Yesterday's 15-8 Cubs loss to the Diamondbacks lasted so long that by the time it got into the middle innings I was actually able to pick up WGN radio, driving through central Illinois, on my car radio and listen to the end of it that way instead of the MLB AtBat app. (I can also report that the app is exactly one minute behind real time, based on when I heard the WGN hourly tone via the app.)
There's not a whole lot to say about this game, except that the first four innings took more than two hours to play. Home runs were hit by people who may never see a major league regular season game, including a pair by David Winfree (no relation to Oprah, we presume), who finished his Cactus League season hitting .500/.481/.808 (that's right, an OBP lower than his BA due to no walks and a sac fly). Pretty much everyone who pitched in the game for the Cubs got pounded, especially Scott Maine, who gave up three Arizona homers. Only Kerry Wood and Sean Marshall were untouched.
There is one point made by Matt Garza yesterday that's worth mentioning -- something I alluded to a couple of weeks ago. Garza's entire career has been spent with domes as his home parks, and he's never had a spring training in Arizona before. Here's what he said about pitching in the desert:
"First year in Arizona and it [stinks]," Garza said. "I don't care about the travel, it [stinks] here because it's so dry. I can't wait to get to Chicago where there's more moisture in the air.
"You grab a ball and you feel like you're throwing slime, because it's so slippery and you can't get anything on your fingers -- not enough spit or rosin or nothing, it dries out right away. That's not the reason I threw why I did. ... I feel great and the ball is coming out of my hand the way I like. Hopefully, my luck turns."
Well. He says it's not an excuse ("That's not the reason I threw why I did"), and other Cubs starters (Randy Wells in particular) have had few problems this spring. Nevertheless, if this is true for Garza, we should see improvement beginning in his first start Sunday.
Today's charity exhibition game (proceeds to Cubs Charities) does not count in the Cactus League standings (where the Cubs finished a bad 14-19) nor in the attendance numbers; the Cubs finished with a total of 160,527 after drawing 11,309 showed up yesterday. The total is a little more than last year, but the average of 9,443 is down. The Diamondbacks and Rockies set records at their new park; the Giants drew very well being defending champions, but most other Cactus League teams were down -- I don't have the total league figure yet, but it was either flat or up slightly, in quite a few more total dates.
The charity game will pit the major league Cubs (most of whom will depart after a few innings) against some of the best from the the Cubs' minor league camp. The game has an unusual starting time -- 11:05 a.m. MST, or 1:05 p.m. CDT. There's no radio or TV coverage; if the usual MLB.com Gameday format is correct, this link should take you to a Gameday page where you can follow along. I'm not posting a separate thread for this game, nor an overflow, unless it appears we need one later this afternoon -- use this thread throughout the day on Wednesday.