By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
"Actually," Dunn corrects himself, "I think he likes Hootie and the Blowfish, but that's not all that inspirational. I don't think Hootie and the Blowfish would make me want to a hit a home run."
Later, Dunn sits down to compose the evening's "Today in History" quiz; fans are shown three factoids and are asked to choose the one that actually happened on the date in question. After a moment of indecision, he picks journalist Charles Glass's 1987 escape from kidnappers in Beirut, then recruits the McWilliams boys to help him come up with the phony responses.
"Let's say that Pete Rose hit for the cycle in 1984," JD suggests. "What team was he playing for then?"
"The Phillies, I think," Ronbo says.
"You think?" JD asks.
"It doesn't have to be that right if it's a wrong answer," Dunn declares.
"Yeah," agrees Davey, "but there's a problem." He looks out the window at the now-filled stadium. "There are a lot of real baseball fans out there."
The national anthem goes off without a hitch; the choir is so loud that its members probably could be heard without any amplification at all. As announcer Burnham discloses the starting lineups for the Cubs and the Rockies, Davey makes his choice for the evening's home-run pool. "If you pick the person who hits the last home run in a game, you win," he explains. "We used to have to pick the person who hit the first home run, but that wasn't that much fun. A lot of times it would be over in the first inning."
The Rockies take the field to the rousing sound of Dick Dale's "Miserlou," which Dunn plucks from the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction. It's a good choice; instantly, the crowd is at full roar. But the excitement doesn't last long. Cubs leadoff hitter Brian McRae reaches on a bunt single. Shortly thereafter, first baseman Mark Grace smashes the ball down the third-base line, where fans seated nearby try to grab it. "Someone down there touched that ball!" Ronbo shouts. "That cost us a run! They should throw out the whole front row!"
Ronbo's ire increases as Saberhagen continues to serve up hittable pitch after hittable pitch. When even Cubs hurler Kevin Foster knocks in a run with a fielder's choice, manager Baylor stalks to the mound and yanks Saberhagen after only a third of an inning (he's credited with allowing seven earned runs, his worst outing since reaching the majors). Dunn accompanies the action with the David Bowie and Queen hit "Under Pressure." To fend off any possible gripes from his boss, he shouts, "It's on your list, Berger."
When at last the Cubs suffer their third out, Dunn plugs in a modest R&B cut, Lalah Hathaway's "Let Me Love You," and groans. "This is a beautiful night," he says.
It gets worse. Galarraga, no doubt inspired by "Black Cat," reaches the seats in the Rockies' half of the first inning, but the Cubs get two more runs in the third, bringing the score to 9-1. With the Rockies' hopes of gaining ground on the Dodgers dribbling away, the control-room staffers concentrate on Music Trax, in which attendees are given the chance to vote on which one of three songs will be played in its entirety during the next half inning. The word "night" is the common denominator linking the songs. First up is Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night," which gets a smattering of mild applause ("Forget it, Rod," Davey says). It's followed by KC & the Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight," which is intended to whet appetites for the mirror ball later in the game, and Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight."
"Oooh," Ronbo moans. "It's Sinatra vs. KC."
"No way," Brandy Lay counters. "Sinatra's getting some boos. KC all the way."
Half an inning later, Dunn takes great pleasure in punching up "Get Down Tonight." But by that time, the weather has begun to deteriorate. A huge thunderclap draws a stunned "aaahhh" from the throng. JD looks at Dunn admiringly. "Did you do that?" he asks.
The query is answered by the beginning of a major downpour, prompting JD to stick his head out the window and shout, "Run for your lives!" The crowd does just that, taking shelter without glancing at the up-to-the-minute bulletin from the National Weather Service that graphics coordinator Brian Ives has flashed on the screen. "I spend all this time typing that in and they don't even look at it," Ives grouses.
At 8:18, the umpires call for a rain delay. As the infield is covered and a satellite broadcast of the Dodgers-New York Mets game is switched onto the field's viewing screen (the Dodgers eventually lose 3-2), Dunn uses a phone opposite him to call a friend he's promised to meet after the game. "I don't think it's going to last long," he predicts. And then he sits down and stares at the rain for the next two hours and 45 minutes.