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Cub Tracks Breaks Like The Wind

Knuckling under, crackerjack displays, Twitter bots, and other bullets

Green Man or Green Monster?
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Cubs Win!

“You can't have everything. Where would you put it?” — Boston native Steven Wright (not the pitcher)

Separated at birth? Exhibit one. Exhibit two.

“Shocks are so much better absorbed with the knees bent.” — Lord Summerisle.

Previously, Cub Tracks dropped the ball in exploring the tragic death of Ozzy the Osprey and other bullets. I’m not even going to mention that today is Walpurgisnacht, or that it’s my ex’s birthday, beyond this sentence, because all of that would make this column even weirder than I could stand, and probably get me hexed. I’ll get my wicker from Pier 1, thank you.

So we’re going to move in several different directions at once, like a good knuckleball should. I used to throw the knuckleball (among other things), back when I was a perpetually struggling last-man-out-of-the-bullpen in high school and college. I threw it hard, like RA Dickey, with my nails dug deep into the flesh of the spheroid, and then popped the ball out with a little flick of the fingers so that it would spin as little as possible, as late as possible, often depending on a little dab of something-or-other to help with the gonzo rotation.

Granted, this was in a day and age when latter-day Dan Haren would have been thought of as a hard thrower...I threw 85 at best, which was faster than Bill Gullickson (Bill Mazeroski famously said Bill threw 84, a batting-practice pitch), who regularly struck out 15 in high-school games. But Bill’s ball moved out of the way of the bats. I excelled at hitting them.

...that may be why you’ve never heard of my baseball exploits, other than anecdotes in this space. I developed whiplash on a regular basis, from craning my neck to watch those balls fly out. It was always a temptation to just leave the ball on the mound and run away, when I knew the manager was coming out. Never walked people, just gave up solo homers. Is there such a thing as “wild middle”? Heh. Let’s move on, shall we?

This falling-behind-early stuff just has to end sometime, doesn’t it? It worked yesterday, but come on already — that’s no way to get ahead of the league. I’d like to see the Cubs score early and often for a change, and not give up three or four in the first.

Maybe today. And we can get Boston-style meatloaf, whatever that consists of. Let’s see what the peanuts and crackerjack gallery have to say. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

On this day in Cubs history:

  • 1970 - Billy Williams becomes the first National Leaguer to play in 1,000 consecutive games. The Cubs' outfielder streak, which started in 1962, will end in two seasons after the future Hall of Famer plays in 1,117 straight contests, setting a National League record.
  • 2000 - Diamondback southpaw Randy Johnson beats the Cubs, 6-0, becoming only the third pitcher baseball history to win six games in April. The "Big Unit' joins A's hurlers Vida Blue (1971) and Dave Stewart (1988) as the only other pitchers to accomplish the feat.
  • 2008 - The Cardinals and Cubs both set a franchise record for the most victories in April. The Redbirds beat the Reds, 5-2, for their 18th win of the month, and Chicago takes their 17th game, routing the Brewers 19-5 at Wrigley Field.

Cubs News:

"I told the umpire I'm going to close my eyes and swing hard in case I hit it." — Miguel Montero, to Jesse Rogers

  • Julia Eversizer ( Wrigley wish: Bloomington boy to meet Cubs. Dylan Gilbraith is another beneficiary of the Cubs’ munificence.
  • Chris Mason (Eagle-Tribune {$}): Baseball's curse-breaker comes home. Theo Epstein's incredible baseball acumen was born in Brookline, Massachusetts.
  • Nick Cafardo (Boston Globe): Life has changed dramatically for David Ross, and he’s enjoying it. “When he walks through airports now he’s recognized for “Dancing with the Stars” rather than playing for the Cubs or Red Sox.”
  • Ryan Tadich (Cubbies Crib*): Former Cub Chris Coghlan has all of baseball talking. “...he likes to pull off heroics against the Cardinals...”
  • Dan Shaughnessy (Boston Globe): Cubs-Red Sox series a crackerjack display of baseball. “This is good for the industry,’’ Maddon said. “This has been playoff-like baseball with two really good teams playing the game properly.’’
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Chicago Cubs starting pitchers: luck, command, and the first inning counts. “If games were played only from inning two on, the Chicago Cubs would be just about unstoppable these days.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs' bullpen shaping into form. "We’re at that point where guys are starting to get into that thing," Joe Maddon said.
  • Zack Moser (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Where has all the velocity gone? “If we’re consuming this data, we now know at least what grains of salt with which we need to season it.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Maddon's advice to struggling Cubs youngsters: 'Try to keep anger out of it'. “Anger never works. If you're upset with yourself, talk to yourself but you need to come back quickly," he continued.
  • Carrie Muskat ( Maddon preaches patience with Javier Baez. “The biggest thing for me,” he said, “is I'd like to get him back to where he had been offensively and more in control of his strike zone."
  • Darius Austin (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Is this the start of Ben Zobrist’s decline? “The fact that this month is an outlier is great.”
  • Randy Holt (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): The continued evolution of Addison Russell. “...we can no longer look at Russell as a glove-first, bat-second player.”
  • (Cubs Insider): Kris Bryant improving contact rate at historic pace. “...only the historically great players are able to exhibit both power and contact...but maybe Bryant is turning into such a player who possesses the rare combination.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Bryant blown away by velocity from Red Sox relievers. "It's a 90-mph curveball," Bryant said about Craig Kimbrel's breaking pitch.
  • Reuters: Slumping Schwarber delivers key hit in Cubs' 7-4 win. “Kyle Schwarber pulled off a pretty good David Ortiz impression on Saturday.”

Food for thought:

  • Emily Conover (Science News): Key Einstein principle survives quantum test. Galileo! Galileo! Magnifico!
  • Charles Q. Choi (Live Science): Long after their bones were gone, Neanderthals' DNA survived in a cave. “DNA from two extinct human relatives — the Neanderthals, and a mysterious branch of humanity called the Denisovans — has been detected in the ancient mud of caves...”
  • Steph Yin (The New York Times): 6 bots that deliver science and serendipity on Twitter. “Not all Twitter bots are trying to spam, hack or peddle you fake news.”

Thanks for reading. Smell you after Beltane with more Cubs news.