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Cub Tracks Leapfrogs The Competition

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Who can beat the Cubs, coming down the mountain, little changes, and other bullets

Motorsports: NORRA Mexican 1000
Baja humbug!
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

CUBS Lose.

R.I.P. Dallas Green.

R.I.P. Chuck Barris.

Previously: Cub Tracks Ruled With Iron Fist. Referenced Dancing With the Stars, the fifth starter, the next big bat. Bob Eckstein’s cartoon never came to pass.

Subsequently: David Ross danced, Javier Baez leaped at the chance to showcase his skills, the US WBC team overcame the Japanese WBC team and clinched a berth in the finals for the first time, the Cubs continued to generate news and endorsement opportunities. More stuff below.

Little-known facts: National Lampoon may have been responsible for Beavis and Butthead: The October 1974 issue carried an illustrated story called "Frog Baseball". The story is about two boys, Tom and Dean, describing their passion for playing the game. Says Tom: "The real fun's whacking the living **** out of these ******* frogs and watching the poor bastards go flying through the air all busted up." Mike Judge once said that he entertained the idea of writing for the magazine. "I was thinking of trying to write for National Lampoon, but I figured you had to have connections. So I never pursued it."

The first episode of B&B is entitled "Frog Baseball". Just so you know. Pretty strong circumstantial evidence, I judge.

Cub Tracks does not endorse whack-a-mole or frog baseball, but we do endorse weird humor and factoids, here in Bat Country. This article was produced during Wednesday’s tilt between the Cubs and the Reds. Please forgive our investigative team if we missed any salient information posted after 9 p.m. Arizona time. Feel free to post such material in the comments — that’s always appreciated. Special thanks to Mike Vail's Evil Twin for ideas and content. The Doctor is in. Some Cubs funnies for you:

Presently: I’m having a tough time deciding whether to watch the Cubs and Reds or the WBC first. I’ll definitely watch both. How about you? Tell us all about it! As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history**:

  • 1938 - Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis frees 74 Cardinals minor leaguers, among them Pete Reiser, in yet another attempt to halt the farm system cover-up. Dodgers General Manager Larry McPhail makes a pact with Branch Rickey to take the as-yet unknown Reiser and swap him back in the future, but the young outfielder's ability is too great to hide.
  • 1951 - The Brooklyn Dodgers sign a 21-year lease with the city of Vero Beach, Florida, for use of their spring training facilities there.
  • 1962 - William DeWitt buys the Reds from the Crosley Foundation for $4.625 million.
  • 1963 - On the day he is fitted for his big-league Orioles uniform, Steve Dalkowski, pitching in an exhibition against the Yankees, feels something pop in his left elbow. The fireballer from New Britain, Connecticut, who once struck out 24 batters in a minor league game, will never appear in the major leagues.
  • 2009 - Thanks to Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki’s two-out, two-run single in the top of the 10th inning, Japan defeats South Korea, 5-3, to win its second consecutive World Baseball Classic title. South Korea, the reigning Olympic champion, had tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth on Lee Bum-ho's two-out RBI single off Japanese closer Yu Darvish in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 54,846 at Dodger Stadium.

News you can use:

