When we last visited the Cub Tracks continuum, we waxed poetic about home-cooking and briefly discussed fan-hate of the Mets and Reds. The Mets make themselves easy to hate, with Noo Yawk arrogance and honk. The Reds have Joey Votto, a fine player who apparently models himself after a WWE undercard heel. As we are in the infotainment business, we at Cub Tracks understand this, and we see Joey's henchman and raise him a mad doctor.
There must always be a villain, even if there's no hero. Joseph Campbell is all well and good -- people like the Hero's Journey. But they love the grandiose archvillain. This is the lesson of the Abominable Dr. Phibes, and also of the 2016 Chicago Cubs, who are villains virtually everywhere outside Chicago.
What do Dr. Phibes and the Cubs have in common? Swagger and organ music. To my admittedly distorted way of looking at things, every day is Hallowe'en, and it would be cool if the Wrigley organist dressed as the good Doctor for the actual holiday, which would likely be smack dab in the middle of the World Series, and played selections from the two movies. Joe could have our heroes dress in B-movie cloaked regalia.
Probably won't happen, but fun to think about, in this season of the quest for more and more meatloaf, the symbol of the all-important series win. Meatloaf needs spicing up to keep from getting boring. The Cubs need to get back to being boring, grinding out at-bats like they were mixed peppercorns and clogging the basepaths like so many sunflower seed shells. Otherwise all of that meatloaf becomes loose meat sandwiches and we get Roseanne instead of Vincent Price.
I prefer Vince, and look forward to Dr. Phibes rising again, and soon. A little more "killer instinct" wouldn't hurt. And, as this already-tortured metaphor has become strained beyond the breaking point, we'll move on to the news.
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- Erik Lambert (Sports Mockery): The New York Mets are now the Cubs nemesis, and exactly what they need. The grandiose archvillain. The Red Wings. The Pistons. The 49ers. Yes.
- Matthew Trueblood (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): The brilliant meaning of July 2, 2013. Beyond the arrival of Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. Trueblood praises Cubs management.
- ESPN*: Jesse Rogers and Buster Olney discuss the state of the Cubs. [AUDIO]
- Richard Kagan (Cubbies Crib): Cubs have to play better baseball. Well, yes. "Reality is setting in. We couldn’t continue at the pace we were playing. This is what you see," said Jon Lester.
- Jeff Sullivan (Fangraphs): Jake Arrieta's been off for several weeks. Yes, he has. "Arrieta hasn’t been locating like he likes."
- Mike Imrem (Daily Herald): Panic part of the fun of a long baseball season. Equal-opportunity extremism.
- Dennis Yohnka (NWI Times): 98-year-old Cubs fan feels optimistic for team. "I'm going to be 99 in September, so I sure hope this is the year," she said.
- Luis Medina (Bleacher Nation): Today's Cub starter: Adam Warren -- how can his season go from here? Warren's stuff hasn't been playing as well lately. Stretching out might help that.
- Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Tommy La Stella perfecting the Javier Baez magic slide at Triple-A Iowa. Tommy's back in the majors, with a new skill.
- Jim Sannes (numberfire.com): Appreciating the Chicago Cubs historic All-Star infield. "...sometimes, it's okay to put the arguments aside and simply acknowledge a cool distinction."
- Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Cubs thinking big picture for All-Star game. The World Series implications are not unknown to them.
- Dan Carson (Fox Sports): Internet reacts to entire Cubs infield starting at 2016 MLB All-Star game. Oh yes. Here it comes.
- Mike Smollins (Sports World News): Chicago Cubs Rumors: Not All 5 Position Players Deserve All-Star Game Start [POLL, VIDEO] *snif, wah*
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Ben Zobrist revels in fan support, first All-Star start. And he should. They all should. "This will be a huge honor," he said repeatedly.
- Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune): Dexter Fowler came back to Cubs, and fans show thanks with All-Star start. He deserves to play, but he needs to get right.
- Jesse Rogers (ESPN): Cubs' focus for Dexter Fowler: Health over All-Star Game. We've seen what a healthy Fowler means to the Cubs.
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Cubs should know Dexter Fowler's status in the next day or two. "He's feeling better," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said on Wednesday.
- ESPN*: Kyle Schwarber discusses trade rumors. [VIDEO]
- Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Kyle Schwarber walking sans crutches or boot, addresses trade rumors. It was awesome to see him bring out the lineup card.
- Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): Kyle Schwarber takes Theo Epstein support 'to heart', pushes rehab clock.
- Darrell Horwitz (The Sports Post): Is it time for Chicago Cubs fans to panic? The Cubs are not the Titanic. Their path to glory will not be curtailed by ice holes.
- Jeff Sullivan (Fangraphs): His current favorite Javier Baez statistic. We all know plate discipline is his issue. This article illustrates how it works.
- Ken Schultz (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Kris Bryant: National League All-Star, baseball stoic. In the time-honored tradition of Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, and Andre Dawson, Bryant expresses himself with his actions on the field of play.
- Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): Kris Bryant is the new HR leader in MLB. I suspect that this is not the last time this will be said.
- John Sickels (Minor League Ball): MLB Rookie report: Jeimer Candelario. Not as versatile as some others, but a fine player, is the report.
- Bernie Pleskoff (Today's Knuckleball): Pleskoff scouting report: Jeimer Candelario.
- CSN Chicago*: The evolution of the iconic Wrigley Field scoreboard. [VIDEO]
- Keith M. Scheessele (Mountain West Connection): Greg Maddux will join UNLV as a volunteer assistant pitching coach. Maddux' son Chase is on the team.
- Dan Schmelzer (Fansided): Five trades the Chicago Cubs should make. I hate that multi-page format. I do like some of the deals, though there's a tiny bit of lopsidedness in a couple. See what you think.
- Josh Tolentino (Chicago Sun-Times): Cubs lean on help from unexpected rookies at midpoint of season. "It’s the perfect time to give these guys opportunity,’’ Joe Maddon said. ‘‘It’s only going to help us down the road.’’
Food for thought.
- Samantha Cole (Popular Science): A bipedal robot gets its swagger on. MARLO does the Wave.
- Cari Romm (New York magazine): How to suck up without being obvious about it. Keep it real.
- Mitch Leslie (Science magazine): Why knee injuries often don't heal. The body stops making collagen at a certain point.