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he hour-and-a-half drive from Minooka to Northbrook. And one after another, the gang from 228 followed.It was like This Is Your Life, J from 123's blog

CINCINNATI -- Wily Peralta made the pitches he wanted Monday against the Cincinnati Reds. Jarrett Allen Jersey . He just wasnt rewarded.The Reds found just enough holes to score three first-inning runs, and four pitchers teamed up on Cincinnatis eighth shutout of the season in a 3-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.The Reds sent eight batters to the plate in the first against Peralta (6-10). They collected a walk and four hits, including back-to-back infield hits to shortstop Jonathan Villar by Adam Duvall and Brandon Phillips that loaded the bases, setting up Scott Scheblers two-run single. Tyler Holt followed with an RBI single.It was a little frustrating, Peralta said. I made the pitches I wanted to make. I got ground balls. They just found some holes. They didnt hit anything hard.Manager Craig Counsell had no complaints about his veteran right-hander, who turned in 7 2/3 innings in his last start against the Cubs last Tuesday.Wily pitched very well tonight, Counsell said. He continued what hes been doing. We didnt have much luck tonight.Keyvius Sampson started and Blake Wood (6-3), Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias followed as the Reds posted their seventh shutout since the All-Star break. They went into the game tied with the Cubs, Angels and Marlins for the most second-half shutouts in the majors.Iglesias pitched the final two innings for his third save in four opportunities as the Reds extended their winning streak to four games.The Brewers, who had hit at least one home run in nine consecutive games, have lost three of their last four and have been shut out eight times this season.Sampson, making his second start of the season as the Reds skipped Anthony DeSclafani, tied his career high with seven strikeouts. But he was relieved by Wood in the fifth with the bases loaded and two outs -- not long enough to qualify for the win. He allowed four hits and two walks and hit a batter.Wood stifled the threat by getting Hernan Perez to fly out.Sampson threw a lot of strikes, Counsell said. He seemed to struggle finding the zone when weve faced him in the past. We didnt get many good counts. His slider was effective. He threw it for strikes. We didnt get many leadoff batters on.Peralta rebounded after Holts single to retire the next 15 batters before Phillips dribbler hugged the third base line for an infield single with two outs in the sixth inning. Peralta allowed six hits and three runs with one walk and five strikeouts in six innings.TRICKYReds 2B Brandon Phillips tried to catch the Brewers and the umpires napping, catching and then dropping Peraltas soft liner with Martin Maldonado on first base and nobody out in the third inning. Second base umpire Roberto Ortiz immediately ruled the ball was caught and Maldonado still was safe at first.HIGHLIGHT REELThe Reds used two right fielders and both made eye-catching plays. Schebler made a diving catch of Perezs blooper to end the first, then Steve Selsky easily threw out Jonathan Villar trying to score from second Scooter Gennetts twoout single in the sixth.TRAINERS ROOMBrewers: Rookie SS Orlando Arcia got Monday off after playing in 37 of Milwaukees 39 games since making his major league debut on Aug. 2.Reds: SS Jose Peraza returned to the starting lineup after missing Sundays game in Pittsburgh with a sore right pinky finger, the result of fouling a ball off of it on Saturday.UP NEXTBrewers: RHP Matt Garza (5-6), who allowed just three hits and one run over six innings without getting a decision in Milwaukees 2-1 victory over the Cubs last Wednesday, starts on Tuesday.Reds: RHP Dan Straily (11-8), who set his single-season career high for losses in his last start, tries to improve to 8-2 since the All-Star break on Tuesday. Theo Pinson Nets Jersey . Argentina winger Ezequiel Lavezzi and France midfielder Blaise Matuidi scored, with star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic setting up both despite having a poor game by his high standards. Forward Eduardo gave Ajaccio the lead in the sixth minute after being set up by right winger Benjamin Andre, and the Corsican side looked comfortable in the first half, with the lively Johan Cavalli causing problems with his probing runs from midfield. Joe Harris Jersey . As the crowd erupted, Davis knocked the ball off the glass and back into his hands. With 1:14 to go in overtime, Davis sixth block also became his 17th rebound. That, along with his 32 points -- which tied a career high -- proved too much for Denver to