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Cub Tracks Rules With Iron Fist

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Dancing With the Stars, the fifth starter, the next big bat, and other bullets

insert witty rejoinder here
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

CUBS WIN!

In the previous round, Cub Tracks stretched time, served donuts, and submitted early before taking in the contest between the Cubs and the Japanese World Baseball Classic team. That was a wonderful experience that will be repeated next year, if I have anything to say about it.

My guest saw her first professional baseball game, I drove around in a brand-new car, the Cubs won, and I met BCB bossman Al Yellon face-to-face (we were wearing identical shirts, strangely enough). Those are all highlights. The lowlights would be Phoenix-area drivers, who are just brain-dead. I saw more stupid human tricks in one hour than I had seen in my eight years of residing in western New York, the previous record-holder for automotive misadventures per vehicle.

Today I’m taking in the events of the tilt between the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs while inscribing these words on digital paper, from the safety of my humble hovel near the foothills of the Catalina Mountains. My orange tabby Buster, a Cub convert (previously a Tigers fan), is comfortably esconced in the shotgun seat, I have a Chicago-style hot dog that didn’t cost ten dollars, and all is well at present, despite having to listen to the Rockies awful broadcast team.

The less said about the ending of Sunday night’s game, the better. I had to binge four episodes of Iron Fist to get that out of my head. Spring training is starting to drag on, anyway. I’m ready for the season to start. How about you? Monday’s game was way better. Still some things up in the air — Matt Szczur’s future, Tommy La Stella’s future, how many utility at-bats Ben Zobrist picks up...

I’m rooting for Grandpa but dinner plans said no DWTS. Let’s talk some baseball. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history**:

  • 1908 - Ty Cobb signs with Detroit for $4,000 plus an $800 bonus if he hits over .300. He will collect the bonus with a league-leading .324, becoming one of only three A.L. regulars to top .300 (the N.L. has five) this year.
  • 1934 - Babe Didrikson, a renowned female athlete, gives up no hits and walks only one Dodger when she pitches the first inning of the Philadelphia A's spring training game at McCurdy Field in Frederick, Maryland. The founder of the LPGA and Olympic track and field Gold Medalist will also participate in exhibition contests with the Indians and Cardinals.
  • 1962 - Philadelphia retires pitcher Robin Roberts’ number 36.
  • 1968 - Royals is chosen as the name of the new Kansas City A.L. franchise.
  • 1973 - In a special election, the BBWAA selects (393 out 424 votes) the late Roberto Clemente to be a member of the Hall of Fame. The usual five year rule had been previously waived by the organization's board of directors.
  • 1977 - Mark Fidrych, the 1976 Rookie of the Year, rips the cartilage in his left knee and will undergo surgery 10 days later. The injury will effectively end the fabled career of “the Bird”.
  • 1978 - The Padres fire manager Alvin Dark, replacing him with pitching coach Roger Craig. Dark and Phil Cavaretta (Cubs in 1954) are the only managers ever fired during spring training.
  • 1986 - The Yankees announce that their most celebrated off-season acquisition, 26-year-old pitcher Britt Burns, will not pitch at all this season because of a chronic deteriorating hip condition. He never again pitches in the major leagues. Burns had won 18 games for the White Sox the previous season.
  • 2006 - At San Diego's Petco Park, Japan, managed by all-time international home-run king Sadaharu Oh, captures the first World Baseball Classic crown, beating Cuba, 10-6. The 16-team tournament, which will take place again in the year 2009, ends with just two major leaguers still in the game.
  • 2006 - In his first appearance in a Nationals uniform, Alfonso Soriano refuses to play the outfield in an exhibition game against the Dodgers. The one-time All-Star second baseman, who was listed on Frank Robinson's lineup to start in left field, could be placed on the disqualified list for his insubordination, preventing him from getting paid his $10 million salary and accruing service time, which is used to determine a player's free agent status.

News you can use:

  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Chicago Cubs' rotation relies on its 'big three'. Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, and Jake Arrieta form as formidable a "big three" as any in the game.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Mike Montgomery or Brett Anderson fifth starter? No word yet. Joe Maddon did say Monday that it may be more difficult to have Anderson pitch in relief since he's been a starter his whole career.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Brett Anderson looks like obvious fifth starter in Cubs rotation. "They are equal," Maddon said.
  • John Arguello (Cubs Den): Even with elite defense and ability to throw strikes, velocity still big key for Cubs and their future. “...this is not the same as saying that above average velocity is absolutely essential to having MLB success as a pitcher. What it does say is that it makes success much more likely.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Maddon anticipates even more run production. "I think, naturally, the hitting will get better," Maddon said. "If somebody had a bad year, they should rebound from last year."
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*): Could the Cubs score 900 runs? Analytics department projects big numbers. “The statistical gurus project the Cubs to score more runs with Schwarber leading off than they scored with Dexter Fowler atop the order in 2016...”
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN): Jason Heyward's swing makeover: Did it actually work? Maddon says it depends on whom you talk to.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Already a Cubs legend, Kyle Schwarber laughs off the critics of his outfield defense. “...don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something," he said.
  • Randy Holt (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Javier Baez and playing the game “The Right Way”. “If Javy Baez isn’t playing the game the “right way”, then nobody is.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Maddon wants to face WBC champions. He'd like to see the defending Major League World Series champs play the winner of the World Baseball Classic in a best-of-three series.
  • Alec Brzezinski (The Sporting News): Cubs 2017 preview: Chicago appears ready to repeat after dream run. Basically, the same team goes after it again.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): The next big bat? Ian Happ says he’s ready for Cubs to call. “I’m excited for the opportunity to help this ballclub in any way I can,” said Happ.
  • Todd Johnson (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Oscar de la Cruz could be a giant arm with one more pitch. Work on his change would set off the rest of his repertoire.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune * {$}): Cubs plan to party, pull for David Ross on DWTS. Miguel Montero is hosting the shindig.
  • Sean Sears (Sports Mockery): The Cubs have interest in Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb. Not the first time around for this rumor. Jeimer Candelario is one of the names mentioned.

Food for thought:

  • Darrell Etherington (Tech Crunch): SpaceX recovers Dragon capsule loaded with science and research from the ISS. “The final stage of SpaceX’s CRS-10 resupply mission for the International Space Station wrapped up Sunday.”
  • Science News: Scientists make the case to restore Pluto's planet status. Pluto "has everything going on on its surface that you associate with a planet. ... There's nothing non-planet about it," says Kirby Runyon of Johns Hopkins.
  • Diane Rugg (WCNC.com*): Trainers show tech side of sports, health in 'Science of Sports Day'. “March is National Athletic Trainers Month and the association advocates to have athletic trainers at all sporting events to prevent injuries and respond when they happen.”

Smell you Thursday. Thanks for reading.

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