Sometimes a sporting event is not just a sporting event. Sometimes it transcends athletics and all logic itself. Such was Saturday night at Wrigley Field when a crowd filled with watered-down beer and low expectations rose to restore its misplaced faith in the Chicago Cubs, if not all humanity.
The occasion was Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardizija exiting early in the 7th inning. He had given up seven hits and four walks on his way to three earned runs and a no decision. More importantly for Cubs fans, he had struck out 11 hitters in 6 ⅓ innings of a 12-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“The standing ovation was pretty awesome,” Samardzija said. “Even when your best doesn’t get the job done, you appreciate being appreciated by people who appreciate Cubs baseball. It took everything I had to not wave my cap as if I had actually accomplished something.”
Fittingly, Samardzija’s crowd-pleasing no decision came on the Cubs’ first “official” Mediocrity Night. In attendance was Tommy Berminimum, one of five divorced fathers invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for trying to use the state lottery to catch up on child support payments.
“Samardzija was really something, and I’m such a sucker for [deleted] like that,” said Berminimum through half-soused tears. “It was like seeing Kerry Wood in his prime again whiffing 14 hitters in a Cubs defeat, or Sammy Sosa providing one of his patented tape-measure silver linings to an awful afternoon of baseball.”
“I only wish my father was still alive to see it. He was a lifelong Cubs fan. He never lived to see the Cubs in a World Series, so it was memories like tonight that he really treasured.”
As part of Mediocrity Night, the public address announcer read recent unhappy American news reports in between innings. To each news item, the easy-to-please crowd roared its approval with rousing chants of “U.S.A.!”
The news reports included Friday’s 200-point stock market drop, a Farmer’s Almanac prediction of another 20 years of political gridlock, and Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey’s dual exit from American Idol.
Singing the 7th inning stretch was Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. He mumbled unintelligibly through half the song before gaveling the stretch into early recess. The first 10,000 fans also received a Madigan bobblehead in honor of his 42 years of contributions to Illinois political mediocrity.
SkitSketchJeff is Jeff Burdick, who is confused why former Cubs first baseman Pete LaCock’s name features the French female article.
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