The Ultimate W

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Eleven nights ago, it was nirvana for Cubs fans everywhere.

Imagine how they might be feeling now?

Here’s a sentence I never thought I would say in my lifetime: the Chicago Cubs are the World Champions of baseball, beating Cleveland in seven games to take the crown for 2016, their first crown since 1908, ending one of the longest streaks in the history of pro sports, at least on our continent. The deciding game was a furious piece of business (as I once saw Howard Cosell say), with the Cubs leading most of the way, the Indians rallying to tie the game in the 8th at 6-6. After a scoreless ninth inning, the Cubs scored twice in the 10th frame for an 8-6 lead, but the Indians came back to get a run, but could score no more.

I have a feeling both teams will be back in the hunt in 2017 and for a few seasons to come. Congratulations to Joe Maddon, the one time Rays skipper, in joining the echelon of champion managers. Former Ray Ben Zobrist (who got the hit to put the Cubs up for good) is a champion a second straight year, having been on the championship Kansas City Royals squad last season.

A pretty good season, wasn’t it? We put the baseball world back on the shelf until Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic in March. Have to think 2016’s season and it’s dream ending for Cubs fans will be hard to top.

 

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Tales From Section 212

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Tropicana Field about an hour before the Rays-Indians game of April 14th, 2016.

It was my fifth trip to Tropicana Field in the past four seasons, but me and my mother (quite a baseball fan in her own right) got to see the Rays and the Indians play Thursday afternoon. It was the ninth Rays game in the 2016 regular season and their seventh at home, but Cleveland won the game by blanking the hometown team 6-0.

Things have been better for the local baseball franchise, trying to stay competitive in a brutally tough division (the East division of the American League) against teams with better economies who, thus, can get better players. The price of attempting to improve the club has been passed on to us, the consumers.

We got the tickets a week ago, seeing a Rays “steal of the day” advertised during the first home series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Press level seats at the 200 level of Tropicana Field, usually $38, went on sale at half press if you got the tickets online through the Rays website.

When we got to the park, we noticed the price of various things had gone up. Last year, I got an all you can drink Pepsi for $10 that could be refilled free during the game. This year, the price is now $11, and you get a slightly smaller paper based cup as opposed to the larger plastic cups.

Jammed into the 200 level like sardines, I went off to the concession stand at 12:45, thinking I’d get back to my seat in time for the 1:10 first pitch. The problem is, on the first base side of the press level seating, there’s just one concession stand. On top of that, the people manning the stand are going VERY slowly. It takes a few minutes at a time for simple orders to be fulfilled.

At 12:55, the National Anthem is played. Hats (including mine) are self-removed from our heads (after a brief consultation with neighbors in the line to see what the proper etiquette is for such an event), and even the concession stand that I’m at has come to a halt. Nothing wrong at all with respecting the country, so I can’t fault them for that. By the time I get back to my seat with two $8 foot-long hot dogs, a $5 candy that my mother wanted, and a free Pepsi refill, it’s 1:15, and Chris Archer had already started throwing the first pitches of the game.

On top of that, finding the right seats, and finding people surrounding you to find THEIR right seats is an issue. I made sure we were in the right row and right seats after a bit of a debacle a couple of years ago. When I got back to what I thought was our seats, my mother had moved two seats over. A couple had come along and claimed that they were in the right row. Not wanting to pick a fight, I just stayed where I was the whole game.

(I looked up the seating chart last night, and sure enough, we were in the wrong row, just like two years ago when we were in the wrong section. My fault, no one else’s.)

It wasn’t the best of experiences, and I’ve had better there. However, when fans don’t go to a major league park, those who do go have to pay more, or so goes the jist. I just wish the jist was a little cheaper…

Upset

The Rays season came to an end yesterday. They finished 77-85, their worst year with the “Rays” nickname that they’ve had since 2008.

Their finale with Cleveland’s Indians ended so quickly that I caught the tail end of the Bucs-Steelers game. The Bucs were embarrassed 56-14 at the hands of Atlanta a week ago Thursday night, and no one expected them to win in the ‘Burgh.

But lest we forget that the NFL often stands for No Freaking Logic, so naturally the Bucs put up an inspired effort and hung tough against the heavily favored Steelers.

Sure enough, they get the ball in Steeler territory to initiate a drive in the final minute of the game, enough time for a quick drive and touchdown to win the game 27-24 with 7 seconds to go, good enough for the win.

Great job, guys. Lovie, don’t type up that resume just yet.