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Cub Tracks Serves It Up

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Road-trip meatloaf, Hendricks’ one-hit wonder, dodging bullets, and other bullets

Chicago Cubs v St Louis Cardinals
Joe West, young man.
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Okay. I officially hate Jeremy Hazelbaker. Well, I hate him more than I did before*.

When last we met, Cub Tracks had just dusted off the plate, presumably to load it up with other items from the generous buffet of links, links, and more links made available by several searches, although there is some scuttlebutt that the cleaning was due to a recent outing featuring CB Bucknor as the home-plate ump.

Either or both may be true. Regardless we press on, offering wisdom collected during and after the recent tilt between the forces of evil and our beloved boys in Blue in Busch Stadium. Kyle Hendricks throws slowly enough that Joe West was not baffled, despite the apparent inability of the St. Louis bats to connect safely with the Professor’s offerings. Neither Roy Hinkley nor Russell Johnson was available for comment. Grayson Boucher also demurred. Ginger and Mary Ann took the fifth. Alan Hale went with them, up the Stairway to Gilligan’s Island. Joe Maddon went too, after West tossed him.

Ben Zobrist and Dexter Fowler plugged the Mike Leake in St. Louis’ rotation with their bats after snacking on some Houston meatloaf (with barbecue sauce and chilies) the night before, and set the table for this afternoon’s contest with the almost-but-not-quite-dead-Birds. Even Cubbie Blue Magic won’t be enough to clinch today, but the magic number might not be crooked after that. Last year it took until September 24.

Here are some items to while away the time while waiting for the Cubs and Cardinals to play. This column was explicitly not endorsed by Bob Rohrman or the Tru-Link Fence Company. Game threads should probably be sponsored by Binny’s. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

I love me some Rizzo, too. He’s been my favorite player since before “the incident”. My previous favorite player was Kerry Wood, who has been known to play with fire, too.

