CHICAGO - A couple of times in the middle innings of last night’s game at Wrigley Field, I felt like a popup was hit in my general direction on the far side of the first base dugout down the right field line.
I looked up toward the sky to try and locate the ball to get a feel for how close it might be to me.
And when I tilted my head upwards, I saw nothing.
The fog that had lingered over Wrigley Field for much of the afternoon and evening had gotten thicker, and even with the lights from atop the grandstand trying to cut through and help provide some optical assistance, I had no clue where the ball was.
On one occasion, I covered my head with my hands and notepad and turned away, only to hear the ball come down about 20 rows behind me. I felt like an idiot (nothing new for me, really), but was far from the only person in my area to lose sight of the ball, and TV cameras didn’t capture me helplessly searching for the popup through the fog.
Now, imagine you’re Denard Span. It’s the bottom of the sixth inning in a 3-0 game and Luis Valbuena lifts a fly ball into the air. You look up to try and track it, and like what happened to me, you have no clue where the ball is.
Span put his arms out at his sides, indicating he had lost the ball, and tried to get help from his teammates. By then, it was too late. The ball came down well behind him, off the bottom of the center field wall, and Ryan Zimmerman had to sprint over from his spot in left field to grab it and toss it back in.
On a night with some of the wackiest weather conditions I’ve seen in a while, Span got burned by the fog.
“I didn’t even know it was coming at me, to be honest with you,” Span said. “I didn’t know where it was. I finally figured that the ball was coming towards me because everybody was looking at me and pointing in my direction. But it is scary, because ... once I figured out the ball was coming towards me, I didn’t wanna look up, because the last thing I wanted was to let a ball hit me in my pretty face.”
Luckily, Span’s face was fine, and Doug Fister was able to strand Valbuena at third. The lost fly ball didn’t end up factoring into the outcome of last night’s 5-3 Cubs win. But it did make for some interesting conversation after the game.
Manager Matt Williams, who is used to funky weather conditions from playing in San Francisco, said that he had seen similar foggy Chicago days on TV, but never in person before. And while Williams had heard of fog delays occurring in the past, he didn’t at any point ask crew chief Jerry Layne to delay last night’s game because of the weather.
“They had talked about it out there,” Williams said. “(Ian Desmond) was talking to Jerry about it, and Jerry was thinking about it. But it’s not like rain where you’ve got radar and you can see, OK we’ll delay it 15 minutes and it’ll be gone. You just have no idea. But both teams had to play with it. They got more than we did.”
The conditions seemed to add to the Wrigley Field drama and made for some pretty cool shots of the skyline getting engulfed by fog. It was an unusual scene.
One that the Nationals surely hope they won’t have to deal with again the rest of this series.