OKLAHOMA CITY -- There isn't much to report from the Cubs' 4-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Rockies today at the park with the longest name in the Cactus League, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, so let me sing the praises of the MLB AtBat app.
It was a bit difficult to find the link to audio on my Android phone. On the scoreboard page, there isn't an obvious link to the audio stream. You have to click the down arrow on the main scoreboard page for the game you want to listen to, and that shows you a headphone icon, which takes you to the audio feed.
Then, I called up the Cubs audio feed and heard... nothing. There was clearly something on the feed -- audio presence -- so I let the phone sit on the floor of the car, and a few minutes later I heard Len Kasper's voice come on and apologize for the technical problems that prevented the first batter of the game (Fernando Perez lining out) from being heard. But after that -- loud and clear. The audio quality was pretty much the same as the audio I've heard from the cubs.com internet audio broadcasts -- phone line quality audio, but clear. And unlike last year, when I had to restart the app several times to listen to a complete game on the road, there was absolutely no interruption and the audio level was as good as listening to the car radio. Quite cool to be listening to the game driving through southwest Missouri and northeast Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, the game wasn't much worth listening to, at least from a Cubs standpoint. Carlos Zambrano gave up five singles and a run, a decent outing, and for a while that looked like it would be all the scoring. Braden Looper hit a batter, gave up a single, and then unfortunately, his second hit allowed was a three-run homer by Rockies catching prospect Jordan Pacheco, and that's the way it ended, 4-0. Robert Coello threw a nice inning (as did Sean Marshall) and though I suspect Coello will start the year at Iowa, he appears to be a good acquisition and some bullpen depth if anyone gets hurt.
Attendance watch: the Cubs and Rockies drew 8,353, a pretty good crowd for a Tuesday on a very warm afternoon. Other games all had smaller gatherings: Diamondbacks/Indians at Goodyear, 2,479; 3,221 saw the other half of the Rockies play the White Sox at Glendale; 3,025 at Maryvale for the Dodgers and Brewers; 2,557 at Phoenix Muni for Padres/Athletics; Giants/Mariners at Peoria drew 6,123; and 4,216 saw the Angels and Rangers at Tempe.
It appears that attendance is down for everyone except the new complex where the Cubs played today, and for games involving the Giants. This may improve when spring breakers and others arrive later in the month, but even at this time and for a Tuesday, those numbers are low. I don't mean to beat this into the ground, but it is definitely a story, and has to be worrisome for teams in the Cactus League.
Tomorrow, Matt Garza makes his second Cactus League start when the Cubs face the Royals at Mesa. Bruce Chen, who faced the Cubs at Surprise last week, will start again -- that's pretty rare, a starter facing the same team in back-to-back outings in spring training. Among the other pitchers scheduled for the Royals are right-handers Kanekoa Texeira and Jesse Chavez.
I'll be arriving in Arizona early evening tomorrow and will recap the game as soon as I can tomorrow evening. And I look forward to listening again via MLB AtBat -- highly recommended to anyone with a smartphone. Well worth the $14.99 price.