  • George Castle (Chicago Baseball Museum): Cubs connections a big spur in Team Israel’s surprising WBC story. Six players or coaches, five Jewish, who had Wrigley Field ties were integral parts of the story: Sam Fuld, Jason Marquis, Andrew Lorraine, Tom Gamboa, Ike Davis, and Jerry Weinstein.
  • Nate Olson (Saline County Lifestyles): Travis Wood: Pt. 1 — The Climb. “One thing about Travis is, you didn’t dare him to do anything because he would do it,” Dena Wood says.
  • Nate Olson (Saline County Lifestyles): Travis Wood: Pt. 2 — The Summit. As the 2017 season begins Wood will be in a Kansas City Royals uniform, moving back to the starting rotation. However, the Cubs will always be close to Wood’s heart.
  • Sam Fels (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Jake Arrieta coming down the mountain. “...over the past ten years, only three pitchers have had even a 50-inning increase from one year to the next.”
  • Ben Bailey (Fangraphs): Carl Edwards, Jr had a bad day in a great year. The third-lowest wOBA in the league would look even better if we forgot about August 13.
  • Randy Holt (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Examining Justin Grimm’s 2017 role in Chicago. “...we could very well see a Justin Grimm that returns to the form closer to that of 2014 and 2015.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Dylan Cease needs more than 100 mph fastball to remain a starter in Cubs system. "I would like to see development in my changeup this year," Cease said. He’s not the only one.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Jon Lester: Best in (free agent) class after just 2 years? “There’s no way we’re world champions without Jon Lester,” Jed Hoyer said.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Battery mate: Jon Lester builds trust with Willson Contreras. “You figure it out as you go and make adjustments," commented Lester.
  • ESPN*: Anthony Rizzo on his World Series speech [AUDIO].
  • Andrew Simon (MLB.com): Javier Baez' otherworldly play nabs Dutch runner at plate. Javy has all the skills.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Maddon sees growth in Baez during Classic. "He's playing full throttle -- which he did at the end of last year," Maddon said.
  • Eno Sarris (Fangraphs): Addison Russell and the perils of improvement. “Getting better at something can open you up to new risks.”
  • Jeff Sullivan (Fangraphs): 2017 Positional Rankings: Shortstop. Cubs rank sixth in Sullivan’s estimation.
  • Craig Edwards (Fangraphs): 2017 Positional Rankings: Second Base. Cubs rank eighth in Edwards’ estimation.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Faith prepared Jacob Hannemann for baseball's challenges. He’s catching up after devoting 2 years to his mission.
  • Godon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): Albert Almora Jr. looks ready for impact role. “What sets him apart is a gym-rat sense for the game.”
  • Fabian Ardaya (MLB.com): Jon Jay anxiously awaits return to Cubs-Cards rivalry. "I'm looking forward to it this year, definitely," he said. "We'll see how the reactions are."
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Matt Szczur keeping it light while playing hard. "I'm just trying to play the best I can," he said. "For me, Game 7, you could say it's like that. But I'm trying to have fun."
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Report: Braves interested in Cubs outfielder Matt Szczur. Ken Rosenthal broke the story. Eric Cole (Talking Chop) concurs.
  • Jared Wyllys (Cubs Den): Little changes will yield great strides. Incremental improvement will look good for Jason Heyward.
  • Barry Rozner (Daily Herald {$}): Ian Happ can blame Theo Epstein for numbers problem. So many good players, so few spots.
  • Chuck Wasserstrom (MLB Trade Rumors): Straight from the heart: The signing of Ted Lilly. “It was in Orlando where it all came together.” Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation) also has words.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): David DeJesus Q&A: New CSN Cubs analyst on retirement, Anthony Rizzo and Joe Maddon. "This job fell into my lap where I can still be a part of a team and still be in baseball, but on the other side of the camera."
  • James Dator (SB Nation): The Cubs are getting a World Series movie, so let's cast it with Muppets. “The biggest problem with casting right now is that we’re missing some of the Muppet all-stars.”

Food for thought:

  • Shelley Fan (Singularity Hub): Is the brain more powerful than we thought? Here comes the science. Dendrites. “...brains have 100 times more processing capacity than we previously thought...”
  • Futurism: Can science transform us into superheroes? Perhaps, but moral and ethical questions remain...
  • Hannah Devlin (Science): Radical shakeup of dinosaur family tree points to unexpected Scottish origins. “Cat-sized Scottish fossil proposed as candidate for common dinosaur ancestor in controversial study that could overthrow a century of dinosaur classification.”

Thanks for reading. We’ll be back with our Sunday best.

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