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Cub Tracks Plans Ahead

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Fit to be tied, cat and mouse, butt ball, and other bullets

Wait, what?
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Spring training has sprung into action, the games have begun, and the Cubs are 1-1-2, good for four points. Not so bad...and kinda cool to listen on the radio, in the old-timey way, even if the radio has a 52-inch screen. Us non-Chicago people don’t get all the ST games, but then we don’t have to deal with Comcast, a rapacious corporate entity that I used to work for until I got sick.

That’s right — one of the faceless minions that you called and yelled at during frequent blackouts might have been me. I don’t take back any of the things I called you under my breath, either, unless you take back the things you said out loud, especially after you found out that I was no help whatsoever. Heh.

At any rate, I haven’t simmed or played this season yet. The objective of playing on video is to reach the World Series. Since the real team has done exactly that, I don’t play much and have taken up golf as my main gaming activity. I loathe real-life golf but video golf, which involves far less walking around and hitting a little ball into the crowd or bunkers, is a superior entertainment. My main character, Norman Osborn, generally hits the green, but I digress -- this is a baseball blog and we’ll talk about baseball, and leave the goblins for later, Capt. Stacy.

I do have the season set up, having imported the roster from one of those folks that are kind enough to make them, and will likely run a sim this week for column purposes -- it might be interesting to see how the real-life season compares to the sim season. Might be. I’ll post the results anyhow, and we can laugh at me later.

Have also taken the MiLB option once again, so I can follow along a little as Josh and Tim Huwe and my friend Todd from Cubs Insider explain what’s happening down on the farm, and acquaint myself with some of the players. I like to pick a dark horse to make MLB — my last successful pick was Justin Bour, who was always termed an “org guy” but ended up in a good situation (for him) with the hapless Marlins. We’ll talk about that a little, from time to time.

I have other fun things in mind also. We’ll have to see how that all pans out as the year progresses.

Let’s talk some baseball. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1903 - A syndicate headed by Pittsburgh owner Barney Dreyfuss and James Potter buys the Phillies from John Rogers and A. J. Reach for $170,000. It will be another seven years before ownership interest in more than one team is prohibited.
  • 1931 - Ban Johnson dies after a long illness. He had created the A.L. and was its dynamic, dictatorial leader until subdued by the advent of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who took office as the first commissioner in January 1921.
  • 1966 - Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale begin a joint holdout of the Dodgers. They seek an unprecedented three-year, $1.05 million contract to be divided evenly.
  • 1985 - Rick Reuschel signs as a free-agent with the Pirates, spending the first two months in the minors. After being called up in May, 'Big Daddy' will win 14 games and be named the National League's Comeback Player of the Year by The Sporting News.
  • 1986 - In baseball's sternest disciplinary move since the Black Sox were banished for life, Commissioner Peter Ueberroth gives seven players who were admitted drug users a choice of a year's suspension without pay or heavy fines and career-long drug testing, along with 100 hours of drug-related community service. Joaquin Andujar, Jeffrey Leonard, Enos Cabell, Keith Hernandez, Dave Parker, Dale Berra, and Lonnie Smith will be fined 10 percent of their annual salaries, while 14 other players will receive lesser penalties for their involvement with illegal drugs.
  • 1989 - The Special Veterans Committee elects Red Schoendienst, a former second baseman and manager of the Cardinals, and Al Barlick, a major league umpire for over 29 seasons, to the Hall of Fame.
  • 2000 - Yankee outfielder/DH Darryl Strawberry is suspended for one year after testing positive for cocaine. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig does not make any provision for an early return to the game of the eight-time All-Star from the suspension based on good behavior.

News you can use:

  • Jim Bowden (ESPN* Insider {$}): Players ready to break out in 2017. Hickey-Off Pimple Pads would help with that. Bowden likes Kyle Schwarber and thinks Warbird is due for a big year.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Joe Maddon likes Jason Heyward's tweaked approach. "It looks freer," Maddon said of Heyward's approach at the plate. "It's something I believe is going to work. Talking to him, I can tell, looking at his face, how comfortable he is with it.”
  • Audrey Stark (Beyond the Box Score): Jon Jay’s mastery of the painful HBP. “If a pitch is coming at him from the waist-down, Jay is not going to move out of the way.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune {$}): 'Cat-and-mouse game' against left-handers suits Anthony Rizzo. “Throw it inside. That’s where I want the ball,” he commented.
  • Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports): Anthony Rizzo leads charge to support badly beaten student. Cub Tracks continues to follow this heart-warming story.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): In era of great young shortstops, do Cubs have 2 of game’s best? “Yes, and there’s not a thing wrong with that,” Joe Maddon said (about Baez’ style).
  • Jacob Evans (isportsweb): Projected infield depth chart for the Chicago Cubs. Breaking down the position players.
  • David Laurila (Fangraphs): Cubs Notes: Maddon, Kyle Hendricks, Brett Anderson, Mark Zagunis. “You go through that spring-training moment where you’ve got to get your mind working in a method that you normally utilize,” Maddon said.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Chesny Young looks to follow up strong DWL showing. “He batted .351 in 22 games for Escogido, then he joined Aguilas in the playoffs and hit .314.”
  • Todd Johnson (Cubs Insider): Erling Moreno bouncing back after two years off. Still-young right-hander shows a lot of promise.
  • Jay Cohen (AP via Yahoo Sports): Ian Happ soaking in big league camp with Chicago Cubs. ''I've been picking all these guys' brains. It's nice to be around a club with so many guys that have so much experience in the game,'' Happ said. ''So I'm just going to keep soaking it up.''
  • Todd Johnson (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Charcer Burks – Is this his year to break out? “...he will get plenty of time to develop before he gets to Chicago.”
  • Tim Huwe (The Zygote 50): A call for the lights -- Jake Buchanan. “If Buchanan develops into a 1.4 WAR pitcher, that’s worth ten million a year to his team.”
  • Tim Stebbins (Cubbies Crib*): Stop making a big deal of Chicago Cubs trading D.J. LeMahieu. Hindsight is 20/20.
  • Travis Sawchik (Fangraphs): Can Baseball solve the “Yips”? Jon Lester’s not alone.
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Cubs could get used to sellout crowds. "This place has such a regular-season or major-league ballpark representation that it should help you mentally get in that right spot," Maddon said, about Sloan Park.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Joe Maddon misses his chance to guest-star in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. "There was one matchup, and I couldn't get there," Maddon said.
  • Phil Miller (Minneapolis Star-Tribune): Twins minor league manager Mike Quade OK after frightening car accident. "We can't believe we're not dead," Quade said after his SUV was rammed from behind by a car going close to 50 miles per hour.

Food for thought:

  • Ed Yong (The Atlantic): How Brain Scientists forgot that brains have owners. “Five neuroscientists argue that fancy new technologies have led the field astray.”
  • Miriam Kramer (Mashable): Ripples in space and time carry the future of space science. Waves and waves...pass the spacetime donuts and the gravitational theory, please.

** information derived from today in baseball history and the national pastime.