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Cubs vs. Mariners at Mesa Preview, Thursday 3/28, 2:05 CT

"The end of an era" is such a cliché. But that's exactly what we will see Thursday at HoHoKam, as the Cubs play their final game there as the home team.


SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Thursday afternoon's contest is the 264th home game the Cubs have played at the current incarnation of HoHoKam Park, which opened in 1997. Their all-time record there is 132-118-13, so they'll finish with a winning mark there, in the stadium's 17th season, no matter the result of today's contest with the Mariners.

I keep careful track of my regular-season personal records, both home and road. It speaks to the more casual nature of spring training that I have no idea how many games I've attended at HoHoKam, nor what my personal W-L record is. Strictly as a guess, I'd say I've been to about half the games played there -- maybe 130 of them -- and probably have a personal mark of about .500. Spring training is one of baseball's best times; the weather's great, you get to see some of the future of your team, and it really doesn't matter whether the Cubs win or lose. (The Royals, for example, were announced at Wednesday night's game at their home park as "Cactus League Champions" with a record of 23-7. Anyone think they'll do that over their first 30 regular-season games?)

Not only have the Cubs played at this version of HoHoKam since 1997, they have played spring-training games on this site since 1979; an earlier park also named HoHoKam was demolished after the 1996 season. So it's 35 consecutive years of playing spring ball on this site, 49 total seasons in Mesa (1952-65 and 1979 to date), and 61 seasons of spring training in Arizona (the Cubs trained from 1967-78 in Scottsdale).

The tradition of spring ball will continue in Mesa in 2014 at the Cubs' yet-to-be-named new complex now under construction. So leaving HoHoKam isn't sad, though it leaves traditions and memories behind; I've made many lifelong friends in my many days spent there. We'll all gather again at the Cubs' new complex, making new traditions and memories, along with, hopefully, a new tradition of regular-season wins and future championships.

I was on channel 12 in Phoenix this morning talking a bit about the last day at HoHoKam. (WARNING! Loud ad plays before the video.)

Finally, in non-Cubs baseball news that is quite welcome, FanGraphs and Baseball Reference sat down and developed a unified replacement level for calculating WAR. It's being discussed in this FanShot, ICYMI.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus CF, Barney 2B, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Schierholtz RF, Navarro C, Valbuena 3B, Hairston DH, Alcantara SS

Expect almost all of these players to be pulled after about the fourth inning so they can make the team flight to Houston. Arismendy Alcantara gets the call from the minor-league camp to start at shortstop.

Mariners lineup:

Saunders CF, Seager 3B, Morales DH, Morse RF, Ibanez LF, Smoak 1B, Montero C, Andino 2B, Ryan SS

This afternoon, Carlos Villanueva gets the call for the Cubs against the Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma Gameday

Today's game will be televised on CSN Chicago and also be broadcast as a webcast on, and another reminder: the broadcasts will begin an hour earlier than has been the case since Daylight Saving time began, noon in Arizona, 2 p.m. in Chicago.

Here is the complete 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 2 p.m. CT and 3:30 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.