I had the wonderful privilege of joining staff sergeant Josh Helms as his honorary guest for Opening Day.
He’s a proud father of two, loving husband and member of our armed forces, including having served three tours of duty in the Middle East.
Of course, I’d be remised not to point out Josh’s faithful commitment to Cubdom, of which we discussed at length while eating hot dogs, drinking Old Style and shivering our way through the Cubs lid-lifter–despite the outcome, as Pat Foley would say.
The tickets, behind home plate in section 120, came courtesy of Cubs left-hander Paul Maholm, who raffled them off through Twitter last Thursday.
Maholm was also kind enough to speak with Josh & I beforehand this afternoon near the Cubs dugout. A class move from the southpaw, indeed.
As Bill Murray whipped the fans into a frenzy with his ceremonial first pitch sprint around the bases, I knew we were in for an unforgettable day at Wrigley.
The offseason renovations to the park looked terrific, specifically the LED scoreboard in right field.
I’ll admit I had reservations about its addition, but the Cubs fit it seamlessly into the park without it being a distraction or an eye sore.
As far as the game, it was thrilling seeing the super-talented Stephen Strasburg in the flesh. Fastballs hitting 99mph followed by biting sliders at 87mph. His command and poise all matches the hype of his explosive arrival in Washington in 2010.
Ryan Dempster, however, was equally as good, if not better, and unquestionably deserved a win. Woody walking in the tying run was a major buzz-kill, and Marmol had just the kind of outing he didn’t need after a disappointing 2011 season.
Then there was Joe Mather representing the tying run on third in the bottom of the ninth—gunned down at home on a ball hit in front of him. Ugh…
It only left the two of us smiling at just how incredibly ‘Cubs’ this game felt. Big game, big moment…big letdown.
Yet on this particular day, we somehow managed to love every minute of it.