In our last episode, we threw a changeup, utilizing a slightly different format, and adding commentary to the menu. We'll stick with the commentary for now, I suppose. And we'll of course have links and tweets and other fun, because this is Cub Tracks, after all, and anything else would be off the rails...
It is a good thing that the gods of baseball created the Cincinnati Reds, I say -- even though I have an entirely rational strong dislike of the Reds. Because the Cubs routinely relegate them to the dustbin of baseball history nowadays. That wasn't always the case. To my admittedly twisted way of thinking, the Big Red Machine cost the Cubs at least one pennant, simply by being the better team at a time when the Cubs were actually really good. So I see them as on the same plane as the Mets, and used to dislike them more than the Cardinals, way back when I was stirrup-high to a chinch-bug, and there were only two divisions in the National League.
It's not that I take any more pleasure in beating the Reds than I do any other N.L. Central foe -- it's just that I've been waiting a bit longer. Beating any of them is a treat for a person that has seen as many Cubs losses as I have. Which is exactly the point -- I wish to see them all vanquished. Repeatedly. I don't particularly care for them to rend their clothing but the weeping of their women would be okay. Especially if they were counting on World Series shares.
Somehow I doubt that the Reds deal with that particular affliction at this point. And I hope Billy Hamilton's brains are not too joggled. But this was a huge series after the pasting at the hands of the not-as-bad-as-their-reputation Marlins.
And now, the Cubs are getting ready to face the team with whom I hold the oldest and most powerful animus against, the New York Mets. I dunno about you, but last year didn't fix my Met-hate. The knowledge that they were the most gawdawful team in the history of expansion doesn't fix that. Only a Cub beatdown of the group from Flushing, and then maybe a deconstruction of that ugly-ass ballpark, and then... but I get too far ahead of myself. I beg your pardon. But I would like it if the Mets do not participate in the postseason again. Ever.
I love the smell of victory. It smells like peanuts and popcorn and crackerjack, and I want more of it. Especially against the Mets. Go Cubs Go.
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Fun fact: On Wednesday the Cubs accomplished something done only 11 times previously in the NL this season: All eight Cubs position players to start the game had a hit and scored a run. -- Jesse Rogers
Flushed with victory.
- Cody Pace (MLB.com): Versatility enables Maddon to think outside the box. Maddon called it "the Travis Wood show." Another example of player flexibility and Maddon's unusual decision-making process.
- Jayson Stark (ESPN*): The historical oddity of the Cubs playing three pitchers in the outfield. Maddoning.
- Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune): Cubs see significance in Mets series after NLCS sweep last year. "We've got a little chip on our shoulders," Kyle Hendricks said. "We remember what happened last year." Pedro Strop and Joe Maddon say otherwise, but I suspect Hendricks isn't playing solo here.
Children of the Corner.
- Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): How Kris Bryant became a superstar in the making. Adjustments. He adapted, and continues to do so.
- Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): Kris Bryant's high school coaches shed light on his flourishing career. Derek Stafford and Miles' O'Rourke offer testimony. Bryant was salutatorian of his high school class.
- Corinne Landry (Fangraphs): Anthony Rizzo keeps on getting better. Another case of constant small adjustments.
- Ryan Davis (Today's Knuckleball): Javier Baez has become super-valuable super-utility man and a wizard on defense. He has made and continues to make small adjustments.
- Jesse Rogers (ESPN): Scouting the lefty reliever trade options for the Cubs beyond Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller. Four additional options -- but what would it take to acquire any of them?
- Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Report: Yankees plan to "move on" if Cubs won’t trade Kyle Schwarber for Andrew Miller. Those four additional options look better and better.
- Larry Scott (Today's Knuckleball): Cubs' bullpen musical chairs likely to continue. "...it wouldn’t be surprising to see a new group of guys sitting down the line at Wrigley in the near future."
- Jared Wyllys (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Skill, not luck: Jon Lester edition. The Cubs have at least two "aces".
- Jeffrey Stevens (Fansided): Jake Arrieta's slow walks to the dugout. Claiming loss of control as the primary issue with Jake's recent struggles. Maybe...
- Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-TImes): Former starter Travis Wood unlikely 'linchpin' for Cubs' sagging bullpen. The versatile reliever tries to be ready at all times because Joe Maddon "is a tough nut to crack".
Out here in the fields.
- Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): The secret to Willson Contreras success with Cubs? Channeling his emotions. Double-A Tennessee manager Mark Johnson offers some wisdom about his former charge.
- Zack Moser (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Albert Almora Jr., Willson Contreras helping save Cubs as depth gains in importance. Winning the war of attrition on purpose.
- Todd Johnson (Cubs Insider): Cubs again looking to Mexico as International Free Agency looms. The Cubs are "one of the most active teams in Mexico." Johnson provides some names and capsules to swallow.
- Keith Law (ESPN-Insider ($)): Why isn't Ian Happ on Futures roster?
- George Castle (Chicago Baseball Museum): '69 Cubs truly become ghost team with death of Jim Hickman. "Fifteen players from that team are now deceased."
A Bit Of Fun.
- Justin Breen (DNAInfo): Lincoln Square resident Don Miller shaved half his beard before the season. He won't shave the other half until the Cubs win the World Series. Please win, Cubs.
Food for thought:
- Peter Dizikes (MIT News): Groovy science, man. David Kaiser on our debt to science's countercultural turn.
- Julia Belluz, Christophe Haubersin (Vox): The science is in: exercise won't help you lose much weight. Portion control, eating right are more likely to effect metabolic rate. That isn't to say that exercise doesn't have its benefits.
- Bradley Stulberg (New York Magazine): How exercise shapes you, far beyond the gym. "...learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable."
Do not attempt to adjust your set.