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Waiting for the game to begin tonight I noticed that the pitchers would be throwing into a stiff breeze. A couple young scouts, I thought, sat down a couple rows in front of me to chart the game, one of them armed with a jugs gun. I sauntered down to ask them how the scoreboard speedometer compared to their readings since the last time I checked it was thought to generally register a couple mph slower than actual velocity. No, the gunslinger told me, the scoreboard readings run pretty true. In fact, he said, he doesn't really use the gun when he's charting; he just goes by the scoreboard numbers. Only then did I realize the "scout" was Randy Wells.

Dear Randy -

You could do a lot worse.

I bet you didn't know that Forbes Magazine ranked Des Moines the #1 city in America for young professionals. And you gotta be the only one around here pulling down $2.7M per annum. You should get out more and explore. That's probably advice you're not used to getting but since you may be here for a while...

There was a big, bad moon rising tonight over Principal Park about the time New Orleans' Luke Montz boomed a Randy Wells s(t)inker through the teeth of the brisk zephyr blowing in off the Des Moines River to break a 1-1 tie and launch the visitors to a 7-3 series-evening win.

Denied the walk-off RBI by his once-burned, twice-shy skipper, Anthony Rizzo instead scampered across with the game's only tally in the bottom of the 9th tonight at Principal Park to give the I-Cubs a 1-0 win over New Orleans.

Slowly, the infiltration has begun.

Marlon Byrd’s banishment from the nest cleared the way for Tony Campana’s
temporary custody of the roster spot reserved for Brett Jackson. If Soriano’s
reinvention as a singles hitter who doesn’t even manage many of those goes on,
how long might it be until LaHair takes his team-leading [no, it’s not saying
much] slugging totals to the outfield and defers to Raker Rizzo, the scourge of
PCL pitchers, at first base? We shall see.

In the meantime, today at Principal Park the Cubs-in waiting
wrapped up a four-game set with their Cardinal counterparts from Memphis, dropping a 4-0 yawner in front of a sun splashed crowd that couldn't have cared less. On
the mound for the Redbirds was their prized pitching prospect, Shelby Miller.
Miller’s stumbled a bit out of the PCL gate so far but remains highly touted [#8 prospect in baseball per BA last time I looked] and eagerly awaited in St. Lou as shadows lengthen on the careers of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.

Round Rock hasn't had any trouble getting into the jet stream above Principal Park. The Express have belted four homers in two games including a back-to-back pair Friday night off of Casey Coleman that were the difference in the 4-3 contest. But the home team remains homerless, having split the first half of a four-game set to open the season.

Tuesday night I endured a local school board meeting. It comes with the territory of my day job. I sat glassy-eyed in the gallery, my mind drifting ahead 48 hours at which point I would be sitting in the stands on Opening Night at Principal Park, cracking open peanut shells instead of stifling yawns.

 

So, single game tickets went on sale yesterday (yawn), a couple of weeks later than what had been the norm for many years. I used to go at it on Day One via phone and computer both, from the opening bell until whenever I finally broke down the door to the virtual waiting room. Usually that was mid-afternoon and by then the pickings were slim for whatever prime games hadn’t already sold out.

Yesterday it was mid-afternoon before I even recalled that the ticket windows were open. Then I tapped into the Cub website for the sake of both old times and curiosity.

Today is Santo Day. He would have been 72. Camp is open; so are the ticket windows, so I’m in the mood for some baseball flotsam. I thought I’d share a choice Santo anecdote that I discovered over the winter. Surely some of you know it.

For Christmas one of my sons gave me one of those “Baseball Voices” CD’s that Pat Hughes is always hawking. It’s the Santo edition. Have you heard the one about his pregame “interview” with Antonio Alfonseca?

Santo must have thought ol’ Tony Twelve was a descendant of Lew Fonseca, a good outfielder back in the depression era, because he addressed him as though his name was Al Fonseca, “the fine stopper for the Chicago Cubs.”

“Al,” he probes, “how do you feel about the trade that brought you over here to Chicago?”

Al responds with a stream of unintelligible pigeon English. Santo, as though maybe he’s just noticed that his guest has six fingers on each hand and is afraid he won’t be able to keep from asking if the extra one on his pitching hand makes Al twice as good as Mordecai (Three Finger) Brown, pulls the mic back and says, “Well, it’s good to have you with the club. Keep up the good work, Big Boy.”

And that’s it. As Hughes points out in the narration, a segment that typically ran five or so minutes was over and done in less than one.

A written account is a poor substitute for the real thing. I’m glad I have it at my disposal as a go-to laugher. I suspect I may have to cue it up more often than I’d like in the season to come as a fallback.

After listening to Ron and Al’s lively conversation one more time this morning while I had my bowl of shredded wheat I braced myself and intrepidly entered the virtual waiting room of the Minnesota Twins. Their single game tickets went on sale today. Normally there is a limit of 24 per game. For the Cub series in June the per game max was pegged at four. Within a reasonable amount of time I shouldered my way through the virtual throng to the window and was able to come away with three decent seats for the matinee on Sunday, June 10, close enough to Father’s Day that I expect I can guilt both sons into tagging along.

I wonder what the Cubs’ record will be by then. I don’t care.

Happy birthday, Big Boy. Good to have you with the club...

My acquaintance with Carlos Zambrano goes back to his teenage days when he would sit near our seats behind the plate charting pitches between starts for the I-Cubs. He wore stiff new jeans and his hair was oiled to a sheen. Over the years he exhibited an almost womanly fussiness about his hairstyle, as unsure apparently about that particular aspect of himself as he was about the whole.

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