Friday, June 26, 2009

Neal's Live Blog from the Cubs/Sox Game

I have been fortunate enough to be able to go out into the field and cover both Cubs and White Sox baseball this summer, so thought it would be cool to kind of do a "Live From The Ballpark" post. I have my essential duties before and after the game, but during the game, I can sort of sit back and relax, so I figured that this time I would do something constructive. Here it goes:

12:30- A perfect summer day in Chicago. I arrive at the ballpark and pick up my media credentials. As I walk in, Ozzie Guillen and Sox GM Jerry Reinsdorf are addressing the media out by the front desk...huh, not the usual protocol. I opt to avoid the media frenzy...don't even have my recorder ready.

12:35- Head up to the press box to put my crap down so that I don't have to lug it around the field when I try to get pre-game audio.

12:45- I get situated in the Cubs dugout while the Sox are taking BP. I sit down in the dugout with other media personnel and Cubs infielders Andres Blanco and Jake Fox. Both super nice guys.

12:57- After a decent wait, Lou is finally here, just dying to talk with us (cough cough). He is in rare form today, kind of goofy mood. I bet he got a good night's sleep last night. Answered every question well and provided some great sound bites for all of the radio shows tonight...funny shit.

1:15- Hang out on the field for a bit to watch the Cubs take BP and watch Aramis Ramirez take some grounders. He's almost ready to come back from his injury! Looked pretty good. Also some good people watching time. The Cubs/Sox series attracts just about every media outlet possible. It was crazy.

1:30- Press box time. It's F'in hot as hell, so I'd like to be in the shade. Grab a little food, grab some soda, see what the lineups are for the day. Wow, Theriot with a day off at shortstop...weird! Thank god Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir are in the lineup. They've been hitting very consistently lately....and with a lot of power too.

2:00-Hangin' out. Reading about Michael Jackson's death. Terrible event. He made some great music to dance to, especially "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." Many of you guys may already know that I've declared that to be one of the most fun party songs.

2:30-Most of the media are up here now. Some are calling into radio shows, others writing stories. There seems to be quite a buzz about Sweet Lou's pre-game media session. All of the media seemed to be salivating over the material that he was able to feed them today. There will definitely be some good newspaper columns tomorrow.

3:08- Top of the first. Man, Contreras is dealing! He has been unhittable in his last 3 starts. Strikes out Soriano and Bradley....which I guess hasn't been too hard this year, but let's give Jose some credit for his pitching.

3:12- Jermaine Dye takes Randy Wells deep. Cubs love giving up those early inning homers.

3:18-Jake Fox doubles down the line for the Cubs. Man, this dude is locked in! Hit his 1st career bomb yesterday in Detroit. Great guy too, very good with the media. This is the guy that was leading nearly every minor league offensive category in the nation. We just need to find a consistent place for him in the field once Aramis Ramirez returns.

3:37- After a rare leadoff hit for the Cubs by Geovany Soto, what do you know ? A bunt caught by the pitcher, a strikeout by Soriano and a lineout by Kosuke Fukudome. Damnit!!

3:40- Good crowd on hand as always at the Crosstown Classic. Seems to be slightly more Sox today, which is no surprise seeing as we're playing at The Cell. Really great ballpark, especially since the renovations a few years back.

3:42- Scott Podsednik is up again. Singled in his first at-bat. This guy has been a monster for the Sox in the leadoff spot this year. Huge offseason pickup...and to think nobody else was going to sign him!

3:50- Game has quieted down. White Sox went 1-2-3 in the 3rd, Cubs haven't been able to string hits together. Wind seems to be blowing out though, Dye's homer didn't seem like it was hit that hard. Derrek Lee just singled. If it wasn't for yesterday, he would've had a 23 game hitting streak. I really think we're about to see some homers because of this wind.

3:53- What do you know!!! Jake Fox just went deep. 2-run shot!! This guy is unreal right now. He has 5 hits in his last 6 ABs with 2 HRs, 2 2Bs, and 5 RBIs. We need him in the lineup. The score is now 2-1 Cubs through 3 1/2 innings....I swear I'm writing this as I go. My home run prediction in the previous line was just a good call I guess.

3:58- Thome goes opposite field for a solo shot. The ball is flying out of here! We may have a slugfest on our hands. The weather is actually awesome now, not balmy like it has been. I think the lake breeze is helping a lot today. Wooo! Dye almost hit another one out, Soriano caught it a foot shy of the track and did his stupid little hop. He really needs to improve his fielding...and I don't think he will until he gets that knee fixed.

4:04- All of the media personnel snickers as Geo Soto nearly hits one out. "Your marijuana needs to make you just a bit more stronger," they say. Terrible joke. It was just discovered that he tested positive for weed during the World Baseball Classic. Woop-di-doo.

4:08-Milton with a great diving catch...I'd call that a Web Gem Nominee. Jake Fox also looking decent at the hot corner. They said that they've been really working with him on improving at the position. Whoa, whatta ya know! Geovany Soto actually gunned down a would-be base stealer...Gordon Beckham was the victim. His arm seems to be improving. Can't be worse than A.J. Pierzynski...last time I checked, he had thrown out only 8% of base stealers.

4:17- Top of the 6th now, Contreras tweaked his back after a pitch to Fukudome. That would be a terrible setback for him. By the way, he is to baseball what Greg Oden is to basketball. They each look like they could be 60 years old. Contreras is actually 37, but he looks elderly! Tied 2-2 through 5 1/2 innings.

4:24- Milton Bradley is now out of the game. Uh....ohhhh. Not another injury! Actually just got word that he may have thrown a tantrum in the dugout. Well, now Ryan Freel is in right field. The King of Small Ball, Scotty Pods, just laid down a perfect drag bunt down the 3rd base line. This guy is good!

4:36- Attendance is 39,015...only the 2nd sellout for the Sox this year. That is weak!

4:38- Geovany Soto says "In your eye!" to all of the people making fun of his marijuana admission. He just cracked a long 3-run homer to center field. 5-2 Cubs. Didn't stop the jokes from ringing through the press box. And oh by the way, before that, Jake Fox hit a single. His 2nd game in a row being a triple short of the cycle and we're only in the 7th. He'll get one more crack at it. This kid is amazing!

4:46- The old bunt down the baseline that the 3rd baseman waits to go foul and it never does. Nice leadoff single for Kosuke. Stolen base too! Wow the Cubs are actually manufacturing runs potentially?

4:59- Jake Fox at the dish. Could he go 4-for-4? Lines out to center....still a great game. We need him in the lineup on a daily basis.

5:00-Well that was kind of entertaining, but my live blog has to immediately come to an end. I have to go get post game sound in the locker rooms in a few minutes. Time to prepare! Still 5-2 after 8 1/2 innings.

After the game I was able to attend Lou Piniella's press conference as well as speak with Jake Fox, Geovany Soto, and Derrek Lee. All 3 guys are very cool. Lou was kind of pissed off despite the win because of a situation that occurred involving Milton Bradley. Big surprise! Bradley apparently threw his helmet down and busted the Gatorade cooler. So Piniella told him to go home in the middle of the game! Can't be good for team chemistry. The Bradley signing has really blown up in the Cubs face.

All in all, fun day at the park. Cubs and Sox. Ozzie and Lou. Gotta love it. Hope you enjoyed my "Cubs/Sox Live Blog."

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