And That Happened: Tuesday's scores and highlights

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Rockies 11, Padres 10: It’s long been obvious that the Rockies
are charmed this year, but when they win despite a horrible outing from
their starter and a bullpen meltdown and still win, that just seals it.
Inside the park homer for Barmes, though it took Edgar Gonzalez
dislocating his shoulder while diving for it to make it so.

Yankees 6, Angels 5: The Yankees clinch. They also came back after blowing five-run lead and held on for a rare win in Anaheim.

Diamondbacks 10, Giants 8: Mark Reynolds broke his own strikeout
record. Which shouldn’t be a big deal given that he’s got a .922 OPS,
but that didn’t stop the dude in front of me on the plane Monday night
going on and on about how Reynolds sucks “because he can’t make
contact.”

Reds 10, Pirates 4: I have a friend with Pirates season tickets
for some reason. This is him via Blackberry during the game “I’m behind
home plate @ Pirates v. Reds – about 5 real players – this sucks – kill
me now.”

Athletics 9, Rangers 1: It’s easy this time of year to sort of
write off every team that has had a poor season as a wreck and feel
sorry for their fans and generally just want it to all end quickly (as
many of my recaps today suggest). But you have to remember that there
are still games to be played and that games, on an individual basis,
still matter. People still enjoy them for their own sake and haven’t
simply moved on to football or the hot stove season or whatever. That
was brought home to me during my trip this past weekend, as many people
I talked to in the Bay Area were rather excited about the A’s strong
September. They’re not showing up in droves, but people are watching
and listening and are simply happy to have baseball.

Cardinals 11, Astros 2: Often at this time a year I wonder if
teams can’t simply pay some fee to the league office that would allow
them to simply forfeit every remaining game rather than go out and
embarrass themselves the way Houston is as the season comes to a close.

Royals 5, Red Sox 1: Zack Greinke pretty much sewed up the Cy
Young award with this one, right? His 15th win in front of the
influential Boston press corps. puts the exclamation point on a strong
finish.

Dodgers 14, Nationals 2: Three . . . thats the magic number. Yes
it is. Its the magic number. Somewhere in this hip-hop soul community,
was born three Mase, Dove and me, and that’s the magic number.

Phillies 9, Marlins 3; Marlins 3, Phillies 0: Joe Blanton gave
up two hits in seven innings in the first; Anibal Sanchez allowed two
hits in eight innings in the second. I like symmetry.

Mariners 4, Rays 3: Tampa Bay is eliminated. The team, not the bay itself. That would be catastrophic.

Tigers 3, Indians 1: Some wonder
whether Edwin Jackson is hurt or tired or is tipping his pitches or
whatever, but it seems he simply hasn’t faced the Indians enough.

Braves 3, Mets 1: Jair Jurrjens allows only one run on five hits
as the Mets painful season draws closer and closer to a merciful end.
The Braves have won 10 of 12, but it’s going to be too little, too late.

Twins 8, White Sox 6: The Twins have won eight of nine, and are
showing themselves to be a better overall team than the Tigers, but can
they close the 2.5 game gap? Whatever happens, we can thank them for
giving us an actual race as the season winds down.

Cubs 7, Brewers 2: The Cubs won their third straight since
suspending Milton Bradley for the season. Coincidence? Doesn’t matter,
because it will not be viewed as such when it comes time to decide what
to do with the guy next year.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5: See Houston comment above.

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.