Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

Baseball in the Heat and the Rain

Posted in baseball,Putting One Foot in Front of the Other by bourdaghs on the July 7th, 2010

It started raining last night just as we headed out to the car. The weather forecasters had been falsely promising thunderstorms for several days until I stopped believing them, but for once they were right. By the time we reached the parking lot at New Comiskey Park (I continue my personal boycott of the corporate name for the ballpark here on the South Side), it had mutated into a full-blown cloudburst. We tried waiting it out in the car, hoping it would blow over. After twenty minutes it did, allowing us to we make our way to the stadium and our unexpectedly fine seats–36th row behind home plate. We were even tucked safely under the second-deck overhang, an architectural umbrella against any additional precipitation. Not bad for an impulse purchase made on the Sox’ webpage the night before….

The rains came back, delaying the start by nearly two hours. First pitch, scheduled for 7:10, wouldn’t take place until 8:51. But I didn’t mind much: I love just sitting in a ballpark, and the crowd was mostly in a jovial mood. It was Polish-American Culture Night on the South Side, and a local folk dance company entertained us on the big screen as rain continued to fall. Through the marvels of cell phone technology, our 14-year-old located a classmate sitting two sections over. It continued to be hot and steamy: the rains didn’t pack enough fury to knock the humidity out of the air, but rather added to it. As you’ve probably heard, it’s been a little hot in the northern U.S. the last few days….

As usual with baseball, the little quirks are what stand out in memory: watching the grounds crew before the game deal with the infield tarp, which had ponded over with several inches of water in places, for example. Or seeing Polish-American former Yankee star Bill “Moose” Scowron (and his tiny tow-headed granddaughter) throw out the ceremonial first pitch. They showed the Twins-Blue Jays game on the big screen through the rain delay, and I had to check my natural instinct to cheer when Minnesota scored (everyone around me booed, of course).

When the baseball finally got underway, Jake Peavy pitched for the Sox against Jered Weaver for the LA Angels. Our youngest is an Angels fan, so to bug her I started cheering for the White Sox (as a born Minnesota Twins fan, this took some effort). The Sox started the scoring early: Juan Pierre led off the bottom of the first with a double, stole third, and then trotted home on an Alex Rios sacrifice fly.

In the top of the 2nd, in the middle of Mike Napoli’s at-bat, Peavy started walking toward the White Sox dugout immediately after releasing a pitch. He stopped at the foul line, turned back toward the pitchers mound, but then halted again. Something was wrong. Manager Ozzie Guillen came out to check on him, and quickly Peavy resumed walking toward the dugout. They announced several innings later that he had strained a muscle in his back.

Tony Pena took over pitching duties for the home team. We enjoyed seeing Torii Hunter, one of our favorites since his Minnesota Twins days, hit three singles, the first two barely leaving the infield. It felt odd to watch Matsui Hideki wear a Los Angeles uniform: in my mental geography, he will always belong to the Yankees.

We stayed long enough to see Rios blast a home run to left field in the bottom of the sixth, giving Chicago a 2-1 lead. As always, they lit off fireworks behind the scoreboard in center to celebrate the homer. By then it was after 10:30 p.m. and our youngest had summer school in the morning, so we headed for the parking lot. We listened on the radio as Andruw Jones hit his 399th career home run in the seventh, giving the Sox a 4-1 lead. The drive back to Hyde Park took exactly one inning, and I watched the eight and ninth on television in the comfort of our air-conditioned family room. Chicago won, 4-1.

I have tickets to see the Phillys and Cubs at Wrigley a week from Friday. No more rain, please. And, as long as I’m putting in my weather requests, is a nice Canadian cold front too much to ask for?

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