Sunday, October 21, 2012

No. 592 – O My God

Performer: The Police
Songwriter: Sting
Original Release: Synchronicity
Year: 1983
Definitive Version: Live!, 1995

As I’ve said, I’m a huge baseball fan. I’ve been to great games and seen great players have big performances, but I never really have seen a milestone performance by a player. I saw Fred McGriff’s 300th career home run in Atlanta in 1996. That’s as good as it gets.

The closest I have come to seeing a no-hitter was in 1995, and I couldn’t have been rooting harder against it happening. Allow me to explain.

I don’t remember why—it might have been to celebrate our one-year anniversary of dating—but Debbie and I went back to Chicago for a weekend in September 1995.

Debbie said she always had wanted to see a game at Wrigley Field, so I looked on the schedule and saw that the Cubs would be playing the Cardinals at home when we were there. Wrigleyville had not yet been fully transformed into party central, so tickets were available the Saturday we’d be there. I was about to buy, but to my surprise Debbie said she didn’t want to go. What she really wanted, she said, was to see the Reds play there, not just any team. OK, fine. Wait till next year.

The weekend arrived, and we had a great dinner followed by a trip to one of my aforementioned favorite places: high atop the Hancock Tower. I saw the lights at Wrigley and pointed them out to Debbie. Hey, we could have been there right now.

As we walked around the north side of the observation deck, one of the traffic centers had the game on TV. What’s the score? The Cubs were winning, 7-0, which wasn’t noteworthy, but then I caught the number underneath the H in the linescore for the Cardinals.

It was a zero.

And the Cubs had just finished batting in the eighth inning.

That’s right, dear reader, or even readers, the Cubs’ pitcher, Frank Castillo (I had checked the matchup that morning), was taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning … of the game that we had been thisclose to attending.

I turned to Debbie and announced matter-of-factly, “Frank Castillo is throwing a no-hitter.” I might as well have announced I was an ax murderer; it would have made no difference in terms of her reaction.

Well, I had to watch what happened. And with the crowd roaring, Castillo whittled away at the Cards, one out, two outs. We both were in anguish: Me for missing the game and Debbie for deciding that she (and therefore we) wouldn’t go.

Ray Lankford strolled to the plate, and Castillo started to make short work of him: one strike, two strikes. Oh man, I can’t believe I could’ve been there!

On the next pitch, Lankford ripped a line drive into the gap, PAST THE CUBS’ OUTFIELDER!!! YES! YES! YES! I danced a victory dance at Lankford’s triple that ruined Castillo’s no-hitter. Debbie merely breathed a sigh of relief.


To this day, I’ve still never seen a pitcher take a no-hitter into the seventh inning, let alone the ninth.

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