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Cub Tracks Piles On

The Red Baron throws a zero, Cecil might be seasick, strength in numbers, and other bullets

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Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
It goes to eleven.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Cubs Win! Fly the W!

That was nice. Looks like KB’s waking up. See thought #2.

Last episode, Cub Tracks steamed the envelope open and extracted the (mal)contents, which included seven former Cubs and a plethora of sportspundits. Today, after beating the bushes for content, we have stuff about pitching and hitting and pitching, plus random thoughts that passed through my head on a Saturday afternoon.

Sometimes, the events on the other side of the Cub Tracks continuum mean that the text is filed previous to the conclusion of the contest. Cub Tracks is not averse to audience participation (especially in these cases), preferably that which sounds a positive note. We wouldn’t be what we are without you — this would be a solid block of text links without the contributions of such luminaries as Hairy_Angel, Mike Vail’s Evil Twin, The Deputy Mayor of Rush Street, and many others, and I could spend that extra two hours a day screwing off instead of googling for more content. Yeah, the world allows me to spend time screwing off. At any rate, instead of malice aforethought, here are four thoughts:

  1. I guess Hector Rondon isn’t hurt. He’s sure looked decent so far. So, okay. Strike one preconception. Javy Baez is up and walking and talking, supposedly concussion-free — let’s all write to Rob the Manfred and petition to have the schedule reflect no more Cub games on April 7, in perpetuity or forever, whichever lasts longer than a Tootsie Roll pop.
  2. The Cubs would be better off if they could hit a lick. Let’s hope that the bats show up soon. The pitching looks good so far — The Cubs will need it. That lineup is great and all, but one of the pundits (David Schoenfield, I believe) observed that, without that staff, the Cubs would be the equivalent of the Astros, who missed the playoffs. Rut ro, Rorge. Granted, Schoenfield picked the Houstons to win the World Series in 2017, so he has a vested interest in promoting everything Astro, but I think he has a point. 1985 and 2004 agree.
  3. So what happens if there’s an injury to someone on the starting staff? That’s the nightmare scenario, innit? It would take someone (or someones) good to exchange for an arm, especially in that situation. Jeimer Candelario by himself isn’t gonna get that done. Neither is Ben Zobrist.
  4. Jason Heyward and Addison Russell have been hitting a lot of atom grounders. Heyward at times still looks like he’s swinging a cheese stick but he hasn’t looked as confused as he did at times last season. Russell’s just hitting in bad luck and will even out. Bryzzo too. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I look forward to the barrage of long balls that will result from regression to the mean.

Speaking of the mean, let’s see what the writers have to say. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history**:

  • 1947 - Commissioner Happy Chandler suspends manager Leo Durocher of the Brooklyn Dodgers for the entire season for consorting with gamblers.
  • 1959 - Little League pitching mounds are moved back two feet to a distance of 46 feet. The change is based on the recommendation of Dr. Creighton Hale, the organization's vice president and director of research, who reasoned a ball thrown by youngster at 70 mph from the new distance would give the batter about the same about amount of time to swing at a pitch, proportionately, as the major leaguers have.
  • 1964 - Much to the chagrin of team executive Branch Rickey, the Cardinals trade Jimmie Coker and Gary Kolb to the Braves for catcher Bob Uecker. The Redbirds' new backstop, after introducing himself, is quickly informed by Rickey, "I didn't want you. I wouldn't trade one Gary Kolb for a hundred Bob Ueckers."
  • 1968 - In Atlanta, Georgia, Bill Veeck is among the throng of marchers taking part in Martin Luther King’s funeral procession that is held five days after the civil rights leader is slain in Memphis. The former owner of the Browns, Indians, and White Sox, who spent 15 hours standing in line to pay his respect to JFK at the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in 1963, walks the entire three-and-a-half mile route from Ebenezer Baptist Church to Morehouse College on his wooden leg without the aid of crutches.
  • 1969 - Billy Williams of Chicago hit four consecutive doubles to lead the Cubs to an 11-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • 1974 - New Padres owner Ray Kroc, watching his team lose 9-2 in the home opener, takes to the public address system in the eighth inning and says: “Ladies and gentlemen, I suffer with you...I've never seen such stupid baseball playing in my life.” While he is speaking, a streaker runs across the field. San Diego scores three runs but loses to Houston 9-5. Hearing of the incident, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn makes Kroc apologize to the fans.
  • 1989 - On a very cold Sunday afternoon, Rick Sutcliffe adds to the wind chill, striking out 11 batters in the Cubs' 8-3 win over Pittsburgh. Despite a temperature of 33 degrees, along with a stiff breeze making it feel like eight above, 11,387 fans brave the elements to watch the right-hander's complete-game effort at Wrigley Field.
  • 1994 - Recently retired basketball legend Michael Jordan makes his professional debut by going hitless for Double-A Birmingham. Chattanooga is a 10-3 winner over the White Sox farm club.

