2019 was not the inaugural season for the Chicago Dogs, but the excitement surrounding the team is palpable and has been growing ever since they announced that they had signed former Miami Marlin Chicago Cub great Carlos Zambrano as a relief pitcher. The Dogs opened their season on Friday, May 17th to a sellout crowd, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance.
The energy at the Impact Field was electric, and I'm not talking about the cumulonimbus clouds that were chilling overhead. There was a massive line just to get in, and no one was the least bit upset about it. The opening day promo was absolutely on fleek, hot dog costumes for every fan in attendance. Their mission was simple, attempt to break the world record for "world’s largest gathering of wieners in one location." I have been unable to confirm whether this was in fact broken, but I have taken to referring to myself as a world record holder all the same.
The pregame festivities were also a sight to behold. Everyone was pumped and watched with bated breath as the players were introduced. Finally, they reached #38, and the crowd was as raucous as I'd hoped it would be. There he was, Big Z, out on the diamond again. For a moment, all was right in the world. There was more fun in store before opening pitch, too. There was a bomb hype video with a bunch of Chicago personalities, both past and present. The final man to speak was Dogs manager Butch Hobson, who reminds us that we are all the Chicago Dogs. I'm also 94% certain he is a hybrid of Jim Leyland and Roger Sterling from Mad Men.
I was so excited about the hot dog costume and my pending world record that I almost missed Detroit Red Wing Chicago Blackhawks legend Chris Chelios throw out the first pitch! Not a terrible one either, I'd have chased it.
The game got underway proper, and it was clear this was not going to be a low-scoring affair. In the top half of the first, Dogs pitcher D.J. Snelten gave up a solo shot, but that was the only damage. The Dogs, however, were off the leash and came to play. Everyone from leadoff hitter David Olmedo-Barrera to the nine-hole Larry Balkwill (world class baseball name) strolled up to the plate as the Chicago Dogs scored three runs to take the lead 3-1.
The second inning is where my previous meteorological comment came to fruition. Snelten did his part by facing one hitter over the minimum, but those pesky Chicago Dogs decided to one-up themselves. Olmedo-Barrera led off with a triple, and after hitting a double in the first I declared to all those around me that he was absolutely, definitely hitting for the cycle. The hits poured in and soon the clouds followed suit. As a drizzle grew in size the Dogs kept hitting. Tony "Three-Bagger" Rosselli doubled up on triple town with the bases juiced, and Harrison Smith decided to triple-down on the fun as he hit their third triple of the second inning. The score was now 9-1, and the onslaught of rain had begun. It did not, however, dampen my wit as I fired off a perfect observation to the world:
When the second mercifully ended, the tarps came out and the rain continued to fall. After giving it some time under cover, we, unfortunately, had to acknowledge that while the game would likely resume, we wouldn't be there to watch. Checking back at the box score I discovered that my main man David Olmedo-Barrera (DOB moving forward, I reckon) didn't quite reach that cycle, but he's still my guy. Selfishly, I was glad to see that Carlos Zambrano didn't pitch. I'd have hated knowing I missed it, but a true Dogs fan would have wanted to the faithful to be rewarded for their patience, so I'll be better, fellow Dogs. All in all, the Chicago Dogs beat the Gary Southshore Railcats by a score of 12-5.
The Chicago Dogs have played two games since including a win on Saturday, 5-1. Carlos Zambrano pitched a clean 1.1 innings with no walks, hits or strikeouts. As a team, they took a no-hitter all the way up to the final out of the game, when Rich Mascheri surrendered a single that scored a runner who'd previously walked. The Dogs lost on Sunday, May 19th by a score of 7-5 despite a furious finish for their hitters, netting all their runs from the sixth inning on. The most exciting out of this game was the DH, Big Z! He stepped up to the plate four times, ending up with a single and a K.
Overall, my experience at the Chicago Dog's opening day was world class. Fun environment, awesome promo, tons of runs. Speaking of the environment, DO NOT sleep on the Dog's walk-up music. I caught some Bone Thugs N Harmony, some Juvenile, and even some Nelly ft. The St. Lunatics. It also seems that whether as a hitter or a pitcher, any game you attend has a fair to a good chance of seeing El Toro in action. What I can tell you is this summer, out in Rosemont, there is some serious fun to be had. Don't believe me? Check it out and thank me later.
All stats and dates referenced courtesy of http://am-association.wttbaseball.pointstreak.com
Featured Photo: Chicago Dogs/Twitter