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Congratulations, You Are A Winner!

No, not the Cubs, though they did beat the Marlins 6-3 last night at the Ballyard.

I'm selfishly talking about myself, because I drew one of the 500 winning scratch-off cards that the club handed out last night, and thus won a genuine Dusty Baker autographed ball. The team is doing several of these all year, with current players like Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, and also former stars such as Ryne Sandberg and Ernie Banks. Jeff won a Prior ball last month, and it was my turn last night. Cool -- and Baker is a tough signature to get, and I've wanted to get his autograph on a ball for a while. The ball came already in a ballcube with a certificate of authenticity.

As far as the game is concerned, this was a terrific statement to make in the wake of Corey Patterson's season-ending injury. His (hopefully temporary) replacement Tom Goodwin had his best game of the year, with three hits, a walk and two stolen bases. It's ridiculous to think that he can do this kind of thing for very long, but at least for now, he's playing more at his career level (.269 lifetime BA) than the way he played the first two months of 2003. The club recalled Trenidad Hubbard from Iowa to be his backup, and if you've been reading here for a while, you know that Hubbard impressed me in spring training, and I had hoped he'd make the club, so we'll see if he can perform up to that level as a backup to Goodwin, on a temporary basis.

I say temporary because if, as Jim Hendry says, they're not giving up, he has to go out and find someone else. The Royals' Carlos Beltran has been suggested -- but has anyone saying this noticed that KC is in first place? I doubt they'd trade who arguably is their best player, plus it'd likely take a couple of the Cubs' top pitching prospects to get him. The Cubs are going to try David Kelton in CF, but the way he played in LF when I saw him in Toronto, I can't imagine throwing him into the pressure of a pennant race in such a critical defensive position, not to mention expect him, with virtually no major league experience, to hit well enough at this level. Another name that's been mentioned is Armando Rios, who played for Dusty in SF, but he hits left-handed, same as Goodwin, so that really doesn't help either.

The obvious choice -- to me -- is Rickey Henderson. Yeah, yeah, I know, he's 44 with a bad attitude, but he's tearing up the ball in the independent Atlantic League. He wouldn't have the attitude problem he had last year with the Red Sox, when the problem apparently was that he wasn't playing enough -- here, he'd start most days -- and the cost in players is zero, and the cost in dollars is probably minimal. Henderson has played on a lot of playoff teams, and if any manager can handle someone like this, I think Dusty Baker can. Incidentally, you'll note if you click on the above link and browse through the Newark Bears' website, that one of Rickey's teammates is ex-Cub Jaime Navarro.

Just a short couple of comments on the game: both Sammy Sosa and Alex Gonzalez made nifty diving catches of sinking liners; Matt Clement both threw well (6.1 innings of five-hit ball) and drove in two runs with a double (and why would you ever walk Paul Bako intentionally?).

Sue came with a bunch of relatives from Georgia -- I never was really clear on exactly who was who, but they seemed like nice people. I also had been given a bunch of extra tickets for this week by some fellow season-ticket holders, and by the end of the game had sold so many that I had to be careful that I didn't sell my own tickets for today and tomorrow!

Jessica from the Cubs NG and a friend were also there, for her first-ever bleacher night game (she doesn't care for night games to begin with, and bought these tickets accidentally, by checking off the wrong date on a ticket order form), and she'll be with us all week.

At least four morons threw beach balls on the field. Now let me get this straight. You're going to a baseball game, and before you leave the house, you say to yourself, "Gosh! I better bring my beach ball!" What idiots.