MESA, Arizona -- Before this afternoon's 8-1 Cubs win over the Reds, a game that featured three Cub dingers, about 200 Cubs fans and various members of the media attended a "Keep The Cubs In Mesa" rally that was held outside the southwest gate at HoHoKam Park.
It was a love-fest, and rightfully so. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer spoke (before throwing out one of what seemed like 50 ceremonial first pitches -- I think it was five of them, really), as did Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, the mayor of Gilbert, Arizona (John Lewis), and Cubs owner Tom Ricketts.
More on this rally and the next steps in getting the Cubs a new spring complex built after the jump, but first, a few words about today's win.
Randy Wells looked sharp, very much as he did most of last season. He was removed with two out in the sixth, and had he not allowed the leadoff man to reach in that inning, he'd probably have finished the inning. Wells scattered seven hits, struck out five, and the only Reds run scored on a groundout. Wells will make one more start before the regular season begins, Saturday vs. the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
The Reds started what is likely their Opening Day lineup today -- and though it looks impressive, as the saying goes, "on paper", the rest of that saying is -- "but they don't play the games on paper". I just don't see how this team is going to be a contending force. Dusty Baker decided to make this "bullpen day", starting Carlos Fisher, a relief pitcher. Fisher was supposed to go two innings, but failed; Dusty yanked him with two out in the second after he'd given up five hits and three runs, including a mammoth home run to Marlon Byrd.
When the Reds got to the end of their bullpen, Kip Wells (amazing that he's still around -- the Reds are his eighth team) and Matt Maloney, Cubs hitters teed off in the sunlight that was fading behind high clouds. Wells hit a batter, gave up two singles and a walk and was charged with two runs; Maloney gave up homers to Mike Fontenot (note: that's a HR for LBR off a LHP) and Jeff Baker, putting the game out of reach.
Before I write anything about today's "Keep The Cubs" rally, I am going to ask every one of you for civility in discussing this issue. Discussion of this topic has occasionally become contentious; I thank people for keeping politics out (for the most part; this is a political issue, so I know that's hard), but unfortunately personal attacks have also been part of the discussion. I'm not singling anyone out. All I ask is that everyone keep it civil. Thanks.
It's clear to me after listening to Gov. Brewer, Mayor Smith, Mayor Lewis and Tom Ricketts, that a deal will be struck to finance a new Cubs spring training complex -- and that all the Cactus League teams will get a piece of the pie. The speakers today made it clear that this is a Cactus League-wide issue, not just a Cubs issue. I imagine some sort of deal will be struck that will be acceptable to all involved, and only then will a revised bill (or new one -- the existing one may be, for all intents and purposes, dead) be introduced in the Arizona Legislature.
Everyone appeared to be on the same page, and regardless of what you think politically of any of the politicians involved today, every one of them expressed support for the Cubs. In addition to the two mayors who spoke, several other Valley mayors attended the rally to show their support.
This is good news for those of us who know that Arizona -- and Mesa, where the Cubs trained from 1952-65 and again from 1979 through today -- is the right place for the Cubs to remain for spring training, and to build a complex that will be a year-round base for things like extended spring training, summer leagues, fall leagues, rehab, etc.
Around the seventh inning today, Tom Ricketts came out to the LF berm to say hello and he patiently signed autographs and took pictures with several dozen fans, all of whom seemed to be genuinely surprised and happy that the owner of the team was taking time out to talk to them. For Ricketts' part, he seemed just as happy to share. He's a genuinely good guy, and I think we will all be very happy with the direction of the team in the future.
Finally -- and back to the ending of this year's Cactus League schedule -- Tom Gorzelanny will make his final spring start against the Giants tomorrow at Scottsdale; he will be opposed by our old buddy Todd Wellemeyer, who is on target to be the Giants' #5 starter.