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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Padres at Peoria, Thursday 3/22, 3:05 CT

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Shameless Promotion I: BCB was named as one of four featured Cubs blogs in the baseball preview edition of Sports Illustrated, which if you subscribe, you should now have, and I believe it should also be on newsstands.

There's a poll that's mentioned in that article. Naturally, I'd like your vote. You can vote for BCB here. In the finest Chicago tradition, vote early and often!

Shameless Promotion II: I emailed Matt Liston of "Chasing October" through an email link on his website. Got a reply from him late last night -- turns out he's a BCB reader:

Thanks for the review! Of course I have your site bookmarked -- keep up the great work. I understand that fans have a hard time watching the 2003 playoffs. Trust me, it was even harder sitting in the edit bay watching parts over and over. Our day will come my friend. I look forward to sharing an Old Style and some Cubs stories with you in the near future.

Thanks again for the support. GO CUBS!

Sounds good to me. I look forward to meeting him this season.

Now, on to today's topics: Rain (the wet variety, not this kind), and Mark Prior.

The cloudburst that hit the Scottsdale area has moved out -- for now. It's still cloudy and a bit coolish (about 65 degrees. OK, that's cool for here, considering it was 99 last week), and there are more showers around the area. Presuming the game is played, Mark Prior will once again attempt to get major league hitters out. He'd be well-served, speaking of Matt Liston, to go see "Chasing October". There are some scenes of Prior pitching during the 2003 season -- you can tell the difference in his body language right away. Rich Hill will also throw today, but Kerry Wood, who was originally supposed to pitch in this game, will face the Giants in Mesa tomorrow instead.

Today's media availabilities include MLB.TV, and a MLB Audio broadcast featuring the Padres radio crew (presumably, including ex-WGN'er Andy Masur). It's also on CSN Chicago for those who have access to that channel. Gameday

Finally, Cactus League attendance this year is on a near-record pace:

With 54 games remaining, and overall attendance averaging 6,556, the Cactus League is on pace to draw 1.17 million - about 100,000 shy of the 2005 record. But the final 10 days of play feature some of the most popular matchups, including Saturday's game in Scottsdale between the Cubs and Giants, back-to-back home and away games Sunday and Monday between the Cubs and Angels, and the Diamondbacks-White Sox in Tucson on Wednesday.
The chart accompanying that link shows attendance through Tuesday; including yesterday's game the Cubs have now drawn 113,777 through 11 home dates, or 10,343 per date. There are five remaining home dates, and I have heard that all are either sold out or close to being sold out, which would give the Cubs a final spring attendance of approximately 177,000 -- not a record (that was set two years ago when the 205,594 who attended games at Ho Ho Kam Park set a record for any team during spring training), but a number that will probably again lead all major league teams this year.

Discuss amongst yourselves.