chicago cubs spring training 2021

Road trip 2021

March 11, 2021

Photo Credit: Carol Madigan

Omg!  I just looked at the date. The game is tomorrow!! We need to drive today!!

   The frantic message came from Carol, while picking up the little Baileys three pack for our Spring Training road trip that we’d both programmed into our evidently derelict brains as beginning Tuesday morning. Her message came at around 2:00 p.m. on Monday. “Road trip!” I messaged back. At least the road wine had been delivered by then.

   The problem that immediately presented itself was that we were in rush packing mode, and that leaving critical items behind was an existential threat. The first thing I did was to actually look the corkscrew into my suitcase.

   On the road by 3:00 p.m., Carol and I began a modified version of 20 questions.

   “Did you remember your phone charger?” (No)

   “Did you remember the selfie-stick?” (Also no)

   The list of no’s continued on through Anaheim and Riverside, an impressive list that put to the lie my enhanced sense of thoroughness under pressure. And so, we were on our way without Carol’s coat, walking socks, the banana bread for breakfast, wine glasses (we road trip in style, don’t we?), along with a couple of other things that we’ve already forgotten that we’d forgotten and won’t miss until we start looking for them. (Like, as it turned out, our Cubs’ “W” garden flag, which would have been great to unfurl following the Cubs’ walk-off grand slam that beat the Athletics, 9-8.)

The problem that immediately presented itself was that we were in rush packing mode, and that leaving critical items behind was an existential threat. The first thing I did was to actually look the corkscrew into my suitcase.

   The good news about leaving Monday afternoon was that we wouldn’t be getting up as early in the morning as we’d been planning. The bad news was we were heading into the teeth of Southern California afternoon traffic, which took most of the first hour to clear. Didn’t really matter. Instead of stopping for lunch, we’d be stopping for dinner. The game on Tuesday (Cubs vs Athletics) didn’t start until 1:00 p.m., and we were booked in a Courtyard that was right across from the park. (We’d be walking over to a Cubs game as if we actually lived in Wrigleyville in Chicago – a lifelong fantasy.)

   I admit to being a bit verklempt upon entering the stadium. Last year, Spring Training was canceled right after it started, and the shortened regular season was played to empty stadiums. Today, the game was played before 3000 fans, sufficient to make a cheer loud enough to be heard back at the beer line, and sufficient for a wave cheer to make several circumferences around the stands, including the outfield lawn/picnic seating.  

   In the late innings, we were thoroughly entertained by three clearly inebriated fans that normally would strike me as boorish and obnoxious. But they were so entertaining that I made a special effort to high five them after the game. “See you all at Wrigley,” I offered cheerily. “If they ever let us back in,” the one answered gravely.

   It was Carol who called the walk-off slam. “If he (Rafael Ortega) hits a home run, he’ll be such a hero” she said to me. Then Ortega drove the first pitch over the right field wall. I’ve never seen Carol that excited over a Cubs win. And certainly not a win in Spring Training. All four players who figured in the walk-off were “non-roster invitees.”

   The “W” now officially qualified as a leave behind.

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