After All, It Was Just The Royals

Apologies in advance to any KC fans in the audience.

The Cubs scored all six of their runs in the fourth inning today and coasted home to a 6-1 win over the Royals, evening the spring record at seven up and seven down, and this is the last time you'll have to hear from me typing from my basement, as after tomorrow's off day I'll be in Arizona to report in person about the rest of the spring camp schedule.

Before I get to a few comments on the game itself, the nicest thing about listening to the game on MLB Audio was the surprise appearance in the WHB (Kansas City) radio booth of Cubs TV broadcaster Len Kasper. He spent two innings there talking to Royals lead announcer Denny Matthews, and everything I've felt up to now about Kasper was confirmed yet again. He's a kid at heart, he grew up in the Midwest (as a Tigers fan, when the Tigers were good, listening to one of the greats, Ernie Harwell), and he clearly understands what he's getting into as a Cubs broadcaster, has a great respect for the job and for the history and lore of the ballclub and for all of us who are going to be listening to him. I think it's going to be a great pleasure.

They got to talking about Jack Brickhouse, and Matthews revealed that when he was a kid, more than 35 years ago, trying to get the broadcasting job for the then-expansion Royals, it was Brickhouse who was kind enough to let Matthews use an unused space in the press box at Wrigley Field, with his tape recorder, so he could send in an audition tape. Matthews is the only radio play-by-play man the Royals have ever known, and thus is as legendary there as Brickhouse, Harry Caray, Vince Lloyd, any of those is here in Chicago. Nice touch, nice stories, that show the continuity and history of the game, and you could tell that Kasper understands and respects this.

Having worked as a WGN-TV intern in 1976 with Brickhouse, I can confirm that he was always nice and helpful to young guys trying to break into the business. I've been a TV director for a number of years now, and I love what I do, but one of my favorite memories is working three meaningless late-September games that year (with about 2,000 people in the seats) in the booth with Brickhouse and Jim West (another classy and nice guy, incidentally).

Today, Sergio Mitre didn't pitch great, nor did he pitch poorly -- one run in four innings is fine, but you wish he hadn't also walked three. He'll no doubt go again in five days, and if indeed it is true that Kerry Wood and Mark Prior are going to start the season hurt again, Mitre will have to step up and fill the gap. Let's hope for better results than 2004. Late this afternoon, though, some optimistic news was released about Kerry and Mark:

Kerry Wood will throw off a mound and Mark Prior will throw off flat ground on Wednesday, and the Chicago Cubs remained optimistic that both pitchers will be ready for the first week of the season.

Even though both pitchers are expected to be ready for the first week, Cubs manager Dusty Baker said they may switch the rotation order. Wood would likely be bumped from the Opening Day start on April 4 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Well, so what. The order of the rotation is meaningless after the first five games of the year anyway.

As for today: Derrek Lee, Todd Hollandsworth, Geovany Soto and Corey Patterson (two) all drove in runs, and Aramis Ramirez would have if Todd Walker (who led off the fourth with a hit) hadn't been thrown out at the plate. The sixth run (Nomar) scored on a wild pitch. All of this was off Chris George, who didn't retire any hitters (his only out was the throw-out at the plate), after Mike Wood (no relation to Kerry) had thrown three scoreless one-hit innings.

The best thing that happened today was another scoreless inning courtesy of Will Ohman (whose name, rhyming with "omen", was subject to some really awful puns from the Royals broadcast team), and unless he suddenly explodes in run-giving-up over the next two weeks, I suspect we've found our LOOGY.

Finally, please welcome yet another member of the SportsBLOGS family: AZ Snake Pit, the Diamondbacks site, penned by Jim McLennan.

Enjoy the off-day. There's a post coming tomorrow... so don't take a day off from Bleed Cubbie Blue!

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