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Cub Tracks Goes To The Pen

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We got Wood and other bullets, and other bullets

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MLB: NLDS-San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs
Waves after waves.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

I must have written and rewritten this lede a couple of dozen times over the last two days. Instead of writing weird fiction, I found myself reminiscing about the first game of the 1989 NLCS, and indeed the rest of that series, which was closer than the final record indicates, and I had a whole long riff on superstition (again), and a basketful of wadded-up yellow paper balls in the wicker basket next to my desk attests to other attempts to Get It Right. In the end, it was all futile, cuz it all changed once the game began, and unfolded. Al and Josh have already recapped the contest, so I’ve no need to do that. You already know that the Cubs jumped the Shark, the Giants knocked Roy Hinkley out of the game, and about Javier Baez’ defense and miscue, and Kyle Hendricks’ and Travis Wood’s batting prowess. Everybody else chose Travis for the picture; I’m gonna go with him too. He made a difference with his arm and his bat, and allowed us to have meat loaf for Sunday dinner, while we’re watching the rain-delayed Dodgers/Nationals game. I still have most of my fingernails, and the tiny Cub hats have passed from the cats to Cuddly Cthulhu and Thing #2, whose marriage has lasted longer than mine did.

For personal reasons, it’s always bittersweet for me to watch Jeff Samardzija pitch. And you have to have respect for the Giants. You have to be lucky to win three of the last six World Series, but you have to be damn good to get there in the first place.

This team is a lot better than that ‘89 team, though, and they’re better than the Giants. But the playoffs are the playoffs, and, as noted previously, I’m a little ‘stitious. So I played the 2016 NLCS on MLB: The Show ‘16. Over and over and over, using the “live roster”. The results were positive often enough to allay some of my fears. Some of them. The results averaged out to three out of four for the Cubs, which is what I said in the staff roundtable the other day.

In our last installment, we couldn’t wait for Friday to arrive. Friday and Saturday arrived, the Cubs won both games and are up 2-0, heading to San Francisco for Monday’s no-doubt-epic contest. That has gone a long way toward ameliorating my trepidation. Nine more to go.

Here are a few items for your infotainment pleasure on this beautiful Sunday Cubs off-day. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome). Enjoy those other games.

