Marlon Byrd of the Chicago Cubs runs the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Kansas City Royals in the third inning against during the spring training baseball game at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona. Byrd is the Cubs' hottest hitter this spring. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- I am not going to this game. Why? Because last year at Camelback Ranch, I got stuck for an hour in the parking lot not moving an inch on the way out. Why is this? Because they have only one road in and out. They haven't fixed this issue -- money problems, I believe. Now, there probably won't be a sellout crowd today. But given all this and the fact that I need to catch up on some things, I'll watch this on on TV with everyone else, and head back to the ballpark on Saturday in Mesa.
Marlon Byrd appears at the top of this post. He had the day off yesterday, but is the Cubs' hottest hitter so far this spring. Even though eight games is definitely a small sample size, 13-for-20 with four doubles, a HR, four RBI and a pair of walks is a hot streak by anyone's definition. He's hitting .650/.682/1.000 in the eight games, and will be in the lineup again this afternoon.
Regarding Cubs and Cactus League attendance, yesterday in the game thread comments BCB reader azjazzman posted this comment claiming I'm wrong about attendance patterns and quoted HoHoKam ticket manager Nancy Hunter as saying the Cubs would likely draw 180,000 for 18 dates, saying they have already sold 135,000.
First, no link was given for that quote, so I'm not sure where it's from; I found this azcentral.com link from Feb. 28 in which Hunter said 118,000 tickets had been sold as of that date. What I do know is this: the Cubs' total attendance for the eight dates so far is 57,150, an average of 7,144 per date. In order to get to 180,000 the Cubs would have to have 122,850 for the remaining 10 dates -- an average of 12,285, nearly a sellout for all of the remaining games. With all due respect to Nancy Hunter, I believe that isn't going to happen -- only two of the upcoming dates are sold out and it simply does not seem likely that the Cubs will sell enough tickets to average over 12,000 for ALL of the games left on the spring schedule. Also, since the last date (March 30) is an intrasquad game with proceeds to charity, I do not think attendance numbers for that game count in Cactus League figures.
Attendance is down -- it's absolutely clear. The Diamondbacks and Rockies will set records -- they have a new stadium and it's their first camp in the Phoenix area. The White Sox and Dodgers drew record crowds to Camelback Ranch last year -- they are both down, significantly. The Giants are drawing well because they are the defending champions.
Ryan Dempster starts against Mark Buehrle. Thomas Diamond and Scott Maine, originally scheduled to throw yesterday, should pitch today, along with Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall. Other White Sox pitchers scheduled to go today are Jeff Marquez, Matt Thornton, ex-Cub Will Ohman, Jesse Crain and Shane Lindsay. Lineups after the jump.
2B Baker SS Castro CF Byrd C Soto RF Colvin LF Soriano 1B Pena DH Montanez 3B M Smith
White Sox lineup:
De Aza CF Beckham 2B Dunn 1B Konerko DH McPherson3B Gartrell RF Milledge LF Flowers C Lillibridge SS
Here's all the media information for today.
MLB.com Gameday for today's game
Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today. Today's game is televised via CSN Chicago. NOTE! This is considered a Sox telecast. It'll be their announcers. It's also being carried via the MLB Network for national telecast, and the audio will be on MLB.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie. I don't know what kind of delay MLB Audio has, so syncing up the audio with the TV picture could be problematic.
There will be an overflow thread posting at 3:30 p.m. CST. As usual, the overflow thread will NOT post on the front page but will be in the "Recent Stories In Game Threads" box on the right sidebar. If you need an extra overflow thread beyond that one, post it in the FanShot section.
Discuss amongst yourselves.