Opening Day in Chicago is always a trick shot and today is no different. The tarp is still on the field and rain is falling. Tom Skilling says there's pea to marble sized hail in the forecast. In the event of a rain delay we'll bring you play-by-play commentary of the 1983 ALCS.
Fox Sports Net is showing that gruesome sports blooper show "You've Gotta See This!" Today's show features a harness jockey who has a heart attack in the middle of a race, falls limp in his cart before tumbling out and being trampled by the other horses. I'll tell you one thing, I definitely didn't gotta see that. Lovely stuff. That's worse than the Sox's roadtrip in Kansas City.
OK, we're back. The tarp is still on the field but the Sox are introducing some of their all-time greats, the likes of Chico Carrasquel, Minnie Minoso and Jack McDowell, who looks like he's dyed his hair and outfitted himself at the local Goodwill.
And back to the gruesome show. The rain continues.
I'm looking at the doppler and there are cells of heavy rain well into Iowa. Here in downtown Chicago the sky is a Mountain Dew color. At my apartment the ceiling is leaking, no doubt.
Hawk says the radar shows there may be an opportunity around 4:30 to start the game and, perhaps, squeeze five innings in. We'll see.
The tarp is off and the Detroit Tigers are being introduced. We'll have baseball--and I'm not happy.
A few boos for former Cubs interim manager Bruce Kimm and for Billy Koch and Jerry Manuel. Sox fans not too happy about that trip to Kansas City.
Sign seen above the Sox's dugout: "U.S. Sellout Field."
First inning Esteban Loaiza takes the mound for the Sox and we're finally underway. Loaiza faces Gene Kingsale and throws a strike right down the middle. I didn't think it was possible, but the Tigers actually have more players than the Royals than I've never heard of. Sox fans, the few that stuck around on this miserable day, are very vocal as Kingsale bounces out. Omar Infante pops out to second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez in short right for the second out. After Bobby Higginson walked, Dimitri Young hit about 400 foul balls before finally striking out swinging.
Nate Cornejo, who's about the size of Brian Urlacher, gets Jimenez to bounce out to second. One pitch, one out. Jose Valentin rips one down the right-field line for a double. Why would fans try and reach out and grab a ball hit by a player on the home team? I don't get that. I thought Sox fans were supposed to be the ones who know baseball. Anyway, here's Frank Thomas with one out and a man on second. Big Frank reaches across the plate and sends one to the wall in right, where Higginson makes a nice catch leaping against the wall. That was two feet away from being a two-run dinger. Valentin went to third on the play. Magglio Ordonez slaps one under the shortstop's glove and the Sox take an early lead.
Paul Konerko lines out to the Ramon Santiago at second to end the inning.
Sox 1, Tigers 0
DH Dean Palmer, who, if memory serves, is the guy who started that big donnybrook with the Sox in 2000. Loaiza doesn't bean him and Palmer flies out to center. Carlos Pena fans and governor Rod Blagojevich has joined Hawk and DJ in the booth. Let's make this quick. Eric Munson grounds out to Konerko at first for a one-two-three inning. We're rolling now. I might get home by midnight.
Carlos Lee rips a single to left to start things and Joe Crede knocks one to the deepest part of the park for a two-run homer. Rain hasn't affected the fireworks. Aaron Rowand follows with a single of his own. Olivo fans and Jimenez lines a double in the right-center gap, scoring Rowand. Big Nate Cornejo isn't long for this game. And here comes Alan Trammel to yank the pitcher, who's hat is about four sizes too small for his mellon. Might as well stick a propeller on top of that beanie. Knuckleballer Steve Sparks is the new pitcher. And his hat looks a little big. Who's the Tigers' equipment manager? Catcher Brandon Inge has traded in his glove for something that resembles 16-inch pizza and this ought to be interesting. Valentin grounds out and Frank takes a knuckler off his ridiculously large elbow pad. Can't be too upset with that. Ordonez flies out.
Sox 4, Tigers 0
Another three-up, three-down inning for Loaiza, who is working like he's got a 7 o'clock dinner reservation. That's seven in a row for the young righty. Now if only the Tigers pitcher would get a clue...
Konerko, Lee and Crede pop out in succession. Young ran a long way for a big guy on Crede's ball. Our guy the knuckler has gotten the message--work quickly.
Loaiza gets Infante looking on a nasty pitch at the knees. Higginson pops out to Maggs in right. Loaiza is seriously humming. He's getting the low strike, hitting the corners and when he misses, he doesn't miss by much. Young grounds to Konerko, who, as usual, bobbles the ball, but has enough time to beat the battleship Young to the bag. Ten in a row retired by Loaiza.
Rowand pops out and Olivo sends a Sparks knuckleball off the top of the wall in left--missed by inches. But he'll settle for a double. There was either a pitching change or some kind of strange double play. Sorry, I was watching Sammy Sosa's at-bat. Sox fans will be happy to know Danny Graves plunked him.
