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Cub Tracks Rolls On

That ‘17s Show, Whispering Joe, Anthony Rizzo lets go, and other bullets

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs
Russell muscle.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports


This falling-behind-early stuff is bad mojo, but mojo rises, and so do the Cubs. Tuesday just past, Cub Tracks featured an assortment of hot takes and cold comfort, as the Cubs were then mired in a losing streak. They got out of the ditch with a victory over the Brewers Tuesday night, and the Cubs headed into Wednesday looking for a rubber-game win. They got it — you can get the details in Al’s recap — let’s just say that the Brewers’ nice meat loaf dreams went up in smoke. Go Cubs Go!

That ‘17s Show:

Mila Kunis appeared at Wrigley Field recently, shilling for Jim Beam, and that reminded of how close a section of my life was to the show that made her a star. As today’s 4/20, I figure that this is as good a time as any to explore that connection. Another day earlier, and it would have been all about a white bicycle and Hoffman’s other ‘mistake’.

Anyway...I love that show. I find it scarily accurate, perfectly period. Milwaukee isn’t that different from Chicago, and it’s like 1977 all over again, when Bill Bonham led the staff, Bill Buckner was at first, and Larry Biittner spent a scary amount of time in the outfield as Jose Cardenal got hurt.

That was a pretty warm summer, as I recall, and me and the usual gang of idiots often congregated in suburban Chicago basements or someone’s room after it got warm, passing that old red double-bubble around, watching the game while something good played, if someone had the presence of mind to start up the stereo. Nowadays one might sleep through the middle innings, but this was then. I knew a guy who HAD a Vista Cruiser, though none of us were like the characters.

Cubs games occupy that blessed period between lunch and dinner, when little actual sustenance is required. Vernor’s Ginger Ale was a favorite, as were Taco-flavored Doritos (the original flavor-I remember when they hit the market (along with Pizza Spins and Fruit Floats). The seventh-inning stretch often involved a quick resupply.

Baseball was also ideal in that the grand pavane and pace of the game enhanced one’s enhanced experience. That time-stretching sense that ‘tea’ allows fits perfectly with baseball’s lack of a time-clock.

By sheer coincidence, two of the members of the crew had the same names as Cubs players, so there was additional reason to follow them, but not TOO closely, because losing is hard on the heart. I’ll not out them.

That team didn’t do so much losing till late...ended up exactly .500. It was like a moral victory to win half of the games. Of course, the next year, changes were made. Cardenal was notably replaced with one David Arthur Kingman, who provided bad strike-zone judgment, colossal home runs, and was known to get the red ass when heckled. The Cubs went back to being noncompetitive.

High school ended, and we all moved on, and hopefully grew up. But those summer memories stick like resins to my thumb, even after forty very odd years. Let’s make a long story shorter and see what’s going on today, before Red sticks his foot up my butt. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Happy belated birthday to former Cub and current Marlin announcer Todd Hollandsworth.

Today in Cubs history:

  • 1916 - The Cubs play their first game at Weeghman Park. They were winners in eleven innings, 7-6 over the Reds.
  • 1946 - The Cubs lose 2-0 to the Cardinals, in their first televised game, on WBKB-TV. Whispering Joe Wilson, the host of “Championship Bowling”, handled the play-by-play. Jack Brickhouse joins Wilson in 1947.
  • 1955 - Humberto Robinson, the first Panamanian to appear in a major league game, debuts in the Braves’ victory over the Cubs, coming in from the Atlanta bullpen.
  • 1967 - Tom Seaver gets his first major-league victory as the Mets beat the Cubs 6-1.
  • 1997 - The Cubs end their 14-game losing streak in the second game of a doubleheader, beating the Mets 4-3. The skein of losses was the longest ever in the National League, ‘bested’ only by the American League Orioles, who lost 21 in a row in 1988.

Cubs News:

Video courtesy of the MLB Network.

New Bryzzo (from Cubs Insider) [VIDEO].

  • Alyson Footer ( Anthem singer Vincent receives WS ring. The unexpected gesture overwhelmed John Vincent, who has been caring for a terminally ill cousin battling cancer.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): A World Series ring controversy and a Hall of Fame dispute? That's Cub. Players are excepted from the buy-back agreement noted in Tuesday’s edition.
  • Carrie Muskat ( Joe Maddon changes Cubs' rotation. Jon Lester won’t be facing the Red Sox.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): What makes PEDs unbearable to consider for Cubs’ Jake Arrieta. “I don’t want to ever have to look my kids in the face and tell them about something like that,” he said.
  • CBS Chicago*: Chris Bosio likes flexibility an 8-Man bullpen gives Cubs. “If it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it kind of thing,” Bosio said. Includes interview with Mully and Hanley [AUDIO].
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): It's no joke: Cubs reliever Hector Rondon is 'taking off'. “Ever since he changed his delivery, he’s been on line a lot better,” Miguel Montero said.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Anthony Rizzo: Starling Marte’s PED suspension shows MLB needs more drug testing. "Any system that's in place, you're going to have people trying to beat it," Rizzo said.
  • Carrie Muskat ( Gold Glove winner Anthony Rizzo honors coaches.
  • Stack*: An inside look at the unique workout Anthony Rizzo's been using for the past 10 years. Lots of swimming.
  • Anthony Castrovince (*): Ring presentation especially poignant for Javier Baez. See above video.
  • Sean Sears (Sports Mockery): Javier Baez is the Cubs starting 2nd baseman, not Ben Zobrist. “...the biggest deciding factor between the two will be their bats.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Roster decision looms as Cubs prepare for three-city road trip. Getting right down to the wire on the Matt Szczur/Tommy La Stella question, especially given that Joe Maddon has let it be known that he wants 8 relievers.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Jon Jay and Albert Almora make one of baseball’s best centerfielders. Second-or-third-best, depending.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): 'They’re both going to play:' Joe Maddon OK with both Albert Almora, Jon Jay in center. “Both are really important to us this season,” Maddon continued.
  • Jeff Sullivan (Fangraphs): What’s going on with the Cubs? “There’s a certain amount of safety in numbers.”
  • Mary Craig (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): That’s orphan? And other almost-names. “...they are not the first youth movement to reinvent the Cubs, and they are perhaps not even the most important.”
  • Burt Constable (The Daily Herald {$}): Old Cub favorites get rings. “An old Cub is a time machine to fun moments in fans' lives.”

Food for thought:

  • Mindy Weisberger (Live Science): What drove Tsavo lions to eat people? Century-old mystery solved. The Ghost and the Darkness explained.
  • Tara Garcia Mathewson (The Atlantic): How poverty changes the brain. “...the limbic system is constantly sending fear and stress messages to the prefrontal cortex, which overloads its ability to solve problems, set goals, and complete tasks in the most efficient ways.”
  • Emily Conover (Science News): There’s still a lot we don’t know about the proton. “Questions loom about the iconic particle's size, spin and decay.”

The poor misunderstood proton. Cub Tracks will give it another spin Sunday. See you then.