“It would be nice to win this right now,” Ron Santo said in the bottom of the 9th inning with Jeff Baker at the plate, two men on and two outs. Baker popped out and Cubs reliever Sean Marshall gave up the winning run in the 10th inning. The baseball gods weren’t in a very nice mood, at least as far as Cubs fans were concerned.
The extra innings didn’t stretch out like in the Mets-Cardinals game in St. Louis on Saturday. Twenty innings, the first 18 of which were scoreless? Outfielders taking the mound? I don’t think anyone likes to see a game go to the extra innings. Players, managers, coaches, and announcers don’t get paid anything extra. Ballparks stop serving beer after the 7th inning usually, so every extra inning played feels like prohibition-era baseball. Baseball without beer is like a movie without popcorn.
The worst baseball game I saw was a 15-inning Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley a couple of years ago during the Sammy Sosa years. The Old Style stopped flowing after the 7th inning, and fans began to get restless as the game dragged on in the 90-degree July weather. By the middle of the 15th, my dad and I decided to leave — neither team showed any signs of life, and the sun was leaving its mark on those of us left in the bleachers.
As we walked out of the ballpark dreaming of our car’s air conditioning, we heard the crowd roar behind us. After an 0-for-6 day in which he had failed to connect countless times with men in scoring position, Sammy Sosa had hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 15th. We shook our heads in frustration. It would have been nice to have seen the home run, but it would have been even nicer to have had it happen in the 9th inning. But, as Santo and Cubs fans know, the baseball gods aren’t always nice.