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How To Amuse Yourself When Your Team Doesn't Show Up For The Game

Well, of course they "showed up", in a physical sense, but not in the metaphysical sense. About the sixth inning I told everyone this was just the practice game and the real one would begin about 9:00.

That's how it seemed, anyway, in tonight's listless 6-3 loss to the Diamondbacks, which was only that close because Sammy Sosa smacked his 546th career homer and 7th of the season with two men on base in the 8th. After that, their newly minted closer, Jose Valverde (who replaced Matt Mantei, who's been booed out of the BOB after starting the season with an 11.88 ERA), struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to end it for his first save of the season.

So, it was pretty much all Diamondbacks. We were hoping that after Matt Kata singled, tripled and doubled in the first four innings, maybe he'd hit for the cycle and we'd see some history. No such luck, as he grounded out in the sixth and struck out in the 8th, though the scoreboard said "3 for 3 Triple, Double".

A triple-double? It only seemed like basketball, and maybe that's where the Cubs were tonight, watching an NBA playoff game or something. They sure didn't show up to play, despite the wind blowing out and balls flying out of the yard during BP, the two homers today -- Sosa's and Steve Finley's (and doesn't he love tormenting the Cubs?) needed no help from the wind.

So here's how we amused ourselves. Tonight was another scratch-off card giveaway -- a Mark Prior jersey.

Howard and I went dumpster-diving and found a few cards for the second-chance drawing. Well, a lot of cards, actually. Seventy of them, discarded along the way, including three that weren't scratched off at all. No winners. I even spotted one on the stairs on the way out, and called Howard to ask him if he wanted it.

Then Jon, Howard and I decided, since Robby Hammock was the starting catcher for Arizona, to figure out our All-Furniture Team. After Jim Davenport and Sammy Sofa, we gave up. OK, you can groan now.

Sergio Meat-Tray is rapidly pitching his way off the team; he couldn't get out of the fourth inning, and allowed five extra-base hits, including two doubles to Chad Tracy, who easily made up for the two errors he made in the field, and the Cubs wound up running their way out of the second one when Derrek Lee inexplicably took off with nobody out. Yes, there was no score at the time, but still.

Glendon Rusch (Limbaugh? OK, we were running out of puns) made his Cub debut, wearing the #33 that has been disgraced by such Cubs as Bill Bonham, and he was better at the plate than on the mound, singling in his first Cub at-bat. I suppose that he might be considered as a replacement for Mitre, but he balked in the sixth Arizona run.

And if he hadn't done that, maybe Sosa's 8th inning homer might have meant something, bringing the game to 5-3 instead of 6-3. This homer also followed a Todd Hollandsworth pinch-double, to the delight of four shirtless guys in the LF bleachers holding up a "Hollandsworth Fan Club" sign. We figured, yup, that's probably all of them.

If this is the worst the Cubs play all week, then that's OK. It's a good thing that Wood and Clement are pitching the next two days against more of the dregs of the D'backs pitching staff. About the third inning Mike asked me, "What the heck is he (Steve Sparks) throwing?"

I had to remind him that this was the same knuckleballing Sparks that used to pitch for the Tigers. It's been a while. This was his first win as a starter in almost two years.

I'll give the Cubs scoreboard operators credit for learning a little more about the new message boards. Today, before the game, they showed league leaders and the starting lineups. I said to Howard, "But I bet we still won't get hits or errors." We didn't.

But here, let me finish with something nice. The ivy's almost completely grown in, which is very unusual for the first week of May -- usually it takes till nearly the end of May for the ivy to be as full as it was tonight. I credit the unusually warm and sunny weather we've had all spring, which continued tonight, a pleasant evening despite the wind. This nice weather is supposed to continue all week, and even though there's a chance of scattered storms, it may be in the 80's all weekend.

Enough nice. Let's see the real Cubs, the ones who have been winning all year, show up tomorrow night.