MESA, AZ (MARCH 18, 2011) - I really should have known better. I did know better. I told myself that I should buy a ticket ahead of time if I was going to a Cubs game, because they sell out. But noooo, last minute Louie that I am, I didn't do it.
I had an inkling that I was in trouble when I saw the scalpers offering to buy and sell tickets blocks away from the ballpark. At the freeway offramp, even.
Then I got to Hohokam Stadium, over an hour early, to be greeted by this sight:
It's taken from my position in line. Yes, those are the ticket windows way up there, at the right edge of the photo. No, I'm not the last in line. There were lots of people behind me.
I went up to look at the seating chart before getting in line, and there were signs up saying all lawn seats were sold out. So maybe there were more expensive seats available. I'd gotten lucky before, when I only needed one ticket. So I queued up. Ended up in line with a bunch of retired Buckeyes, who were ragging on the lone Michigan alum in their midst.
Then they announced that all tickets were sold out, but there might be more freed up if people didn't pick up the tickets they'd reserved. Please stay in line and wait. They also said scalping was absolutely, positively not allowed on stadium grounds.
We all kind of looked at each other. We interpreted the announcement to mean, "Go across the street and buy some scalped tickets." So we did.
And I found out why the lawn tickets were sold out early. The scalpers had them all. I guess they'd be appealing to scalpers. No hassles with people who want to sit together, like with regular seats. In fact, they only had lawn tickets. This dissuaded the older people I was in line with; they didn't want to sit on the ground, and decided to go to the Dodgers game instead. I bought a lawn ticket, for a price I'm embarrassed to admit. (I'm part of history! The fourth highest attendance ever at this park, and I was there.)
Apparently, left field is the desirable real estate on the berm. At least, it was a lot more crowded. I sat in right. I could see the infield, but not the outfield.
Kind of a different view that I usually get. Here's Paul Janish, following the bouncing ball:
And here's Joey Votto's home run:
And here's speedy Drew Stubbs, stealing 2B:
...but he tried to barehand it...
Reds didn't get any errors in this game, which kind of surprised me. Not in this case - it was a tough play - but there was one where the ball dropped in among Stubbs, Bruce, and BP. It was kind of in no-man's land, but they all got there. They all could have made the play, but no one did. I thought that was an error for sure, but I guess the scorer didn't agree.
The Cubs fans began streaming for the exits after the 7th inning stretch, so I gathered up my camera gear and went in search of an empty box seat. Which was more difficult than I expected. It was a hot day, and Friday traffic was likely to be horrendous, but it was a good game, and a lot of fans stuck around.
Matt Maloney pitched the 7th...and the 8th.
Yonder Alonso singles.
Juan Francisco flailed away...
And eventually hit something. RBI single!
Between sitting on the lawn (where the scoreboard wasn't visible) and the high scoring in this game, I had a hard time keeping track of the score. (And so did the scoreboard operators - they had the wrong score up at least twice, and had to change it.) But the Reds put up four runs in the 8th, putting them up by a healthy 14-9, and people started to leave en masse.
Matt Maloney ended up having to hit. He and the rest of the team seemed to find this hilarious.
He broke his bat and was tossed a new one from the dugout.
He actually hit one pretty hard, but Reed Johnson made a great catch.
Juan Francisco was stranded on 2B.
Maloney takes off his batting helmet and prepares to pitch again.
Marcos Mateo pitched the 9th for the Cubs. He gave up a walk to Sappelt, but nothing else.
Alonso struck out to end the top of the inning, and wasn't happy about it. He had an animated discussion with the umpire, then complained to the rest of the team in the dugout.
Jeremy Horst pitched the 9th.
Darwin Barney walked, and Kosuke Fukudome came to the plate with the bases loaded. (He got really loud cheers all day. I think it was at least partly an expression of support because of the earthquake in Japan.)
Alas for Cubs fans, he grounded out to end the game.
Reds win a wild one, 14-13.