The setting could have been better, but hell if I could come up with one. I had just moved into my first apartment and all four roommates were somewhere else. The carpet was shag brown , floors cheap and creaking, but I had just finished work. I walked to 7/11 and watched those little seeds pop and explode behind a glass cage, all that fire and violence and yet, I walked away with a bag of doves. I had me a heap-o-corn and Game 3 of the World Series was about to begin, but it never did, not for 10 days anyway. The Bay Area was having an earthquake.
The TV image went squiggly, then blank and then audio only with a still life World Series label and the muffled, under water sound of Al Michael’s voice. Yeh, the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants were meeting in the World Series for the first time and yeh, the two cities were separated by only a bay and endless marketing nonsense distinguishing the cities and how bizarre for an earthquake to happen, but there was no time for ironies or we’re cooler or better or more blue-collar. There was just survival.
I shut the tv off and walked a short block to the Jazz Estate; some dinky bar on Murray Avenue in Milwaukee. My friend’s dad always warned us about going to bars alone, but I made exceptions when it was an old man or jazz bar. The men in there always seemed more self-conscious than I was. My grandpa was just about my best friend in those days. I knew next to nothing about music, but I loved Weather Report and Return to Forever.
There was no band at The Estate, not even a CD playing . I ordered whatever was on tap and sat there and in between paranoid thoughts, I drank and thought about the A’s and Giants and the earth-shaking. I was glad to be in Milwaukee.
The bartender was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, straight blonde. I didn’t stare, but she was nice, seemed unaware of her good looks; none of that nauseating seductive crap. She filled my beer without asking and said, “on the house,”first and last time that ever happened. I sort of smiled and thought about the earthquake, but it was impossible to imagine, so I thought about the Royals playing the Cardinals a few years earlier in the World Series and the Yankees and Brooklyn a few decades before that; cities so close the teams took buses to the games.
I dreamed of a Brewers and Cubs World Series, but that was impossible. They were always ships passing in the night; the Brewers good and then great between 1979-1983 and the Cubs arriving in 1984, and quickly fading. The Cubs Brewers never happened, but something even better did.
In 1998, the Brewers switched leagues and joined the Cubs in the National League Central. It was better than the World Series because it was regular; every season more than a dozen Cubs Brewers games. The two cities have the same trees, animals, accents, Lake Michigan. There are tornadoes and 8-4 punch clocks, debts to pay, traffic accidents, but there’s also baseball and the Brewers and Cubs was a cure; for close to 3 hours anyway.
When the Cubs game against the Astros was cancelled because of Hurricane Ike on September 14, 2008, it actually wasn’t cancelled. It was relocated from Houston to Milwaukee’s Miller Park. Carlos Zambrano threw a freaking no-hitter. I think it was the only neutral site no hitter in baseball history. The Brewers had nothing to do with it, but Miller Park did.
It always feels like a party or holiday when the two teams play. It never matters to me who wins. Jason Hammel was on the mound for the Cubs Sunday. Hammel bounced around from Tampa to Colorado, and Baltimore until this off-season when the Cubs expressed interest. Hammel signed and so far this young season; including his gem on Sunday, he’s been the best in baseball….34.2 innings, 16 hits allowed and only 6 walks.
The Brewers were without Braun and Segura, but Hammel dominated; had a no-hitter into the 7th inning and Starlin Castro hit two home runs. I hope he rediscovers his .300 average with lots of extra base hits. Cubs win 4-0.
WGN Cubs announcer Len Kasper got a surprise delivery in the 8th inning. It was a Thorn Burger, named after Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg. It’s a regular burger topped with pepperoni slices. Kasper didn’t try it during the game, but he kept saying it looked and smelled good. Cubs Brewers to be continued in mid May.
The Brewers are 18-7, Cubs 8-16.