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Cub Tracks Has Rose-Colored Glasses

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Wherein we wolf the meatloaf, fish for Trout, and have visions of Angels.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Oakland Athletics
Hendricks in the west.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cubs 69 41 .627

David Ross as Steven Deschain? Anthony Rizzo clearly has not forgotten the face of his father. But is he Roland, or do we have another headless Thompson gunner around? What does that even mean, Warren Zevon?

In our last installment, we obsessed over Billy’s bumblers, chasing shadows, Jake the gunslinger, and other bullets. Today we go completely off the rails with articles about the beloved boys in Blue, who are due to face the Anaheim Angels this evening and the next before the justly-detested Cardinals and their devil magic come to town for a set.

Fanatical devotion to laundry being what it is, the infotainment items will have a decidedly pro-Cub spin. This despite your humble narrator’s opinion that Mike Trout is the finest player in the sport (even though I believe that Kris Bryant will eventually overtake him). For he is still the enemy, and, as we return to the theme in the interests of conceptual continuity, a crimson cherub and an agent of the forces of the Dark Tower, aka, the rest of MLB, especially the management of said organization. And the Angels still employ Albert Pujols, who is a Cardinal-for-life in my eyes.

Having summarily disposed of both the railroad metaphor and the Oakland A’s, we cross the road to the next chapter, wherein we wolf down the meatloaf, anticipate the looming brace of contests, and reflect upon recent events. It might be a trifle early, but I note that the magic number is now 41, and that we had an 11.5 game lead on the carmine competition at press time. This bodes well for our continued presence in the games. No stops in Topeka are scheduled. The Cubs are on the beam.

Today’s riddle — Are RHOOTLs “roont”?

As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome). Onward.

  • ESPN: 2016 MLB Power Rankings, week 18. “The Cubs have been No. 1 for 17 of 19 weeks, including the preseason.”
  • ESPN: Vote: Cubs confidence meter. Vote early and often.
  • Marc Normandin (SB Nation): Sorry, MLB, the Cubs are great again. “The Cubs have had kind of a weird season.” Kind of?
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Why Cubs are built to withstand the 162-game schedule and sprint into the playoffs. “...unglamorous elements like depth, flexibility and redundancy have lifted them to a season-high 28 games over .500.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Mailbag: Could Javier Baez win a Gold Glove? He could, but not as yet. There’s no award for utilitymen.
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Jorge Soler’s powerful return, and the ever-present performance and roster questions. Soler competes with Javier Baez, Matt Szczur, and Willson Contreras for playing time in the outfield. Consistency is key for all of them.
  • Sean Holland (Cubs Insider): I want to believe in Jorge Soler. “The truth is out there if you are willing to see it.” The return of Moldy and Scowler to these pages.
  • David Schoenfield (ESPN* — Insider ($)): Deals of the future: Who all 30 MLB teams could trade before 2017 deadline. Soler is mentioned as a possibility.
  • David Schoenfield (ESPN*): Five things we learned Sunday. Item #3 may be of particular interest.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Kyle Hendricks has been crazy good all season, even better over his last several starts. “He has been flowing like the salmon of Capistrano”, if you can swallow that one.
  • Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): Kyle Hendricks gaining momentum in Cy Young race. Good to be mentioned in that context but I dunno...for now.
  • Rick Morrissey (Chicago Sun-Times): Kyle Hendricks deserves some good news come playoff time. Eh. See below.
  • Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): Here’s why Jake Arrieta is the undisputed ace of the Cubs’ staff. “Think about this: Game 7 of the World Series and you’re playing on the road. Your opponent has their ace on the hill, who gets the ball for the Cubs?”
  • Rick Eymer (MLB.com): John Lackey, Jared Weaver set for battle of veteran arms. Lackey faces his former team for the first time in three years.
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald): Starting pitchers responsible for Cubs’ turnaround. Careful handling and reversion to form were factors.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune): Cubs find extra rest has been best in August. "We don't take a lot of batting practice, and we're not on our feet a lot," Joe Maddon said. "It all matters."
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Brian Matusz reportedly elects to stay in Cubs organization. The lefty cleared waivers and is back at Triple-A Iowa.
  • Mike Banghart (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Just a reliever? Maybe not. Debating the ‘baseball merits’ of the Aroldis Chapman deal.
  • Cat Garcia (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): A new bullpen was a need, not a luxury. “...bullpens are volatile because they’re so important.”
  • Tommy Meyers (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): The many sides of Willson Contreras. Comp to Yadier Molina, Sean Rodriguez. I can see it if I squint.
  • Jessica DeLine (Halos Heaven): Series preview: Angels@Cubs: What could go wrong? “Biggest question(s): Who is better - Trout or Bryant?” Rec’d for honesty and snark.
  • Jay Jaffe (SI.com*): The untouchables: The one player each National League team should not trade. Dan Vogelbach, of course. Oh, wait. Hint: He plays third base sometimes.
  • Tim Huwe (the Zygote 50): 40-man fun. Huwe performs part one of a series of roster jenga possibilities.
  • CBS Sports: Tommy La Stella still hasn’t reported to Triple-A Iowa. La Stella is back home in New Jersey tending to some “family business,” reported Iowa Cubs manager Marty Pevey. So, yes, this is still a thing.
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): New development coming across from Wrigley, possible bending of Plaza rules. More information on the Cinemex development noted in the last edition, based on a Sun-Times article by Fran Spielman.
  • David Matthews (DNAinfo): Watch Bill Murray and Harry Caray open first night game at Wrigley in 1988. Actually, today is the anniversary of the first night game ever played (which Matthews notes, but people remember it different). I was there both nights.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): Cubs remember A-Rod. “He’ll always have that asterisk next to his name,” Jon Lester said.

A moment of silence.

Food for thought:

  • JR Thorpe (Bustle): Why we procrastinate, according to science. I’m putting off reading this article until after I finish my novel.
  • Dogs and humans share a language: The feelings written on our faces. Are dogs playing us, or merely reactive?
  • Samantha Cole (Popular Science): World’s most hardcore cat reappears after ten years. The Arabian Sand Cat drinks the blood of its enemies. It was just hiding.

Cub Tracks will return Thursday, just in time for the first of four against the red birds. Thanks for reading. See you then.