overcome, and the Pelicans held on for their third straight victory, 111-107 on Sunday night. . If ever they start actually putting pictures beside words in the dictionary, the Blue Jays left-handers mug will appear beside “Consistency. CHICAGO -- If the producers of the movie Fever Pitch ever considered a sequel, there are several thousand people in Chicago who could provide plenty of new material.It wouldnt necessarily follow up on the love story between the characters played by Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon, a rabid Boston Red Sox fan so devoted to the team that he nearly had to choose between his cherished season tickets and his girl.No, the stars of the movie in the view of Cubs fans hoping for their teams first World Series championship in 108 years, was the colorful group of season-ticket holders who were more than Fallons seatmates, more than the people who traded wisecracks and baseball chatter, listened to his problems and tried to talk him out of selling his seats to stay with the girl.For Jerry and Judy Shapiro, a suburban Chicago couple whose courtship actually did resemble the main characters -- You can make that analogy, Judy agreed -- the plot picks up 35 years, three kids and a grandson in a little Cubs hat later. It resumes 32 years after they bought season tickets at Wrigley Field and became just two of thousands of regulars who populate the place in little groups and subsets and full-blown communities of former strangers who say the team that drew them there, have turned them into family.Shapiros group calls itself 228 for Sect. 228, which sits between home and first, even with the mound and just above the big aisle. Just high enough that people walking in the aisle dont bother them and just under the overhang so they stay dry when it rains.In other words, perfect.I just love being at the park and experiencing the joys of Wrigley Field with these people that I have become so close with and really care about, Jerry Shapiro said.It is, mostly, luck of the draw. But Melanie Wyatt believes Good people find good people. And so it was 13 years ago that she met fellow season-ticket holder Tom Peak, who shared her section in the grandstand, and then decided together eight years ago that the bleachers would be more fun.We sit there every game with people we would not otherwise know from any other walk of life, said Wyatt, who has two tickets but usually goes alone. We just found each other. And now were family.Doctors, business owners, brokers from their mid-30s to mid-50s, they dubbed themselves Cubbie Family, a group that occupies the top section of the bleachers in right-center field and can swell to as large as 45 or shrink as small as 10 diehards who bristle at the suggestion that somehow theyre the poor stepchildren of the season-ticket holder population.Once the domain of the shirtless Bleacher Bums, a group that inspired a long-running Chicago play starring Joe Mantegna and Dennis Franz in the original cast, the Cubs started offering the bleacher seats to season-ticket holders about 15 years ago.Retaining the spirit if not the image of the Bums, even the season-ticket holders have to line up (albeit in their own line) two-and-a-half hours before first pitch in order to secure the seats they want, which they reserve with long rows of Cubs beach towels secured by bungee cords.For us, its just a better time out there, but the days of no shirts is kind of lost, Peak said, though the men in the group did vow to go shirtless if Miggy jacked one with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series last week.Sure enough, Miguel Montero hit a pinch-hit grand slam and the guys followed through.We had to promise no pictures, Wyatt laughed.Wyatt, 47, and Peak, 52, are the unofficial administrators (they have a Facebook group of about 150) and cruise directors, often recognized on the street as Arent you that dude [or woman] we always see on TV holding up the big W flag?Its Peaks and its about 9 feet by 5 feet, filled with signatures of players past and present, and has been a television staple at the end of Cubs games.We know people all over the park, Peak explained, and that includes the cameramen.No one presides over 228, but if there were patriarchs of the family, it would be Jerry and Karen Johnson -- Jerry, 75, once the VP of regulatory affairs for a pharmaceutical company who now teaches jazz singing to kids in an after-school program, and Karen, 74, a retired project researcher for Sears, Roebuck and Co. who counsels newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.Were the grandparents, Karen said.Jerry Johnson is a third-generation Cubs fan. His father Dale, who died in 1988, was born three months after the