Friday, September 14, 2007

Off to St. Louis

Cubbies Back in 1st Place

The Cubbies are back in sole possession of 1st place. Tonight they open up a 4-game season against the St. Louis Cardinals. Going into the series, as you can see from the current standings (Sept. 14, 5:00 AM), they have a 5 game lead on the Cardinals.

A week ago, the Cardinals were scary, as they were playing incredibly well. Rick Ankiel was the feel-good story of the baseball season (almost as feel-good as a Cubs World Series victory might be). Ankiel's story stopped being so feel-good, though about a week ago, as the story broke that in the year 2004, he purchased a 12-month supply of HGH, a substance often linked to the steroid abuse. At the time Ankiel allegedly purchased the substance, it was not banned by baseball. However, this is the same Ankiel who had a mental meltdown in the 2000 World Series (as a top flight pitcher). This story evidently has gotten into Ankiel's head. In the last 7 games, Ankiel's batting average has dropped from .353 to .301. He has gone 2-24 with 0 RBI and 9 strikeouts. Ouch!

During this stretch, the Cubs should have played better. Out of the past nearly 4 weeks, the Cubs have been in 1st place in the NL Central (either sole or shared possession) for all but two days. Those two days occurred this week. In one sense, it's a good thing that I take Prevacid (for reasons totally unrelated to baseball).

I will teach this morning. At about 1:00 PM, I'll get into a 15-passenger van, and head to St. Louis. I believe that there will be 11 passengers in the van, 9 of whom are Cubs fans! There will be one student who is a Cardinals fan, and Terry Bowland, my esteemed colleague, who is also a Cardinals fan. I have made several trips to St. Louis with him for Cardinals/Cubs games in the past.

My ticket (sans barcode) is posted above. This game is sold out, so we have standing room only. I have a student in class this semester who had a standing room only ticket to the World Series game in 2000 when Rick Ankiel had his meltdown. He said going to a ballgame in standing room only is a blast.

We'll drive back to Joplin after the ballgame is over. Carlos Zambrano (thinking of head cases) is pitching for the Cubs. I have never seen him lose in person. Hopefully he will have his head properly in the game. I expect we'll get back home around 3 AM. But it will be fun, especially if the Cubs win. Another of my colleagues, Chad Ragsdale (also a Cub fan), will be travelling to St. Louis this afternoon, spending the night there with his wife, Tara, and will be attending the 1st game of Saturday's doubleheader. I hope they get to see a Cubs victory as well.

What are the chances of a Cubs/Red Sox World Series? A Cubs victory in 7 games over the Red Sox--now that would be a great finish to a feel-good story!


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