CKOW took in last night’s Cubs-Phillies game courtesy of his brother-in-law, Roger, the Chicago cop. In Roger’s seats, tucked into Wrigley’s left-field corner against the chain-link fence, we had a perfect vantage point for the Cubs’ latest embarrassment, and I’m not talking about Alfonso Soriano’s defense.
In the latest case of Chicago sports fans making national news for the wrong reasons, Philadelphia centerfielder Shane Victorino was doused with beer while running back to catch a fly ball against the ivy during the fifth inning Wednesday night. This is, of course, inexcusable, but not at all surprising (See Deadspin for further dissection of the incident).
The Wrigley Field bleachers this time of year are filled with drunken tourists and college kids about to head back to school, and strange things seem to happen around here during the dog days of summer in general.
Whatever the time of year, there are always a few idiots in the bleachers. Not all that many, but a few, and sometimes they do things that reinforce the bleachers’ rep as a glorified, open-air sports bar. There will be someone who runs out onto the field during a game before this season ends, I guarantee it.
As we discussed the beer-tossing episode, Roger, who knows a thing or two about the law, noted that, according to Illinois criminal code, throwing beer at someone is a form of battery – it’s considered similar to throwing a rock or a baseball. Sure enough, the Cubs and Victorino filed formal complaints with the Chicago Police Department, according to the Chicago Tribune.
We’re glad the beer-tosser turned himself in. He’s Johnny Macchione, 21, of suburban Bartlett, and he’s believed to the guy on the left in the photo above. Earlier tonight, after being cited for battery and illegal conduct within a sports facility, both misdemeanors, he issued an on-camera apology to Victorino and the Cubs in front of local TV news crews. Of course you’re sorry, Johnny. Nonetheless, you’re still a complete tool. We hope you’re banned from Wrigley for life.
Last night’s incident takes its place among other moments of infamy on Chicago’s fields of play: The guys who ran onto U.S. Cellular Field during a White Sox-Royals game in 2002 and tackled Kansas City coach Tom Gamboa; the guy who snatched the helmet from the head of Dodgers’ catcher Chad Kreuter during a 2000 game at Wrigley, inciting a melee; the guy who ran onto Wrigley and tried to take down Cubs reliever Randy Myers in 1995. The list goes on and on. What is it about certain “fans” here?
Beyond that, Wednesday night’s incident seems like a perfect metaphor for the big, spilled-beer-of-a-season the Cubs are having: So enticing and tasty-looking from a distance, but when you get close and try to grab it… whoops!
Many Cubs fans, myself included, were head-faked by the team’s hot streak after the All-Star break last month. But it’s one thing to feast on bottom-feeders such as the Nationals; it’s quite another to defeat good teams.
The troubling signs have been there for months: endless injuries, failure to consistently beat quality pitching, poor clutch hitting and sloppy, distracted play in general (do these guys really want to be here?). Hard to see anyone but St. Louis taking the NL Central at this point (Last night, Philly smoked the Cubs, 12-5, and won again today, 6-1, to complete a three-game sweep and send the Cubs to their fifth loss in a row).
Looking ahead, we can see at least one encouraging date on the calendar: Sept. 13, when the Bears open the NFL season in Green Bay. Here’s hoping Jay Cutler is as good as advertised. If not, we may be in for another long winter.