruin anything. Takatsu buckled down and finished out a 9-8 Sox win, and suddenly, we were 10-0.