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Cub Tracks Hits The Ground Running

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Clean living, flat feet and fire helmets at Wrigley, trade talks, the saga of "Eric", rampant speculation, and other bullets.

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In our last installment, we played the game, but not in those spectacularly ugly uniforms. I'm pleased to have been wrong about that. Cuz they look like candy-bar wrappers. I wasn't wrong about Giancarlo Stanton, though I still maintain that he was given an artificial advantage by always batting first. He still had to hit the ball, but wasn't subject to tie-breakers, which limited the total swings of some other players.

At any rate, tomorrow we begin the second half, with a division lead of seven games and a few dates with the Texas Rangers, who have similarly limped into the All-Star break. Let's start off on the right foot and get a leg up on the competition, shall we?

Here's a little entertainment and a touch of White Sox trolling for you before we get to the bullets, from WGN: Anthony Rizzo does country (with Brett Eldredge). [VIDEO]

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Leg to stand on.

  • David Haugh (Chicago Tribune): All-Star Game meaningful? Time to end absurd experiment. "Changing the All-Star Game wouldn't tarnish Selig's legacy in any way. It might even improve it because every July we wouldn't be forced to wonder what he was thinking when he implemented what has become the silliest rule in sports."

Runaway success.

  • Bill Reiter (CBS Sports): Turns out Royals and Cubs fans were right as the All-Star Game was all about them. "...a game designed for the fans is in fact best left at their discretion."
  • Thomas Boswell (The Washington Post): The Nationals, Cubs, and Giants are the three best teams in the National League. Boswell ranks his hometown team third.
  • Dan Szymborski (ESPN Insider-$): Cubs, Dodgers top MLB future power rankings. They're pretty good. Most of the Cubs content is above the paywall.
  • Tim Brown (Yahoo Sports): Why the Cubs think they'll be just fine. 44 games in 45 days might have something to do with it. Injured players coming back might factor in, too. Just guessing.
  • John Arguello (Cubs Den): Thoughts at the break: the Cubs outlook, their biggest threat, the all-star game, the trade deadline. "...the fate of the Cubs will rest on the shoulders of the players that got them this far to begin with."
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Cubs can't control 'Eric', know they can still win despite his anger.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Injuries derail Cubs' chase for history. First-half review.
  • Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): Here's why the Cubs' second-half fate could be determined by August. They still have the biggest division lead in baseball, and a friendly schedule.
  • John Perrotto (USA Today:) Not over yet: Cardinals, Pirates eager to catch Cubs in NL Central. The Cubs' "division-winning probability is 'down' to 92.5%".
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago): Are Cubs as good as they thought? Welcome to baseball reality for Theo Epstein. Epstein didn't buy into 25-6. That was unreal, and unsustainable.
  • August Fagerstrom (Fangraphs): The Cubs just played a month of very mediocre baseball. FTFY, August. The modifier isn't necessary. And they're STILL the best team in baseball. Michael Saltzman disagrees. But he's a Giants fan.
  • Rick Morrissey (Chicago Sun-Times): The coast is clear: Anthony Rizzo implies that the Cubs took foot off gas. It did look like they were doing a BlackHawks riff. I don't think that's the answer. But it looked like it. That's enough for Morrissey.
  • Dan Hayes (CSN Chicago): Anthony Rizzo: Cubs have 'a sense of urgency' after recent slide. He has a simple solution. "Go out and play."
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune): Five things to watch for in second half. Pitching, pitching, hitting, hitting, and new arrivals.

Long may he run home.

  • Phil Rogers (MLB.com): Kris Bryant unleashed power with a tweak. An adjustment to lower his stance during college led to more home runs. I seem to remember he made a second adjustment of that type early last season when pitchers were getting him out at the bottom of the zone. Rogers doesn't say anything about that though.
  • Sports Mockery: Kris Bryant's dad had words with Chris Sale before home run. Mike Bryant didn't like that Kris was 0-6 before that at-bat.
  • CBS Sports: Kris Bryant confirms he's never had an alcoholic drink. Jon Heyman confirms that he's not the traditional Las Vegas type.

Toeing the rubber.

  • Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): Joe Nathan is one step closer to joining the Cubs. It would be nice if he was effective.
  • Chris Kuc (Chicago Tribune): Like fellow hurler Joe Nathan, Brian Matusz is hoping to join Cubs' ride. Activated from the DL and sent to the Double-A Smokies, Matusz went 3 1/3 innings, gave up a run on two hits with two walks and six strikeouts in relief of Clayton Richard.
  • Erik Mauro (Cubbies CriB): Is Carl Edwards Jr., the answer for the bullpen? If the question is, who looks like an effective middle-innings reliever, the Magic 8-Ball says "favorable".
  • Ryan Davis (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): In struggling 'pen, Carl Edwards, Jr., seizing opportunity with both hands. Less bases on balls equals bullpen success.
  • Chris Kuc (Chicago Tribune): Clayton Richard strong in rehab start for Double-A Tennessee. Three innings, two runs and a strikeout.
  • Bill Bair (Hardball Talk): Yu Darvish to return Saturday against Cubs. Darvish has been out since June 9 with discomfort in his neck and right shoulder.

Walking away from the table.

  • Mike Imrem (Daily Herald): Theo Epstein should entertain offers for Kyle Schwarber. Sure he should. And send Dan Vogelbach instead.
  • Tanya Bondurant (Pinstripe Alley): Yankees potential trade partner: The Chicago Cubs. Did anyone say bullpen? This rumor has such legs that it's wearing pants.
  • Matthew Trueblood (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Miguel Montero or Jason Hammel could be casualties of Cubs' long-term plan. Could be. Montero has not been particularly effective, and Hammel's history suggests second-half trouble.

Hope springs eternal, even if you can't jump.

  • Jeremy Fuchs (SI.com*): Bryan LaHair is an All-Star again, but he's a long way from MLB. LaHair says, "I have dreams, you know?" He's in the Atlantic League. Others have reached MLB from there.

Miscellaneous.

  • Fran Spielman (Chicago Sun-Times): Police and Fire to simulate 'active shooter' situation at Wrigley. Infield practice, outfield practice, target practice...probably expedient, but that's sad. Ariel Cheung (DNAinfo) also had a story on this.
  • Jon Seidel (Chicago Sun-Times): Ex-Rooftop owner terrible at business, not a crook. That's what his lawyer says. He also blames two of the witnesses for the prosecution, one of whom has already been sentenced for abetting.
  • Rianne Coale (Chicago Tribune): Cubs and White Sox fans should brush up on their grammar basics, study finds. Particularly relevant as the site surveyed in the study was SBNation.

Food for thought.

  • JV Chamary (Forbes): Pokemon Go addiction, as explained by science. Taxonomically correct.
  • Adrian Cho (Science): Massive neutrino experiment undermines our sense of reality. Neutrinos only come in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Heisenberg tastes victory, but it's still uncertain what that means.
  • Sarah Kaplan (Washington Post): The surprising science of why a curveball curves. Physics tells us that rolling off the table is impossible, and that resistance is futile. Ultimately, whether the break of a curveball is pure physics or partly illusion, we can all agree on one thing: It's still hard to hit.

That's as good an exit line as any. See you Sunday. Hopefully we'll have meatloaf by then.