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Cub Tracks’ Meta Man Upon A Stair

Blame it on Theo, catching up, and other bullets

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Chicago Cubs Victory Celebration
Geico commercial?
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Last time around these parts, Cub Tracks invoked the mighty blue magic, peered through elastic glass, and related unconventional wisdom as the tepid stove league continued to bumble along and the clock to spring training continued to tick.

The stovetop is in fact gelid, a situation no doubt brought on by Theo Epstein, whose success is due to attract an army of copycats as teams attempt to tank their way to victory without understanding how to get beyond treading water, i.e., the ‘blue magic’.

Nobody wants to spend money on mid-tier free agents any more. Spacetime donuts have come to baseball. The center field cannot hold.

Jason Hammel and Travis Wood might be Cubs again. Because why not play for the champs when nobody else is calling?

Blame it on Theo, Michael Caine. I know that’s a complete lot of bologna but history foreshortens the further you draw away and cultural myopia is setting in even now. If you shade your eyes against the glare one can see the specter of a salary cap somewhere in the dim future, following an era of upper-strata stars and hordes of homegrown ‘talent’ populating the mid-market and small-market teams while the deep-pocketed suck up the superstars in a Steinbrennerian frenzy.

Oh wait, that’s now. Blame Theo anyway. Because actual answers would require a paradigm shift and the kind of intensive self-examination that the business interests of the sport would never allow, Victor Conte.

Let’s leave aside the idea of baseball as a political football and move on, shall we?

Today in baseball history:

  • 1920 - A plan developed by Charles Ebbets many years ago is finally adopted - the annual drafting of players from the minor leagues will be done in inverse order of the final standings.
  • 1972 - Owner John Fetzer announces that the Tigers have signed a lease to build a $126 million domed stadium along the river in downtown Detroit. The complex will seat 52,000 for baseball, and 60,000 for football. Lawsuits, a failed bond issue, and the construction of the Silverdome in nearby Pontiac eventually kill the idea.
  • 1983 - Brooks Robinson and Juan Marichal are elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA. Robinson, winner of 16 straight Gold Gloves and hero of the 1970 World Series, becomes the 14th player elected in his first year of eligibility. Marichal, the winningest Latin American pitcher in major league history, won 20 or more games six times and had an ERA of 2.50 or less six times.
  • 1988 - Former Pirates slugger Willie Stargell is the only player elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA. Stargell, leader of two world champions in Pittsburgh and NL co-MVP in 1979 at age 39, becomes the 17th player to be elected in his first year of eligibility. Jim Bunning falls four votes shy of the 321 needed for election in his 13th year on the ballot.
  • 1994 - Steve Carlton, winner of 329 games and four Cy Young Awards, is elected to the Hall of Fame.
  • More.

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

Video courtesy of Tim Sheridan.

Stuff People Wrote and Said:

  • George Castle (Chicago Baseball Museum): A little bit of the Cubs will stay with lifetime-secure Dodger Rich Hill. “...imagine if the Cubs were paying him.”
  • George Castle (Chicago Baseball Museum): Sosa likely not HOF material continuing on straight and narrow path. “Without any artificial enhancements, Sosa might have headed for the Hall of the Very Good at best.”
  • Rick Morrissey (Chicago Sun-Times): The Cubs Convention, as seen through the eyes of an outsider. “Four Millennials wearing matching “Theo For God’’ T-shirts wheel and press in on you, their faces suggesting unspeakable acts.”
  • Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced. Now that’s more like it.
  • Buster Olney (ESPN Insider {$}): Top catchers: A Giant among backstops. Willson Contreras makes the list. Michael Cerami breaks down the previous installments.
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Kyle Schwarber feels good, looks good – and still wants to catch.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune): Kyle Schwarber wants to catch, but will Cubs let him?
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Kyle Schwarber hoping to swap fedora for catcher’s mask. “I’d like to have the opportunity,” the World Series hero offered. “If it comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But I’m going to fight. They have a plan. I’m going to follow the plan, but I’m going to stick to my guns.”
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): Dynasty? Anthony Rizzo wants Cubs to follow in Blackhawks' footsteps. He still can’t shoot the biscuit, though.
  • SI via Extra Mustard: Anthony Rizzo visits children’s hospital with World Series trophy. Ya gotta love the Rizz.
  • John Arguello (Cubs Den): Is corny the new cool? Cubs focus on culture that cares puts them on the cutting edge. “ efficiencies aren't permanent.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Jake Arrieta's future and how Cubs plan to build their rotation for 2017 and beyond. "My main motivation now is just to win for the 24 other guys that I have in the clubhouse with me," Arrieta said.
  • Todd Johnson (Cubs Insider): Draft profile: Hagan Danner already has World Series experience. The 2011 Little League World Series, that is.
  • Tim Huwe (The Zygote 50): Tri-folding the 2017 draft.”It’ll be June before you know it.”
  • Jared Wyllys (Cubs Den): Spring training backfields and Hall of Fame voters. “ is not---and never was---a bastion of morality.”
  • Cat Garcia (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Jon Lester: Projecting baseball’s $155 million man. “Lester looks like he’s bound to have above average success in his upcoming seasons.”
  • Jared Wyllys (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): C.J. Wilson: Potential offseason target. His health may be an issue.
  • Travis Sawchik (Fangraphs): That time Joe Maddon met Dabo Swinney. “Remaking and rethinking coaching staffs is one area that has not been disrupted but perhaps the Cubs are on to something in enhancing teaching, communication and acceptance of information.”
  • Steve Gardner (USA Today): Elite pitching, dynamic slugging duo are Cubs' calling cards. Fantasy baseball preview.
  • Ryan Davis (FanRag Sports): Cubs seem set on six-man rotation, with or without Tyson Ross. “...the addition of a sixth arm could help ease the regular-season burden on everyone.”

Food for thought:

  • Agata Blaszczak-Boxe (Live Science): Your drunken urge for Pizza and Wings, explained by science. "the apéritif effect"
  • Virginia Morrell (Science): What dogs hear when we talk to them. Gary Larson covered that a long time ago. The article says “...puppies find our pooch-directed speech exciting, whereas older dogs are somewhat indifferent.”
  • Alex Orlov (Mic): Science reveals the truth about drinking whiskey to fight a cold. It works, especially in a hot toddy. Much more pleasant, I imagine, than heroin, which is also supposed to work.

He wasn’t there again today. Convene in peace. Smell you Sunday.