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Cub Tracks’ Pre-Postseason edition

the 'shot heard around the world', predicting the playoff roster, possibilities are realities, and other bullets

Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs
13 is lucky
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

CUBS ARE OFF UNTIL FRIDAY. First game is at 6:30 CT on TBS.

Postseason schedule. “All games telecast on MLB Network, TBS, FOX and FS1 will be available to MLB.TV subscribers who are authenticated subscribers to the applicable network through a participating pay TV provider.”

Sunday, Cub Tracks spoke Frankly about some of the issues facing our beloved Cubs as they head into the postseason tournament, namely, the pitching rotation order, and the makeup of the postseason 25-man roster.

These are still important, but I’m not going to address them today, for reasons that will remain vague.

The postseason is almost upon us, and I’m gonna indulge my ‘stitiousness instead. I still have eleven ‘W’ flags, and a much bigger wall to post them on. I have a different t-shirt for each game — however, if a shirt has a win in it, it’ll get re-worn. I have two pair of Cubs sweats, acquired last year. One pair has wins in it, if they don’t wash out. Three different caps. I am going shopping later, to acquire the proper Chicago-style foodstuffs, Vienna Beef hot dogs, sliced roast beef, real Polish sausage, ground Italian sausage with fennel for the pizza, Gonnella bread, ground beef and dehydrated onion for the sliders, Old Style, the accoutrements of victory.

Will this help? Probably not. I am bemused at my own ‘stition — I am strictly materialist most of the time. Lovecraftian, go figure.

But it’s enjoyable to collect the stuff, and fun to root for the laundry, and it’s a harmless affectation at worst. Better than the first game of the ‘84 playoffs, when my friend Jim and I cracked my dad’s 80-year-old Ambassador scotch and did a shot for each run scored. Going, going, gone... perhaps some of those shooters were more than an ounce.

Did I catch hell for that! Took a lot of driving to find another bottle. Missed a day of work. But probably worth it, now that I think about it with 20/20 hindsight.

Do you have rituals? What are they? Similar fandom experiences? Tell us in the comments.

The Twins play the Yankees tonight, 7 p.m. CT on ESPN — Let’s use that as a springboard to the rest of the content. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1909 - Tigers outfielder Ty Cobb becomes the first player in baseball history to win the Triple Crown, leading the Junior Circuit in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. The 'Georgia Peach' accomplishes the feat batting .377, driving in 107 runs, and hitting 9 homers, all of which are inside-the-park round-trippers, for the American League champs.
  • 1919 - Cuban native Adolfo Luque becomes the first player from Latin America to appear in a World Series. In Game 3 of the Fall Classic, 'the Pride Of Havana' pitches a scoreless eighth inning for the Reds in a 3-0 loss to the White Sox at Comiskey Park.
  • 1945 - The Tigers and Cubs meet in the World Series for the fourth time. The Cubs win 9-0.
  • 1951 - In Game 3 of National League play-off series at the Polo Grounds, Bobby Thomson's one-out three-run homer beats the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth, 5-4, and the Giants win the pennant. The round-tripper, better known as the 'shot heard around the world', becomes one of the famous home runs in baseball history.
  • 1962 - The San Francisco Giants rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to win the third game of the tie-breaking playoffs, 6-4, over the Los Angeles Dodgers and move on to the World Series.
  • 1974 - Frank Robinson becomes the first black manager in major league history. The former Reds and Oriole superstar signs a $175,000 contract to manage and play for the Indians.
  • 1981 - The Brewers and Expos clinch their first-ever postseason appearances. Milwaukee beats Detroit 2-1 to wrap up the second-half title in the AL East, while Montreal edges the Mets 5-4 to win the NL East's second playoff spot.
  • 2012 - Miguel Cabrera clinches the AL Triple Crown, becoming the first player to do so since 1967, when Carl Yastzemski accomplished the feat with Boston. The Tigers third baseman and eventual MVP led the circuit in average (.330), home runs (44), and RBIs (139), playing with the American League champs.
  • Happy birthday, Dennis Eckersley.

Cubs news and notes:

TBS is assigning its top announcing crew to cover the Cubs as the defending World Series champions begin their postseason bid for their first back-to-back titles in more than a century.

Ernie Johnson will be calling play-by-play with former pitcher Ron Darling offering analysis and Sam Ryan working as roving reporter when the Cubs' best-of-five National League Division Series with the Nationals opens Friday evening in Washington, D.C. — Phil Rosenthal (Chicago Tribune)

  • Larry Hawley (WGN TV): Kris Bryant ‘Heartbroken’ over the shootings in his hometown of Las Vegas. Among others.
  • Carrie Muskat (*): 3 reasons Cubs can win the World Series. "You cannot ask for a better time to start playing your best baseball of the year," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Predicting the Cubs NLDS lineup and roster. “It’s becoming an annual tradition for Chicago Cubs fans: predict the playoff roster and opening night lineup.”
  • James Neveau (NBC News): Cubs Playoff Preview: Predicting the Playoff Roster. “...but how will the pieces line up when the postseason begins later this week?”
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times*): John Lackey, relief pitcher? Here’s a stab at Cubs’ roster vs. Nats. “There are 22 locks...”
  • Kate Pruesser (Lookout Landing): Why Mariners fans should Bandwagon the Cubs. “Aside from the historical ethos, the Cubs are a very fun team.”
  • Audrey Stark (Federal Baseball): Washington Nationals vs Chicago Cubs - NLDS 2017: Who makes Nats’ postseason roster? “Some choices are obvious, others are much harder.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Five breakthroughs that pushed Cubs into playoff showdown against Nationals. “...beyond depth, there will be more than enough Bryzzo, big-game experience and premium talent on this playoff roster to beat a Nationals team that still has so much to prove in October.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Cubs will unveil NLDS rotation Wednesday. “Jon Lester or Kyle Hendricks will likely start the first game of the best-of-five series.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Windy gritty: Cubs love passionate Lackey. "When he's on the mound, it's take no prisoners, and that's one of the things you can learn from him," Hendricks said.
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): Cubs prepare October bullpen with the John Lackey Experience. "Give him a test out of the bullpen — see what it looked like, see how he felt, that kinda thing," Maddon said.
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): We were all wrong about Kris Bryant. His “improvement in contact is the equivalent of a human beating a supercomputer at chess.”
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): How Kris Bryant topped his MVP season with Cubs. "Everybody looks at the fact that his RBI total isn't what it could've been, but everything else is in play," agreed Maddon.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Kyle Schwarber has proven he needs to be in playoff lineup. “ player hit as many homers as Schwarber with fewer than the Cubs slugger’s 209 plate appearances.”
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): After roller coaster season, Kyle Schwarber wants to add to his budding 'Mr. October' legacy. "This is my favorite time of year," he said.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): How Jon Jay brought Cubs clubhouse together for big finish. “Jon Jay, to me, the 2017 Cubbies don’t go without him,” Ben Zobrist said.

Food for thought:

  • Gretchen Vogel, Erik Stokstad (Science): Timing is everything: U.S. trio earns Nobel for work on the body’s biological clock. “Discoveries about how organisms stay in sync with Earth’s rhythm of day and night have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.”
  • Tom Siegfried (Science News): Quantum mysteries dissolve if possibilities are realities. “Spacetime events and objects aren’t all that exists, new interpretation suggests.”
  • Nicole Wetsman (Popular Science): What actually happens when you pull a muscle? “In a nutshell, a strained muscle means that some number of the fibers that make up one of your muscles tore.”

I strained my brain. Thanks for reading. Cub Tracks will continue pre-post-season coverage Thursday in time for breakfast.