If something weird is going to happen in baseball, it will probably involve the Chicago Cubs. The most recent weird event happened Sunday at Wrigley Field when Jon Lester, the starting pitcher, got a baseball caught in the webbing of is pitching glove. He reacted by throwing the entire glove to first baseman Anthony Rizzo to get the out at first.
After the game, Lester told reporters that even though things happened quickly, he felt like it was a mad scramble to decide what to do. He had wanted to turn to second to try to get the double play, but when he realized the ball was stuck, his only option was to throw the entire glove. To Rizzo’s credit, he threw down his own glove in order to catch Lester’s glove and make the out.
Strange catches seemed to be the order of the day not only on the mound but in the stands. On Saturday, a foul ball landed in the beer cup of one man who then chugged the beer. On Sunday, a foul ball landed in Krista Dotzenrod”s beer. She, too, chugged her beer as those around her urged her on. People are now calling foul ball catches in beer cups chugball.
While this may become a new tradition at Wrigley Field, there is a story that is known mostly to those who are bleacher regulars. There is one bleacher season ticket holder who plays “Beer Ball” with some of the players during batting practice. The most notable opponent has been Jonny Gomes. The point of the game is for the player to toss the ball into the stands where the fan is supposed to catch the ball in his beer cup and then chug the beer. It is quite an interesting and fun game to watch, and it appears that it is limited to only one fan. Unfortunately, the game has not yet been played in the bleachers this year due to the continued work to upgrade and expand the bleachers.
The difference between Beer Ball and the two catches this past weekend is that in beer ball the fan is trying to catch the ball in his cup. This weekend’s catches were made on random foul balls.
But Beer Ball, Chugball and strange throws to first base aside, the real story of the weekend was the debut of the Cubs’ best prospect, Kris Bryant. Many people, including Bryant’s agent Scott Boras, were very angry when Bryant was sent to Iowa to start the season. It was expected Bryant would be called up while the Cubs were on the road this week, but he was supposedly called up earlier due to an injury to Mike Olt. Bryant was placed in the cleanup spot all three games and played third base. While his plate appearances were less than stellar on Friday, he did get his first big league hit and RBI this weekend, and made some great defensive plays at third. He’s a kid and there was a lot of pressure on him, which would have been one reason to have brought him up while on the road. But he seemed to take it in stride.
Cubs fans welcomed Bryant with open arms. He received a standing ovation his first at-bat on Friday, and scattered standing ovations on Saturday and Sunday from those who had not been at Friday’s game. This guy is going to be fun to watch. He’s the real deal and someone Cubs fans should be very excited about.