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A Cloudy Day In Arizona

TEMPE, Arizona -- This day did not start out auspiciously.

I have been to Tempe Diablo several times. But it is kind of out of the way, and I have gotten lost before. So I decided to check the stadium website. The directions there were pretty worthless, so I got lost anyway. Then, despite being there 90 minutes early, there was a huge traffic jam. Evidently no one had told the Tempe police that a sellout crowd was expected.

OK, finally got in. Was going to check out the souvenirs but there was a constant line throughout the game, and even after the game, so I skipped it. I'll be back there on the 27th, when the crowd should be smaller. I was also pleased to find out that, like HoHoKam, Tempe Diablo has gone completely non-smoking.

This was a curious game. Kerry Wood was supposed to start but had a recurrence of the flu, so the Cubs decided to go with six relievers instead. Not a horrible idea, actually. Mark Guthrie, of all people, started, threw one inning, then gave way to Mike Remlinger, Will Cunnane, Felix ("I'm Not Jesus") Sanchez, Rob Stanifer and Joe Borowski. Everyone threw well except Stanifer, who has no chance of making this team anyway; he gave up a 2-run HR to Jeff Davanon, which proved to be the difference in the 4-3 loss.

The offense was totally stifled by Chris Bootcheck (who?); he gave up only a double to Hee Seop Choi and a walk to Bobby Hill in his five innings. After Troy Percival threw a scoreless sixth (isn't that odd to see Percival used that way?), the Cubs managed to break through against some of the Angels' "won't make the squad" squad. Of course, by then it was the Cub scrubs hitting.

I was puzzled as to why David Kelton suited up for this road game but did not play. After Bellhorn was pulled, Lenny Harris came in at 3B and Phil Hiatt at 1B. Now, Hiatt will probably be the 1B at Iowa this year, but why not put Harris at 1B and Kelton at 3B? Very strange.

Today's starting lineup -- Hill, Gonzalez, Sosa, Alou, Choi, Karros (DH), Patterson, Bellhorn, Miller -- is likely to be the opening day lineup. Smart move DH'ing Karros, to get him some AB's; he went 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Lenny Harris wound up batting with the tying and lead runs on base in the 9th and 2 out, which is a great situation for a guy like him. Even though he grounded out to end the game, he had a terrific 10-pitch at-bat, which is exactly what you'd like from a bench player in that situation. I'd like to see him make the team.

Human air-raid siren update: Not seen today, though the college frat guys sitting next to me were talking about him. I just shook my head.

For those of you who know me well, today was another first. I wore -- don't faint -- shorts to the game. This is an experiment. I may do it again, we'll have to see.