Dean Palmer stands there like a potted plant for Loaiza's fifth strikeout and 11th straight guy he's sat down. He's got a lot of late, sinking movement on his ball. Not on that pitch: Carlos Pena rips a double down the right-field line. Loaiza is laboring now, throwing a lot of pitches to Eric Munson. Munson then sends a full-count meatball to the left-field bleachers. A fan took the ball off his chest out there. No hands whatsoever. Inge lines to Rowand in center. Ramon Santiago lines out to Crede and this game is official! Checking the doppler now...
Sox 4, Tigers 2
The storm clouds have parted. It looks pretty clear for the next few hours. Though, I wouldn't want to be in Danville right now, and I'm not talking about the rain.
Big Frank sends a big pop to right, Maggs grounds to third and Konerko sends one to the track in left.
OK, I've gotten only two e-mails and one's from Spain and the other is from Mexico. The Spaniard praises baseball--"VIVA EL BASEBALL"-- while Monterrey Mike asks if I'll trade jobs with him. But he doesn't say what he does. Sounds sketchy.
The immortal Gene Kingsale leads off the sixth and draws a walk from Loaiza, who clearly looks as if he's out of gas. Kingsale takes off for second and we get the first look at Olivo's arm. A gun. Gene feels shame as he jogs to the bench. I think it's that turtleneck that slowed him down. Turtlenecks and baseball just don't go together. Infante lines a single to left and that gets Kelly Wunsch and Gary Glover up in the Sox's pen.
Hawk just announced the attendance: 40,000 something. Earth to Hawk, take a look around. Higginson grounds to Konerko, who turns a nice 3-6-3 double play. Well done.
Lee pops out to Pena. Crede reaches and then hustles all the way from first on a liner of a double to left by Rowand. Sox fans will be happy to know Sosa whiffed on his second at-bat. Olivo bounces out to end the inning. I apologize for missing an out there, but I'll explain in a second.
Sox 5, Tigers 2
I have to share this humbling e-mail I just received:
Mr. Caldarelli, hello, I'm currently in the Persian Gulf, but I'm loving your take on the game. Is the Tribune going to do this for the entire season, because it is impossible to get the games out here. Well, just want to tell you and the Tribune thanks, for allowing me to at least have some way of knowing how the game is going. Wish I was in your place, and I'll be there in August.
LCpl Aaron SmockBattalion Landing Team 2/115 Marine Expeditionary Unit
Not a dry eye in the house. Here I am making stupid comments about a baseball game. Aaron, I think i speak for everyone when I say we're all proud of the job you're doing. Come home soon. Well, without further adieu back to the stupid comments:
Loaiza walks Palmer to start the seventh and Jerry Manuel trots out to get him. Former ChicagoSports.com contributor Kelly Wunch runs in from the pen for a lefty-lefty matchup against Eric Munson. This micro-managing will clearly slow the game down because Gary Glover will come in once Wunch deals with Munson. A wild pitch allows Palmer to take second and the count's full. Wunch doesn't get the job done and leaves the game looking not pleased. Gary Glover will come on to face Inge with two on and two outs.
Glover starts Inge with two straight curves for strikes and then gets him to ground to Valentin at short who flips to Jimenez covering second to end the inning.
LCpl Smock writes back to tell me to lighten up and continue with the smart-ass comments. Onward.
Valentin lines to center and Thomas comes up looking for his first hit. My legs have fallen asleep. I don't think I've moved since 8:30 this morning. Probably should've checked the game time before I left the house. For some reason I thought it was a noon start. Thomas pops out. And the rain, I believe, has started. I can't tell on this TV. And Maggs pops out.
Time to start thinking about dinner. So much for that 7 o'clock reservation.
Someone dribbles one down the line to Konerko, who tags said someone. Glover fans Kingsale with a nasty curve. Omar Infante lines to Crede at third. Meanwhile, Cubs getting blown out in Cincinnati.
We're six outs away, Sox fans.
Carlos Lee chases a Sparks knuckleball and goes down swinging. Crede then pops out to first. This guy sure induces a lot of pop outs. With that said Aaron Roward grounds out to third.
Three. Outs. Till. Dinner. Bring it.
Billy Koch comes on and let's hope for all involved he does better than yesterday. He starts Bobby Higginson with a fastball strike. Gas, as the Hawk says, and we've got one out in the ninth. (Inside corner gas). Dimitri Young digs in. Remember when this guy was with the Reds and he dyed his hair a ridiculous orange tint because people were confusing him with Greg Vaughn? No? Well, he did. And he just struck out and Sox fans are on their feet. I'm starting to fantasize about food. There's a great place in Bridgeport called La Milanese with about the greatest meatball sandwich ever. I could use one of them. Valentin and Crede have a little misadventure chasing a pop foul near the tarp. It bounces out of Crede's glove and an over-served Sox fan falls out of the stands. Koch fans Palmer to end it. That's more like it, striking out the side in the ninth. Strap on the feeb bag. I'm out of here. Thanks for reading everyone. And thanks for writing in. And thanks to the Sox for playing a two-hour game.
Final: Sox 5, Tigers 2
The Tom Arnold show is starting. Now I've really got to get out of here.