We Were at That Game!

Dodgers vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

On Friday, the Dodgers six-game winning streak came to an end. And it was a remarkable loss. As beat writer Ken Gurnick wrote:

this was a hideous loss of historic proportions, a 16–1 pulverization by the Phillies for the most lopsided home loss by a Dodgers team since 1947 in Brooklyn (19–2 to the Giants) and the largest margin of defeat since 2001 (20–1 to the Cubs).

An even more remarkable fact was that my brother and I were at the 2001 game versus the Cubs…in Chicago. It remains our only trip to Wrigley Field. As sons of an airline employee, we used to be able to fly for almost free. During the 2000 and 2001 baseball seasons, we flew to a few ballparks on overnight flights and often returning the same day on the last flight of the day to Southern California.

On May 4, 2001, we took a red-eye flight from LA to Chicago, arriving super early for a Dodgers-Cubs game. After breakfast and some brief window shopping, we headed to Wrigley field. Both teams, as I remember, were playing well and were probably in first place in their divisions. (They were.) But, as any serious baseball fan knows, your positions in the standings in early May means nothing because there’s still more than 130 games of baseball to play. We expected two overachieving teams to play a good game. We were wrong. Instead, we witnessed[1] the Cubs pummell the Dodgers, 20–1. The Dodgers’ only run came off a Gary Sheffield double. Since we arrived at the ballpark early, we saw the Dodgers take batting practices, and he was hitting shots over the brick wall. No one else stood out in my mind, and that now seemed like a prescient analysis of what was to come.

Dodgers vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

Because we were dressed in Dodgers gear, we were heckled. Nonstop. A notable taunt was “Hey, Hollywood!” We deserved it. We were in enemy territory. Our team was getting killed. And because we had no sense of “springtime” in Chicago, we were underdressed, wearing shorts on a drizzly day that seemed much colder than the afternoon temperature of 57°.

My brother and I had a strict policy of not leaving a game early. However, we agreed that if the Cubs scored twenty runs, we’re outta here. But we came back only to see that the relief pitcher for the bottom of the eighth inning was utility infielder Chris Donnells, who threw three pitches to end an eighth-run eighth inning.

This morning, my brother reminded me of that game. It was bad. But it was also great and not only in how bad it was. Thanks, brother, for the reminder.

  1. as in “witnessed an atrocity.”  ↩