When last we visited these environs, Cub Tracks coughed up the lede, and referenced Anchorman, Bartman, and Underdog. All three of those could be swiftly forgotten, and I’d have no remorse whatsoever. Will Ferrell has forever had the comic impact and subtlety of a stubbed toe, Steve Bartman never deserved any sort of notoriety, and Underdog needs only his Polly, his shoeshine kit, and a nickel. The Cubs are not gonna be underdogs for a very long time, no matter what the Riff Raff say.
My pneumonia has passed, thank you very much. And I still have the nasty, allegedly-cherry, codeine cough syrup, for when I wanna feel like a Ramone.
KB won the NL MVP, as he should have. I maintain that he’s just gonna get better, and I see his annual offseason adjustment involving the opposite field. There’s a lot of RBI in right and right-center. Can’t help but notice that he pops a lot of those up and away pitches up, trying to pull them. His swing determines that, to a very great extent. But this armchair hitting coach sees a slight modification a la Rizzo resulting in additional well-struck liners to the opposite field, and perhaps a few of those mammoth bombs as well. Could be wrong, but I’ll stick with that.
I spend idle time trying to figure out who goes where, when, a simple parlor game likely derived from decades of Strat-o-Matic baseball, video games of all species, and being retired. Lots of that speculation depends on what happens with Jorge Soler. Still keep thinking that he brings an arm to the Cubs in return for his services. Otherwise I can’t see him getting more than a couple hundred at-bats, and continuing to struggle as he seems to need playing time to prosper.
Things are moving slow out there in Hot Stove land. Idle speculation doesn’t move me any more. AJ Preller hasn’t even done anything stupid yet. Or Kenny Williams. C’mon, man.
Feel free to upbraid me for these and for other thoughts, both written and unwritten. In the meantime, here are some choice items for your Sunday brunch infotainment needs. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).
- Matt Kupferle (numberfire): Kris Bryant was easily the National League's MVP. “Bryant was at the top of the leaderboard in nearly all offensive categories.”
- Larry Brown (Larry Brown Sports): Mike Puma defends voting Daniel Murphy first for MVP. I don’t buy it. Puma’s certainly not a Cub reporter.
- Maury Brown (Forbes): Why you and the Chicago Cubs should leave Steve Bartman alone. Because HE wants to be left alone. That should be enough.
- Shibani Mahtani (Wall Street Journal): FBI warns jubilant Chicago Cubs fans about counterfeit championship gear. “Memorabilia celebrating the team’s first World Series win in 108 years is everywhere, but knockoffs abound.”
- John Sickels (Minor League Ball): Chicago Cubs organization discussion. Dynasties are easier to maintain on paper than in real life.
- Ellen Shipley (Hood River News): A Cubs fan in Wrigleyville: ‘a singular, historic event’. Some people ‘hadda be there’.
- Andy Frye (Rolling Stone): Addison Russell on being Chicago Cubs' World Series spark. "I waited for the pitch and [Otero] left the ball up. It was the pitch I was looking for and I did exactly what I wanted to do with it."
- Mike Rosenbaum (MLB.com): Ian Happ's homers propel Mesa to Fall League title. “The Mesa Solar Sox won the Arizona Fall League title.” Happ was 4/4 with 3 runs scored and 3 rbi, homering from both sides of the plate.
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Magical season honored with 5 MLB Awards. “The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the American League and National League from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.”
- Phil Rogers (MLB.com): Rob Manfred: Cubs 'huge piece of postseason success'. The Cubs drove a lot of sales and attracted huge audiences.
- ESPN: Buster Olney talks to Jed Hoyer [AUDIO].
- Luis Medina (Bleacher Nation): Intriguing former closers and other buy-low, high-leverage types on the market. “Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon are about to set a new standard for paydays for free agent closers, but it doesn’t mean they’re the only examples of relief help available this offseason.”
- Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): What another strong showing in the MVP voting means for Cubs and Anthony Rizzo’s contract. A cool two million, for starters.
- Jeff Sullivan (Fangraphs): Seeing the future of the Cubs’ defense. “By BABIP allowed, the 2016 Cubs were the all-time best.”
- Craig Edwards (Fangraphs): Dexter Fowler should age well, regardless of the defense. His glove my determine his dollars, though.
- Jared Wyllys (Cubs Den): Dexter’s gone, so who’s up first? I’m guessing Ben Zobrist.
- Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Lefty left off: A look at Jon Lester’s contact and the danger of leaning too heavily on common metrics. Rips on Dave Cameron a bit.
- Zack Moser (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Dexter Fowler: Potential offseason target. Dexter has had his best years as a Cub.
- Tommy Meyers (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Brad Ziegler: Potential offseason target. A “less-expensive quality reliever.”
- Ken Schultz (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Kenley Jansen: Potential offseason target. “...the Cubs can probably find a place for the best relief pitcher in baseball.”
- Ariel Cheung (DNAinfo): Cubs premiering World Series film with invite-only downtown screening. You can get your own copy at the MLB online shop.
food for thought
- Edward Simon (The Atlantic): The Science Fiction that came before science. Oh no. Here comes Gulliver. And Bacon.
- Stephanie Pappas (Live Science): How to avoid Stephen Hawking’s dark prediction for humanity. MIT scientist disagrees with famed physicist.
- Eric Stokstad (Science): How turning off a plant’s sunshield can grow bigger crops. Boosting photosynthesis allows that to happen. I always wanted to achieve that myself, just like Zonker Harris.
Is it time for spring training yet?