Open Thread: Cubs vs. Reds, Sunday 4/15, 1:20 CT

Today is a special day for baseball.

As you likely know, MLB is honoring the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first game by having many players wear his now-retired uniform number 42. The idea was originally Ken Griffey Jr's, but as other players heard about his desire to honor Jackie by wearing this number, many others wanted to do so. As a result, dozens of players and coaches will don #42 today -- you can see a complete list here.

The Cubs will have six men wearing the number -- players Derrek Lee, Cliff Floyd, Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward, and coaches Gerald Perry and Lester Strode. It's been written elsewhere that doing this somehow "cheapens" Robinson's memory.

Quite the contrary, I think. What Robinson did was more than courageous, and I don't think that any of us, sixty years on, can truly know what he went through and what it meant to the African-Americans in this country at the time, or indeed, what it meant to our entire society. In many ways Robinson was at the forefront of the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s. To this day, the 46,572 who paid to see Jackie play his first game at Wrigley Field on May 18, 1947 is the largest paid crowd in the history of the ballpark (note to sticklers: I am well aware that the 51,556 on June 27, 1930 is the largest total crowd in Wrigley Field history, but that included many freebies -- and there's no way the Chicago Fire Department would allow that many in the park today).

Anyway, it is my opinion that this tribute to Jackie Robinson is a fitting one. In fact, it might be even more fitting if MLB would unretire #42 and allow players to wear it in tribute to Robinson on an everyday basis, instead of just remembering him on April 15. In that way, his legacy would be noted on the field of play every day.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
T. Lilly
Cubs
vs. Kyle Lohse
K. Lohse
Reds
1-0 W-L 0-0
2.77 ERA 4.05
14 SO 7
2 BB 1
0 HR 3
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs
These two pitchers have already faced the team they're pitching against today, earlier this year, but not each other. Lilly beat the Reds on April 4; Lohse got a no-decision in a Reds win on April 5.

Today ought to be the day that Alfonso Soriano gets untracked. He is 14-for-28 lifetime vs. Lohse, with two doubles, 4 HR and 10 RBI (and that includes a 1-for-5 against him last week). Expect Jeff Conine to start at 1B for the Reds today; he is .304/.346/.565 in his career vs. Lilly with 2 HR in 23 AB.

My SBNation counterpart at South Side Sox has some nice things to say about Neal Cotts, well worth reading (scroll down a bit, it's below the photo of Billy Joel. Yes, Billy Joel).

And, if you think the weather's been bad in Chicago, a massive storm targeting the eastern third of the country is likely to cause postponements today in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and possibly also Cleveland, Atlanta and Pittsburgh (and the last two cities there also had games postponed yesterday).

Finally, today's giveaway at the ballpark is a Lou Piniella bobblehead. This ought to be a popular item -- in fact, it's so popular that even before the gates open, there's already at least one on eBay.

Today's game is on WGN-TV, so it should be available to most of you who have cable or satellite; it's also at the Mediacenter and, of course, on MLB.com Gameday.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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