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Cub Tracks counts down

Is it spring training yet?

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World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Houston Astros - Game Three
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images


Last time around, the stove was so cool that Cub Tracks covered up in duck down and went back to sleep. “Wake me when spring training starts,” I said, shaking my fist at the sky. “Or at least until 2017 is over!”

Hasn’t been my favorite year, for personal reasons that I won’t get into, but, more to the point, Santa Theo has steadily refused to drop a big gift under our trees. I’m not sure he’s going to, and the team will have to get out of the woods on their own. Wade Davis is a Rockie, Scott is continuing to Boras, and all that remains are articles that are essentially educated fantasy baseball and puns.

I don’t think I would be going too far out on a limb to admit that I love both branches of literature, and the conceptual continuity would certainly admit to an affair with the extended metaphor tantamount to the powers of one Ralph Dibny, may his nose forever twitch. And I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but these subreferences are almost Millerian (Millerish?) both in their obscurity and their relation to the rest of the text.

Let’s leave that line of conjecture alone, for the sake of both clarity and charity, and dive into a pile of news, raked from the muck for your possible infotainment pleasure. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Yore baseball:

Today in baseball history:

  • 1878 - A reported eight million bats are sold in the United States. With a population estimated at approximately 48 million, an average of one out of every six Americans owns a bat.
  • 1897 - Charles H. Ebbets, team treasurer, purchased controlling interest of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
  • 1972 - Roberto Clemente is tragically killed when the four-engine DC-7 plane he chartered to bring much-needed supplies to the victims of the Nicaraguan earthquake crashes in the Atlantic Ocean after taking off from the coast of Isla Verde. Manny Sanguillen will be the only Pirates player not to attend the memorial service, traveling to Puerto Rico to dive into the waters in an effort to recover his teammate's body, which is never found.
  • 1979 - The Basic Agreement between players and owners expires, precipitating more than 19 months of bitter negotiations, culminating in the 1981 player strike.
  • 1984 - Despite six weeks of negotiations, the Basic Agreement between the players and owners that was reached after the 1981 strike expires. The players are now seeking increased contributions to their pension plan from the clubs' additional television revenues, while the owners are hoping to slow the rapid growth of player salaries.
  • 2008 - Deciding not to shift shortstop Jhonny Peralta to third with Asdrubal Cabrera moving from second to short, the Indians acquire Mark DeRosa from the Cubs to be their everyday third baseman. To get the 33 year-old infielder, the Tribe sends minor league pitching prospects Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer, and John Gaub to Chicago.
  • 2009 - The Cubs agree to a $15 million, three-year deal with Texas free-agent Marlon Byrd (.283, 20, 89) to fill the void in the outfield created when an agitated Milton Bradley was traded to Seattle. Chicago's new outfielder will patrol centerfield, replacing Kosuke Fukudome, who will move over to right field.
  • Happy birthday — Loyd Christopher, Jim Tracy

Your baseball:

Cubs news and notes:

  • Carrie Muskat (*): Debuts, NLDS run made 2017 memorable. The year in review.
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Sports Chicago*): Wade Davis exit part of collateral damage the Cubs expected. “...why they made a point to add relievers Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek on two-year deals in free agency.”
  • Vinnie Duber (NBC Sports Chicago*): How Wade Davis heading to the Rockies could shake up the rest of the Cubs' offseason. “...with Davis signing elsewhere, the Cubs, who are still more than $30 million under the luxury tax, can now use that money to try to lock down one of these top-of-the-line free-agent starters.”
  • Rob Huff (The Athletic {$}): Tyler Chatwood: a long and winding road to Chicago. “Time will tell how the risk pays out.”
  • Jared Wyllys (Cubs Den): Assessing the competition: The Milwaukee Brewers. “...the Brewers strike me as being on the cusp of either putting together a very formidable team or fizzling.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Cubs ‘spirited attempt’ for Manny Machado could have several huge implications. “Could the Cubs really be setting up a series of dominoes...”
  • Matt Snyder (CBS Sports*): The Cubs need to find a leadoff hitter for 2018, and Kris Bryant deserves the job. “...a case for Bryant to be the Cubs' leadoff man in 2018.”
  • Ryan Davis (FanRag Sports): Kyle Schwarber sets his goals high — but how realistic are they? “It’s less about his will and hard work than natural skill and the large gap Schwarber needs to close between his current ability and that of previous Gold Glove winners.”
  • Tommy Meyers (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): 2017 player profile: Adbert Alzolay. “...probably the Cubs current best chance to get an impact starting pitcher out of their farm system.”
  • Madeleine Kenney (Chicago Sun-Times*): John Lackey, Jon Lester and Greg Maddux to tee-off at celebrity golf tournament in Florida. The three-day tournament from Jan. 12-14 will be on the Golf Channel.
  • Jorge L. Ortiz (USA Today): Hall of Fame countdown: Carlos Zambrano burned bright, but quickly faded away. “Carlos Zambrano may never get a plaque with his likeness in Cooperstown, but he did more than enough to avoid any confusion with Victor Zambrano.”

You’re welcome:

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading. Best wishes for the coming year.