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Cub Tracks comes up short

leaving on a jet plane, out of the box score, helping a blind Cubs fan, and other bullets

A graduate of the Academy of Silly Walks?
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Cubs lose. 5 out of 6 ain’t bad, though. Tuesday, Cub Tracks fanned on one. It happens. Jon Lester faces the Rockies tonight in the first of a four-game series. Kyle Schwarber had three hits last night. That was great to see. His average is up to .175. People are starting to talk.

Is there an infield shift in the works? Several of the writers have touched on that idea recently. Addison Russell is having some trouble both on and off the field, and that can’t be helping things, regardless of the veracity of those allegations. His boss still believes in him, but Javier Baez brings his spectacular defensive play and the occasional circuit clout. The occasional commentator has them switching positions -- that’s addressed below, pro and con. And whither Ben Zobrist and Ian Happ? How long-term are these plans?

Read all about it — as always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in Baseball History:

  • 1934 - The Reds become the first team to travel in an airplane when Cincinnati GM Larry MacPhail flies 19 of his players to Chicago for a series against the Cubs. In 1946, New York will be the first team to fly on a regular basis, using a chartered Douglas DC-4 that will become known as the 'Yankee Mainliner'.
  • 1952 - Prior to the start of a twin bill against the Reds, Dodger manager Chuck Dressen tells Cal Abrams if he wants to stay with the team that the benchwarmer will need to verbally taunt the skipper of the opposing club. Much to his chagrin, the spare outfielder, who spends the entire first game of a double-header severely heckling his opponents and their leader, is informed between games he has been traded to Cincinnati, effective tomorrow, and will need to report to his new field boss, one very angry Rogers Hornsby.
  • 1955 - After only eight games and 13 innings of work, the Dodgers option rookie left-handed pitcher Tom Lasorda to Montreal to make room for a bonus baby who is also a southpaw. Sandy Koufax, who had injured his ankle, comes off the 30-day disabled list.
  • 1965 - In the first major league free-agent draft of students and sandlot players, the A's select Arizona State star Rick Monday, making him the first player ever to be drafted. Kansas City will also select his Sun Devil teammate Sal Bando in the sixth round.
  • 1969 - On Mickey Mantle Day, the Yankees retire uniform number 7 in front of a crowd of 60,096, the first sellout at the Bronx ballpark since the 1964 World Series. The Mick also receives a plaque from Joe DiMaggio that will be hung on the center field fence, and, then in turn, he gives the 'Yankee Clipper' a similar plaque, telling the crowd, "His should be just a little bit higher than mine."
  • 1970 - Players and management end their labor dispute by agreeing to a new standard player contract. Among the players' victories is a raise in the minimum salary from $10,000 to $12,000 per year.
  • 1977 - For the fourth time in his career, Nolan Ryan strikes out 19 batters in a game. The right-hander matches the mark in ten innings of work, with 18 punch outs coming during the first nine frames, in the Angels' eventual 2-1 victory.
  • 1986 - The Orioles beat the Yankees 18-9 in the longest nine inning game ever played in American League history. The Bronx ballpark contest, which features 36 hits, 16 walks, and 2 errors, takes four hours and sixteen minutes to complete.
  • 1987 - Angels' hurler Don Sutton (312) loses to Phil Niekro (314), who throws seven and one-third scoreless innings for the Indians in a 2-0 win at Anaheim. It is the third time this century, all occurring during the past two seasons, that two 300-game winners have started against one another.
  • 2001 - In front of a record-setting crowd of 45,936 at the new Comiskey Park, the White Sox beat their North Side rivals in ten innings when Carlos Lee hits a two-out walk-off grand slam to give the Pale Hose a dramatic victory over the Cubs, 7-3.

Cubs News and Notes:

“Cubs season-ticket holders will have a choice of three new clubs at Wrigley Field in 2019, which will include such perks as a peek into the batting cages.

