Even support from actor Wendell Pierce wasn’t enough to help WBEZ.
In the battle for the Kup Cup, so-called in honor of long-time Chicago Sun-Times columnist and radio broadcaster Irv Kupcinet, CHIRP came out ahead of WBEZ, 7-4.
The hype leading up to the 16-inch softball media league championship game reached a fever pitch earlier this week when WBEZ rounded up support from several national reporters and hosts, ranging from NPR to CNN to PBS NewsHour. Pizzeria Lou Malnati’s also weighed in, along with Wendell Pierce, known for his roles in The Wire and Treme.
But all the high-profile support couldn’t bring in the runs for WBEZ (6-2).
“If I could do it over, I’d work for a whole different place,” deadpanned WBEZ team manager Justin Kaufmann after the loss.
The game started off with former Chicago Cubs announcer Paul Friedman, who's currently the director of corporate sponsorship and business development at WBEZ, reading the line-ups for both CHIRP and WBEZ. Chicago Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32, was on hand at Trebes Park to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, which was launched from second base over the backstop. Christa Meyer, from the Chicago band Puerto Muerto, sang the national anthem.
Kaufmann blamed the loss on a number of fielding errors on WBEZ’s part, which was more characteristic of the team in the first game of the season. Since then, the team had won six consecutive games.
“We had tight defense all the way in the playoffs. It was like we were playin’ ball. It was like, out at home, diving catches, throwing people out,” Kaufmann said. “We get to the championship game and everybody just reverted back.”
Matt Ulrich held his own at the plate for WBEZ, going 3-for-3 with two doubles, a run and an RBI. Micki Maynard went 1-for-1 with an RBI.
“It doesn’t sting as much as if we would’ve lost to like The Reader or ChicagoNow,” Kaufmann said of WBEZ’s softball rivals. “These guys are nice guys.”
But the game wasn’t without controversy. In the middle of the second inning, CHIRP incorrectly sent an 11th batter to the plate. The team was penalized an out in the third inning.
CHIRP (7-1) responded soon after with an inside-the-park home run in the 5th inning, bringing in two more runs.
“This whole season has been just nothing but fun it and this is just the peak. It peaked tonight,” said CHIRP team manager Dave Staples while jamming with his team to Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” after the game.
He attributed the team’s success on its fielding, calling out first baseman Pete Zimmerman.
“Like the Television Marquee Moon album, his hands are like gloves,” Staples said, referring to the track “Venus” off the 1977 release of Television’s album.
Staples ended the interview by saying that, as a DJ at CHIRP, he hardly gets to see any of his fellow co-workers. He said if the 16-inch softball league has done anything, it’s brought him closer to his teammates and co-workers.