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It's Ernie's Fault

TEMPE, Arizona -- If you remember, last year we had to ban Ernie from the bleachers because the Cubs were always losing when he showed up. He did redeem himself by being there when the Cubs clinched the Central Division title... but now it's back to his old ways.

Carole & Ernie arrived last night, just in time to go to today's game and break my four-game winning streak as the Cubs lost to the Angels 8-7.

This was a day for testing out pitchers and it didn't work very well. Sergio Mitre started and though it wasn't all his fault -- Aramis Ramirez looked awful in the field, making an error and waving at a couple of other balls -- he gave up nine hits and five earned runs in two-plus innings. Ernie said Mitre looked like he didn't have a good release point, and I agreed, and in addition to that, every pitch was flat. He had velocity but no movement and it showed. Everyone hit, the key blow being a two-run double by Jose Guillen. Troy Glaus homered as well.

Then the bullpen shut the Angels down till the scrubs came in the game; Mike Wuertz, Kyle Farnsworth, Bryan Corey and Joe Borowski gave up nothing, and then Jamey Wright came in and couldn't throw strikes, and wound up losing the game after a double, walk and hit batter, and then a bases-loaded single, this after the Cub scrubs (including Ernie's favorite spring training basher Trenidad Hubbard, and this year's spring training hall of famer Scott McClain) tied the game in the top of the 9th.

For the Angels Troy Percival also got batted around pretty good, the Cubs hitting him for four hits and three runs in the seventh; oftentimes, closers don't do well in situations like this and that may have been what happened to Percival.

In the 9th, a tall lefty wearing #68 started warming up, and I dispatched Ernie to the bullpen (we weren't sitting too far away) to find out who he was. He returned having asked Todd Walker, who was running sprints, who the guy was and Walker had no idea, said "some guy from Triple-A". Nice to know there's such camaraderie in camp.

For the first time ever I found Tempe Diablo Stadium without getting lost, although the Tempe police still don't have a handle on traffic with a sellout crowd, either going in or leaving, where we had to snake through local streets to avoid a huge traffic jam. Though I like Diablo, there's only one way out after the game and it took quite a while to get through the remains of the 9,216 crowd (another sellout) that was left by the 9th inning, maybe 1/3 of the total. Meanwhile, Carole had given up scoring at the end of the second inning, and I think the heat was getting to her, because she spent most of the rest of the game lying down out of the sun.

I didn't get into the souvenir shop as the lines were too long, but it looked like they had only Angels merchandise for sale. The crowd seemed almost half Cub fans today. At least on the lawn at Tempe, you can hear the PA announcer and he did give most of the lineup changes, until some of the Cub scrubs perplexed even him.

Finally, today I heard that a lot of people (not mine, yet) received the tickets they ordered from on February 27. After being forced to pay a separate $18 charge for each game for FedEx for each game ordered via the Internet, apparently all the orders for each address came in one envelope.

I call on the Cubs to stop this scam.