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Cub Tracks’ Bullet Train Rolls On

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Billy’s bumblers, chasing shadows, Jake the gunslinger, and other bullets.

Chicago Cubs v Oakland Athletics
Jake chambers another bullet.
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

“There is a thing that nothing is, and yet it has a name. It's sometimes tall and sometimes short, joins our talks, joins our sport, and plays at every game." — Stephen King

In the last episode of Cub Tracks, we painted by numbers, resulting in a still-life with meatloaf, and discussed matters as various and sundry as Wrigleyville wreckage, Javier Baez’ defensive superiority, Jorge Soler’s absence (he’s back!), and Cubs relief pitching.

This time, we’ve moved from the smoking car to the dining car and we’re all about that meatloaf, Blaine. Jake Arrieta took the mound yesterday in what looked like a baby-blue onesie, last seen on the likes of Bump Wills and Joe Strain (I guess we got what we deserved) and pitched like he has a one-track mind and plenty of coal left in his scuttle. Today the Cubs go for the sweep and a ticket to ride.

The Cubs would need to win 108 games to officially meatloaf the entire season. It’s possible, but unlikely. From 68-41, they’d have to go 40-21 for the rest of the schedule. I’d be willing to call 100 wins meatloaf — dunno about you. Either should be enough to launch their cabooses into the playoffs, and give them the inside track to the World Series as they’ll quite possibly have homefield advantage in the National League. But...they won’t have homefield in the Series...which is a stupid thing, Bud Selig. The Cubs are one of the best road teams in the league, but there’s a definite advantage to home cooking, despite Rob Neyer’s feelings on the subject. A .550 percentage is still more than half, and in a game where small and/or incremental advantages create a lot of wins, it’s big.

Awesome. So throw me out some chalk, Mr. Conductor, and I’ll draw the white lines that we can read between. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune): Joe Maddon stressed by roster decisions. “We’re trying to get ready to get him to come back up there,” Maddon said, about apparently AWOL infielder Tommy L Stella.
  • Jon Ferlise (Cub Kingdom): An unnerving report: Where in the world is Tommy La Stella? The Cubs clearly know, but they’re not really saying.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Where In The World is Tommy La Stella? In a parallel world? San Diego? Altman has a couple of educated guesses.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune): Cubs maintain low-key approach after fifth straight victory. "We've got to make sure we show up to play every day,” said Jon Lester.
  • Rick Eymer (MLB.com): Willson Contreras helps Cubs with ability to play outfield. The versatility of catcher Willson Contreras allows Maddon to juggle successfully.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Addison Russell displaying steady growth one year after moving to short. Better plate discipline allows him to drive more baseballs. He continues to play Gold-Glove-level defense.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): How Addison Russell can help the Cubs take off again. Moving to the middle of the order could do it.
  • Dan McGrath (Chicago Sun-Times): Aroldis Chapman will be forgiven if he succeeds. Very possibly. Does that say bad things psychologically? Very possibly.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): If Hector Rondon didn’t quit in 2011, new role won’t faze him now. Even if no 2011, there’s that jewelry.
  • Charles Mule (Sports Journal): At 33, Jason Hammel is having a breakout year. “I just want to continue on the thought process I’ve been going with, along with the fitness,” said Hammel.
  • Joe Lanek (Gaslamp Ball): Padres to sign old friend, Clayton Richard. “...there's reason to believe Richard isn't ready to hang up his cleats...”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Cubs all over Baseball America’s best tools. Not a list of future Eric Byrneses, but a report on the relative talents of players from Low-A on up.
  • Neil (Chicago Cubs Online): Ian Happ moves into top spot in MLB Pipeline’s Cubs prospect list. Happ, Eloy Jimenez, Jeimer Candelario, Dylan Cease and Mark Zagunis are the top five prospects in the organization.
  • Sean Sears (Sports Mockery): Newest attraction for Wrigley Field coming straight from Mexico. Lettuce Entertain You partner Cinemex will open a theater.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Quantifying Hope: You have to walk off before you can go on a run. Watershed game could be a bridge to better things.
  • Leigh Coridan (Wrigleyville -Baseball Prospectus): Not your average fans: The curse of caring. “Basking in Reflected Failure.”

Food for thought:

  • Sarah Kaplan (The Washington Post): Watch a sunflower dance in the sun. Now scientists know how it’s done. Plants have circadian rhythms too.
  • Science Daily: Scientists discover light could exist in a previously unknown form. “New research suggests that it is possible to create a new form of light by binding light to a single electron, combining the properties of both.”
  • Sarah Fecht (Popular Science): Scientists in the dark over years-long dimming of “Alien Megastructure Star”. I suspect death for tax purposes, but the real answer is yet to be determined.

Off-day tomorrow. See you Tuesday.