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Spring Training Redux

Three days after a windy, cold opening day, the wind turned around from the southwest, game-time temperature was 70, and I brought my shorts out, and the Cubs turned their bats on again and mashed the Pirates 10-5, with Michael Barrett having the first multi-homer game of his career, two homers in consecutive at-bats.

Moises Alou and Aramis Ramirez also homered, and the Cubs had either 12 or 13 hits.

Now why would I say that?

Because this box score says 12, but this game log says 13. The conflict seems to be over a play in the second inning, a ball that flew over Raul Mondesi's head in left field, a play I scored a hit for Corey Patterson, but the box score says was an error on Mondesi.

(Checked later for the boxscore on cubs.com and it has the total as 13, which I believe to be correct.)

If you're at the ballpark you'd never know, because the new scoreboards, flashy and colorful as they are, give less information than the old ones. The new boards have no places for hits or errors, so the only place you can find hits is on the main board in CF, and neither does the new board give scoring plays, such as wild pitches. Seriously, I don't begrudge the Cubs this new source of advertising revenue, but these boards are fairly sophisticated, and they could easily be used to give all kinds of information. Instead, batting averages don't get updated, they often don't agree between the side boards and the CF message board, and players are out of position (yesterday, Michael Barrett was a shortstop), and the side boards started today listing the Pirates on top (where a visiting team should be) and the Cubs on the bottom, then as soon as the Cubs took the lead they were listed on top.

And the little "Mini-Tron" boards underneath the upper deck, which used to list updates of out-of-town games as well as pitch speed, now have only pitch speed -- as well as an ad for a company that I won't give any space to here.

I told Jeff and Howard that we'll just use my web cellphone for out-of-town updates this year.

Wayne Messmer, great as he is as a National Anthem singer, was way behind today on lineup changes, and messed up one of the Pirates' double switches completely. I felt like I was back in Mesa, yet another harbinger back to spring training. He also failed to announce Tom Goodwin as a pinch-hitter for Patterson in the 8th inning, and that's when Dusty Baker emptied the bench and the bullpen, to ill effect, as Mike Wuertz gave up a homer and Francis Beltran, just up from Iowa, gave up two, forcing Baker to use LaTroy Hawkins to get the last out.

Todd Hollandsworth spent half of batting practice skying balls over our heads onto Sheffield; I couldn't grab one because they were all way over the fence. Often, on days like this, you'll see that in BP and then the game is 3-2 with no homers. Not today, though Carlos Zambrano got through fairly unscathed, allowing one harmless run in his six innings. Again, Dusty did the right thing by getting him out of there after 118 pitches.

After Derrek Lee doubled in the sixth, Howard accidentally marked him down as scoring a run -- in ink. So Lee and the rest of the team spent the rest of the game trying to get that run in, so Howard's card could be right... unfortunately, Lee was stranded at third in the 7th, and wound up on deck when Aramis Ramirez popped up to end the 8th.

A few people in the RF corner attempted to start the wave in the top of the 7th, something that is strictly forbidden by bleacher code. Fortunately, they were both shouted down, and then the stretch singers (the Illinois HS girls' state champions) came on and they forgot about it.

I saw the inevitable people who ask "Where are our seats" when it's general knowledge that the bleachers are general admission. But in walking by, I spotted their tickets and they were marked "No Rainout Exchange", which puzzled Jeff and me, since none of the extra tickets we bought were marked that way. It's one of two things: either the tickets were sold as all the games were sold out, or the Cubs don't want the $15 tickets exchanged for other seats. Oddly, the tickets I spotted that were sold yesterday weren't marked in this way.

Finally, we had the first foul ball drop into the new seats behind the plate, which would otherwise have been an out in past years. It was hit by the Pirates' Tike Redman, who struck out.

It's supposed to be in the 70's to near 80 the next three days. This is what we used to have in the 1970's. Bring it on.