Not a win. But definitely an amazing start to the season…at least when it comes to things to talk about. Of course when you start the season and you’re looking to get out of the gates quickly, it helps to win your first game. Especially when its against a division rival. And especially when its the division rival you’re supposed to take down to the wire again this year in determining who wins said division.
It was cold and rainy and miserable yet nobody cared. Fans were out to support their Cubs, old and new as many turned out to cheer Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks during the unveiling of his statue next to Wrigley before the game. I can’t wait to see the statue in person. Its made by the same guy that did the Harry Caray statue and it look incredible. Henry Aaron was right, it should have been done a long time ago. I’m glad someone who seems so down to earth and appreciative of all life has given him and all he was able to give back is known as Mr. Cub. Here is a photo of the statue:
Two tarps had to be taken off before today’s game. The one on Ernie’s statue and the one on the field. The field’s new draining system got a real test today as it was raining hard before the game causing a 40 minute delay before the game and another 52 minute delay during the game. It was amusing to see the groundskeepers using giant squeejee’s to dump the flooded water that did remain on the field into the system. While there is no longer a crown in the middle of the field, there are so many draining holes, I half expected Bill Murray to show up and give them a hand.
Of course, after nearly a hundred years without a title and months of offseason drama leading up to what should be a very exciting season, what was another 90 minutes of rain delay?!
Once it finally got underway, it was worth the wait to finally get to Opening Day! Zambrano looked strong before and after the rain delay. Ernie Banks threw out the ceremonial first pitch and for a bit it looked like they may only get to play two…innings. After the tarps were pulled for a second time, Zambrano continued to dominate along with Sheets. If these guys both pitch like this all year, its going to be quite a race for the Central. Unfortunately, Zambrano went out of the game after hitting the ground and falling awkwardly in the seventh on an infield fly he caught while crashing into Lee. Marmol came in to relieve him with 2 outs and a 2-2 count. He successfully got the Cubs out of the inning with one pitch. Not surprised by that at all seeing that I’d been saying all Spring he should be our closer, not Wood. (more on that later)
Our bats were pretty pathetic today. The Cubs were 2-for-31 today without Fukudome who had an incredible debut going 3-for-3 including a double and a three-run blast to tie the game in the ninth. Fukudome is going to be great for the Cubs this year but we can’t rely on him to carry us and give us a chance to win like this on a regular basis. The other guys are going to have to step up, especially in the top of the order where Theriot and Soriano were horrible going 0-for-5 each.
Fukudome was definitely the one true bright spot as far as the offense was concerned today. It was a blast to watch the response the right field bleacher fans gave him when he came back out to right after tying the game and even more interesting to see how the crowd welcomed him before his first at bat. This picture to me is hilarious, all the different things I believe the fans think about Fukudome’s arrival wrapped into one photo:
The one woman with her jaw dropped in awe. The guy with his camera ready to go as if there aren’t enough cameras pointed at Fukudome these days. The guy in front in the red cap looking at him like he’s ‘the one’ and the answer to take us to the promised land. The guy in the blue cap to the right of him looking absolutely giddy over his presence on the Cubs this year. And once the moment arrived, he didn’t disappoint. The first pitch he saw he drove to deep CF. The ball landed at the base of the wall and Fukudome had himself a stand up double. The place went crazy…but then seriously, why wouldn’t they? I did…and especially in the ninth when Lee FINALLY got a hit, Ramirez got on base on a walk and Fukudome hit the shot that people will probably truly remember his debut for. A three run shot to tie it up and clean up after Wood almost destroyed us in the top of the inning. Great day Fukudome! Now, let me rephrase that second to last sentence.
Wood basically did destroy it in the ninth. I wonder if Lou is questioning his decision…I am (still). I’m willing to chalk this one up to Opening Day jitters but we surely can’t have any more outings like that from Wood. Especially against division rivals. Howry ended up giving up the winning run in the tenth but if it weren’t for Wood’s ninth, we never would’ve seen Howry. Actually, even that’s not true…it was a mixture of Wood’s collapse and Gagne’s. Good thing Gagne’s off the HGH! He looks horrible…not only fundamentally weak and pitching horribly, but like a total slob. At one point the ump even had to tell him to tuck his jersey in because he looked like such a slob. And what is he experiencing, menopause?? It’s 40-something degrees outside and he’s fanning himself like its the dead middle of August?! Something is definitely wrong there and I think it can only mean good things for the Cubs in the long run.
I still think the Cubs have a strong bullpen, however today, the bullpen along with every hitter except Fukudome were the reason we lost. Piniella wanted a fast start and told them it was important to do so in a very competition division along with all the potential this Cubs team has. Apparently, they don’t quite understand what he meant by that just yet. Let’s hope Lilly fares better come Wednesday and the point finally starts to sink in.