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Diamondbacks 4, Cubs 2: The End Of The Beginning

We have reached the end of the exhibition season. And, some video from the new Wrigley video board!

Al Yellon

The Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Iowa Cubs Chicago Cubs 4-2 Saturday afternoon and that crossout is sort of unnecessary. Apart from pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Travis Wood, not one player who's going to be on the Chicago Cubs' 25-man roster Sunday night at Wrigley Field played Saturday.

That's because the Chicago Cubs flew to Chicago Saturday morning to give themselves a chance to get a bit of extra rest going into Sunday night's ESPN season opener against the Cardinsls. The host D'backs played what's pretty close to their Opening Day lineup and the difference showed. Paul Goldschmidt's double helped Arizona get a pair off Wood in his one inning of work, and later Mark Trumbo hit a two-run homer off Gonzalez Germen. Hendricks, meanwhile, cruised in his last spring outing, throwing a scoreless seecond. (Remember? "All he does is get guys out.")

The other big story of the game, such as it was, happened in the sixth inning when D'backs prospect Joey Krehbeil hit Javier Baez with a pitch -- looked like it might have been near the wrist. Baez stayed in the game and Cubdom heaved a huge sigh of relief.

It looked like there were even fewer people at Chase Field today than yeesterday despite it being another beautiful and not-quite-as-hot day in the Valley. I understand why they play these games -- it's in part to get the players used to the bigger big-league parks after a month playing in smaller spring parks. But the D'backs charge regular-season prices for them -- thus the small attendance.

What happened in this final spring match, then, didn't mean much. What might mean more to you is what I did Saturday afternoon -- made my first visit to Wrigley since last November. I have, of course, seen all of David's photos just as you have, but you really don't get an idea of the scale of the whole project until you see it in person. A few things that struck me:

  • Can't quite figure out what all that space is for, behind the video board. They've already run the cable -- it's not like that's going to be for equipment. Or people. Or... anything, really
  • The way they're programming this board and the ribbon boards, in a green that matches the scoreboard, looks classy.
  • There was a ton of activity around the park. Players' cars were being delivered, causing major traffic backups on Clark while one of the trucks carrying the cars tried to turn aound.
  • They got everything ready in a very short period of time once the weather improved in March. There had to be some nervous moments among Cubs management that they'd gent everything in and installed on time, but they did.
  • The speakers they were testing in the outfield are really loud. They could wind up toning that down as the season goes on, as noted in this Tribune article, quoting Cubs marketing chief Alison Miller:
    Miller said there will be temporary audio until the wiring is finished along with the left field bleachers. Speakers will be added to the sides of the video board until the entire system is overhauled. Those sitting in front of the video board when the left field bleachers open May 11 will basically be test subjects. "The audio will definitely be something we have to watch and monitor and something we’re going to have to continue to work on," Miller said. "I know there are different parts of the ballpark where it can be quiet, and other parts that are much louder."

One of the things modern stadium operators don't seem to understand is that beyond coming to watch the baseball being played, people want to have conversations with their family and friends who are sitting with them. If the P.A. system is too loud, you can't do this. Let's hope Miller is serious about "watching and monitoring" the audio levels. I happened to be at the park when they were testing a video tribute to Ernie Banks while playing Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart":

Apologies for the wind noise -- it was really windy around the ballpark Saturday afternoon.

I don't know if this video is part of an Ernie Banks tribute they'll be running tomorrow, though there certainly will be such a tribute. And to me, that's one thing that's going to get the skeptics liking the video board. To be able to show such a thing to 36,000-plus people in attendance, something that could never before be done at Wrigley Field, is an excellent way to bring the ballpark into the modern age. I'm all for it.

So the Cubs finish the spring campaign at 15-17. We made it! Another long Chicago winter is in the books and the baseball season arrives in Chicago Sunday with the national-TV opener featuring the Cubs and Cardinals. You already know all this, but it bears mention that this will be the debuts of Joe Maddon as manager (the tampering investigation continues) and Jon Lester as the No. 1 starter in the Cubs' rotation.

7:05 p.m. CT. ESPN2. Be there. It's going to be the start of something great. We'll have lots of season-opening material here tomorrow, and the official game preview will post at 5 p.m. CT.