minute maid parkIf a Spring Training game is a “fake” game, but still counts toward the standings in a league (the Cactus League), what do you call an “exhibition” game that doesn’t even count as a “fake” game? A tree falling in the woods?

Whatever you call it, that’s what the Cubs and Astros are doing tonight in Houston – and again tomorrow – since the Cubs don’t visit Houston this year, now that they’ve moved to the AL West. I reckon these two games were a couple of new Astros’ ownership’s many conditions to accepting that move, since they would otherwise have taken a pretty fair hit at the gates. Everyone likes to host the Cubs, especially if it’s the only time they’re coming to town all year.

This game is actually MLB.tv’s free game of the day, so you can watch online for free if you don’t have Friday night plans. (Now that I’ve looked at the MLB.tv schedule, it looks like every game this evening is the “free game of the day,” which, like, isn’t what that phrase means. In any event, you can watch for free, and that’s swell.)

Edwin Jackson starts for the Cubs before taking the ball second in the rotation to start the year. Don’t expect him to throw more than 5o to 60 pitches.

The lineup features most of the Cubs’ regulars, who will probably play just a couple innings before giving way to the youngsters:

1. David DeJesus, CF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Nate Schierholtz, RF

6. Welington Castillo, C

7. Luis Valbuena, 3B

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Dioner Navarro, DH

  • http://worldseriesdreaming.com/ Jackson Scofield

    Hope the free game of the day broadcast means they’ll upload highlight videos, Blackhawks have a real game today!

  • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

    So I take it Castro’s girlfriend had the baby? Did I miss that somewhere?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nobody has said, but apparently. That’s the lineup from the Cubs, as of a few hours ago.

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

    The clashing of the two worst teams in baseball last year. This should be fun.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      you left out the “-ny” at the very end of your last sentence.

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

    Does anybody know what the current payroll of the Astros is at?

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Mr. Know It All (Kyle)

      A smidge under $25m. I can’t believe they managed to get it that low.

      • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

        I don’t see it happening, but part of me hopes they have a .500 season and Carlos Pena hits 45 home runs and holds a 400 OBP, just to raise eyebrows.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Pena doing that would pull them up to a 0.400 team, tops. This Astro’s had a net total bases + walks of -437 last year: and they now are a bit worse AND playing in a tougher league. That’s 1960’s Mets/Senators bad!

          For comparison, our lowly Cubs were a very distant 2nd (or 29th) at -371. Or, put another way, the Astros were much worse than the Nats (the best team last year) was good: the Nats managed “only” +343 TB+BB. I don’t think people quite appreciated just how historically awful last year’s ‘stros were: but, that’s OK, because this history is about to repeat itself.

      • OCCubFan

        Even more amazing is that their on-the-field payroll (excluding money paid with players traded away) is substantially less than 25M. Unbelievable

    • John S.

      I think the players are actually paying the Astros to be on the team and to play.

  • Spencer

    Well, based on some photos I’ve seen from people at the game tonight…I don’t think the Astros are rolling in the benjamins based on the attendance.

    • hawkcub

      I was wondering watching it is there more players on the field or fans in the stands.

  • Dustin S

    These exhibition games are always a little meh since the starters get pulled early and it turns into more of a minor league game. But at least it’s baseball in a major league park.

  • TWC

    Wow, the new Astros unis are pretty darn great.

    • Tommy

      I agree – they look pretty awesome.

      • 100 Years of Tears

        I hope you guys aren’t being sarcastic, because I was thinking the same thing… if you were just kidding, then I am too… totally…

        and especially if Brett thinks they look stupid… then I’m totally with him on that… unless he doesn’t, then I don’t… make sense?

        • TWC

          No, I think they’re cool. Good, tight design.

          • Hansman1982

            They’re a good design, but look too much like the Giants and Tigers unis.

            I, personally loved the orange stripe “sunset” jerseys (or however they were described. Combine a modern version of that with a NASA mission patch style logo and I think it’d be neat-o.

  • Daniel

    • Daniel

      Well, that was a fail…

      It was supposed to be a success kid meme saying I talked my boss into giving us Monday after Easter off instead of Good Friday…so I’m getting paid to watch opening day baseball…Hallelujah!

  • HoustonTransplant

    I was at the game. Attendance was low, but I figured it’s because it’s an exhibition game. I also agree about the ‘Stro’s uniforms, and the revamped look. The blue and orange is nice. Too bad the team on the field is abysmal. I was surprised the regulars played as much as they did (4 AB’s). I’m sure tomorrow it will be a much different line-up.

  • Die hard

    Symbolizes why this pastime is dying against the competition of NFL and NBA ….. drastic changes like contraction of current teams and expansion into other countries is needed to generate fans…. tv execs are fickle and can turn on MLB in a nano second….start with kicking Bud to the sidelines and bring in a much younger CEO who has played the game and has been successful in private sector after playing days