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Big Daddy Baseball League

O F F I C I A L   S I T E   O F   T H E   B I G   D A D D Y   B A S E B A L L   L E A G U E
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July 28-29, 2006

BDBL Weekend 2006: Chicago

From left to right: Matt Clemm, Greg Newgard, John Bochicchio,
Brian Potrafka, Jeff Paulson, Mike Glander, Scott Romonosky,
Bobby Sylvester, Jr. and Bob Sylvester, Sr..

CHICAGO, IL -- They call it the "Windy City," but there was no cool breeze blowing when the eighth annual BDBL Weekend was held in Chicago the weekend of July 28th.  With temperatures hovering in the high 90's, nine members of the BDBL convened at baseball's second-oldest ballpark to watch the hometown Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals.

The festivities began Friday afternoon, when Commissioner Glander met Jeff Paulson and Matt Clemm outside of Gibson's restaurant, across the street from Clemm's workplace in the John Hancock building.  There, Glander and Paulson enjoyed an appetizer of mini steak sandwiches, and the first of many beers, while conversation centered around family, vacations, and, of course, recent BDBL trades.

From there, Glander and Paulson headed up to the top of the Hancock building to share a couple of $7.75 beers while Clemm headed back to "work" for a while.  Next, the three headed over to the ESPN Zone, which, like everything else in Chicago, is just three and a half blocks away from where they were.  Twenty minutes later, the three arrived and participated in a mini air hockey tournament, which Glander -- of course -- won.

Another three and a half blocks down the road, the three met up with Brian Potrafka and Scott Romonosky at Mike Ditka's restaurant.  There, they enjoyed the most unbelievably delicious pot roast nachos any of them had ever eaten before.  While the five of them relaxed and enjoyed their meals, including an out-of-this-world entree of grilled meatloaf, Greg Newgard was stranded at an airport in Minneapolis for several hours.

Newgard, who was supposed to have arrived at around 3:00 that afternoon, instead spent the evening milling around the airport while various "mechanical problems" were fixed aboard his plane.  He wouldn't arrive at his hotel until midnight.  And once he arrived, he learned the unfortunate news that Glander's hotel reservation had been somehow mixed up, and he would be sharing a double bed with Glander, in a room the size of an average walk-in closet.

After Ditka's, the group decided to catch a local comedy act called, "Annoyance Theater."  About ten amateur comedians performed on a small stage in front of an audience of about thirty people -- most of whom brought their own beer.  Afterward, most of the comedians who had just performed showed up at a bar across the street from Potrafka's apartment.  It was here where the league finally met up with Bochicchio, whose plane had also been delayed.

At around 1:00am, Paulson, Clemm and Romonosky retired for the night, while Glander, Bocchicchio and Potrafka journeyed down the road, where several of Potrafka's friends were gathered for a late-night poker game.  Glander and Bochicchio participated in the game until around 2:00am, then called it a night as well.

On Saturday morning, the residents of the quaint Inn at Lincoln Park (Glander, Newgard and Bochicchio) enjoyed breakfast at the Golden Nugget pancake house.  Later, they walked down the road in the mid-90's heat, three and a half blocks, to Wrigleyville.  By the time they arrived at the Cubby Bear Tavern twenty minutes later, all three were soaked from sweat.  After pounding several glasses of water, the trio moved across the street to Bar Louie's, where they eventually met up with all six other members of the league, including Bob and Bobby Sylvester.

Here, the group enjoyed some hearty burgers and great conversation, centered around both the MLB and BDBL trading deadlines.  With the gates scheduled to open at 1:05, the group meandered over to join a long line of Cubs and Cardinals fans, baking in the 95-degree heat.

Two hours later, the game began.  St. Louis scored the first run on a Scott Rolen RBI single in the first.  Subpar Ronny Cedeno then tied the score with an RBI single in the second inning.  The most exciting play of the game occurred following that at-bat.  With Cedeno on first, and Angel Pagan on third, the Cubs pulled the old Little League/Earl Weaver Baseball maneuver of stealing second, then stealing home on the resulting run-down.  That gave the Cubbies the lead.

Chicago made it a 3-1 game in the fifth on a Michael Barrett RBI double.  Then, after a leadoff double by Scott Rolen in the top of the seventh inning, Dusty Baker walked out to the mound and took the ball from Maddux.  It would be Maddux's final moment standing on the mound as a Chicago Cub, and the fans let him know their appreciation by giving him a standing ovation.  Maddux returned the affection with an uncharacteristic wave of his hat.

With the Cubs leading 4-1 in the top of the ninth, Ryan Dumpster came into the game to nail it shut.  Instead, he allowed a leadoff single to Albert Pujols.  After two ground-outs, Jim Edmonds walked, and Chris Duncan followed with an RBI single to right.  Dumpster then walked pinch hitter John Rodriguez, putting the tying run on first.  Fortunately for him, Aaron Miles was the next batter, and he easily whiffed to end the game.

During the game, Clemm demonstrated a unique and absolutely frightening ability for the group.  Given any date between 1989 and 1999, Clemm is able to name the score of the San Francisco Giants game that day, the winning pitcher, and who hit home runs for the Giants.  He can also name the number of wins for that pitcher, and the number of home runs for each batter, within one.  It convinced more than one person attending this event that Clemm is more robot than man.

After the game, the group headed over to the Twisted Spoke for some barbeque sandwiches and pool.  Newgard won three games in a row and appeared to be running away with the title of "BDBL Poolshark, 2006."  But Glander put an end to his streak, then disposed of Potrafka and Paulson to claim the title.

Afterward, Glander, Clemm, Newgard and Bochichhio headed to their luxurious accommodations while Paulson, Potrafka and the Sylvesters headed to the 7-10 for a little night-time bowling.  But when Glander and company set out to find this place via taxi, they ended up in the middle of the world's largest block party.  Together, they waded through what seemed like thousands of Chicagoans, who were eating, drinking and dancing while four different bands played along a half-mile stretch of road.

By the time they reached the end of the road, they had found a place quiet enough to make a phone call, and soon thereafter they were met by the rest of the group.  At 10:30, Chicago's finest began herding the masses out of the streets, and the group decided to head back to the 7-10.  Unfortunately, since they had begun carding at the door, this meant the end of the night for Bobby Sylvester.

Inside, a bowling tournament began, with college-trained bowler Romonosky tabbed as the heavy favorite to win it all.  After five frames, Romonosky held a commanding 84-57 lead over the #2 bowler, Glander.  But Glander then mounted a stirring comeback, and strung together two spares and a strike, to pull within just four pins of the leader.

After ten frames, Glander and Romonosky were deadlocked at 133, forcing an extra frame.  Glander stepped to the line and knocked down nine pins, but was unable to pick up the spare.  Romonsky followed by knocking down six pins.  Then, in his final throw, picked up the spare to win both the tournament and the admiration of his fellow leaguemates.

Having won his championship, Romonosky decided to leave on a high note, bringing Matt Clemm and Jeff "The Golden Arm" Paulson with him.  Glander, Potrafka, Newgard and Bochicchio then continued to bowl into the wee hours of the morning, with Glander winning both games handily (along with $3 in gambling wins.)

BDBL Weekend 2006 was a rousing success in every conceivable way.  Great baseball, great ballpark, great food, great drink, great conversation and great times had by all.