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I Should Have Known Better

It is currently 63 degrees outside my window, it's been bright and sunny all day, and I can't help thinking, of course, that in 33 days when the Cubs open at Wrigley Field against the Brewers, it won't be nearly this nice.

And with the nice weather, I took my Sunday crossword out front and sat on the stoop with a pair of headphones, listening to the game on the radio.

It's been a strange coincidence, ever since I started blogging in 2003, that whenever I listen to a spring training game on the radio, the Cubs lose.

Today was no different. The game was really over in the first inning, when the Giants scored three runs off Jimmy Anderson, and they went on to win in a blowout 10-1, in front of yet another Cactus League sellout, this time at Scottsdale Stadium, 10,950.

At least it was quick: two hours and eleven minutes.

If you didn't hear it (and consider yourself lucky if you didn't, I stuck with the whole darn thing), Ron Santo was said to be "under the weather" today -- hope it's nothing serious -- and thus Pat Hughes began the Parade of Visitors to the broadcast booth.

They included Andy MacPhail, Jim Hendry, Giants broadcasters Jon Miller and Duane Kuiper, and the guy I thought was most interesting, Daily Herald sportswriter Bruce Miles. Pat asked Miles about his typical day covering the Cubs in training camp, and they came to the conclusion that the Cardinals are the team to beat -- but one year ago, I think many people felt that way about the Cubs. When I hear things like this, I think of the old joke that they ought to tear out the grass at Wrigley Field and put in a paper surface, because the Cubs always look good on paper.

Once April 4 begins, quoting our old Cardinal buddy Joaquin Andujar: "One word: youneverknow."

One more thing about Bruce Miles before I go on -- he wrote a terrific article today about the convergence between the "new wave" of statistical analysts, and the "old wave" of scouting, and how both ways of analyzing players can be used in modern baseball.

Back to today's game: no one really pitched well at all, and with the Cubs scoring only one run, the streak of two-run hits is over. Also, I learned from listening to MacPhail that the four errors credited in yesterday's boxscores were phantoms -- the Cubs hadn't committed an error all spring, that is, until just about the time that MacPhail uttered those words.

Tomorrow, all of us will be able to see our team for the first time, as ESPN will carry the Cubs for the first of three times this spring (the other two: March 23 and April 2, both on ESPN2). And for the first time since the first day of competition, the Cubs will face someone other than the Giants -- the Texas Rangers. Note the unusual game time, 1 pm CT (instead of the usual 2 pm CT).

We shall see Mark Prior in his season debut, and also see Joe Borowski throw for the first time since last June 4.

UPDATE [2005-3-6 19:58:38 by Al]: Mark Prior won't throw till at least Wednesday. Greg Maddux will pitch tomorrow against the Rangers, and then Z (vs. Oakland in Mesa) and Glendon Rusch (vs. Kansas City in Surprise) will throw the split-squad games on Tuesday.