Chicago again. And the Cubs hadn’t gone away like they usually do. Just a game and a half behind us at 55-51, not the team we were in the mood for after getting spanked three times in Milwaukee.
On top of that, my room at the Del Prado Hotel was smaller than Superman’s phone booth, and the lighting was so bad I didn’t even notice that the clothes in my bag needed cleaning until this morning. The shirt I was wearing when I fell off my bar stool and gashed my head the other night was in there, still stained with blood. I rang the front desk for laundry service, dumped the rest of my clothes out while I waited. There was even a blood-stained Milwaukee Braves cap in there I didn’t even remember having on my head. What did that damn Bing Crosby song do to me? And why?
I warmed up Ruben Gomez without incident, but the game had the same depressing theme from yesterday. A hittable sidekick named Taylor Phillips hurled for the Cubs and we collected a total of three singles off him the whole afternoon, two by Mays. Chicago’s defense was sloppy and gave us every chance to score more but it was hopeless. Bobby Thomson doubled and homered and the Cubs won without breathing hard. By the 7th inning I asked Rigney if I could get dressed and sit in the half-empty stands, with the idea it might change our luck, me being the unofficial team mascot and all.
Gotta tell you that sitting right next to the Cubs dugout, being able to study Ernie Banks in the on-deck circle in the late afternoon shade, stroll to the plate and coil up before every pitch may have been the most relaxing five minutes I’ve had all year.
I was so calm when I got back to my room tonight—where I soon learned the Braves shut out the Bucs—that I picked up the phone and tracked down Liz. Her opening sigh lasted a good fifteen seconds, and it wasn’t just because her Dodgers had just gotten their pants pulled over their heads. I could hear loneliness in her voice.
“How’s your room?” she asked.
“About as big as a bowling alley. One lane’s worth.”
“So ask for a bigger one.”
“It’s okay. Without a television it’ll force me to go to sleep earlier.”
“Why don’t you read a book?”
“Didn’t bring any. Maybe you can read one to me.”
“Ha ha. Don’t think you’ll care for a gothic romance.”
“Try me. I hear there’s always a couple of saucy pages in there.”
She laughed under her breath. “Flirt.”
“It’s what I do best.”
“Yeah. That and falling off off bar stools. Why are you in such a good mood? Aren’t you three games out again?”
I wasn’t about to tell her that the worse the Giants played, the safer she was. So I said nothing.
“Anyway, be thankful you guys got out of Milwaukee before they found that drunk.”
“Oh. You didn’t see the papers? Some drunk Braves fan was found stuffed in a trash can about half a mile from Kniesler’s. Wasn’t that the place you passed out in?”
I suddenly felt warm. In my head, my neck. On my sweating hands.
“Um, yeah…Why don’t I talk to you tomorrow, okay?”
“Is something wrong, Snap?”
“No…Nothing. Just tired.”
I said goodnight and hung up the receiver. Turned and gazed over at my open bag.
And at the bloodstained Braves cap sitting inside it.
(only games scheduled)
S.F. 000 000 100 – 1 3 0
CHI 100 100 20x – 4 9 3
W-Phillips L-Gomez GWRBI-Moryn
L.A. 000 000 000 – 0 2 4
STL 500 300 31x – 12 15 2
W-Mizell -Drysdale HRS: Cunningham, Moon, Green GWRBI-Cunningham
You could say that Dandy Don didn’t have it today. Vinegar Bend sure did, going to 15-5, as the Cards win a very rare massacre. It actually could have been worse: Musial went 0-for-5 in the cleanup spot.
PIT 000 000 000 – 0 4 1
MIL 000 014 00x – 5 11 1
W-Jay L-Friend HR: Aaron GWRBI-Roach
Damaging win for the Braves, as they lose Covington for six games. The Pirates, already without Clemente, lose Skinner for the rest of this series so the No-Wes Effect should be minimal. After a slow patch of hitting, Hammerin’ Hank’s bat heats up again with homer no. 31.
National League through Monday, August 4
American League through Monday, August 4