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Oh, Well

Today really felt like baseball.

Yes, it's still chilly here in Chicago, though I saw a lot of people out and about in just sweatshirts and light jackets. Having spent three weeks in Arizona, I wore a heavier jacket. It's still cold here!

But I went over to Mike's to make our traditional pre-season ticket exchanges, and Brian stopped by my house to pick up his Opening Day ticket and the spring training cap I got for him in Arizona (and remind me about the bachelor party that his brother Jake is throwing for him at next Sunday's game -- yes, yet another member of our group is getting married this summer), I signed up for MLB Extra Innings -- although now that I've signed up, the free preview games seem to have vanished, even though I was promised I'd still get them, but in any case I was all ready to see the Cubs win two in a row for the first time this year.

The Cubs were ready too, at least until two out in the eighth, when the bullpen, which has been so good so far, suddenly forgot how to throw strikes, and the result was what would have been a nicely crafted 2-1 win, was turned in one second into an ugly 5-2 loss.

At least for today, I take back what I said about Sergio Mitre.

Yeah, he still looks like he's about sixteen. And his stuff is just average. But today he had the Braves beating the ball into the ground; he allowed only five hits and a walk in seven plus innings, and if he'd been able to retire Marcus Giles, we'd probably be talking about that 2-1 win.

Still, the bullpen has to do its work and tonight, they didn't. Is that because of last night's lengthy game? Maybe. Andy Pratt, whose minor league career has been filled with this sort of thing, couldn't find the plate and then Kyle Farnsworth walked in the tying run and then Julio Franco, who is nearly as old as I am, kept fouling off pitches till he found the one he wanted and he doubled in three runs, and you can read this game summary anywhere, but I figure if I write it here, I'll kind of get out the frustration that we all feel at a loss like this.

Todd Hollandsworth homered for the second day in a row, starting in LF in place of Moises Alou and... well, I might just start him again tomorrow against Russ Ortiz. I figure that since Hollandsworth got some key pinch-hits for the Marlins in the NLCS last year, he owes us a couple.

I'm listening to the post-game show on Fox Sports Net right now and Steve Stone just said, "Last night the Cubs won a game that they probably should have lost and tonight, they lost a game they probably should have won."

Those kind of things do tend to even out over the course of a long season. And if Kerry Wood can beat Russ Ortiz tomorrow afternoon, the Cubs' record will be 3-3... which is exactly what it was after six games last year, and coming home for a nice long homestand.

Seriously. The Reds are not going to be in first place at the end of the season, and neither are the Tigers. The history of baseball is littered with teams with great starts -- I remember two Cub teams in particular, 1975's team started 20-10, and finished 75-87, in last place, and 1980, not a very good team at all, was 12-9, and wound up 64-98.

This team is too good to let a game like this one affect it. Now, Monday's forecast is for mostly sunny skies and temps in the upper 40's, which is better than most Opening Days.

Bring it on.