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Carlos Zambrano throws a no-hitter: Where were you?

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I was waiting in a Wrigleyville Subway when I saw that big, beautiful goose egg under the H for hits signifying that Carlos Zambrano was taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning. I had checked the Cubs' Web site earlier today to see what channel they'd be playing on, but it didn't list one so I thought the game wouldn't be televised. I was excited that I wasn't stuck with the Browns/Steelers game after all. I hustled home to watch Big Z mow down the remainder of the batters he faced to become the first Cubs pitcher since Milt Pappas in 1972 to fire a no-hitter in a Cubs uniform. I sent a text to my brother, an even bigger Cubs fan than I. He had considered making the trip to Milwaukee but didn't because his kids have school tomorrow -- it's the same call my mother would have made when we were growing up.

As a Cubs fan, I'll never forget the sequence of events and nuances leading up to watching this slice of Cubs history. It'll be seared into my memory -- like when my dad made me stay up in 1984 to learn the definition of heartbreak from a guy named Steve Garvey. Like when I rushed home from school in 1998 with my friend Jon because we had gotten word that a fresh-faced Cubs pitcher named Kerry Wood was threatening to break to single-game strikeout record. And like watching the world fall apart with scores of fellow displaced Cubs fans in a Sarasota, Fla. bar on a balmy October evening in 2003.

This doesn't happen. The Cubs are never this far ahead in the standings this late into the season. Our pitchers don't throw no-hitters. This is frivolous. Is it time to start allowing ourselves to believe once again? Is it time to allow ourselves, as fans, to become vulnerable again -- susceptible to oh-so-imaginable disappointment?

If something like this -- a no-hitter -- can happen at Wrigley North, I argue that anything can happen at Wrigley proper. Belief is knocking on the door, checking the windows, trying hard to creep in. Like 1984. Like 1989. Like 1998. Like 2003. Like last year. You can't help but allow it to creep in as a Cubs fan. If this isn't a sign that this is a year unlike any other, what is?

If this isn't a sign that these Cubs may not be subject to the same heartbreak hoo-doo as teams from years past, I don't know what is.

It won't stop raining here. A state of emergency has been declared in Cook County. It was an extraordinary and powerful act of nature that drove the Astros north to Milwaukee in the first place. It will take another act of nature to fulfill our perhaps-unwarranted, certainly ill-advised belief in these Cubs.

I was certain I wouldn't witness history. I was certain Darin Erstad would ruin everything. I was in a state of highly guarded optimism when I watched it. Where were you?


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Despite today's hiccup in the Cubs' quest for the division title (and beyond), it looks as though they'll clinch it any day now and turn Wrigleyville into Bourbon Street North.We've written at-length about the myriad signs that this could... Read More

4 Comments

I was sitting here over a math textbook calculating derivatives while glancing up at the TV every five seconds. The worst part of the no-hitter was that I had to keep doing what I was doing so I don't jinx the no-hitter....sigh.

Kevin Replies: Well, I thank you for that. Cubs fans thank you for that. And certainly, Big Z thanks you.

On the eve of the All Star Game which has eight Chicago Cubs on the roster, I got to thinking about Harry Caray and Steve Goodman's roles in all of this season's incredible run so far. Yes I do believe the two have a afterlife presence in Wrigley Field.

We'll start with Caray first - The first season after Harry died, Cubs had to backdoor their way into the playoffs, which wasn't planned but thanks to a muffed ball by Brant Brown in Milwaukee, a one game playoff with the Giants for the wild card spot had to be played at Wrigley Field. Of course the Cubs win, only to be swept by the Braves in the first round.

Fast forward to 2003, which was the fifth year the Bud Man had been taken from Cubs fans way too soon. The team makes the playoffs again, this time going all the way to the National League Championship Series, losing in seven games but that's a whole different topic for another day.

So 2008 comes and Harry Caray's opens up a new location in Wrigleyville, merely steps away from Harry's statue that is outside Wrigley Field. And it so happens to be ten years after he went to the bleachers in the sky. So could another excellent adventure be in store for the Cubs yet again? so far, the form of Cubs doing unexpected things after Harry's passing is holding true once again. The team currently shares the best record in baseball with the Angels at the All-Star break. So what will the team do this fall? it will be interesting to see if three's a charm this time around.

The Chicago Cubs commissioned Steve Goodman to write "Go Cubs Go" in early 1984, as the opening theme for WGN's game broadcasts. At that time, Goodman — who had been battling leukemia for some 15 years — was better known for his wry song, "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request." But with the bouncy, upbeat "Go Cubs Go," Goodman expressed the undying optimism of Chicago's North Side fans. His optimism proved well-founded: That very season – perhaps inspired by Goodman's lyric, "the Cubs are gonna win today," – the Cubs clinched the NL East Championship and made their first post-season appearance since 1945.

Sadly, Goodman did not live to see post-season play in Wrigley Field. He died at age 36 on Sept. 20, 1984, four days before the Cubs clinched the Division title — and 17 days before the Cubs blew a two-game lead and lost the NL pennant to the Padres. He was scheduled to sing the Star Spangled Banner at the first home playoff game, his friend Jimmy Buffett stood in for him. Part of his ashes were scattered around Wrigley Field as well, which wasn't authorized by the Cubs but it still happened anyway.

