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NOT Ernie's Fault!

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MESA, Arizona -- Ernie's sitting right here saying, "The Cubs don't seem ready for this season", and he repeated that during the game, saying he just didn't have the same feeling he had this time last year.

No matter today, though, as Carlos Zambrano pitched through some wildness (four walks) and induced three double plays and the Cubs came from behind to beat the A's 3-2.

Finally caught up with Eric Margheim from the Cubs newsgroup; here's what happened to him last night as he reported in e-mail to me this morning:

I got a call 5 minutes after sending you [an earlier] email that our flight was delayed 2 hours and we wouldn't make or connection in Denver and wouldn't be to Phoenix until 8:30, unless we could make it on the earlier flight. I turned a 2:30 minute drive into 2 hours and we just made it.

We didn't get to the game until first pitch and I forgot your phone number in the room so that's why we didn't call. We were just a few sections over from you in the bleachers.

Okay, that explained that. After pleasantries and meeting Eric's dad, Eric seemed much more interested in talking to the woman in the bikini sitting in front of us. Me, I was focused on the game. And the Cubs did nothing offensively until Eric left to get some food and drink in the fifth, and by the time he came back they had scored all three runs, using four singles sandwiched around a popup, all off A's starter Barry Zito, who we have dubbed "The Bachelor" because last week recruiters from that reality show were here in Phoenix and found him at Fox Sports Grill and thought he'd make a perfect addition to the show.

After that Dusty pulled all the regulars and they must have sent a bus around to Fitch Park, because everyone who came in was someone who played in the very low minors last year -- Felix Pie, Micah Hoffpauir, Adam Greenberg, among others.

The bullpen did a good job keeping the Oakland scrubs from scoring after Jimmy Anderson allowed an unearned run after an error by Scott McClain (and the scoreboard operator was consistently bad in posting errors, having a number off by one from each position -- E2 for the uncharacteristic error on Derrek Lee, and E4 for the McClain miscue). LaTroy Hawkins posted a save, but frankly, he didn't throw very well, issuing a walk and giving up a couple of well-hit fly balls to finally nail down the win. Perhaps Hawkins is one of those players who simply doesn't do well in the exhibition season. Let's hope so. There's only a week left to get everything together.

Eric Karros didn't start today for the A's but came into the game late and when he came to the plate (the PA announcer was even further behind today than usual) he received yet another warm reception from Cub fans who remember how much he contributed last year and how much he seemed to understand what it means to be a Cub fan.

I was the only one scoring among our group today -- Jeff & Krista decided to work on their tans, and Carole decided to give up on scoring until Opening Day. She and Ernie are returning to Chicago tonight and Howard and his wife and daughter will be arriving soon, to share the final week of spring training.

Once again today they made us wait till nearly noon to get into the lawn, because the A's apparently never told the Cubs whether they would take BP or not (they didn't). I do understand the reason for this (trying not to get kids trampled out there running after baseballs), but someone should have found out earlier, rather than keeping us waiting 45 minutes.

On a positive note, I have found it is actually easier to get out of the north parking lot at Ho Ho Kam Park than almost anywhere else in the Cactus League, as long as you position yourself near the exit gate when the last out is being registered.