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Cub Tracks is out to launch

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Merkle’s boner, insecurity is great, weird, wild stats, and other bullets

MLB: NLDS-Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals
I’m not sure we should throw that
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

CUBS LOSE.

That said, I liked the Cubs’ collective body language — they’re clearly not defeated or deflated by the loss. We shouldn’t be, either. It’s gonna be hard to wait until Monday to resume the series, but wait we gotta. In our previous edition, we covered the pre-postseason, where the Cubs hadn’t started yet. Now the series is split heading back into Chicago and it’s lunchtime.

Perhaps we should launch an investigation. The Cub Tracks continuum is operating at something close to real time, as most of this stuff was committed to digital text this morning, so that we could be sure to get you, the faithful Cub Tracks readers, the very latest and greatest commentary and repartee for your infotainment needs.

I’m starting to understand how Adrian Veidt felt when his plan came together. Also how the Umpires’ union feels. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, eamus catuli?

Let’s get right to the good stuff, shall we? As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1904 - Jimmy Barrett becomes the first major-leaguer to play 162 games in a season, 57 years before the schedule is expanded from 154 contests to 162. The Tigers outfielder accomplished the unusual feat because Detroit played in ten tie games during the season.
  • 1908 - In a make-up game necessitated by Fred Merkle's base running blunder on September 23, Three Finger Brown outduels Christy Mathewson, 4-2, as the Cubs win the National League pennant by one game over the Giants in one of the most dramatic pennant races of all time.
  • 1929 - In front of 50,000 fans at Wrigley Field, surprise starter Howard Ehmke establishes a new World Series record, striking out 13 Cubs en route to a 3-1 A's victory in Game 1 of the Fall Classic. The mark will last for 34 years until Dodger hurler Carl Erskine fans 14 Yankees in 1953.
  • 1956 - Don Larsen pitches the only perfect game in World Series history, defeating the Dodgers, 2-0 in Game 5 of the Fall Classic at Yankee Stadium.
  • 1959 - In Game 6, the Dodgers defeat the 'Go-Go Sox', 9-3, to win the World Series. Chicago's speed and quickness weren't enough to overcome Los Angeles' hitting and pitching.
  • 2008 - The Cubs exercise Rich Harden's $7 million option for 2009, the day after tests reveal the 26-year-old hurler has a sound pitching shoulder. The hard-throwing right-hander, obtained from the A's in a July deal, compiled a combined record of 10-2, posting a 2.07 ERA in 25 starts for his two teams.
  • Happy birthday, Mike Morgan.

Cubs news and notes:

‘‘If [Edwards and Montgomery] don’t feel any support in this room, something’s wrong,’’ said starting pitcher Jon Lester, who was in line for another playoff victory. ‘‘We’ve all got their backs. Hell, we’ve all been there. . . Hopefully the situation arises [in Game 3], and they go right back out there and dominate.’’ — Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times)


“I need to clarify something about old Nacho Man here,” Lester said. “I wasn’t saying nothing about him personally. I was saying the fact that people were asking for his autograph and taking pictures and him doing interviews…I have no quarrel with Nacho Man.” — Patrick Mooney (NBC Sports Chicago)

  • Mark Townsend (Big League Stew*): Nationals ban Cubs fans 'W' flags, troll them with 'L' flag. “Insecurity is great,” says one Cub fan.
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Just how bad is blowing a two-run lead in the 8th inning anyway? “You just don’t want to see it in the postseason.”
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): 3 questions for Chicago Cubs heading into Game 3 of NLDS. “Momentum is as good as the next game's starting pitcher.”
  • Patrick Mooney (NBC Sports Chicago*): The telltale signs from Jon Lester that Cubs aren’t at all worried about Nationals yet. “We knew it was going to be a battle,” Lester opined.
  • Adam Berry (MLB.com): Jose Quintana ready for playoff debut in Game 3. “Joe Maddon has 'all the faith in the world' in lefty, who faces Scherzer with NLDS tied.”
  • Rick Morrissey (Chicago Sun-Times*): Jake Arrieta’s workout goes well, and he’s locked in for Game 4. “Arrieta’s hamstring gave him no problems in a side session Saturday, according to Cubs president Theo Epstein...”
  • Patrick Mooney (NBC Sports Chicago*): Why it won't shock Jake Arrieta if Max Scherzer misses entire Cubs-Nationals series. “You think you can do it until you get out there and you realize that you’re still handicapped,” Arrieta said.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Maddon doesn't regret bullpen decision, despite Bryce Harper's heroics. “It’s already the postseason of second-guessing managers...”
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times*): Carl Edwards Jr. wants the ball right back — ‘same situation,’ he said. ‘‘C.J. was the right man for the job,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘Harper is good; C.J. is really good. . . I have all the confidence in the world in him. If that happens again, you’re going to see C.J. back out there.’’
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Usually steady, Cubs relievers falter in key spot. “Edwards-- who hadn't allowed a run in more than a month -- and Mike Montgomery give up HRs.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Did Justin Wilson make the playoff roster based on just six plate appearances? “Daniel Murphy is a name that sours the stomachs of Cubs fans for various reasons...”
  • Adam Berry (MLB.com): Bryzzo in need of support from rest of lineup. “Corner infielders each go 3-for-8, carry team in Games 1 and 2.”
  • Paul Skrbina (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Jon Jay: The Cubs' 'almost-everyday player'. "It's almost a problem he's created for himself by being so good off the bench," Maddon said.
  • Amanda Bowen (Cut Four): Anthony Rizzo's Game 2 homer found its way to an ecstatic Cubs fan at Nationals Park. ‘He's Sean Thompson, from nearby New Kent, Va., and he's been a Cubs fan since 1988.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Is this the year Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez gets manager job? “I am ready,” he said.
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Real Bryce Harper shows he's on his way back in a big way. "I saw the loop in it and tried to hit it as hard as I could," he said, about Edwards’ curveball.
  • Jessica Cabe and Ariel Cheung (DNAinfo) Here’s what's new in Wrigleyville since the Cubs won it all last year. “Multiple large-scale developments have either been completed or have made some serious progress over the last year...”

Food for thought:

  • Walter Isaacson (Science): The science behind Mona Lisa’s smile. “How Leonardo da Vinci engineered the world’s most famous painting.”
  • Bruce Bower (Science News): Ancient humans avoided inbreeding by networking. “DNA from 34,000 years ago suggests hunter-gatherers left home to find mates.”
  • Andrew Simon and Matt Kelly (MLB.com): Weird, wild stats from unforgettable '17. “The 2017 Major League season featured plenty of unforgettable moments...”