In our last edition, we were Out to Launch. We considered walking the plank but eventually escaped with a loose-meat sandwich and a couple of pierogi. This time around, we're in the middle of the All-Star break, having already enjoyed the Futures game and endured the Home-Run Derby.
The Home Run Derby is decadent and depraved. Well, maybe that's a little over-the-top. But it's overlong and underwhelming and the format takes all the fun out of things. I'd just as soon replace it with the Futures game but TV will always need spectacles, and the bigger, the better.
The game, though. The MLB All-Star game is the best of the four major sports' showcases. It shouldn't count toward the homefield advantage of the World Series. I think that's just stupid, and I don't mind if an exhibition game ends in a tie. But the play on the field is usually excellent and the game is usually enjoyable. Cubs players have traditionally not fared well (you could look it up). Perhaps this year will be different. If so, they'll do it in spectacularly ugly uniforms.
Let's see what the writers have to say about that all, in our Cub-centric universe, and catch up on the news, both good and bad:
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- Jim Sannes (numberfire.com): 2016 Home Run Derby analytics: Who is the favorite? Who's on first-he's not in (either one). I go Stanton.
- Matthew Trueblood (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Wrigleyville preview: The All-Star game. Cubs, Cubs, and more Cubs.
- David Schoenfield (ESPN*): The Fun Index: Ranking the All-Stars based on how much fun they are. Eh. I'd change the numbers.
- Barry Rozner (Daily Herald): When will All-Star farce be fixed? World Series home field advantage being decided by the All-Star Game results is stupid.
- Dan Hayes (CSN Chicago*): Jake Arrieta OK with Terry Collins starting Johnny Cueto in All-Star Game. Cueto has done better lately.
- Ed Sherman (Chicago Tribune): Lots of Cubs All-Stars should translate to big Fox ratings. Sherman opines about TV expectations and optimism.
- John Stolnis (numberfire.com): The 10 best moments from Major League Baseball's first half. Subjective, sure, but Cubs feature in it. Readable.
- Rick Morrissey (Chicago Sun-Times): Forget the injuries, Cubs need their healthy players to be better. Yes, Rick, we know. They can, and probably will. And that's a good thing.
- Bruce Levine (CBS Sports): Cubs well-positioned for second half of season. Levine makes the case for post-All-Star success.
- Aaron Goldstein (The American Spectator): Are the Cubs collapsing? The big division lead will be hard to overcome.
- John Perrotto (Today's Knuckleball): Jake Arrieta, Cubs remain confident despite prolonged slump. They're still in first. There are reasons for that.
- Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune): After rough stretch ends with win, Cubs can relax, prepare to rebound in 2nd half. Joe Maddon compared the recent slump to a "stubbed toe".
- ESPN*: Week 14 Power Rankings: Cubs slip out of top spot. Giants and Nationals move ahead.
- Grant Brisbee (SB Nation): It turns out that the Cubs aren't the best team in baseball history. But they're still the best team in baseball.
- Whet Moser (Chicago Magazine): The lucky, unlucky and still very good Cubs. "They no longer have the best record in baseball, but the numbers suggest that they can still claim the title of best team."
- CJ Nitkowski (Fox Sports): You have nothing to panic about, Cubs fans. Off the ledge with you! And other All-Star news.
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Cubs finish first half with much-needed win. "The break is needed," Kris Bryant said, "but that's a good win to head into the break with."
- Tim Baffoe (CBS Chicago*): The glass half-empty view on Cubs All-Stars. He has points. Some of them are under his hat.
- Matt Youmans (Las Vegas Review-Journal): Kris Bryant shining star for fading Cubs. Youmans covers sports betting for the 'paper'. His perspective stems from that.
- Evan Massey (Inquisitr): MLB Rumors: Chicago Cubs could acquire Josh Reddick from Athletics? No trade proposals, just mentioning the possibility.
- Scott Gelman (MLB Daily Dish): 2016 MLB trade deadline preview: Chicago Cubs. Andrew Miller. Aroldis Chapman. Josh Reddick.
- Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Report suggests Dan Vogelbach could interest Yankees -- would a reliever trade work? Jon Morosi connected the dots, Cerami reveals the picture. It's a little blurry.
- Jesse Rogers (ESPN): Andrew Miller: The Yankees want to win. Miller doesn't believe he'll be traded. Unless...
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Move down making Jason Heyward more aggressive. His bat is heating up as he has more freedom to dictate the course of his at-bats.
- Luis Medina (Bleacher Nation): Tracking the progressive improvement of Jason Heyward's offense in the first half. Heyward is likely to follow his career pattern and continue to improve in the second half.
- Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Joe Nathan could be x-factor for Cubs in second half. Probably not, unless TJS gives him laser eyes, the ability to become ice, and telekinesis. But will get a shot at some point.
- Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Jon Lester can't stop the downward spiral. Neither could Trent Reznor, but it worked out for him. Maybe Jon should go effing animal on the strike zone.
- Larry Scott (Today's Knuckleball): Cubs rotation could see even further regression. More or less depending on second-half Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks becoming inconsistent. Could happen, but not likely given the data.
- Ryan Davis (Today's Knuckleball): Lower velocity could mean better command for Jake Arrieta. And he'd still be able to reach back if he needed to. Hmm.
- CBS Chicago: Cubs have 3 of the 7 best-selling jerseys in MLB. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Jake Arrieta move the merchandise. David Ortiz is the #1 seller.
- Barry Rozner (Daily Herald): Billions at stake for MLB in CBA talks. Tony Clark and Rob Manfred have plenty to talk about.
- CBS Chicago: Trial set for ex-Wrigley rooftop exec accused of bilking Cubs. Marc Hamid will face the music soon.
- Cameron Kmen (Cubs Prospect Watch): An interview with Sam Tidaback: A Cubs fan drafted by the Cubs. 21st round draftee Tidaback (a catcher from the University of North Georgia) answers questions.
Food for thought.
- Joshua Sokol (Wired): The MIT physicists who infused Ghostbusters with real science. Portrait of female scientists and their influence on the film.
- Maya Wei-Haas (Smithsonian.com): The brain-freezing science of the Slurpee. Super-cool 60-year-old.
- Talia Korem (Science Daily): Science says biting your nails has this one big health benefit. Exposure to germs strengthen resistance. Probably not operative if you're a plumber.