  • Sports Illustrated: A brief history of all the Cubs' curses* [VIDEO]
  • Ariel Chung (DNAinfo): This Mario Bros. Cubs tribute will get you stoked for the NLDS. Super Cubbie Bros!
  • Alexandra Olsen (Chicago Sun-Times): Tears, cheers: Cubs fans young and old ready for World Series run. “’s a dream come true,” Pearl Danos said.
  • Sean Morrison (ESPN): The Wrigley Field faithful, from nine months to 95 years. “...we spanned the generations to find out what keeps the Chicago faithful coming back to Wrigley Field.”
  • Paul Boye (Today’s Knuckleball): Why you should root for the Cubs this postseason. The Cubs are front-runners and underdogs.
  • Grant Brisbee (McCovey Chronicles): So you’d like to root against the Cubs: A self-help guide. “’s the Giants’ turn to be the Yankees.”
  • Nick Friedell (ESPN): Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade pulling for Cubs to go all the way. “It would be huge,” they say.
  • Jayson Stark (ESPN): These Cubs find every which way to beat you. “They have more plotlines up their sleeves than Stephen King. They live life so far outside the box, they need GPS just to find the box.”
  • Chris Kuc (Chicago Tribune): Travis Wood on his Game 2 home run: 'It was a special moment for me'. I just bet it was. Imagine.
  • The Japan News (courtesy AP): Reliever Wood homers as Cubs look to sweep. They’re everywhere! Canada. Mexico. Germany.
  • Jon Greenberg (The Athletic-{$}): Three Questions with Travis Wood. “Travis Wood isn’t a big talker, but the easygoing left-hander is a popular member of the Cubs clubhouse.”
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): Cubs rise above adversity to take commanding lead over Giants in NLDS. The Cubs are now one win from advancing to the NLCS.
  • Liz Roscher (SB Nation): The Cubs are just one win away from the NLCS. Today, on it’s the Cub Tracks...
  • Mark Purdy (The Mercury News): The Giants’ lost weekend in Chicago concludes with the worst lost opportunity. “Realistically, we’ve got our work cut out for us,” said catcher Buster Posey in a quiet visitors’ clubhouse.
  • Ariel Cheung, Don Jin Oh (DNAinfo): Wrigleyville Is Buzzing After Cubs Beat Giants In Game 1 Of NLDS. Avoid driving to the game. Plastic cups only.
  • Daniel Brown (The Mercury News): Giants-Cubs playoff series conjures thrilling memories for Will Clark, the hero of ’89. Or the villain of ‘89, depending on how you see things.
  • Dan McGrath (Chicago Sun-Times): These aren’t your father’s Cubs: This team is built to last. Credibility.
  • Don Yaeger (Forbes): Embrace High Expectations: Lessons From Joe Maddon And The Chicago Cubs. “You have to be able to maintain your focus,” Maddon said.
  • Bill Pennington (New York Times): The Cubs Confront the Curse: Is This the Year? “There is no curse; that’s crazy talk,” said Tom Ricketts.
  • ML Reynolds: How I learned to start worrying and love the Cubs. “...the trouble with the World Series is that there’s no more baseball after it. Not for months.”
  • Joel Sherman (New York Post): This is the face of the Cubs’ belief in defensive brilliance. “We take the defensive part of the game very seriously,” said Jed Hoyer.
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune): Ben Zobrist doing whatever it takes to get Javier Baez in Cubs' lineup. “Everyone can learn a little from Ben Zobrist in some form or another," Theo Epstein said Saturday.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune*): Javier Baez learns valuable baserunning lesson. Anthony Rizzo told Baez, “no pop.” Respect 90.
  • Jennifer Langosch ( Jake Arrieta to face Madison Bumgarner in pivotal Game 3. "I'm looking forward to that matchup," David Ross said.
  • Dieter Kurtenbach (Fox Sports): What would happen if the Cubs actually won the World Series? “We don’t know, and we can only wait to find out.”
  • John Harper (New York Daily News): Aroldis Chapman may be the most important player for Cubs’ title hopes. “That’s why he’s here," Maddon said.
  • Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports): When Cubs need a game-winning shot, Javier Baez puts the ball in the basket. Check what Pedro Strop was yelling.
  • Jim Litke (Daily Herald): Maddon always has another trick up his sleeve. “The nerves of even the most seasoned pros get jangled during one-run games.”
  • Neil Paine (Five Thirty-Eight): The Year Of The Cubs. “Just how good are this year’s North-siders?”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Willson Contreras already envisioned the playoff spotlight with Cubs. “I put myself behind the plate,” Contreras said. “I was thinking about this year.”
  • Mitch Dudek (Chicago Sun-Times): Playoff fever: the lengths to which some Cubs fans will go. Worse than fever for cowbell. I can verify.
  • Steve Rosenbloom (Chicago Tribune): Why does Fox Sports hate baseball fans? Brandon McCarthy: “Is there a chance Fox doesn't have the rights to this game and they’re actually pirating a security camera feed from across the street?’’
  • Brad Erickson (Journal Star): MLB Network responds to Journal Star story about Cubs game telecast Saturday. "The statements from Mediacom are inaccurate...”
  • Thorlin Klosowski (Lifehacker): How to Stream the MLB Playoffs, No Cable Required. Two ways to do it legally.
  • Phil Rosenthal (Chicago Tribune): Cubs-Giants Game 2 TV review: Lack of certain ads a relief. Underpacked, you might say.
  • ESPN*: Kyle Hendricks talks to Pedro Gomez [AUDIO].
  • CSN Chicago*: Dexter Fowler talks [VIDEO].
  • CSN Chicago*: Kris Bryant on Wrigley atmosphere [VIDEO].
  • MLB Network*: Kris Bryant on win over Giants [VIDEO].
  • CSN Chicago*: Travis Wood: When I hit it, I knew it was gone [VIDEO].
  • MLB Network*: Wood shines in relief, at plate [VIDEO].
  • CSN Chicago*: Joe Maddon: Wood has been outstanding [VIDEO].
  • MLB Network*: Javier Baez on slide into second [VIDEO].

Food for thought.

  • Virginia Morrell (Science): Humans aren’t the only great apes that can ‘read minds’. “All great mind reading begins with chocolate.”
  • Jo Craven McGinty (The Wall Street Journal): The Science of Standing in Line. “You’ve probably participated in this familiar dance: Given a choice of checkout lines, you’ve somehow picked the slowest.”
  • Scott Horowitz, James Bardwell (Observer): Play video games, advance science. Protein jenga.

This playoff stuff is fun. Let’s do it again. See you Tuesday.