SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Well, this is different.
Though I have attended night games during spring training before -- and there will be another one tomorrow, when the Cubs take on the Royals at Surprise -- this is the first night game at HoHoKam Park in Mesa since March 28, 2005, when the Cubs were crushed by the Mariners in front of a sellout crowd. That might be the most telling difference between then and now; in 2005 the Cubs drew a record spring total of 193,993, an average of 12,125 per date. That average is still an all-time spring-training record. The overall total record was broken by the Cubs in 2009 when 203,105 paid their way into HoHoKam.
That was another World Baseball Classic year with more home dates, just as this spring will be. With two dates left -- and nothing close to a sellout -- the Cubs will wind up with about 140,000 in attendance this spring, down significantly from a year ago.
One memorable night game in Mesa happened March 22, 2004, when the Cubs beat the A's 1-0 on a home run by Spring Training Hall of Famer Scott McClain and a solid pitching performance by Greg Maddux.
That game also drew a sellout crowd and was played in one hour, 56 minutes. Neither of those things is likely to happen tonight.
One more note: here's some info on uniform number changes that will take place once the regular season begins.
DeJesus CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Sappelt LF, Schierholtz RF, Castillo C, Valbuena 3B, Barney 2B, Samardzija P
If you're wondering why Dave Sappelt is hitting cleanup, it looks like an attempt to keep the other hitters in their regular slots while giving Alfonso Soriano the day off.
Burriss SS, Heisey LF, Bruce RF, Phipps CF, Frazier 3B, Lutz 1B, Donald 2B, Hanigan C, Cueto P
Tonight, it's a matchup of Opening Day starters: Jeff Samardzija vs. Johnny Cueto. Other Cubs pitchers on tonight's list: James Russell, Shawn Camp, Carlos Marmol and Hisanori Takahashi.
Tonight's game is a webcast on cubs.com, beginning at about 8:50 p.m. CDT.
Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.
For spring-training games, we'll have a first-pitch thread at game time and one overflow thread, 90 minutes after game time (because I know how you all like overflow threads!). For today, that will be 9 p.m. CT and 10:30 p.m. CT. These threads will not post individually onto the front page; instead, you can find links to them in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page. They will also appear in this StoryStream™. The pitcher box and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.
Discuss amongst yourselves.