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An Afternoon At The Cell

Rachel was supposed to be where I was this afternoon.

The entire middle school (fifth through eighth grades) from her school was taken to the Sox game as a "treat".

Well, Rachel doesn't care about baseball, and didn't want to go. She also didn't like my suggestion that Mark go to the game with the middle school and she go to school in his place.

So, she stayed home today. I didn't see the school group, but oddly, in the section next to me there was another group from a different Jewish school, and sitting next to me was a friendly and knowledgable Sox fan named Jesus. (Incidentally, Jesus doesn't know I'm a Cub fan. I may see him there during the Cub/Sox series. Don't tell him, OK?)

None of this apparent religion helped the White Sox in the first game of their makeup doubleheader; they lost to the Orioles 1-0.

In fact, I could have left after the first two batters. Brian Roberts led off the game with a single, stole second, went to third on catcher Sandy Alomar's throwing error, and scored when the second batter, Melvin Mora, singled.

That was it. The Orioles had a six-foot-seven rookie making his major league debut, Daniel Cabrera, and he's got a pretty good curveball, and based on today, he's got a pretty good major league future ahead of him. Cabrera allowed only two hits, both singles by ex-Cub farmhand Ross Gload.

This gives me an opportunity to tell you how Ozzie Guillen has a long way to go as a manager. Sox GM Kenny Williams has obviously given him a long leash as far as personnel decisions, and Gload had a fabulous spring training, so he made the team. As Cub fans found out in the brief time he was with us, Gload's best position is DH. Well, the Sox already have one of those. So Gload tries to play other positions -- RF, LF and 1B. The Sox have pretty good players at those positions too.

Why keep a guy like this? He's 28, no prospect, can't really play the field, and then he'll have a day like this which will convince some people that he's worth a roster spot.

It wasn't just him today. None of the other Sox could hit; their only other hit was a seventh-inning single by Alomar off Rodrigo Lopez.

Meanwhile, I was following today's no-brainer Cub 7-3 win over the Dodgers on my webphone, which handily gives play-by-play via a web version of ESPN.com. So early on, I knew that Hideo Nomo was playing the LA version of Kyle Farnsworth, and walked three batters in a row, and with Corey Patterson, Sammy Sosa and Michael Barrett all getting the day off, it was good to see some of the subs, particularly Paul Bako (catching for the first time this year with someone other than Greg Maddux on the mound), who had two hits and an RBI and finally got his average up to the Mendoza line. And, the Cubs once again avoided being swept; they have not been swept since September 2002.

I was alarmed, however, in the ninth inning, because after a brilliant 8 innings from Carlos Zambrano (no earned runs, lowering his ERA to 1.82, and 11 strikeouts), Joe Borowski came in without a save situation and did not throw well at all. There have been some hints that Borowski's lessened velocity this year is because of an injury that he doesn't want to tell anyone about because of the two-year contract that he signed, and emotionally, you can understand that, because a player who's had the kind of career that Borowski has, when he finally "makes it", he wants to prove that he's not a fluke.

But if he's hurting the team by his performance, I don't think there's any shame in going in to management and saying he's hurt; the Cubs do have another option at closer in LaTroy Hawkins, and while today's Borowski performance didn't cost the Cubs the ballgame, he simply has not had even one outing this year that could be considered the typical "easy" save.

Today, he was so bad that after allowing a walk, two hits and two runs, he had to be taken down for Hawkins, who did get the save.

One player note: the Cubs signed former Met shortstop Rey Ordonez to a minor league contract. About the best thing I can say about this signing is that he's the second-best Ordonez ever to play in the major leagues.

Weird stat of the year so far: I have remarked to many people on how warm this spring has been, and here's some evidence. I have attended nineteen games in Chicago so far this year (16 Cub games and 3 at the Cell). The average game-time temperature so far in 2004 has been 63 degrees.

The average for the first 19 games I attended in 2003 was 53, ten degrees cooler.

I don't think I've seen this much warm weather this early in the year since the 1970's.

Finally, only one of you has taken me up on my challenge to design a logo that I can put on shirts and hats. It's a nice one, but I want some competition here!