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Cub Tracks’ Weekend Worriers

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Schwarbombs, Ernie Banks, Eddie Butler, and other bullets

Schwarbird Schwarbombing
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

So, Phil the punk saw his shadow, and there are six more weeks of winter. Probably not in Florida or Arizona, not so you can tell, anyway. The earth is getting closer to the sun, and the air is pretty warm in the southern reaches of North America.

Goodbye for another year, Phil. We never liked you anyway. You’re fat and lazy and you cannot chuck wood. The prairie dog colony down the street says you’re wrong, and that spring starts next week. Spring is in the air. Or a skunk is down the street. One of those is true...

That’s right. Spring training starts NEXT WEEK. Are you ready yet? I’m wondering whether to take my decorations down. Since I’m a little ‘stitious™, I’ve left the last ‘W’ flag up, and the seven hats I’ve collected over the years, and my various shirts and jerseys, they’re all displayed prominently in my humble hovel.

I don’t know what kind of ripples it will send out into the aether if I move the things. It may change the chemical composition of the phlogiston, and I may have to consult a phrenologist to stay ahead of things.

Fortunately, I’m in the best shape of my life™ , if pear-shaped is the ideal, and I’m going to be able to muddle through with a great deal of assistance from my assistants, Drs. Howard, Fine, and Howard. We’ll be able to get our heads together and find the solution if it kills them.

Ever heard of first-world problems? The Cubs have first-division problems now. Holding off the other teams is the issue now, continuing to ride the crest of those waves and waves of talent while ducking and weaving. The roster is basically settled to the 21st man or so — we just have to find out who’s playing where, when. I Don’t Know is on second since Rizzo’s on first.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1919 - N.L. president John Heydler dismisses charges brought in 1918 by Reds owner Garry Herrmann and manager Christy Mathewson against Hal Chase for betting against his team and throwing games in collusion with gamblers. Two weeks later, Giants manager John McGraw trades first baseman Walter Holke and catcher Bill Rariden to the Reds for Chase.
  • 1942 - The Braves get Tommy Holmes from the Yankees for Buddy Hassett and Gene Moore in one of the best trades in Braves history. Hassett will hit .284, then join the Navy and never make it back to the major leagues. The much-traveled Moore will never play for the Yanks. Holmes couldn't break into New York's all-star outfield, but he will be a .302 career hitter and help the Braves win the 1948 pennant.
  • 1956 - New York City Mayor Robert Wagner and Brooklyn Borough President Frank Cashmore sponsor a bill to create a Brooklyn Sports Center Authority, which will propose building a $30 million downtown sports center.
  • more factoids from The National Pastime.

Apparently Leo always had a Lip. Some other chinwags and finger tips are below. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

This and that about these:

  • Phil Rogers (MLB.com): Cubs' mound options expansive. 37 arms are expected in camp. Presumably most of them are attached to people.
  • Phil Rogers (MLB.com): Why the Cubs will repeat -- and why they won't. Five reasons for each.
  • Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): Cubs are so good that MLB is making up weaknesses for them. Refuting or at least arguing against some of Phil Rogers’ points.
  • Cash Kruth (MLB.com): Truck packed, Cubs prepare to defend WS title. “On the same morning Punxsutawney Phil declared there to be six more weeks of winter, a moving truck was being packed outside of Wrigley Field with the promise of two more weeks until Spring Training.”
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): The lack of activity this offseason may have been about more than a weak free agent class. Meditation about Buster Olney ‘Insider’ column.
  • James Neveau (NBC Chicago): Bet with Kyle Schwarber nearly made David Ross stay with Cubs. Ross reneged on the bet. “When your teammates pick you up and carry you off the field, I think that’s game, set, match right there,” he said.
  • CBS Chicago: Kyle Schwarber: ‘I still want to catch’. “I’ve done it my whole life. And I still feel like I have something to offer,” he said, acknowledging Willson Contreras’ excellence.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Quantifying Hope: Cubs projected to maintain defensive superiority. Jeff Sullivan found that the Cubs should again reign supreme. This article elaborates on that article.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Watch: CI Exclusive Video of Kyle Schwarber taking BP at Sloan Park. I suspect you’ll like this. Schwarbombs.
  • JJ Stankevitz (CSN Chicago*): From the stands at the World Series to 2017's outfield, Cubs see Jon Jay as important piece of title defense. Jay watched Game 3 from the Wrigley Field stands.
  • Ken Schultz (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Finding a comparison for Game Seven. “...the best day in Cubs history might only have one real point of comparison: the zenith of the Washington Senators franchise.”
  • Ryan Davis (Cheat Sheet): The 26 strangest sports superstitions. It’s one of those multi-page things. But very interesting, Arte Johnson.
  • Mary Craig (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Ernie Banks and the Meaning of Baseball. “His eternal optimism and resiliency reflect the best qualities of humanity, and the impact he had on Chicago demonstrates the purpose of baseball.”
  • Eno Sarris (Fangraphs): Eddie Butler: Then, now, and in the future. Very good candidate for Bosmosis.
  • Zach Bernard (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Eddie Butler’s second act in Chicago. “The jury’s still out on whether or not Butler can replicate some of Arrieta’s success, but there are a few areas of his game where the Cubs could be of immediate assistance.”

Food for thought:

  • Diana Steele (Science News): Artist’s amnesia could help unlock mysteries of memory. “...remembering “what” happened is different from learning and remembering “how” to do things.”
  • Fiona McDonald (Science Alert): Scientists simulate a new material that could be even weirder than graphene. Monofilament line may not be far away. Single-atom chains of boron look possible.
  • Paul Voosen (Science): Mars Rover steps up hunt for molecular signs of life. Scientists want to perform wet chemistry. But there’s a hitch.

Thanks for reading. Cub Tracks will be back Tuesday with more of the latest and greatest.