Cubs won their last World Series in 1908 and was turned onto the team by Jerrys grandfather.Among the very beginnings of the Cubs is in my blood, Jerry said.Growing up in Galesburg, Illinois, Jerry remembers keeping score of Cubs games by the overhead lights in his fathers pink 54 Buick because it was the only radio that could get Chicagos WIND, the only station that carried their night games.But I only did it a few times because I ran down his battery and the car wouldnt start the next morning, he recalled.Occasionally, when he was lucky, the family would get up at 5 in the morning and make the 200-mile trip to Wrigley Field, hopefully see a doubleheader, and then drive five hours back and hopefully get home by midnight, Jerry recalled.Jerry Johnson still keeps score -- on cards he makes himself -- with different colored pens and his own detailed system that includes a backward K, meaning the batter swung and missed, and a regular K, a called third strike. It draws fans from far beyond 228 to ask him for balls and strikes on previous batters. They also ask him how he scored close plays.He still keeps the pitch count, Shapiro said of the groups teasing, and were like, Jerry, they keep that on the scoreboard now. Look, we can see it.Jerry Johnson laughs along, and he and Karen, who stand arm in arm to sing during every seventh-inning stretch, are adored by the group. When they had their crazy medical things, as Karen refers to them -- serious accidents that once left Jerry with the loss of an eye and another time with a punctured lung, and serious illnesses like Karens breast cancer -- the group checked up on them constantly and researched their choice of doctors.We consider our seatmates family, Karen said. We would do anything for them and they would do anything for us, and we all know that and its so cool. We were just so, so lucky to find each other.The couple considers Ryland Denson, the youngest of the 228s at age 11, their sixth grandchild and the Shapiros three kids -- Scott, 30, Allie, 33, and Jami, 20 -- like their own as well. When the Shapiro girls were younger and their father brought them to the game, it was Karen Johnson who took them to the bathroom. Now they bring their boyfriends and girlfriends to meet the Johnsons.Were so worried when one of the younger people are going with someone, Karen said. We ask, Are they a Cubs fan? They have to run it by us.The 228s have a few rituals. Mike Denson found out one of them two games into his familys first season in Section 228, when he was told, You have to point to Tom. Wilson Chandler Nets Jersey. e were like, Whos Tom? And why are we pointing to him? he said.Before they could answer, the whole group was on their feet, pointing to the field and to a guy standing on the pitchers mound with the ball and resin bag, who pointed back. And so they learned of Tom Farinella, one of the original members of 228 who was lured down 10 years ago to replace a friend as umpires room attendant.I try to get up there before games to say a quick hello, said Farinella, 64, the former Des Plaines fire chief, and then Ill go back to the umpires room and think about how much I miss sitting up there with my friends. I look forward to the day Im not working anymore and can sit back in the stands with them.Toms sons, Joe, 38, and Lou, 36, took over their dads seats. Denson was introduced to the boys after the first point. Ten minutes later, we were introduced, This is Tom, these are his kids, and we had an instant connection.Denson was also immediately included in 228s post-mortem dinner, an October tradition that this year will have to wait. And then theres the other 228 ritual heightened to an art form by Shapiro and Denson that drives their wives and other family members a little crazy.We text during every road game, three hours back and forth, two grown men like were sitting at the ballpark next to each other, Shapiro said. My kids think we have a bromance and mock the crap out of it. But were so in sync in our texting, saying the same stupid thing at the same time, we marvel at how stupid we are.It got real bad three years ago, Denson said of the culmination of two seasons in which the Cubs would lose a combined 197 games. It was, Oh my God, why are we watching this? Why are they doing this? Now lets try not to be crazy negative. I wish we had saved all the texts where we told each other, Its OK to be optimistic.Ryland Denson so badly wanted to join in on the texting madness that after recently getting a new iPod for his birthday, he went up to his room leaving his dad watching a road game in the basement and telling him, Well text.Mike, a high school dean, grimaced.Theyre not always age-appropriate, he said. It would limit