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Cub Tracks licks the competition

Taunting with Twinkies, no magic potions, a sixth sense of taste, and other bullets

MLB: Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres
Happ to it.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Cubs lose. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I can’t explain it either.

What is it?” — Mike Patton, Faith No More

Cub Tracks thought about it, and concluded that there was no getting around it™. The Cubs are just mediocre right now. A .500 team, in the throes of a World Series hangover, whatever that is exactly, and it’s hard to watch, just because of the context (just ask Len Kasper, who was talking about it, too). But it’s not an Epic fail. It is, in fact, the norm for a World Series winner™, as has been indicated a few times on this website.

Compared to most of the teams I’ve watched the Chicago National League Ball Club™ field over the years, these guys are overachievers. So I’m trying not to get my undies in a bunch. I’m happy to be a cheerleader when they’re on top of the world, and to be low-key when not. They’re in the best shape of their lives™, and this ideally should be just a bump in the long road to multiple playoffs™.

Clearly, there are problems at several positions. The debatable part is the what-to-do. I’ve been won over to the send-Schwarber-to-the-minors™ side of the great ledger of armchair opinions. Kyle Schwarber is just not producing at a reasonable rate right now. Ian Happ has yet to make his adjustment to the adjustment™. Albert Almora, Jr, likewise, and we haven’t even touched on the pitching yet.

Or is that the Cubs have inherited the Giants’ version of devil magic™? That remains to be seen™. Those who are more than a little ‘stitious™ may favor this track. I’m only a little ‘stitious™, and therefore canceled my subscription.

That leaves us with roster Jenga™, tradesville™, or staying the course™. Who-can-I-get-for-this-guy™?, with a rotating cast of characters. Not quite the second-World-Series-in-a-row scenario that rose-colored glasses would have us dreaming of.

But that’s the way the punditry is pointing these days. Read all about it — as always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in Baseball History:

  • 1918 - Losing 5-4 against the Yankees, the White Sox load the bases in the ninth with no outs. Chick Gandil lines a shot to third baseman Frank Baker, who turns it into a game-ending triple play.
  • 1925 - Lou Gehrig begins his consecutive-game streak by pinch-hitting. Wally Pipp shows up with a headache the next day.
  • 2003 - After being taunted by Twinkie-waving fans in the left-field bleachers, the not-so svelte Lance Berkman, during a pitching change in the seventh inning, gestures to his Wrigley Field tormentors to throw him one of the sponge cake snacks, which he promptly chows down, much to the delight of the crowd. The next inning, the Astro outfielder goes deep, hitting a sugar-fueled two-run home run in the team's 9-3 win over the Cubs.

Cubs News and Notes:

‘‘I think our solutions with hitters are on the 25-man roster right now. There’s a gap between talent and performance. When it mattered most last year, there was no deficit. Our talent manifested, and we played really good baseball.

‘‘That’s going to happen again. It hasn’t consistently for the first third of the season, and we have to own that and [be] accountable for it. [But] the talent level of our players collectively and individually hasn’t changed.’’ — Theo Epstein, to Gordon Wittenmyer

  • Dhruv Koul (Sports Mockery): A Cubs Fan’s desperate letter to The Cubs. “...I’d still like to watch some enjoyable baseball as the summer kicks into full gear.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): ‘There’s no magic potion’ to fix Cubs team that looked lost during 0-6 West Coast trip. “The law of averages means we’re due for a big outbreak. And I think once it does come, we’ll be on for a while,” said Anthony Rizzo.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Theo Epstein preaches patience with Cubs' struggling young hitters. "You have belief in certain guys, talent, not just potential, then you want to find a way for it to manifest," Epstein said.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Theo Epstein insists no major changes coming for scuffling Cubs. "It's more important to be around when the team is struggling than when they're doing well," Epstein said.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): How Theo Epstein views the trade deadline with Cubs off to such a slow start. “The first place you look is not into the souls of your players,” Epstein said.
  • Carrie Muskat ( Theo Epstein: 'We feel we have a talented offense'. "We're a little too easy to pitch to these days, which means we have to adjust. I think that's going to come,” he continued.
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Hey, at least the rest of the NL Central is slumping. “...every team in the Central has treaded water relative to the Cubs and thus their relative position as most likely to win the division remains intact.”
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): The sky is not falling: Reason for optimism regarding Cubs' playoff chances. The Cubs are just playing chicken with an 85.6 percent chance of making the postseason.
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Jake Arrieta focused on big picture after rough trip. "With what we accomplished last year, the expectations are really high and they should be," said Arrieta.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Adrian Gonzalez on Cubs' Jake Arrieta: His 'stuff is still there'. “I think he tries to throw harder so people won’t talk about the velocity, and he loses command,” Gonzalez said.
  • Zack Moser (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Kyle Hendricks: Still good, I think. “As far as quality of contact, Hendricks has suffered a bit.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Joe Maddon: Technique affecting Addison Russell's throws. "For me, from what I'm seeing, he's off to the side with the ball," Maddon said of Russell's throws.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Why Joe Maddon still has so much faith in Addison Russell. “It’s not just him,” Maddon said. “A lot of our guys are off-track a little bit.”
  • Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): Kris Bryant shares his thoughts on pitchers who intentionally throw at players. “A baseball’s a weapon,” he said. John Arguello (Cubs Den) congrees.
  • Barry M. Bloom ( Let's be prank: Kris Bryant surprised by Greg Maddux. "That was great," Bryant says. Maddux asks: "Can you sign the bat to me? Would you sign that to Greg Maddux?"
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Joe Maddon cites justifiable reasons for keeping Kyle Schwarber as No. 2 hitter. “I know he hasn’t gotten hits, but I like his at-bats recently,” Maddon said about Schwarber.
  • Jason A. Churchill (Hero Sports): Kerry Wood talks Cubs, Theo Epstein, 20-Strikeout games & more [AUDIO].
  • Ryan Davis (Cheat Sheet): 10 Potential Trade Targets for the Chicago Cubs. Take a look -- nothing real new.

Food for thought:

  • Emily Underwood (Science): Scientists discover a sixth sense on the tongue—for water. “Viewed under a microscope, your tongue is an alien landscape, studded by fringed and bumpy buds that sense five basic tastes: salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami.”
  • Christopher Wanjek (Live Science): Chronic Pain may stem from pain receptors in hiding. “...pain receptors normally found on nerve cell surfaces can move, migrating into the cell, which places them out of the reach of pain medications while they continue to pump out pain signals to the brain.
  • (Live Science): Keeping cool: The science of sweat. Among other things, “human sweat can be used as a biofuel!"

Don’t sweat the small stuff. See you Sunday.