And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Red Sox 7, Tigers 5: You’ve probably seen the Youkilis-Porcello fracas, but here’s video of it from a slightly different angle
which makes Youkilis seem like even more of the bad guy here. Of course
his ejection was the best thing to happen to the Sox last night, as he
was replaced by pinch-runner Mike Lowell, who stayed in the game and
proceeded to hit two homers and drive in three. So yeah, that was all
fun and everything, and it actually worked out for Boston, but can we
all agree that plunkings, retaliation plunkings, retaliation for the
retaliation plunking and all of that is a total drag? It’s the one part
of baseball where Klingon law basically reigns, and I’ll just never get
it. Your guy hits my guy? Who cares? The only reason you’re doing it is
because we’re hitting you hard. That kind of thing doesn’t call for
revenge. It calls for pity.

Indians 5, Rangers 0: Laffey, Smith and Sipp — pitchers, not a
1960s kids show featuring puppets — combine to shutout the Rangers.
The Indians did all of their damage in the third via one of those death
by a thousand cuts kinds of innings:
single-single-HBP-walk-single-double, eventually followed by a
sacrifice fly.

Braves 8, Nationals 1: Tommy Hanson (6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 9K) puts
a stop to the uppity Nats. Every Braves regular had a hit. Leadoff
hitter Ryan Church reached base in four of his five plate appearances.
Sure, he doesn’t get big feature stories like the guy he was traded for
does, but I don’t think anyone cares.

Orioles 3, Athletics 2: Brian Roberts had three hits, an RBI and
two stolen bases as the Os get a rare win over the A’s. Wait. Why does
the apostrophe look right on the “A’s” but not the “Os?” I’d think that
the apostrophe would be improper in both instances given that they’re
abbreviations of plurals as opposed to possessives, but everyone writes
“A’s” don’t they? Did Oakland ever formally change their nickname? When
I was growing up they were almost always referred to as the A’s, but in
recent years you hardly ever see that anymore. Maybe “A’s” was just the
proper noun, apostrophe and all, now it’s not, and we’re just dealing
with vestigial punctuation? Man, what I wouldn’t give to have a
linguistic anthropologist handy right now. Short of that, I’ll settle
for APBA Guy. Got any insight here, dude?

Yankees 7, Blue Jays 5: Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada hit back-to-back homers leading off the eighth inning to give the Yanks the lead (where have we heard that before?).
There was a moment of silence before the game for Merlyn Mantle, the
widow of Mickey Mantle, who died Monday. There, my friends, was a woman
of serious freakin’ strength, because God love him, but Mickey Mantle
would have driven most women to their graves about 40 years before Mrs.
M. was finally put to rest in hers.

Marlins 9, Astros 8: Game story: “Just before the bottom of the
11th inning, Cody Ross turned to teammate Dan Uggla on the bench and
gave him a few choice words. “This is the inning,” Ross said he told
him. “I feel it. I usually don’t say stuff like that.” Of course the
bases were loaded at the time, so the odds were decidedly in his favor.
Nice game-winning single by Uggla, but I’m not going to give Ross “I
see dead people” kind of credit.

Padres 13, Brewers 6: Adrian Gonzalez went 6 for 6 and the Padres had 22 hits in all off of Braden Looper and six other Brewer pitchers.

Phillies 4, Cubs 3: Brad Lidge blew a 3-2 lead in the ninth, but
Ben Francisco homer in the 12th got him off the hook. Lidge certainly
ain’t right, though. How about this: Jamie Moyer, closer. Or would he complain about that too?

Reds 5, Cardinals 4: Coming off a shutout, Justin Lehr pitches
well again, although this time in much better luck, giving up only one
run in six innings despite allowing 11 hits and only striking out one
dude. Which is why I hate the first sentence of the AP game story:
“Apparently, Justin Lehr is no fluke.” Isn’t he? He’s a 32 year-old
journeyman who isn’t allowing any runs despite not striking anyone out
and has allowed 19 hits and 8 walks in 20 innings. Great results that
still count and everything, but that’s pretty much a textbook example
of fluky.


Royals 14, Twins 6: Demoting a knuckleballer like the Twins did
with R.A. Dickey last week is the same as breaking a mirror or killing
an albatross while crossing the ocean or something: courting doom. How
else to explain a shellacking at the hands of the usually punchless
Royals? Miguel Olivo homered and drove in three runs. The Twins have
lost five of six and eight of 10, and they’re getting beat up at home
on a pretty regular basis.

Pirates 7, Rockies 3: Ugly game for the Rockies, as they walk a
bunch of dudes, commit a bunch of errors, and make the Pirates look
like a good team in the process. Andrew McCutchen stole three bases.

Angels 6, Rays 0: Yesterday I read this story
entitled “The Mighty Fall of Angels Pitcher Ervin Santana.” Ervin
Santana apparently didn’t read it (CG SHO 3 H). David Price didn’t
allow a hit until the fifth, and then the wheels just came off (6 IP, 8
H, 6 ER).

Diamondbacks 6, Mets 2: I think it’s safe to say that we’ve
entered the “playing out the string” portion of the season for New
York. Trent Oeltjen had four more hits, with a triple, a double and a
couple of singles. Crikey.

White Sox 3, Mariners 1: Janks (8 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 8K) and Denks
(23rd save in a perfect ninth) more or less shut down Seattle, but if
it wasn’t for an Alexei Ramirez three-run homer in the ninth, it would
have been in vain. Well, I suppose it could have been a two-run homer.

Dodgers 9, Giants 1: Remember that thing I said on Monday
morning about there maybe being a race on in the NL West? Eh, forget
it. Manny hit a two-run homer, had an RBI double and, working off of
the general “treat Manny like Barry Bonds” vibe, was intentionally
walked twice. Randy Wolf allowed one run and three hits in eight
innings, retiring 16 of his final 19 batters. This allowed Giants fans
to leave early, obviating the need to rush to get to the Larkspur Ferry.

It’s spring training for groundskeepers too

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Or, I should say, it’s spring training for whatever automated timer thingie turns the sprinklers on and off.

This was the scene at Goodyear on Saturday as the Indians and Reds played in the bottom of the eighth in their spring training opener. Reds manager Bryan Price says that this was probably the second or third time this has happened in the middle of a game there.

Maybe investigate manually operating that bad boy? Just a suggestion!

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

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That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.