The Cubs and Marlins kicked off the 2003 National League Championship Series with a bang – seven bangs (homers), that is, in a single game. Three homers came in the top of the third. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Got to Wrigley around 6PM. Already the block was crowded. People were streaming into the stadium. Many more were hanging out in the local bars. Scalpers were wanting $150+ for a standing room only ticket! Good seats were going for $1000+, easily. After an hour of ‘looking’, and just as I was ready to stop looking and go eat, I ran into a gentleman from Cleveland. He had a pair of tickets and wanted to sell one. It was a great ticket – face $75, field box 122, row 15. The ticket was comped from his company. Ninety ($90) later I was sitting beside him! A great buy and a great seat for what was going to be an amazing contest.
Zambrano started for Chicago; Beckett went for Florida. Chicago scored four in the first. A homer by Alou capped the scoring. Suffice it to say, Wrigley was loud and rocking! That noise ended in the 3rd when Zambrano gave up 5 runs on 3 homers including a 3 run blast to Pudge.
The deflated crowd roared back in the later innings as Chicago manufactured a runs and tied the game. It stayed that way until a double in the top of the 9th scored two Fish. Could Chicago come back, again? Yes. Let me paint the picture.
Bottom of the ninth. Sosa at bat. Runner on first. Two out, two strikes to Sammy. All night Sammy had not hit the ball out of the infield. For postseason, Sammy was batting around .150. Then his bat came alive. He drilled a fastball over the left field fence and onto Waveland Ave. for a 2 run, game tying homerun! Oh the crowd loved it!
This story, however, does not have a happy ending. Mark Guthrie gave up a game winning homerun to pinch-hitter Mark Lowell in the 11th. That proved to be the difference. Chicago’s crowd of 39,570 went home without a win.
Tonight’s game was simply unbelievable. There were spectacular defensive plays by Flordia’s shortstop, there were multiple comebacks by Chicago, and a goat – Guthrie.
Tomorrow the Cubs will start Mark Prior. We’ll see if this year really is the year.
Don’t forget to read the news articles and view the photographs here.