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Congratulations, You Are A Winner

I'm acquiring quite the collection of Kerry Wood autographed balls, having won one last year and again today with the scratch-off card. There appears to be a trick to doing this, but I'm not telling!

It's also always a good sign when I win, or Jeff wins, because the Cubs always win on days that we get prizes, and they came through again today, with an impressive 11-3 win over the Diamondbacks, avoiding a sweep yet again. The Cubs have not been swept since September 2002.

Everyone contributed today, including Todd Wellemeyer, who I thought was dead (since he hadn't pitched in over a week, and it showed, with several of his pitches to the first batter he faced going way over his head; he settled down and got out of the 9th inning with no further trouble).

Matt Clement is rapidly pushing his potential salary for next year way up, with his fifth straight win, and he didn't have his "A" game today -- he struggled through the first three innings, yet with some fielding help he managed to keep the Cubs in the game until the offense finally exploded in the fifth. Clement threw 100 pitches and lasted seven innings, which helped rest the bullpen for the weekend series against the Rockies.

Before the game, Al the Media Whore got interviewed for an article that's apparently going to appear in Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times; I'll provide a link here if it is in fact printed. The article isn't about me or our group, it's actually about Holly, who sits in RCF and is a teacher and who is working on an academic book that's about the sociology of the community of the bleachers, which when you think about it is quite an interesting topic. If this all works out for her it'll be a college textbook.

So part of what she is doing is interviewing all of the regulars during the season on how we view the community, and I think many of you who are regular readers here know what I've written over the last couple of years about what my friends at the ballpark mean to me. Today, Holly talked to Jeff and me, and then Dave Newbart, the newspaper reporter (who as it turns out went to high school with our weekend morning anchor Kevin Roy, and he asked me to say hi to him), talked to Jeff and me about that interview and how we viewed what goes on in the bleachers, and there was also a photographer who took about 100 pictures, so maybe there'll be a picture of us in the paper too, including perhaps one of me snagging a BP home run, my first of the year.

Derrek Lee finally showed today the reason we were all so excited about getting him -- his best day as a Cub, 5-for-5 with a homer (the only extra-base hit among the 15 Cub hits today) and 5 RBI, raising his average 39 points, to .295. Just about everyone else hit today too, and by the time it got to the 8th inning, we were just silly. I wanted Matt Mantei (who's been so awful you can see why he's been removed as Arizona's closer) to strike out Sammy Sosa so he'd get the 2000th strikeout of his career (his next one) out of the way in a meaningless situation. Sosa singled. Howard wanted Tom Goodwin, batting for the pitcher, to get on base so that Todd Walker could bat again and thus bat in four consecutive innings. Nope on that one too -- Goodwin flew to center for the last out.

Alex Gonzalez apparently broke his hand on a ball pitched to him last night that was ruled a foul ball; he'll be out several weeks and tomorrow, Damian Jackson, who was signed at the end of spring training and had a decent year as a backup for the Red Sox last year, will be recalled from Iowa tomorrow. This article says that as a result, Mark Prior will be placed on the 60-day DL. Do not worry about this -- it's strictly a procedural move. Players on the 60-day DL don't count against the 40-man roster limit and this move allows Jackson, who was not on the 40-man roster, to be called up.

It started out warm with the wind blowing out which is why I was able to grab a BP ball, but by game time the wind had shifted off the lake, though it still wasn't cold, it definitely cooled off. Lee's homer was a line drive, and would have been out no matter what the wind. Game time temp was reported as 77, but it felt cooler, and it's going to be all weekend, with predicted temps in the 60's and a chance of rain each day -- it sprinkled for about five minutes again today, but I don't think we are going to be so lucky over the weekend. Again, they'll do everything they can to get the games in, as this is the only visit by the Rockies this season to Wrigley Field.

I don't have much to say about the absolutely idiotic decision by MLB to put a movie logo on the bases for a series next month (I won't even give that movie publicity here) -- only to say that I agree with this column by ESPN.com's Eric Neel -- it's a complete embarrassment. You mean there's not one person in the MLB office who'd say, "Uh, guys -- this is a pretty stupid idea?"

Guess not. And based on what I hear, it's not even making that much money -- anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per team, chump change for most, and the logo won't be visible to most of the fans in the ballparks, and certainly not on TV.

Bud Selig ought to be ashamed of himself.

Got an e-mail from my Phoenix friend John Aldrich, who clued me in on Jennie Finch:

You missed the whole Jennie Finch thing altogether. Not only is she the #1 softball pitcher in the world today (currently on the Olympic softball team), but she was also voted the hottest female athlete in the most recent ESPN poll, handily beating out Anna Kournikova.

Casey Daigle, who pitched last night, has heard all the cracks about how his fiancee throws harder than he does. She has struck out Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Luis Gonzales in exhibitions and none of them got so much as a foul ball off her.

Speaking of Daigle, he certainly has progressed from his debut a few weeks ago against the Cardinals when he gave up 5 HRs in 2+ innings of work. I bet he was glad to see the wind blowing in last night.

Trivia: Who was the last NL pitcher to give up 5 HRs in less than three innings pitched? That would be Cub broadcaster Steve Stone, 30 years ago, in 1974.

Finally, sign seen today, held up by a very large guy in the next section over:

Don't have the baby yet! I'll be home in a couple of hours!