  • CSN Chicago*: Kerry Wood voices displeasure with Joe West after Cubs win. Actually, he tweeted displeasure.
  • ESPN*: 2016 Week 23 MLB Power Rankings. Still the one.
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): How 'Try not to suck' became the rallying cry for Joe Maddon and the 2016 Cubs. It was Javier Baez that outed the saying.
  • Barry Rozner (Daily Herald {$}): Silly season about to begin for the Cubs. “...the circus is about to come to town.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Cubs not looking beyond September yet. “...getting that postseason berth is all that's on the players' minds...”
  • Dave Otto (Daily Herald {$}): Despite huge NL Central lead, Cubs keep foot on gas. Keeping their eyes on the prize and the pedal to the metal.
  • Jay Jaffe (Fox Sports): What the Cubs need to do to clinch the NL Central this week. Sweep the Cardinals. Cripple their postseason chances. Toast their ravioli.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Did Sunday’s lineup hint at playoff roster? I thought that too... or perhaps Heyward could be dealt in the offseason and Albert Almora Jr installed in right field.
  • Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): Big decisions still left for the Cubs in the postseason. “...Hendricks makes sense to start the second game at Wrigley Field based on his splits.”
  • Larry Scott (Today’s Knuckleball): Fresher Jake Arrieta could make all the difference for Cubs. More rest, better command, better results.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Cubs may be lining Jon Lester up for Game 1 playoff start. Could be. I’d think Hendricks would follow Lester and Jake get the first road start, though.
  • David Schoenfield (ESPN-Insider {$}): Who should (and will) start Game 1 for every playoff contender? Lester or Arrieta? Schoenfield makes the call.
  • Tim Huwe (the Zygote 50): Lining up the bullpen. It goes to eleven.
  • Bradford Doolittle (ESPN): Can Kyle Hendricks maintain Cy Young-worthy pace? It kind of looks that way, if last night’s game is any indication.
  • Michael Klopman (Sports on Earth): Hendricks: The Cubs’ unlikely ace. Joe Maddon: "It's a wonderful, classic example of not having to throw 90-some miles an hour to be effective."
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): The Cubs continue to limit hard contact – including the sixth man in the rotation. Mike Montgomery wards off well-hit balls, too.
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times): Cubs’ fight stems in part from 2014 night when Rizzo saw red. “It turned this thing around,” ESPN analyst and former Cubs star Rick Sutcliffe said. “It was the day other teams got the message that the Cubs weren’t going to take it anymore.”
  • Luke Norris (Fansided): The day Anthony Rizzo became the leader of the Chicago Cubs. We all remember. “Rizz was ready to fight, man. Oh, my god, was he ready to fight. He was ready to protect his teammates,” said Luis Valbuena.
  • Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): Remember the day the Cubs stopped being The Loveable Losers? No? Well, here it is. “In a game that was also Kyle Hendricks Major League debut, the Chicago Cubs went from the laughingstock of the league to the team who is now the World Series favorite.”
  • August Fagerstrom (Fangraphs): The elite skill you won’t find on Javier Baez’ scouting report. No scout ever came back from the backfields saying, “Man, that kid can tag.”
  • John Stolnis (numberfire.com): Addison Russell has quietly become one of baseball's best shortstops. “It's time to start talking about Russell in the same way we discuss Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, and Corey Seager.”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Addison Russell reaches the 20 homer plateau, an incredibly impressive feat. Bob Lanier also had impressive feets. Russell is working to fill Ernie Banks’ shoes.
  • Matt Snyder (CBS Sports): Cubs infield nears power-hitting history by doing something no NL team ever has. No NL infield has had three members reach 100 rbi each.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): An infield -- and defense -- for the ages propels Cubs. “...let's slow the train to October down for a minute and look at what the Cubs have in their infield.”
  • Mike Petriello (MLB.com): Cubs' defense helping to push for run prevention record. All you need is glove.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN): Davey Martinez delivers the bad news for Joe Maddon. “It starts with him and ends with me,” Maddon said.
  • John Grochowski (Chicago Sun-Times*): Record in 1-run games lowers Cubs’ mark vs. Pythagorean. “The Cubs are right on their Pythagorean projection but still trail the major-league-leading Rangers by a wide margin.”
  • Todd Sabin (isportsweb): Are the St. Louis Cardinals the biggest threat out there? Sabin feels that the Cardinals might pay the Cubs back for last year, should they make the postseason.
  • Jerry Crasnick (ESPN-Insider {$}): Trade grades: How have in-season deals worked out for the contenders? Looking at thirteen teams’ deals.
  • Tim Huwe (the Zygote 50): The Myth of E.T.A. When a player will “arrive” is an inexact science.
  • Rhett Bollinger (MLB.com): Jason McLeod to interview for Twins' front-office role. “McLeod has 21 years of experience in baseball operations and coaching.”
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN): Jed Hoyer on scouting/development guru Jason McLeod leaving: 'It's inevitable'. “We dodged a few bullets the last few years with him,” Hoyer said Monday afternoon.
  • Jesse Borek (Today’s Knuckleball): Twins request permission to interview Cubs assistant GM Jason McLeod. The Twins are likely to get the #1 pick.
  • Quinn Allen (Cubbies Crib): Interview with ESPN play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman. From before Arrieta’s start against the Astros.
  • Keith O’Brien (DM News): Segmentation a winning strategy for Chicago Cubs. The team has seven primary fan segments, all mirrored around the question of “how did they want to interact with the Cubs?”

Food for thought (make your brains go all ‘splody).

  • Will Worley (Independent.co.uk): Scientists discover dolphins ‘can speak almost like humans’. John Lilly postulated that long ago. George C. Scott and Robert Merle would tend to agree. So would Flipper.
  • Hanneke Weitering (Space.com): Red Planet Hike: Mars looks like National Park in awesome new pics. "Curiosity's science team has been just thrilled to go on this road trip through a bit of the American desert southwest on Mars," Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada said.
  • David Z. Morris (Fortune): Yes, we can build industry in space—and we should start now. “The main challenge for this concept,” writes Dr. Phil Metzger, “is neither technology nor cost but simply convincing people it is realistic.”

Len Kasper was heard to say (in the bottom of the seventh) that Hendricks might throw a cut changeup. That makes my brain explode. Don’t get any on ya. See ya Thursday.