me.After the Densons first season in 228 about four years ago, the Cubs offered a lottery for season-ticket holders in which they could have moved down to what were considered better seats. Mike and Kim considered it. Shapiro wouldnt allow it.I said, You cant do that, he recalled. Dont you know how much we love coming here and being with your family, hanging out with your son? You cant do it.And so they didnt, texting Shapiro: How can we move? Were here. We love hanging out with you guys too. Thats half the fun.It takes the Densons an hour and a half or more to drive from Minooka, a suburb southwest of Joliet. They estimated they attend 50 to 60 Cubs games, spring training and at least two road trips a year.When theyre not there, Ryland said, I definitely miss it. Its a great place. Sometimes I come straight from my [baseball] games and I dont even have time to change, so Ill be wearing my uniform and we barely have time to get there.The Densons have tickets to the first World Series game at Wrigley but Ryland wont be there.I gave it to my grandpa, he said.In addition to the rituals, they also have a few rules. For the Cubbie Family, its pretty simple:1. No ties 2. You throw back home run balls from the visiting team 3. No WaveEver, Wyatt emphasized. And we take that to heart. It is not an option. I had a neighborhood bar owner once come up to me and say, I saw you stop the Wave four times. Heres a free drink coupon.Someone once asked me, Whats the deal with stopping the Wave? I said, The Wave is for someone who doesnt understand whats going on, on the field. Youre at a baseball game. Its your team. People do it when our team is up. How rude. Oh, and Santo hated it.The unofficial fourth rule is more a superstition.Dont touch the W flag until after the last out, Wyatt said.For 228, its more a belief system.They dont like crazy seventh-inning stretch or just plain bad anthem singers. (228 fun fact: Their own Jerry Johnson sang the anthem about 20 years ago and it was good.) They dont much care for faux Cubs fan celebrities. Oh yeah, and like the Cubbie Family: No. Wave. Ever. They all believe that once the game starts, you focus on the game.Its all baseball, Shapiro said. We dont talk politics, dont talk about work, were not some guys on the golf course talking about business deals. Its the lineup, whos hurt, whats [Joe Maddon] doing, the strategy, everything connected to the game itself.The worst is when they cant help but hear people around them, the tourists or worse, the blowhards at their first game of the season talking loudly about their stock options or, worse, spouting their baseball knowledge.Theyre not watching the game at all. And theyre usually wrong about every single thing, Denson said. We sort of have fun listening to that. And we talk about it amongst ourselves.Same thing in the bleachers.Every once in a while you have yahoos sitting around you using profanity, not very bleacher friendly, and we remind them, Hey man, there are kids around, said Peak, who takes great pleasure in handing out the BP homers he catches to the kids in the bleachers.The look on their face is just epic, he said. Right at the end of this season, a guy came up to me and said, Two years ago, you gave a ball to my little girl and every time she sees you on TV she says, Theres that nice man who gave me the ball. Those are moments you cant buy. This past January, on the occasion of Jerry Shapiros 60th birthday, his wife Judy wanted to do something special.But he hates surprise birthdays, he was depressed he was turning 60, he was basically miserable, she said.Glumly wearing the Cubs jersey his family made him put on that snowy morning, he was standing in their kitchen when Ryland Denson appeared, his family having made the hour-and-a-half drive from Minooka to Northbrook. And one after another, the gang from 228 followed.It was like This Is Your Life, Judy said. Ive never seen Jerry so happy. It was like bringing it all home. This goes way beyond Wrigley Field.Four years ago, Melanie Wyatt had a frightening episode with multiple pulmonary emboli that she considers herself lucky to have survived.My mom showed up to the hospital from Arkansas, walked in the room and said, Who are all these people? Wyatt said of her Cubbie Family. They all came to see me. Dozens of them. Pretty much the lady at the door of the hospital just asked everyone who walked in, You going to Room 114?Naturally one of the first questions Wyatt asked her doctor was, When can I go back to Wrigley?He said, If you can promise me you wont be hit by a baseball, you can go, she recalled.Wyatt didnt have a doubt.I told him, Theyll protect me. Theyre my family. ' ' ' 

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