My wife and I were in attendance at the Cubs final home game yesterday, an 8-7 loss at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals. Some thoughts on watching a fifth place team on a chilly day in late September:
1. It was still fun to be at Wrigley Field. Despite the chilly weather, there was still a good crowd (though nowhere near the 38,000 announced). The baseball game was interesting as the Cubs rallied late to close within one run but the Cardinals escaped.
1a. Even athletic events with bad teams can be entertaining: we saw lots of walks and runs. One thing that keeps me going through a 162-game baseball season is the possibility of seeing something new/extraordinary/odd.
2. And yet there was a wistfulness in the air: another Cubs season has gone by the wayside. The energy of having new owners has worn off. The buzz from the 2007 and 2008 teams making the playoffs has worn off. The rosters for both teams, particularly the Cubs pitching staff, were full of Triple-A players. In contrast to the optimism of Opening Day and April (where it can also be chilly and grey), there was no optimism here.
2a. I admit that I have not kept up with the Cubs in recent months. Part of this is due to being busy at work but it is mostly due to the team being out of contention for a long time. It was good to reconnect for an afternoon and think about what the 2011 Cubs might look like.
2b. If the 2009 season wasn’t enough to convince people that the Cubs are not a consistent contending team (which was the thought after the 2007 and 2008 season), this 2010 should be proof. The 2011 Cubs will be young and they need to start over agin.
3. There were quite a few Cardinals fans in the stands. I think one side effect of websites like StubHub is it means more fans from more places can buy tickets to games rather than having to make a long drive and hope you can get decent tickets. In games that I have been to this year in Atlanta, St. Louis, and Chicago, there has been a decent amount of fans from the opposing team. (This might also be due to the mobility of the American people – there might legitimately be a decent number of Dodgers fans living in Atlanta these days.) Even though there was some back and forth between the fans (like when Albert Pujols was intentionally walked twice or the Cubs were making a comeback), the Cardinals fans weren’t too energetic as well.