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Cub Tracks Soaks It All In

Lights on, playing like champs, the science of laughter, and other bullets

Whether balloon?
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Cubs Lose Big. David Ross survives.

Two revolutions ago, Cub Tracks broke like the wind and headed to Boston, home of world-famous baked beans (nobody guessed that tie-in. Beantown, really?), and the Cubs promptly lost two out of three to some questionable umpiring and a very good Red Sox team.

Last night, they faced the slowly-on-the-rise Philadelphia Phillies and continued to give up early runs. Javier Baez rescued the day from becoming a complete disaster but that was an ugly game. Al will have a few words about it, I would guess. I’d wager the game threads were full of choice epithets. I was beseeching the baseball gods for more rain by the third inning...sometimes it just ain’t your day.

I gotta tell ya, right now I’d be for Jon Jay batting leadoff, against right-handers at least, and letting Kyle Schwarber work out his slump lower in the order, but I’m no expert. The Cubs are still scoring around 5 runs a game, but since they give up five in the first, seemingly every day, it makes things look different. Remember how much fun it was last year at this time? That’s the subject of some of the scribes’ diatribes. Perhaps we should take a look at what else they have to offer. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

On this day in Cubs history:

  • 1917 - At Wrigley Field, southpaw Hippo Vaughn of Chicago and Reds righty Fred Toney throw no-hitters against one another through the first nine innings. The deadlock was broken in the top of the tenth with a one-out single by Larry Kopf, an error, and an infield hit by Jim Thorpe, and Toney then set the Cubs down in order to preserve his extra-inning gem.
  • 1946 - Boston GM Eddie Collins announces the club will install lights at Fenway Park prior to the 1947 season. The Red Sox will be the 14th club out of 16 major league teams to be able to play night games in their home park, leaving just Wrigley Field (Cubs) and Briggs Stadium (Tigers) in the dark.
  • 1956 - During a game in which 48 players see action, Chicago's third baseman Don Hoak strikes out a record six times against six different New York pitchers. The Giants outlast the Cubs in the 17-inning Wrigley Field marathon, 6-5.
  • 1994 - Changing their jersey color from white to blue in an effort to snap a losing skid doesn't work when the Cubs lose their record eleventh consecutive game. Chicago is limited to two hits by John Smiley in the Reds' rout at Wrigley Field, 9-0.
  • 2000 - Kerry Wood throws in a game for the first time in nearly 19 months, giving up one run and three hits in six innings in the Cub' 11-1 rout of Houston. The outing is the first test of the right-hander's reconstructed elbow.

Cubs News:

  • Sarah Langs (ESPN*): What do the MLB standings mean on May 1? “Since 1996 (the first full season with at least one Wild Card), 69 of the 126 division champions (55 percent) held at least a share of that division lead entering May 1.”
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*): Should the Cubs be held to 2016’s standards? “Every year has its own separate identity,” manager Joe Maddon said.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): The Cubs want to be playing like champs again soon. “We’ve played good, but I still don’t think we’ve played any facet of our game up to our capabilities yet,” opined Joe Maddon.
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Despite loss, Chicago Cubs' Maddon likes what he sees. "I'll take a 5-4 road trip," he said. "I will take a winning month."
  • John Jackson ( Maddon 'could not be happier' with Cubs. "It's just going keep getting better," he said.
  • Wayne Cavadi (FanRag Sports): Do the Cubs have any pitching help on the horizon? Alec Mills, Rob Zastryzny, Pierce Johnson, and Eddie Butler are discussed.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Carl Edwards Jr. looking more and more like Cubs' closer of the future. “He’s going to keep getting better and better,” Maddon said.
  • Ryan Davis (FanRag Sports): Willson Contreras becoming the player no one knew he could be. “Not even a month into his first full season as a major-league player, and it’s clear he’s well on his way.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs catcher Miguel Montero becomes U.S. citizen. “Montero, 33, and his wife Vanessa were sworn in as United States citizens Monday.”
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Maddon not worried about Javier Baez. “I just want to make sure that we build him into the season properly,” he commented.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Kris Bryant says he may ‘Just Play it Out’ when it comes to extension. “I’ll listen to whatever they have to say, but I just think that it might be in my best interest to just play it out and see where things go,” he said, in an expansion on a Gordon Wittenmyer article.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Why Cubs have so much respect for Jason Heyward and believe his strong April will carry over. “He’s such an idol to me,” Kris Bryant said.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Jason Heyward: Cubs aren't suffering from World Series hangover. "You feel everyone’s got something to play for right now," Heyward said.
  • Tom Musick (Chicago Sun-Times*): Hot-hitting Jon Jay earns more play for Cubs. “He always works a good at-bat,” Maddon said.
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): How Jay morphed into Joe Maddon's sidekick. He knows what it's like to be on a championship-caliber team and he's just wonderful to be around," Maddon said.
  • Mike Axisa (CBS Sports*): Cubs officials reportedly 'infuriated' by pitching coach's comments on Eric Thames. Buster Olney also reported with an ‘Insider’ post. "It's just the wrong thing to do," said one person with the team.
  • Bill Thompson (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Checking in on Eddy Julio Martinez. “...the organization is no longer dependent on a handful of prospects living up to their potential.”
  • Todd Johnson (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): The reincarnation of Justin Steele. He has stopped nibbling and looks much better as a result.
  • Travis Lazarczyk ( Wrigley Field replica opens with fanfare. Lee Smith was there for the opening ceremonies and said some nice things.
  • Pacific League TV: Former Cub Brian Schlitter is interviewed [VIDEO].
  • Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): Theo Epstein tries to shred at Hot Stove Cool Music, falls on his ass instead. Epstein isn’t great at EVERYTHING.

Food for thought:

  • Katherine Kornei (Science): Morning glory seeds are tough enough for an interplanetary trip. “These results add to the fast-growing body of evidence showing that panspermia is not only possible, but absolutely inevitable,” says Chandra Wickramasinghe.
  • Lynn A. Barker (Scientific American): The Science of Laughter--and why it also has a dark side. “...the actual neural basis of laughter is still not very well known – and what we do know about it largely comes from pathological clinical cases.”
  • Kevin Baird ( {$}): Local baseball enthusiast has science touch. Every year, about 7,500 NCAA Division III college baseball games are played and Jim Dixon knows more — arguably — about these games than any other person.

Thanks for reading. See you Sunday with more baseball and weird.