Whenever the Chicago Cubs or Pittsburgh Pirates finally break through to win another World Series, we're going to be inundated with millions of fans telling us that they are deserving diehard fans that have been there all along. They'll tell us they were there through all the lean and leaner times.
Not that they won't receive a chance to prove it from me. And one way of certifying their devotion might be to whip out a ticket stub dated for the Sept. 17, 2012 contest between the two teams at Wrigley Field. Heck, I might even give them credit just for staying up and watching the thing on television. Monday night's game on a cold and rainy fall night did not start until 10:42 p.m. because of a rain delay that lasted more than 3 1/2 hours and the final pitch wasn't thrown until 1:28 a.m. The final result was a 3-0 Pirates win with starter Kevin Correia and his bullpen taking advantage of the aggressive Cubs hitters (read: they just wanted to go home) by limiting them to two hits. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune worked his rain slicker and galoshes to write an entertaining account of the few hundred fans (from an announced crowd of 33,017) that stuck around for the ending and were allowed to sit wherever they wanted. To his credit, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts stayed for the game and posed for pictures with fans.
The 10:42 p.m. start and 1:28 a.m. end time were the latest in Wrigley Field history, besting the 9:48 start and 1:16 end on July 26, 2005. That was the night that Greg Maddux threw his 3,000th career strikeout in a game against the San Francisco Giants and I was in attendance. I remember it being weird to leave the park after the Wrigleyville bars had closed, but Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano reported that a few of Monday night's fans were in no need of a nightcap.
"They joked with me," Soriano told reporters. "That's what they do all the time. Couple drunk guys. I know they can be drunk because they waited for like three hours. I know they were two drunk guys. Having fun with them ... Drunk, they don't know what they're doing."
The Cubs and Pirates were actually lucky the rain ended when it did because there was no way around waiting it out. Pittsburgh needed to get the game in because it's ostensibly in the race for the National League's second wild card and the Pirates have no more off days scheduled this season. The victory moved Pittsburgh to within 2 1/2 games of the St. Louis Cardinals, though they're tied with the Milwaukee Brewers and 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs might've liked a cancellation to help them avoid 100 losses for the first time since 1966 — they're at 89 with 15 to play — but then again another defeat will help them in the race for the second pick in the draft. (They're currently a half-game ahead of Colorado.)
The real question to ask about Monday's game is why it wasn't scheduled for the afternoon since it was capping off a four-game series and Wrigley Field is kind of known for matinees. Maximizing the gate is the likely answer, though it backfired in a big and wet way. Pittsburgh wasn't expected to get back home until 5:30 a.m. ET and they have the start of a huge three-game series against the Brewers waiting for them on Tuesday night.