The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Oy, Wrigley

My cousin and I went to Wrigley Field last night, and as expected, we had seats like you can only get at that park:

That was the only bad part of the evening, though, because thanks to Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs came back from a 4-2 deficit against the Phillies to win 6-4.

This put the Cubs fully 6½ games ahead of the Brewers. It's beginning to look a little like October...

There is one sad bit of news to report. The Mariners (50-83, almost the exact inverse of the Cubs' 84-50) yesterday became the first team to be officially eliminated from the post season. Maybe next year, Seattle.

Cubs best season since 1969: Tribune

There, they've said what I only hinted at: the Cubs are on track to win 100 games this season, and their current record (81-50) is not only the best in baseball right now, but also the Cubs' best since 1969:

Perhaps it would be fitting for the Cubs to win 100 games on the 100th anniversary of their 1908 world championship.

After Monday's 12-3 romp over Pittsburgh at PNC Park, they were on pace to finish with that nice round number, a mark the Cubs haven't reached since 1935.

...[Yesterday] the Cubs moved to 31 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1984 season.

If they win on Tuesday, the Cubs will be 32 over for the first time since, gulp, 1969.

Baseball. October. Wrigley Field. Mmmmmm.

Still first place

The Cubs are the first team to win 80 games this season, continuing their unbroken run in first place since mid-April. Can they make 100 in the 33 games remaining?

Maybe, maybe not. Still, it's good news to wake up to.

I leave for four days...

...and bison start wandering the Chicago suburbs:

Illinois State Police say four buffalo escaped from a farm in Braidwood and were shot after they blocked morning traffic. The buffalo wandered onto Interstate 55, shutting down the highway in both directions from Illinois Route 29 to Route 113 in the Coal City and Braidwood area.

First we get coyotes in downtown Chicago drink coolers, now this. These guys must think they own the place or something.

Cubs sweep Atlanta

I wrote this post on my flight to Dallas listening to the Indigo Girls. Fitting, because having an extra day to spend in Atlanta, my cousin and I went out to Decatur to have lunch with one of my oldest surviving friends and her wife. As my cousin said while we were poking around the interesting kitsch in Blue Moon (below), "Ah, here's the Community."

My Decatur friend suggested the most appropriate (and, in fact, tastiest) place to have lunch in these circumstances: Watershed, which the Indigo Girls' Emily Saliers co-owns. In for a dime at this point, I put in my dollar by having shrimp grits and a mint julep. I know what my fellow Northerners may think right now: "grits? Ew." But what are grits? Nothing more than pieces of corn pan-fried in butter. Well-prepared grits—at Watershed, they prepared them well—are quite tasty, and these, paired as they were with possibly the best-made mint julep I've ever enjoyed, completely ended any reservations I had about this Southern staple.

From there, my cousin and I got back on the MARTA (Atlanta's cute little ol' light rail) and headed next to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site. Wow. Intense. I've studied the Civil Rights Movement from the distance of 20 years and 1000 km, but standing by the Ebenezer Baptist Church and walking past King's tomb truly moved me:

We wrapped up the day at Turner Field, where we got to watch the Cubs sweep the Braves with 29 runs in two days. The park hardly contained any Braves fans at all; it sounded like a home game at Wrigley, complete with "Let's-Go-Cub-bies!" chants and mocking the Braves' tomahawk chop. Milwaukee also lost last night, increasing the Cubs' first-place lead to 4½ games. This year, the post-season is ours to lose.

It was, I kid you not, NASCAR night at the park, with actual stock cars lekking around the warning track during two inning breaks. Occasionally one of the cars would rev at us, causing some in the crowd to cheer. I really don't have anything against NASCAR, but there is something of a cultural gulf between my crowd and theirs.

I did find the two local-beer vendors, and had some Sweetwater 420 Ale. Good pale ale; I recommend it.

From Dallas I'm on to San Francisco, mostly to see family, but also to visit park #15 on the 30-Park Geas, Oakland's Cisco Field. The As are playing the White Sox, which means rooting for the home team (and wearing a Cubs hat) are doubly enjoyable. That's Sunday; tomorrow, it's beer and curry at Kennedy's. I can't wait.

Northalsted Market Days

Parker and I checked out the annual festival in Boystown, and lasted 45 minutes before both of us suffered serious crowd fatigue. The walk did both of us some good, though my sunscreen, nowhere nearly as effective as the natural stuff he sheds all over the place, seems not to have lasted, so I'll definitely feel the walk longer than he will.

Crowds, though. My goodness. The weather was perfect today—I mean, perfect—so the entire city squeezed itself into four blocks of Halsted Street. Parker got his tail trod upon twice, patted on the head by perhaps a hundred people, and looked at me on the walk home as if to say, "how much farther to Bataan?" Poor guy.

Also, I finished Small Gods, a literary amuse guele before tackling Howard Zinn's People's History of the U.S..

Seriously bad storm

The Chicago Tribune had another write-up of Monday night's storm. Apparently, it produced unprecedented electrical activity:

Over four hours, about a half-year's worth of lightning bolts bombarded the Chicago area, electrifying the night sky as trees were split, transformers were zapped and houses were set ablaze.

As work crews picked up Tuesday from the previous night's storms, meteorologists were assessing the staggering power of a historic thunderstorm.

Nearly 90,000 thunderbolts had hit northern Illinois, according to the National Lightning Detection Network. At the storms' peak, it was firing off more than 800 bolts per minute; and that only counts those that hit the ground.

Well, blow me down

There's a write-up of last night's storms in the Trib:

Clean-up efforts were under way Tuesday morning after a line of severe thunderstorms moved through the Chicago area Monday night, downing trees and power lines, starting fires, peeling off roofs, briefly closing down both Chicago airports and ending a Cubs game after two rain delays.

As of 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, crews from the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation responded to reports of 1,104 damaged trees, 132 malfunctioning traffic signals, 55 damaged street light poles and 92 downed wires. The department said there were also 194 city blocks without working street lights.

Fun thunderstorm

...but only because I got to watch it from inside my apartment. A major squall drove through Chicago this evening with 90 km/h winds (including two small tornadoes) and dime-size hail reported. My neighbors across the street have lost power, too. We didn't, but the Inner Drive Technology International Data Center battery backups complained loudly through the worst of the storm.

It's gone now, which makes Parker happy for two reasons: he didn't enjoy the storm itself, and he really, really wanted to go outside.

Here's the radar image from Intellicast: