Thursday, May 31, 2007

Night Into Morning

Two completely unrelated things happened last night.

There was a blackout in my neighborhood. (Extreme North part of Rogers Park, right on the Lake.) About 11:35, just getting ready to hit the hay, as Olbermann wasn't on Wednesday, when everything went down. Bam. At first I thought "Great, a blown fuse at 11:30," and about two seconds later I noticed all was dark. Real dark. Like country dark. Because there was no light source coming into the apartment from anywhere. Mackie was probably a little freaked too, because there's always a courtyard lamp or the back porch or something. But no, no lights nowhere, nohow.

Then my courtyard half-sprang to life with people all doing the same thing I did: Fwipping up the shades and looking outside to see if it was that bad. I was the first one to actually stick my head out a window, and I could see some orange flickers in some windows, which were obviously candles being lit, and a couple of blue glows, which must have been the cell phone nation lighting up. Sirens started going off and I thought, well, good, someone's on it. One of the neighbors (I don't know who, because I could barely see, for reals) asked "Is it the whole block?" and I said back "I think so." Brilliant, yes? Anyway, I decided to go out and check. I put on shorts and a baseball jersey and flip-flopped out the back door with my own blue glow lighting the way. Flip-flop out onto the sidewalk, to the corner, with several other people all doing the same thing, milling around and looking down Sheridan road towards the nursing homes,which is where all the fire trucks were going. Good, I thought, my fucking fridge can wait a while; if the respirators are off that shit needs to be checked. The street lights were on on the east side of Sheridan, but only one work light or two was on in Loyola Park. A guy from the neighborhood got out of a taxi on Sheridan and looked a little freaked. I complimented him on his timing as he walked by.

I decided to walk down the block to see if the L platform lights were on (yes) and if traffic lights were on (Morse, three blocks south). The neighborhood west of the tracks was dark too, so I called my brother, who lives about 12 blocks south of me, to see if he was in the dark. Nope, just our tiny grid. I walked back to Sheridan Road, where every car was very gingerly pulling up to corners. Better than not, I guess. A few police cars prowled by, again, better than not, I guess. I thought of two more things: One, if this continues through the night, it could seriously be a sex offender's playground, what with a lot of clueless people groping around in pitch dark. And two, as I watched a 147 bus go by, at that moment I could have done anything. I had my wallet, keys, and a phone; I could have gotten on a bus and ridden all night if I had wanted to, just to get away from what was surely going to be an increasingly airless and hot apartment without the benefit of a fan. (Being a grownup is fun! And different!)

My brother and I debated whether it was a rolling blackout or a power surge or what; I concluded the area was too small for it to be a rolling blackout. After about fifteen minutes I hung up with him and set the alarm on my cell phone just in case. I was lying there in the dark, starting to sweat up, whistling for Mackie to come and keep me company, but he didn't seem to care at that moment, because he knew I wasn't going to feed him. Then I thought about unplugging all the electricals that were on when the lights went out, just to avoid the "Whaa?" that would happen at 2:30 when everything bonked back up. So I went to the wall and felt along for the first plug, and literally as I unplugged a lamp, the courtyard lamps came on. I was momentarily freaked, then I put two and two together. And my fan was the first thing I turned back on. At about 12:25. Not even an hour. What an adventure. Not.

Oh, the other thing?

The Cubs suck. Still early, yeah yeah, but seriously, I think we were sold a bill with this one. All those naysayers over the winter I think are right. Especially when MARK DE ROSA talks about all the "talent" oozing from every pore of the lineup. Sheesh. Obviously, they're in a bad place right now, and I don't think they'll end up as totallly suck as last year, and I overreact almost automatically when this happens, but man, they look like freeze-dried dick lately. The only thing that looks like anything right now is the starting rotation, which, I will say till my Irish-American ass is blue, is NOT of primary importance in Wrigley. I mean, it's nice to have, but even Fergie Jenkins gave up homers at home. (Greg Maddux, too.) He just never walked anybody.

And speaking of walks, what do you suppose Soriano is doing with his money? I hope he's planning on earning it sometime soon, and perhaps he could buy a spine to stick back there and say "You know, coach, as fast as I am, I can't steal first. Let me bat ANYWHERE but leadoff. Because I'm a free-swinging home run hitter who doesn't walk a lot." Rickey Henderson this guy is not. For one thing, Henderson knew the strike zone and made pitchers fear him because of it, which is why he often walked, and often homered from the one spot. Soriano? Lots of homers, not so many walkies. Sixty-seven is his all-time high, last year at Washington. That's a leadoff guy?

Perhaps the Powers that Be are unclear on the concept of what a leadoff hitter should be doing. But of course, nobody else on this team seems to know how to draw a walk either, so it's kind of a moot point, offensively. I quite honestly don't know what it is about Wrigley Field that turns the Cubs offense every year into a bunch of stammering, drooling, cross-eyed idiots, but there it is. Part of it is Hendry's fault for putting together a lineup that isn't built to win at Wrigley, i.e., take advantage of the power alleys and the deep outfield corners as well as the wind and the lack of foul territory and the seemingly short fences. No, somebody out there thought they should just build a team of bangers, cause, you know, Wrigley, homers, crowds, beer, blah de fucking blah. That shit. So everyone looks like Dave Kingman up there, and if you don't think so, watch Cliff Floyd's and Derrek Lee's at-bats in the ninth on Tuesday. Ridiculous. Said it before, blah blah, the Cubs have to lead the league in runs scored to win big, as they did in 84 and 89. both those years, the team ERA was literally middle-of-the-road. In 03, of course the offense wasn't so much, but the pitching was truly exceptional, and the division was bad. Anyone see that scenario unfolding this year? So far, yes, the pitching is good and the division is weak as hell. But I know that's not a recipe for winning in that ballpark. Which is why this team will lose.

Make me a liar, fellas.


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