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Cub Tracks In Closeups

Rizzomania, personal second basemen, a 1.35 million dollar yard, and other bullets

You gotta be kidding me.
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images


That’s CUB.

Last time around, Cub Tracks™ set a table for one on Opening Day. Looked like the Cubs’ leadoff hitters needed to clear off the table, too, though Willson Contreras made things fun. On Sunday night. Hopefully Bryzzo™ find their bats tonight and sign a few balls. Kris Bryant in particular didn’t have very pretty at-bats. No doubt that the thunder will return in good’s just that a good time would be tonight, against the Cardinals.

“The white sign located behind home plate at Busch Stadium which caused Javy Baez to lose track of a ball will be replaced by a blue or navy looking one by Tuesday, according to the Cardinals. The white on white distracted Baez as the ball went by him on Sunday eventually leading to a run in the 4-3 win by St. Louis.” — Jesse Rogers, ESPN

Despite such distractions, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Baez make more starts at second this season than Zobrist, who has already alluded to understanding that he’s in line for the utility gig. How about you? Javy doesn’t hit unless he hits regularly, and I see him as more than Jon Lester’s personal second-sacker. But then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Zobrist in another uniform in August. Patrick Mooney and Michael Cerami address the Baez question below. Even Fansided gets it.

Stuff like that means the pot is always simmering, albeit in a good way, a way that won’t get all of us wished out into the cornfields or worse. The club is always poppin’, always “active”, as rookies referred to the team after encountering their ways. The Cubs’ world is a happening world, full of wonder and spontaneity, even if the humor sometimes seems a bit ‘off’, or ‘in poor taste’. They don’t care about that. The Cubs are just being themselves. It has worked well so far.

More on Rizzo wrap, from the Chicago Business Journal. Want a job with the Cubs? Mike Borzello loves his rings, says Mark Gonzales. And more commentary in the links. Onward — as always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history**:

  • 1911 - The idea of selecting a Most Valuable Player is introduced. Hugh Chalmers, the automaker, offers a new car to the player in each league chosen M.V.P. by a committee of baseball writers.
  • 1948 - Prior to an exhibition game in Orlando, A's manager Connie Mack, who is 84 years old, challenges Clark Griffith, the 78 year-old owner of the Senators, to a foot race from third base to home plate. The participants enter the Florida field in an ambulance before starting their contest, which ends in a photo-finish tie.
  • 1974 - In his first swing of the season, Hank Aaron hits a three-run home run off Jack Billingham as the Braves lose to the Reds, 7-6. It is home run 714 for Aaron, tying him with Babe Ruth’s career total.
  • 1994 - Cubs outfielder Karl Rhodes, who hit three home runs in all of 1993, wallops three home runs off Mets starter Dwight Gooden on Opening Day at Wrigley Field. New York holds on for the 12-8 win, however.
  • 1997 - Turner Field opens and the Braves christen it with a 5-4 come-from-behind win against the Cubs.
  • 2003 - At Cincinnati's new Great American Ball Park, Sammy Sosa becomes the first Latin American player and 18th overall to hit 500 career home runs. The milestone is reached in the seventh inning as 'Slammin' Sammy' drives a Scott Sullivan 1-2 pitch into the right-field seats.
  • 2007 - Tuffy Rhodes becomes the first non-Japanese player in Nippon Pro Baseball history to drive in a thousand runs. Only two players of the 28 players who have reached the milestone have accomplished the feat in fewer games.

Cubs News:

  • Anthony Rizzo (The Player’s Tribune): History, Literally. “In the clubhouse before the game, we kept saying to one another, “It doesn’t matter if he’s the best. We’ll be better than him tonight.””
  • Jen Lada (ESPN*): What makes Anthony Rizzo special? [AUDIO].
  • Jose de Jesus Ortiz (St. Louis Post-Dispatch): Dexter Fowler has a blast being a Cardinal — and former Cub. “I got to first base, and Anthony Rizzo goes, ‘That was awesome,’” Fowler said. “It was loud. I was thoroughly impressed.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Cubs will pay their respects to Dexter Fowler at Wrigley Field. “Dexter Fowler is in such a unique situation that he might get standing ovations at Busch Stadium and Wrigley Field this season.” But “paying their respects” sounds funereal to me.
  • Carrie Muskat ( Jon Lester on Game 1 loss: 'Look to the next'. “Cubs focusing on positives after dropping season opener to Cards.”
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times*): Advice from Yadier Molina went a long way with Willson Contreras. “You look great,” Molina told him, speaking Spanish. “Just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re going to be an All-Star someday.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): After World Series tribute, will Cubs turn Javier Baez into Jon Lester’s personal second baseman™?
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): How often will Javier Baez start at second? Was last night a signal? It probably wasn’t, as Maddon says he was just paying homage to the 7th-game lineup.
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*): Kyle Schwarber sharp in his debut as Cubs’ lead-off man. “This is a cool spot,” Schwarber said pregame. Added Maddon: “Kyle had great at-bats for us.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune * {$}): Kyle Schwarber off to strong start in Cubs leadoff spot. Plus Javier Baez and Willson Contreras.
  • Nate Greabe (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): As Albert Almora Jr. takes his spot in center, what have we learned? Almora was a legitimate offensive prospect, with the ability to hit for both power™ and average™.
  • Jared Wyllys (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): The year after. No more punching UP.
  • Paulsen (Sports Media Watch): MLB Opening Night overnights hit seven-year high. “The Cubs’ loss, which peaked at a 2.6 overnight at 8:45 and 9:15 PM ET, delivered the highest Opening Night rating in the metered markets since Yankees-Red Sox on ESPN2 in 2010 (2.4).”
  • Andy Dahn (CBS Chicago): 2017 is here for Cubs, but fans still celebrating 2016 World Series. Get used to it.
  • Jay Jaffe (Sports Illustrated*): Overreacting to Opening Day: The Cubs won't repeat and the Yankees won't contend. LOL — “Wait until 2124, Cubs fans.”
  • Ken Davidoff (New York Post): Why I’m picking against the Cubs (and Indians) making it back. Because otherwise it gets boring.
  • Jeff Passan (Yahoo Sports*): The Cubs want to build a dynasty, and they have the players to do it. “This,” Tom Ricketts told Yahoo Sports, “could be one of the more compelling teams of all time.”
  • Mike Imrem (Daily Herald {$}): Forget repeat for Chicago Cubs; how about a dynasty? “...dynasty or bust.”
  • Kathleen Elkins (CNBC): Joe Maddon: The surefire way to halt success. "You really want to avoid the potential for complacency," he continues. "If you're uncomfortable, growth continues. If you're comfortable, growth diminishes."
  • Todd Johnson (Cubs Insider): Cubs affiliate preview series: Tennessee Smokies look to rebound. Last season was a “huge disappointment” for the Smokies. They have reason to be “excited about the 2017 campaign.”
  • Dennis Rodkin (Crain’s Chicago Business): A $1.35 million side yard for Cubs' Jon Lester. The two-flat next door has been demolished.

Food for thought:

  • Adrian Cho (Science): Is dark energy an illusion? “...there may be no need for the mysterious stuff, a team of theorists claims.”
  • Emily Conover (Science News): Asteroid in Jupiter's orbit goes its own way. Object circles the solar system in the opposite direction of all the planets.
  • Nola Taylor Redd (*): Astronaut's rare thunderstorm photos from space reveal stormy science. "It is not every day that you get to capture a new weather phenomena on film...” Video included.

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

Thanks for reading. Smell you Thursday.