Goodman's spirits during the post season have only shown up during the 1989 season when it comes to five year increments. The Cubs lost to the Giants, who went on to play in the World Series that will better remembered for the earthquake that struck the Bay Area before the first game. However, his presence had been felt in 2004 as well when the Cubs had a classic late September collapse, just days after the 20th anniversary of his passing.

During the last off season, the Cubs completely replaced their field and put in a new drainage system, meaning Goodman's ashes were sent off to the dump along with the the mounds of dirt or somehow a few ashes made their away into the ivy. For what it's worth, Steve and Harry are probably walking the halls inside the ballpark at Addison and Clark.

I was at the game in Milwaukee ... A lifelong Cubs fan, going to school in Milwaukee, my friend had an extra ticket. I was first row, right field, right behind DeRosa when he made one of the few defensive plays that made me hold my breath. IT WAS AMAZING!

What's up and congratulations to Carlos Zambrano for his no-hitter against my Astros. Whenever a pitcher holds a major-league team hitless, it should be celebrated by all who behold it. What was more spectacular was that he did it on 12 days' rest and at a "neutral" site, Milwaukee. I say "neutral", but I want it recognized that it wasn't a NEUTRAL site as evidenced by the plethora of CUBS FANS.

I was watching the game in my bedroom in Houston where 85% of our residents had no electricity, were searching for ice, gasoline, food and other things that most of us take for granted. Several of the players' families' homes were destroyed by Hurricane Ike and their wives and children were left to fend for themselves while they had to travel to play BASEBALL.

Bud Selig was asked many, many times by Astros' owner, Drayton McLane to postpone the series, possibly to the end of the season so that the team could assist their families through this very, very tough time. I don't think the rest of the nation really realizes what we're going through here. A hurricane just about leveled the nation's fourth largest city and knocked out power to nearly three million people and brought people to their knees. Even today, over 2 MILLION PEOPLE are still without power!!! Amongst those people are the families, loved ones and friends of the Houston Astros. They went through the terror of 80 plus mph winds accompanied by torrential rain overnight on Friday night through early Saturday morning an 'awakened' to flooded homes, fallen trees on homes, automobiles and businesses of their neighbors and friends. They had less than twenty-four hours to try to do what they could for their families to stabilize their households (make sure that they had food, water, ice, medical care and generators, since they no longer had power, etc) then, they had to fly to Milwaukee to PLAY BASEBALL.

They arrived there at 2:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon to play a 7:05 p.m. HOME game in A NEUTRAL SITE, MILWAUKEE-WRIGLEY NORTH against arguably one of the games best pitchers for the best team in the National League, The Chicago Cubs before 20,000 of their fans with maybe three hours of sleep. THEY PROBABLY COULDN'T SEE THE FREAKIN' BALL MUCH LESS HIT IT....AND THEY DIDN'T....HOW DO YOU CONCENTRATE ON BASEBALL WHEN YOU KNOW YOUR FAMILY IS STRESSED OUT AND YOU'RE STRESSED OUT KNOWING THAT YOU'RE NOT THERE FOR THEM IN THEIR HOUR OF NEED?

I'm not trying to belittle Zambrano's accomplishment but, this is more of an attack on Bud Selig and his decision to compel the Astros to play these games in the first place. He even had the Brewers charge "PREMIUM PRICES" for the seats! (The Money-Hungry S.O.B.!) The Cubbies were at home chillin' with their families in the comfortable homes and took a SHORT trip up to Milwaukee to play two ROAD/HOME games. Meanwhile, the Astros were going through a wrath of nature, hold on to your homes and try to survive scenario.

The Cubs Fans, who are some of baseball's most knowledgeable and purest in the sport must have known that the Astros that they watched play in the last two games weren't the same Astros that they've played all season long. (You know, the team that two of three in Wrigley last month.) They must also know that playing the Astros under these circumstances (an Astros HOME GAME near Chicago, 36 hours after a hurricane) doesn't represent the best scenario for optimal competition.

The Astros' were on a tear through the league after the All-Star break with the best record and had won 12 of 13 games before the unfortunate events precipitated by Hurricane Ike. They were scoring runs at a clip of about 6 runs per game over the last few games. In the last three games, they've gotten about 6 hits and scored only two runs. I know that Lilly is a good pitcher but, the Astros were no-hit for almost 15 innings (6 by him) and that's unheard of in Major League History.

The Astros should have been allowed to handle business at home and then played the Marlins TODAY instead of cramming two in Wrigley North while their minds and hearts were with their families and friends in Houston.

I understand the excitement in Chicago over the two games vs. Houston and the awesome season you guys are having but, while you guys are cheering your wins and Zambrano's accomplishment, don't forget to pray for us in Houston. Google Hurricane Ike and look at some of the pictures. Google the Houston Chronicle and read some of the stories of what's going on down here. Then imagine yourself having a family here and having to leave them and in the immortal words of Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, "Let's play two!"

We hope that we can right this ship soon and win the National League Wild Card. What I've seen in the past three games hurts my heart because I know my guys are trying, but it's not their fault. I know that their minds are elsewhere and it shows in their play. What frustrates me so much is that WE WERE ON SUCH AN AWESOME ROLL!!!! I just hope that Hurrican Ike isn't to our season what The Goat has been to the Cubbies Millenium! (Sorry to bring that up...)

Daniel

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Allen published on September 14, 2008 9:30 PM.

Bears Brightside Vol. 7: What's a Panthers win other than a loss with more "official points" than the Bears? was the previous entry in this blog.

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