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Culture Vultures

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SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- With the Cubs in Tucson -- and I'll get to that, patience -- it was my day to spend with my 12-year-old daughter Rachel, who is here on her spring break.

Don't worry. While I'm at ballgames reporting to you guys, she is with family members and a babysitter who flew down here with her to help out.

So this morning we drove to downtown Phoenix to visit the Heard Museum, a museum of Native American culture and art.

It's a very well laid-out museum -- free parking again! -- and was actually somewhat busy, probably due to local kids on spring break. There are both art exhibits by modern Native American artists -- including a very odd modern art exhibit called "Auto-Immune Response" which Rachel thought was "cool" -- and historic artifacts.

There are plenty of hands-on interactive exhibits focusing both on Southwestern tribes, and also Native Americans from other regions. There are activities suitable for all ages of kids.

Perhaps the most affecting exhibit is one about the history of Indian schools, both in Phoenix (yes, that's why there's a main street called "Indian School Road" here) and nationwide, showing how The White Man In Washington forced natives not only on to reservations, but forced them to get education only in European culture, not allowing them their own languages, etc.

Without making a political statement here, I will simply say it is a well-done exhibit suitable for all ages.

Then we came back, headed to the pool for a bit, I took her to a local park to run around for a while, and now I'm back to write about today's 11-6 Cub win over the Diamondbacks in Tucson, a game about which most of you probably know a lot more than I do, because of today's ESPN2 telecast.

In between outings I did manage to catch an inning or two -- it was VERY odd to hear Steve Stone on another network, and as has been posted in the comments elsewhere on this site, he did seem to mesh quite well with Rick Sutcliffe, who is a good announcer in his own right.

Angel Guzman again showed he needs more time in Triple-A, giving up six hits and four runs in less than three innings. Stephen Randolph put himself back in the LOOGY mix with two scoreless innings, and the crowning blow was a grand slam by Rick Bell in the 8th.

Rick who?, you're saying.

The Cubs picked him up as a six-year free agent. He'll be 26 next month, he's an infielder with medium-range power, so he's likely roster-filler at Iowa. Neifi! and Derrek Lee also homered for the Cubs, off Shawn Estes (this should surprise none of you), and most of the subs were people like Dwaine Bacon, Robinson Cancel, Nate Frese, Jasha Balcom and Francisco Salas, guys who were cut a long time ago, but were given one final shot at playing in a major league spring training game. This allowed Nomar and Michael Barrett to get a day of rest and not have to make the drive down.

Speaking of which, I got several phone updates during the day from Jeff. He put on his best radio voice in the first two calls (the third, I called him), saying, "This is Jeff, reporting for Bleed Cubbie Blue!"

The drive was an easy one, he reports, taking a bit less than two hours, and he says Electric Park is a lot like Diablo Stadium in Tempe and Maryvale Baseball park -- both of them have concession areas where you can see the action while you are waiting in line, and grass berms that begin not too far past third and first bases, unlike Mesa, where the grassy knoll is only in the outfield. Despite the fact that Tucson is host to the D'backs AAA team and it's D'backs country, he said the crowd was about 2/3 Cub fans. Attendance was 11,028, just about capacity and probably the largest crowd they'll draw this spring.

It almost felt like an interregnum today -- tomorrow, Kerry Wood will throw and so attention will focus back on the starting rotation, and in fact this will likely begin Dusty Baker's focus himself on getting the season-opening rotation in order. Assuming Wood throws well -- and I see no reason to think he won't, Chicken Littles -- then the order becomes Z on Friday, Greg Maddux Saturday, Ryan Dempster Sunday, someone (maybe Sergio Mitre?) replacing Mark Prior Monday, and back to Wood on Tuesday.

Finally, Prior will, for his part, have another bullpen session tomorrow, when I will be back to the ballpark!