Next season, the American Airlines 1914 Club, which is located behind home plate, will open, and the Cubs released information on Wednesday regarding the Maker's Mark Barrel Room, which will be on the first-base side; the W Club on the third-base side; and the Catalina Club, which will be located on the upper level under the press box.” — Carrie Muskat

  • Adrian Garro (Cut Four): The Cubs' infield shifting with Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist yields a pretty unique box score. See above for example.
  • Sam Fels (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): The complexity of flexibility. “...when you’re not winning, it doesn’t feel like rotation so much as experimentation or straight fishing.”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): In-game and in-season adjustments are working big time for Jake Arrieta. “...a quick and exciting jump in his numbers is entirely possible.”
  • William Chase (Fansided): Mike Montgomery excelling no matter the role. “...Montgomery was arguably the Chicago Cubs‘ most valuable pickup last July.
  • ESPN: Willson Contreras doesn’t do things that disrespect the game [VIDEO].
  • Carrie Muskat ( Joe Maddon keeps faith in Addison Russell amid struggles. "The one thing Addison has, and does well, is he does routine routinely," Maddon said.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Short story: Cubs better with Javy Baez at short than Addison Russell? Wittenmyer envisions Russell as the new Starlin Castro?
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Why Joe Maddon won’t create a Cubs shortstop controversy with Javier Baez and Addison Russell. It comes down to nuts and bolts.
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): Albert Almora Jr. knew he would be a part of a Cubs World Series winner from the moment he was drafted. "It's something that you look forward to when you wake up, like, 'Man, I'm gonna be part of something great,'" Almora said. "It's something that makes me work harder and harder every day just to know that one day, I'm gonna have that ring on my finger and it's gonna be history."
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Jason Heyward’s leadership and production have been trending up. Cerami builds on Jesse Rogers article. I imagine that speech last year didn’t hurt Heyward’s cause.
  • Ken Schultz (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): A small and hesitant case for batting average. “The Cubs’ losing streak shows that sometimes batting average matters.”
  • ESPN: Jason McLeod is a happy guy. Those two first-round picks might just be useful [VIDEO].
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald{$}): Pitching a draft need not a necessity for Chicago Cubs. “We're going to take the two best players for the organization. If one of them is a pitcher or if both of them are pitchers, that will be great," said Jason McLeod.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): How teams might copy Cubs Way blueprint in MLB draft. “In our industry, there are a lot of copycat elements,” amateur scouting director Matt Dorey said. “By no means do we have this thing figured out. But that was the best angle for our organization in that moment...”
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Roster rules changes could come this offseason. Ready for a 26th man and a 28-man September roster?
  • Scott Chasen ( Cubs, Good Sports launch collaboration. Six area programs benefit from the venture, which provides new baseball and softball equipment.
  • Mark Newman ( Meet the artist behind sketch auction. “S. Preston loves Major League ballparks just like the rest of us, but he sees them a little differently.”
  • WGN-TV: Woman praised for helping blind Cubs Fan hail cab after game in Chicago. Casey Spelman performed the good deed. It’s gone viral.
  • CSN Chicago*: Kolt Kyler's incredible experience with the Cubs at Wrigley Field [VIDEO].
  • CSN Chicago*: Joe Maddon talks about his favorite baseball books [VIDEO].

Meanwhile, down on the farm...

Food for thought:

  • Ann Gibbons (Science): World’s oldest Homo sapiens fossils found in Morocco. “This stuff is a time and a half older than anything else put forward as H. sapiens,” says paleoanthropologist John Fleagle.
  • Claire Malderelli (Popular Science): Even moderate drinking might be bad for your brain. “...those who drank moderately were still three times more likely to develop damage to those brain structures than subjects who didn’t drink at all.” Sss but food for thought.
  • Matthew Hutson (Science): Scientists imbue robots with curiosity. “ outstanding challenge in training robots is to find the right balance of internal and external rewards.”

TL; DR. See you Sunday, Sunday, Sunday at US Cub Tracks dragstrip, where the great ones run away.