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Cub Tracks Goes One Track Over The Line

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Slider movement, Vegas vocation, cards and more cards, and other bullets

Almora and mora these type of catches
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Good evening. Previously on It’s the Mind, we leapfrogged the competition. Previously on It’s the Mind, we leapfrogged the competition.

Tonight, we examine the fascinating phenomenon of Deja Vu. I feel like we’ve been here before. Certainly Brewer and Shipley have been to this railway station previously. I’m probably hellbound for that bad segue but whatever. Sometimes the track of conceptual continuity can be mysterious.

In any event,

CUBS WIN!

and

CUBS DON’T WIN!

Spring training is almost over, thank the fershlugginer gods of baseball and Ben Grimm’s Aunt Petunia. Soon we’ll know the answer to the question about Matt Szczur, Tommy La Stella, life, the universe, Neil Gorsuch, and everything.

Are the Barves calling for the former Roman emperor? Or is that all just word salad? Whither Jeimer Candelario? Is Ian Happ on speed-dial? Are those StatCast commercials annoying enough? What about the WWE “Hero” one? Doctor, my eyes.

Speaking of which, I’d like one of those Hawaiian Groomsman suits. Those were great. Better than the gold lettering, or at least I think so.

I know that was already covered, but seriously, those are some of the worst game threads ever. That’s so not-Cub. It’s like sparkly vampires. Just ain’t right.

Now that I’ve done and gone all Dickie Goodman on you, let’s talk some baseball. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history**:

  • 1937 - On the advice of Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio reduces the weight of his bat from 40 ounces to 36 ounces.
  • 1951 - During a spring exhibition game against the University of Southern California at Bovard Field, Mickey Mantle hits a home run which is estimated to travel 650 feet. The rookie's performance, which includes a single, triple, and another homer, is one of the highlights of the Yankees' first ever West Coast trip.
  • 1957 - Yankee manager Casey Stengel is arrested and is released on $50 bail after he allegedly curses at and kicks a newspaper photographer during an exhibition game in St. Petersburg.
  • 1960 - Baltimore chief Lee MacPhail moves an Orioles-Reds series scheduled for Havana, Cuba, to Miami. The Reds, with a farm club in Cuba, want the trip, but the Orioles fear increased political unrest in the area.
  • 1976 - The A.L. approves the purchase of the new Toronto franchise by Labatt Breweries for $7 million.
  • 1979 - The Padres and Giants announce that the 1980 exhibition series between the two teams will be played in Tokyo. But Giants owner Bob Lurie leaves the decision up to his players, who reject the agreement.
  • 1984 - In a spring training deal, the Phillies trade outfielders Gary Matthews and Bob Dernier along with right-handed reliever Porfi Altamirano to the Cubs for right-hander Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz, a utility player. The former Philadelphia fly chasers, who will each receive consideration for the MVP award, both play a pivotal role in Chicago's first-place finish in the National League Eastern Division.
  • 1984 - Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color line playing for the Dodgers in 1947, is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously by President Reagan. Rachel Robinson, on behalf of her late husband, accepts the award, the highest civilian honor given in the United States.

Cubs News:

The Cubs have a decision to make regarding their bench, and Matt Szczur may have an edge. On Saturday in Mesa, manager Joe Maddon raved about Szczur and also said Tommy La Stella would report to the Minor Leagues if needed. La Stella has options remaining; Szczur does not. — Carrie Muskat

  • David Axelrod (The New Yorker): Can the Cubs Do It Again? “On paper, the 2017 Cubs should be even better than the curse-busting crew of a year ago. But, beyond the hazards of injury and the competitiveness of the league, there are other obstacles to repeat success.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): Cubs safe after shooting, police standoff at team hotel. Kyle Hendricks said players on the second bus told him they were concerned they weren’t going to be allowed to leave because police already were in full response.
  • Mike Oz (Big League Stew*): Opening 25-year-old baseball cards with Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks. Part of a series. The other episodes are listed as well.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Yoga keeps Hendricks centered on mound. “...It doesn't matter what kind of setting or where you go or how weird or awkward. If you just worry about what you have to do, you can come in and do what you need to do."
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’. "That's a testament to the group as a whole – and maybe me evolving as a person,” he said.
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): While Hector Rondon’s fastball velocity was fine in WBC, slider movement may be real issue. “...PitchFX data from the WBC suggests Rondon’s slider isn’t ready.”
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*): Javier Baez returns to Cubs as his legend grows. “I never want him to lose his flair,” Maddon said.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Javier Baez won’t change his style around Cubs after World Baseball Classic: ‘We’re not showing anybody up’. "I'm going to play a lot here," Baez said. "I'm just happy with that."
  • Kenny Kelly (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Javier Baez on the bases. “Where he struggled was advancing on fly balls and advancing on hits.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Kris Bryant appreciates Las Vegas embracing Cubs. "It's nice to see a lot of Cubs fans here," Bryant said.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): The MVP, Hall of Famer and Summer Wind? Vegas Cubs’ kind of town. “...you hear about Southern California and, obviously, Florida,’’ Bryant said. ‘‘They seem to have the best baseball players. But I think Vegas is the top of the list there.’’
  • Scott Spratt (ESPN Insider {$}): Gimme some glove! Forecasting MLB's best, worst fielders. Jason Heyward features prominently.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Joe Maddon breaks down the Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella decision for Cubs. “Szczur, to me, is a Major League Baseball player," Maddon said.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune {$}): Trading Matt Szczur could give Cubs more flexibility on opening day roster. "We haven't decided anything or everything yet," Maddon said. "Stuff happens in a very short period of time. (Szczur) is a major-league player. So we'll just wait a couple more days to see how it plays out, but he is a benefit to any group that has him."
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Report: Cubs are trying to trade Matt Szczur. Jacob Hannemann, John Andreoli, Bijan Rademacher, and Mark Zagunis could all play that role when necessary.
  • George Castle (Chicago Baseball Museum): Dallas Green under glass. Green is No. 3 behind Epstein, Veeck as the Cubs' all-time baseball executive.
  • Robert Channick (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Want to work for the Cubs? Meet the woman who can make it happen. Ann Weiser is her name -- the VP of Human Resources.
  • Aaron Young (Des Moines Register*): 9 reasons to root, root, root for the Iowa Cubs. “Really, it's the hope for more continued successes.”
  • Ethan Gach (Kotaku): There's a holographic Zapdos Pokémon Card hanging In the Cubs locker room. It likely belongs to Addison Russell.

Food for thought:

  • Alice Mark (Time*): Scientists can reverse DNA aging in mice. “Researchers have found a way to protect a mouse's DNA from the damage that comes with aging, and they’re ready to test it in people.”
  • Hannah Devlin (The Guardian): Let there be light: Germans switch on 'largest artificial sun'. “The aim of the experiment is to come up with the optimal setup for concentrating natural sunlight to power a reaction to produce hydrogen fuel.”
  • Paul Voosen (Science): Mars rover spots clouds shaped by gravity waves. “Understanding these clouds will help inform estimates of ground ice depth and perhaps recurring slope lineae, potential flows of salty water on the surface.”

Thanks for reading. See you Tuesday.

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