Monday, September 15, 2008
BIG Z NO HITS THE.... Milwaukee Astros....?
Sunday night was a great night for me. For the past 20 years now, I have been watching as many Chicago Cubs games every summer as I possibly could. I became a die-hard fan at a very young age and have suffered through many losing seasons and disappointments as all Cubs fans have. This year, of course, things have been different. Something feels special and unique about these 2008 Cubs. Sunday night was a first for me, getting to watch a starting pitcher on my beloved Cubs throw a no-hitter. Thanks to MLB.TV I was able to watch the whole thing and experienced one of my best feelings as a Cub fan. What a great night.... right?
Unfortunately I woke up this morning to find nearly every major sports news outlet along with Astros fans, Brewers fans, Cardinal fans and who knows who else, complaining about this game being played in Milwaukee. Of course its no secret, Milwaukee is a 2nd home stadium for the Cubs. It is widely referred to as Wrigley-North. The first few years after it opened it seemed like it was about 80% Cubs fans when we visited to play the Brewers. Even now when the Brewers have a good team with playoff hopes, the Cubs seem to pack in Miller park and be as loud or louder than Brewer fans.
So why did this game, a supposed home game for the Astros have to move to Milwaukee? Of course we all heard about Hurricane Ike, which ravaged the Texas and western Louisiana coasts and caused severe problems. Houston was hit hard and the city took a lot of damage and was without power, obviously this is not a time to be worrying about baseball games in Houston. But we knew this was going to happen didn't we? Weather forecasts had been warning Houston for many days that this hurricane was headed straight for them. The Astros and Major-League baseball had plenty of time to make a decision to move this series before the hurricane hit. The reason they didn't? Astros owner Drayton McLane.
Baseball and the Cubs tried to get this series moved to a neutral location from the very start. St. Louis, Kansas City, Tampa and Atlanta were all mentioned as possible neutral sites. However, McLane adamantly refused that the games be played anywhere other than Houston. Houston chronicle writer Richard Justice went as far as to say "Astros owner Drayton McLane so wanted this series to be played in Houston -- in spite of warnings from the National Weather Service -- that his judgment clouded all common sense." So we waited and waited and waited for a decision. where was this series going to played? Was it going to be played at all? Friday evening as the hurricane approached still no decision had been made, there were rumors that the series now may be moved to Milwaukee as other venues were no longer available. McLane claimed these reported were "very premature" and that the series could still be played in Houston. Of course everyone else knew there was no chance that would happen.
So as expected on Saturday Hurricane Ike struck with full force, leaving many people homeless, injured and without power. It was obvious the games could not be played in Houston. So MLB did the only thing left it could do, move the series to Milwaukee. ""We wanted Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Arlington, Atlanta, you name it. There was nothing else." McLane said Sunday. Of course the bottom line is all of this happened because of a tragedy. The ideal situation would have been to play the games in Houston as scheduled and for Texas to be sparred the wrath of this 'cane but it wasn't so, and everyone knew what was going to happen.
Sunday night, Carlos Zambrano took the ball for the Cubs and put on an amazing show, looking as good as he has all season. He completed the Cubs first no hitter since 1972 and I jumped for joy at the result. With the stuff Z had, I'm not sure the site of the game mattered anyway.
So for Astros fans claiming MLB screwed them over and that choosing Milwaukee as the neutral site was a sham, you only have one person to blame, your own owner.
As for the Cubs, their division lead is now 7.5 games with only a couple weeks of ball left. The Cubs will try to secure their 2nd straight NL central crown and will hope for a better result in the playoffs than last year. Really the only questions this team had, was the the health of aces Zambrano and Harden. With great starts under the belt for both, the Cubs appear to be in great shape for a run at their first World Series title in.... quite a while.