Maybe Now They'll Like Him, and Open Thread: Cubs vs. Braves, Thursday 4/19, 6:35 CT

NEW YORK -- When I sat down in the right-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium wearing my Cub jacket, the first thing the bleacher regulars there (and they seemed very much like the regulars I know back in Chicago) asked me was, "Want A-Rod?"

Well, of course we'd take him -- the Yankee fans all fully expect him to opt out of his deal and sign elsewhere, the Cubs being the destination assumed by most of them -- but I wonder if they'd change their minds after his tenth (!) home run of the season (in 14 games!), a three-run walkoff job, capping a spectacular blown save by our old buddy Lunch Pail Joe Borowski, as the Yankees overcame a four-run 9th-inning deficit with a six-run rally, defeating the Indians 8-6.

This wasn't any old six-run rally, either. It came with two out and no one on base. It happened almost before you could blink -- homer, single, walk, single, single, homer, almost as fast as you can read it in this sentence.

The criticism the Yankee fans all have of A-Rod is, apparently, that he'll do stuff like this all the time during the regular season but fails in the playoffs. Which is, for the most part, true -- his last two postseasons show him 3-for-29, a .103 batting average. Obviously, he's not the only reason the Yankees have failed to make it back to the World Series since they got him (hmmm. Coincidence? I think not), but the Yankee fans see it that way. He's having a spectacular start to the season, perhaps another MVP-type season, yet he was the only Yankee who got a smattering of boos when he was announced.

I'd sat in the Yankee Stadium bleachers before, but never in right field, where the regulars and season-ticket holders chant each player's name after the first pitch and don't stop until the player acknowledges the chant with a wave of his glove. Some of this happens even while action is occurring on the field -- a little distracting, I'd say.

The Yankee fans also had quite a few uncomplimentary things to say about our old pal Dr. Tightpants, but he threw an uneventful inning today, although he did commit a balk.

And if you think Cub fans are "staying away" from the ballpark for any reason other than the crappy weather, think again. Yankee fans, who one guy on the subway I was talking to admitted to me are "spoiled", also stayed away in droves today. The announced attendance was 40,872. It was 55 degrees at game time, cloudy, although the sun finally poked through in about the sixth inning, and at least where I was sitting, I was fairly well blocked from the wind and comfortable, though I'm guessing it was pretty cold in the shade and in the upper deck. There couldn't have been more than 20,000 in the park -- there were huge swaths of empty seats surrounded by a few "huddled masses".

When the weather warms up, so will the crowds. With the weather in Chicago expected to be in the 70's on Saturday and Sunday, and the Cardinals in town, I'd expect full houses both days.

The Yankee fans I sat with were both knowledgeable (one guy said he'd love for the Yankees to get their hands on Lance Berkman), witty and funny; I always enjoy sitting among people who really know their baseball. They were happy, of course, today, with the amazing outcome of the game, and I left them with the statement:

"See you in October!"

OK, they laughed. And maybe you are too. But we can dream, can't we?

To have that dream, the Cubs had better start winning. Tonight would be a good time for that.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Hill
R. Hill
Cubs
vs. Mark Redman
M. Redman
Braves
2-0 W-L 0-2
0.64 ERA 12.96
11 SO 4
4 BB 3
1 HR 0
vs. Atl -- vs. Cubs
This appears to be a mismatch based on those stats, but it's way early. Hill has been the Cubs' best starter, and Redman the Braves' worst. These things tend to even out over time. Let's hope tonight isn't the start of such things.

Henry Blanco is the Cubs' best hitter against Redman. Yes, you read that right. 7-for-20 with four doubles. So, since Lou claims he plays "matchups", tonight might be a good time to start Blanco, saving Michael Barrett for tomorrow's day game. Derrek Lee is 6-for-19 vs. Redman, all singles.

Quickly, here are the Mediacenter and MLB.com Gameday links; I have to get ready to head out to my meeting tonight, the reason I'm in New York in the first place. I'll likely miss most or all of the game, so it's up to all of you to carry on.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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