Cubs News:

Joe Maddon invited Soot Zimmer, the wife of the late Don Zimmer, to Wrigley Field for the pregame festivities on Monday when the Cubs raise their championship banner. — Jesse Rogers

  • Phil Rogers ( Wrigley renovations match on-field product. “Makeover of venerable ballpark befitting of Cubs' championship rise.”
  • Julio Lara ( No curses here! Cubs Ace Jake Arrieta selling his Austin spread. Hmm. That leaves a few questions unanswered...
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN): Greg Maddux 2.0? Cubs' Kyle Hendricks is just getting started. "The only way for me to get better is to keep it as simple as possible,” Hendricks said.
  • Ryan Schultz (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Kyle Hendricks is the perfect fifth starter. “What matters is the results.”
  • Carrie Muskat ( Carl Edwards, Jr likes pressure roles in Cubs' bullpen. "It really doesn't make a difference," Edwards said. "I feel from last year to this year, I've been put in the fire. I like that role -- there's a lot of pressure, a lot of adrenaline."
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Joe Maddon unafraid to use Carl Edwards, Jr, in any situation. He’s shown he belongs.
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): I’m curious about how Willson Contreras positions himself behind home plate. “...there are times when the youthful Cubs catcher jumps to position himself at an extreme angle...”
  • CBS Chicago: Jake Arrieta: Willson Contreras’ ‘Transformation has been night and day’. “You got to give him a lot of credit for being really willing to learn and handle a lot of information.”
  • Joe Harris (AP): Not so sticky: MLB says no violation in Yadier Molina stuck ball. I ain’t buying it. That ball stuck to Yadi’s chest protector like it was Fred Biletnikoff’s helmet.
  • Anthony Rizzo and Sean Casey play The Show 2017 [VIDEO]. Part 2 on Cubs Insider.
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Javier Baez returns 1 day after scary collision. “The Cubs' medical staff determined Baez did not need to undergo concussion protocol.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune*): Gold rush: Ben Zobrist realizes significance of Cubs' special uniforms. He didn’t get to wear the Royals’ version because he had already left.
  • Dan Wiederer (Chicago Tribune*): The story behind the most meaningful 'W' flight in Cubs history. “It was just after 5 a.m. on Nov. 3. And neither Roger Baird nor Darryl Wilson had gotten any sleep.”
  • Jaye Maddon (Michigan Ave Magazine): Joe Maddon on banishing curses, his favorite World Series Moment & gearing up for the 2017 season in Wrigleyville. “Jaye: You’re famous for keeping your cool and your sense of humor on the field. What keeps you so relaxed? Joe: My wife. “
  • Tom Haudricourt (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel): Cubs prove teams can go from pain to gain. Not just the target, but the model.
  • John Arguello (Cubs Den*): Are the Brewers the Cubs’ next big rival? “It's the shift in organizational philosophy to rebuild through the farm system under young up and coming GM David Stearns.”
  • Ken Schultz (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Theo Epstein, Fortune Magazine, and good fortune. “Epstein is aware that behind every move for which he is lauded, there is at least one unsung hero of the Cubs rebuild.”
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): Andre Dawson says Joe Maddon called comeback in World Series [VIDEO].
  • John Perrotto (FanRag Sports): Strength in numbers gives Cubs confidence in title defense. “the Cubs believe they can counter any long-term fatigue with a volume of good players.”
  • CBS Chicago*: Superstitious Jake Johnson has classic story of watching Cubs win Game 7 of World Series. “Incredible experience, driving through the empty streets of Chicago listening to the rally,” Johnson said.

Food for thought:

  • Mindy Weisberger (Live Science): Don Rickles: Why legendary comic's jabs are funny, not offensive. “...benign violation...” is the explanation.
  • Rebecca Morrelle (BBC News): Atmosphere found around Earth-like planet GJ 1132b. “ is highly unlikely that this world is habitable: it has a surface temperature of 370C.”
  • Tina Hesman Saey (Science News): Cephalopods may have traded evolution gains for extra smarts. “Octopus, squid and cuttlefish don’t always follow the rules laid out in their DNA.”

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

Thanks for reading. We’ll smell you Tuesday with more Cubs news and notes.