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Cub Tracks Goes Batty

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Ernie can manage, predicting paybacks, championship muscle memory, and other bullets

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Colorado Rockies
Zamboni mighta been better.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Cubs don’t play, hangin’ around. Rainy day, Monday, doubleheader today. Hail for Szczur.

“Hello again, everybody. It's a bee-yooo-tiful day for baseball.” — Harry Caray

Previously on Cub Tracks, we rejected your reality and replaced it with our own. This version of subversion has been under way for quite some time and we are pleased to see it come to strange fruition. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe...today the Cub Tracks Continuum, Co-Operative, and Crap Shoot presents anecdotes and apocrypha about the first black manager, hail for Matt Szczur, and a ‘lot of different things’. Philip K Dick, that old crap artist, would no doubt bare his steel teeth at the thought, and go back to the world Jones made, but we don’t have that option in this Solar Lottery. The stars long ago confiscated laughing Sam’s dice, having found them in Dock Ellis’ possession, and used them to design the new gubbish Monopoly gamepieces.

I sincerely hope that the Yankee series turns out to be a wake-up call. Parts of that were so dismal that I started looking around for the ledge — especially those parts having to do with Brett Anderson. I’d like my tickets to the BRE returned forthwith, if not anon. Thank you.

My natural skepticism is beginning to fight the Kool-aid. Just a little. Most of me is all “Let’s see how they wriggle out of this,” “they” being the Cubs and their brain-trust, “this” being hovering near .500 so late. But some of me ever edges toward the ledges, because that’s the World Series hangover (and I’m apparently not the only one). It’s very similar-feeling to that first post-playoff hangover, in 1985, before the wheels came well and truly off. Expectations have been ramped up, forever, and this time there’s a greater degree of trust involved — I trust that Theo Epstein and Co. are not going to throw my affections down a rabbit hole, or dash them against the rocks on the slough of despond and go all Jeff Lurie on the team. But moves don’t always work out.

I’d prefer seemingly-invincible to vulnerable at critical points, thank you. This is like finding out that Rachael was an android...I don’t want all those moments to be lost in time, like tears in rain. I don’t want this to be 1985.

As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Yesterday and today in baseball history:

May 8:

  • 1878 - Providence Gray outfielder Paul Hines becomes the first player to execute an unassisted triple play after making a shoestring catch in left center field and stepping on third, retiring both runners who had passed the base. The runners were out due to the rules used at the time.
  • 1966 - The St. Louis Cardinals closed old Busch Stadium with a 10-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
  • 1973 - After Cubs skipper Whitey Lockman is ejected in the 11th inning of a Jack Murphy Stadium contest, Ernie Banks takes his place for the last few innings of the Cubs' 3-2‚ 12-inning victory over the Padres, technically becoming the first black man to manage a major league team.
  • 1994 - The Colorado Silver Bullets, the first women's team to play a pro men's team, lost 19-0 to the Northern League All-Stars. Leon Durham hit two homers and Oil Can Boyd started for the All-Stars. The Silver Bullets had two hits, struck out sixteen times and made six errors.

May 9:

  • 1943 - Due to poor grade of rubber cement used to make baseballs because of wartime rubber shortages, a different type of baseball is put into play on this day, with dramatic results. In eight games, six home runs are hit, compared to a total of nine homers tallied in the season's first 72 games.
  • 1979 - At the Astrodome, substitute umpire David Pallone ejects the entire Cardinal bench after the players throw helmets and bats onto the field to protest a call. The minor league arbitrator was pressed into duty due to the major league umpire strike.
  • 2011 - Milton Bradley, playing for his eighth club since his Expos debut in 2000, is cut by the Mariners, who still owe him the remaining part of his $13 million deal for this season. Although no specific incident triggers the team's decision, the 33-year-old slumping outfielder had recently been suspended for a game after bumping an umpire, ejected from another contest for contesting a third strike, and a few days ago he became the target of the Seattle fans' wrath for what they perceived as his lack of hustle.

Cubs News:

  • Adrian Garro (Cut 4): Coors Field battered by otherworldly hailstorm. “...roving weather reporter Miguel Montero” delivers the news.
  • Bill Whittaker (CBS News): How the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series after 108 years. Includes [VIDEO].
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): As two of baseball’s superpowers, Cubs and Yankees on potential collision course for future Octobers. “They got a lot of things going their way,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
  • Chris Emma (CBS Chicago*): Cubs have been unrecognizable so far. “Maybe the warmth of summer will find the Cubs heating up.”
  • Phil Rogers (MLB.com): Cubs’ 2017 identity is far from clear. “This stretch raises questions about whether they are the same dominant team that won 103 regular-season games and ended a 108-year drought last season.”
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Joe West’s strike zone was laughable and embarrassing. That might be too kind. Kerry Wood and Kevin Youkilis shared some thoughts.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN): Cubs starters want more innings but must earn them first. “I think they’ve been given all the opportunity to pitch as long as they should be pitching in these games to this point,” Maddon said. “As we pitch better, they’ll pitch longer into the game. It’s pretty simple stuff.”
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Joe Maddon unsure who will fill Brett Anderson's spot. "We can do a lot of different things," Maddon said.
  • Mitch Dudek (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs star Anthony Rizzo gives $3.5 million to children’s hospital. “Rizzo’s donations to the hospital total more than $4 million. His visits to see cancer patients are legendary.”
  • Rick Morrissey (Chicago Sun-Times*): No time to panic for Cubs, but it is time to (try to) forget 2016. “It’s always risky to rely on championship muscle memory.”
  • Brian Sandalow (Chicago Sun-Times*): Joe Maddon hoping former Cub Starlin Castro sustains success. “Maddon said Castro looks like he’s in better shape, which could be leading to his increased production.”
  • Billy Witz (The New York Times): Camaraderie of Wrigley Field bullpens is tangled amid the ivy. “Times like this, when it’s cold, we love it,” Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. said. “But when it’s hot, we’d rather be outside.”
  • Chris Landers (Cut 4): Take a look inside Maddon's tricked-out RV. Includes [VIDEO].
  • Chris Hine (Chicago Tribune {$}): 'Cousin Eddie' out, new RV in: Joe Maddon inks deal with Winnebago. “Winnebago gets us and our lifestyle. It’s our home,” he said.
  • Phil Thompson (Chicago Tribune {$}): David Ross on his new book: 'I didn't want to write (it)'. “...I've seen too many times a book ruin people's reputations, and I feel like I've built up a pretty good reputation,” he said.
  • Jacob R. Misener (Cubbies Crib): David Ross advances to Dancing with the Stars semifinals. The ride continues.
  • Todd Johnson (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Prospect Profile: Kevonte Mitchell is beginning to find his swag. “Now, in 2017, Mitchell looks to have matured both physically and mentally.”

Food for thought:

  • Kendra Pierre-Louis (Popular Science): Why endurance athletes hit the wall. Their brains run out of glucose.
  • Michael Price (Science): Babies’ gazes suggest we are born understanding color. “...a study finds that infants see red, yellow, green, blue, and purple as different color categories, suggesting that at least some distinctions may be hardwired.”
  • Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (New York Magazine): How to predict if a borrower will pay you back. And other datathinks.

Maybe the Cubs play today. Maybe they don’t. Thanks for reading. See you Thursday with more Cubs news and notes.