It’s past 1 a.m. as I write this. The Rockies and the Cubs are playing at Wrigley Field, and have been for over five hours now. The fans left in the ballpark can be counted in the three digits, I’m sure. The television audience for WGN is probably about the same, too. But when you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound, and baseball is the game without a clock, remember?
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As Harry Caray used to do when the game ran this long, the Cubs announcers sang “Take Me Out To the Ballgame” for a second time in the 14th inning. The customary call of “Let’s get some runs” was replaced with “Just get a run,” or words to that effect. And still the game drags on.
Kids who should be at home in bed are instead picking up souvenir foul balls, along with stories to tell all their friends. All of the concession stands, I would imagine, are all long past shut down by now. John Baker, a Cubs backup catcher, makes a relief pitching appearance in the 16th inning. And still the game drags on.
On the television broadcast, a bearded hipster is dispensing drinks to an old Lionel Ritchie song for what seems like the hundredth time between innings. The announcers are trying to think of something interesting or clever to say to fill the space. The 400th pitch of the game was thrown what seems like an hour ago. And still the game drags on.
On Twitter, people use hashtags like #extrainnings and #bonusbaseball to keep themselves interested. The scoreboard operators are putting up zero after zero for the Cubs game, but the rest of baseball — even the West Coast games — are done for the night. And still the game drags on.
There are six months of the year where this isn’t possible, five months if you leave out the postseason in October. Three and a half months, when you consider that a spring training game would never last as long as this game has. And still the game drags on.
The Cubs put two runners on in the bottom of the 16th. I begin to wonder if I should head back to the TV in the other room, in order to see the hoped-for winning hit. But then I remember that the last five innings have yielded nothing on the scoreboard, and maybe my viewing the game is the problem. And still the game drags on.
It’s now bases-loaded, one out, bottom of the 16th, and Starlin Castro makes his eighth plate appearance of the game. We’re over six hours into the game, and the moment of truth may finally be here. The thought occurs to me that the winner of this game will get to say they prevailed in a meaningless game. They’ll still be one of the two worst teams in the National League. But somebody has to win a game like this, don’t they?
Castro hits a sacrifice fly, and the Cubs finally get the win. Now I can get to bed. There’s no sport like baseball.