Monday night at Sloan Park, about 200 fans got a glimpse into the future of baseball. Not the distant future where the game will be officiated by robot umpires and there are sensors on the field, in the gloves, balls, and bases to determine outs, fairs and fouls. But rather, the future stars and prospects from both the Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers.
However, I wish they had employed Robot Umpires for this game, because if they had, the Cubs might not have ended up on the short end of a 5-1 loss due to a questionable call in the third inning. Rangers centerfielder Lewis Brinson hit a shot down the left field line which was initially called foul and then immediately called fair by the third-base umpire. Because of the initial foul call, Cubs leftfielder Billy McKinney didn't go after the ball rattling around in the left field corner with all deliberate speed. Two runs scored on what ended up being a double for Brinson. In a karmic moment of "cheater's proof," Brinson was thrown out trying to steal by Cubs catcher Kyle Schwarber.
Speaking of Schwarber, he batted third, walked, and hit a single. He also threw out two men trying to steal. However, he didn't look completely comfortable behind the plate at least as far as the "eye test" goes. I was sitting right behind the screen, so I had a good look. I refuse to sit that close without a screen as I am fearful of taking a foul ball to the face. Or worse, having my $9 beer spilled.
Other Cubs prospects who appeared in the game for whom fans have high expectations were Albert Almora who hit a single and Gleyber Torres who tripled. Eloy Jimenez scored the Cubs' only run in the sixth inning on a Willson Contreras triple.
Cubs starter Corey Black must still feel bad about breaking Hunter Pence's arm because he got a bit roughed up and threw quite a few pitches in his four innings of work, giving up four hits and three walks. Yet he did manage to strike out seven. So that's cool, but still, that's a lot of pitches.
Black was relieved by C.J. Edwards, who might have been pitching for the Rangers had this game been played two years ago when he was a highly touted prospect in their organization. But I was glad he was pitching for the Cubs last night as he dealt two scoreless frames.
I'd like to shout out my girlfriend Nicole who kept score during the game, which is not an easy task given the scoreboard's dormancy and disappointing lack of information. The announcer at Sloan is also incredibly understated and difficult to understand because of his lack of enthusiasm. There were many points in the game where we turned to each other and said, "Who?!" I'm not sure why they didn't operate the video board, because they played music between innings unlike at the "B" games I attended a few weeks ago.
I also had an incredibly interesting conversation with a man who is one of the engineers responsible for every toilet flush and hand washing at Sloan Park. I'm not an engineer by any means, but he told be that the water treatment plant that handles waste from Sloan is situated just north of the ballpark and is a feat of conservation. So, that's good news, especially considering the area is scheduled to run out of water in six years by some recent estimates. However, they were also scheduled to run out of water in 2013 when Edwards pitched for the Rangers. So apparently, these things change. It seems the only river that runs through Phoenix is denial.... get it? get it?
Joe Maddon was also sitting directly in front of me, but I didn't notice until he stood up and went and talked to scouts. It was kind of funny because the guy he was sitting with is basically his doppelganger. Maybe Maddon is like the Beatles and always travels with a decoy?
Also getting their $6 worth of general admission baseball were my new twitter friend Steve and my buddy Anthony, who showed up with a few of his college friends. It's always great to meet new folks at the old ballpark. Especially, when you can sit wherever you want and it's not so blasted hot outside as it is in the daytime. I wish the Cubs played more night games in Mesa. However, the lighting did seem a little dark, definitely below Major League standards. I had trouble finding a decent setting on my point-and-shoot Nikon to make my photos clear.
Once again, big thanks to Nicole for clocking the game so I could yak and then ask what just happened.
The Cubs future certainly looks bright, just not so much Monday evening. Enjoy the blurryish pics!