By Richard Kagan
Last weekend, I went to see the Cubs play the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs won the game 5-3. Jose Quintana made his first start at the “Friendly Confines” and pitched well enough to get the win. He struck out seven hitters but he gave up a few home runs and was hit hard. But he had enough to get through the 6th inning and the Cubs came through in the bottom of the 6th on a Willson Contreras two run home run to take the lead, 5-3.
There were so many people at the game, over 41,000 fans. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Cubs game with that many people. As I got closer to the ball park, the crush of people became greater and it was just about navigating to get to a gate to get in. My Step-Dad and I passed the statue of Ron Santo, one of my favorite players.
I noticed a great many fans wearing Cubs jersey’s with names like Rizzo, Dawson, Bryant, and Zobrist. People were wearing the Cubs colors with pride. After all, the Cubs won the World Series last season. There was a buzz to the crowd, as if it was expecting something exciting to happen. The Cubs were hot –winning a bunch of games to edge just behind the Brewers prior to the game. By winning the game, the Cubs took a slight lead in percentage points over Milwaukee leading up to their upcoming series.
The ball park looked different. There were huge scoreboards in left and right fields. The scoreboard in left had all the stats you would want about the pitcher or batter. It was a modern-day scoreboard in old Wrigley. Before the game, they played a brief sound bite from the late Pat Pieper, the long-time public address announcer. I remembered him standing on the field announcing the lineups as a boy. In the seventh inning, the Cubs played a video of Harry Caray, singing ‘Take Me Out to The Ballgame.” Everyone in the park sang along. It was loud and joyful.
When the game was over, the Cubs played ‘Go Cubs Go!”, the unofficial anthem of the team, and the whole park knew every word and sang with gusto. I sang along and felt part of Cubs nation in that moment. I’ve seen many games were there was little singing, and a lot of groaning. But this was a celebration. And, I don’t think it gets tired at all. Hundreds of signs with the blue W popped up almost in unison. It was a win and it certainly beats a loss by a mile.
After the game, fans filed out into the night, some talking about a particular play or moment. Others with just a smile on their face. A few walked by and asked me, “How did I like the game?” Or, remarked “The Cubs are in first place!”
Yes they were. I hope they stay there.