MESA, Arizona -- Nine of us are going out to dinner in about an hour, a long-planned annual event to celebrate spring training and the coming season.
Naturally, that meant that today's game had to be the longest of the spring so far, and it was, three hours and sixteen minutes of ultimately nothing, an 8-8 tie between the Cubs and the White Sox in which the Sox blew leads of 4-0, 5-4 and 8-5 while Brian Omogrosso, an importee from the Sox minor league camp, gave up three runs to the Cubs in the bottom of the 10th. The Cubs had chances to win with the winning run on base with less than two out in both the 9th and 10th -- in the 9th, Micah Hoffpauir hit into a double play on the first pitch he saw (maybe the gild is off the lily now?) and in the 10th, with Ronny Cedeno on third with one out, Casey McGehee struck out and Sam Fuld grounded to short, and that was that.
Nevertheless, I won a drink tonight. Jessica, who is here from NYC for the weekend, told me she would buy me a drink if Ronny Cedeno walked with the bases loaded. Which he then proceeded to to. When Matt Murton, the next hitter, came up, I offered to match that if he hit a walkoff hit of any kind (with the bases loaded and the Cubs then down by two, a triple or HR). Jermaine Dye lost Murton's ball in the tough late-inning sun, so I'm up one drink.
Today's crowd of 12,865 was not a record, but I don't think I have ever seen so many people crowded onto the lawn, and standing behind the last row of box seats. There were quite a few Sox fans evident, as you probably heard on the radio this afternoon.
We had a booth set up next to Fergie Jenkins' to sell copies of Wrigley Season Ticket (which you can still order online by clicking that link -- shameless plug), and Fergie signed some of the copies. Bruce Miles stopped by to say hi. In all, 28 copies were sold in the booth today, and we'll be out there Monday again when the Cubs face the Rangers. (Three different people came up to me while I was sitting there and asked me if I was Jay Johnstone, who had a booth on the other side of us.)
Good today: Kosuke Fukudome, who had two hits and reached two other times; he could have had three hits but a tough error given to Juan Uribe took that third possible hit away. Kerry Wood again looked outstanding in dispatching the Sox in the 7th, striking out two. Bob Howry, who has struggled, had a decent inning. Even Ted Lilly, who wasn't great, managed to complete six innings while only allowing one run. Geovany Soto hit a ringing 400-foot double.
Bad today: Alfonso Soriano, who went 0-for-4, even though he drove in the tying run in the 9th; he struck out twice and looked bad doing it. And Scott Eyre was horrendous -- gave up three hard hits, issued a walk, and generally didn't come close to the plate.
Off to dinner. I haven't even had time to look through the game thread -- hope there aren't any explosions in there! Will check later tonight. Jason Marquis (who may have a spot in the rotation after all -- heard today that if Rich Hill has another bad start, he may be optioned to Iowa) will face Greg Maddux.