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Cub Tracks wades in

The first half, the second half, and the other half

Gatorade All-Star Workout Day
time marches on
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Sock it to me!

Cub Tracks couldn’t even, Sunday. I bet a lot of other people couldn’t, either. Eeeeeeugggghhhh! The first half is over. Let’s look forward to bigger and better things.

“It’s embarrassing.” -- Jon Lester

“And after losing by 11 runs, Chicago's run differential on the season is now break-even.” -- Bradford Doolittle, ESPN.

Congratulations to Aaron Judge, who won the part of the All-Star Game festivities I like the least. It’s still quite an accomplishment. The actual game is today. I might even watch it, after the pomp and circumstance have taken place. That stuff gives me a pain.

Bryce Harper gives me a laugh. Here he is, talking about his imminent Cubdom.

“I do that to the media because they stir it more than I do," Harper told The Washington Post. "That’s why I do the things I do at times, because it’s funny to me. It’s like, ‘All right, people want to talk about this and talk about that. Why not just throw this out there and make them think about it?’ ”

Fun. I don’t know whether to assign this tweet to the dustbin of history or not, though I don’t really buy it:

There’s too much risk, too much ‘con’ to that deal, methinks. But clearly the pilot light has been lit. That and more await you below. Read all about it -- as always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in Baseball History**:

  • 1944 - At Pittsburgh's Forbes Field, Phil Cavaretta sets an All-Star Game record by reaching base five consecutive times. The 27 year-old Cub first baseman's triple, single, and three walks help the National League beat the Junior Circuit, 7-1.
  • 1950 - The Midsummer Classic returns to Comiskey Park, the site of the first game, and is won by the National League, 4-3, thanks to Red Schoendienst's 14th-inning home run. It's a game of firsts - first extra-inning All-Star Game, first time the NL wins at an AL park, and the first Midsummer Classic ever broadcast on national television.
  • 1961 - In the first of two All-Star Games played that season, the NL beats the American League, 5-4, on a very windy day at Candlestick Park. The contest features a record seven errors and the memorable sight of a 165-pound pitcher Stu Miller balking after being blown off the mound by a gust of wind, a fact the right-hander says has been exaggerated over the years.
  • 1968 - After whiffing in the first inning, Bill Hands grounds outs in his next at-bat, ending his major league record-setting streak for consecutive strikeouts. The Cubs' right-hander, who goes the distance, blanking New York at Shea Stadium, 2-0, sets the dubious mark when he strikes out in fourteen straight plate appearances.

Cubs News and Notes:

Reasons to be cheerful, part one:

Reasons to be cheerful, part two:

The rest of the stories:

  • Dan Cahill (Chicago Sun-Times*): History says Cubs will have tough time making playoffs. “They still get to go head to head with the Brewers 10 times. And, of the 64 other games, 53 are against teams with a losing record...”
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Sports*): Cubs first half is a reality check. “I will be disappointed if we are not playing in October,” Jason Heyward said.
  • Dan Hayes (CSN Chicago*): Lack of 2016 Cubs playing in All-Star Game has Joe Maddon feeling 'awkward'. “That was the awkward moment (Sunday), talking about it,” Maddon said.
  • Joe Reed (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): July 10, 2014 & the Cubs’ true turn toward competitive baseball. “...the Cubs had begun to promote their prospects like Arismendy Alcantara, found a young, gutsy pitcher like Kyle Hendricks, and discover a leader in the clubhouse and on the field in Anthony Rizzo.”
  • AP via ESPN: Kyle Hendricks 'got exactly what I want' out of rehab appearance. One run in 3 1/3 innings, is what he got.
  • Corey Freedman (Cubs Insider): Promising results from Kyle Hendricks’ rehab outing in Tennessee. “He threw a total of 45 pitches, 27 of which were for strikes.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Wade Davis is the Jedi force that prevented Cubs’ first half from being a total disaster. "It's like controlling the baseball with a remote," Willson Contreras said. "It's just crazy the way that he pitches."
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Bear necessities? If Joe says so, Cubs All-Star Wade Davis says. “Baseball’s hard,” Davis also said.
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Addison Russell’s first half was awful...but why? No real explanation — his numbers in the aggregate are just a little lower, but the results aren’t there.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Agent expects Addison Russell to be cleared after lengthy MLB probe. “There are no facts,” Boras said of the allegation.
  • Zack Moser (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Kris Bryant: A brief counterpoint. “...Bryant appears to be at a minor crossroads.”
  • Ryan Davis (FanRag Sports): Cubs must somehow find more playing time for Albert Almora, Jr. “There are no easy answers for the Cubs with Almora.”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Cubs may be more interested in two other Tigers pitchers, less so with Justin Verlander. Put together your imaginary packages for Daniel Norris or Michael Fullmer.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs pondering promotions for top prospects Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease. Jaron Madison, the Cubs' director of player personnel, offers remarks about both.
  • Ashok Selvam (Eater Chicago): Cubs fans’ new craft beer destination opens Tuesday next to Wrigley Field. Open the Lucky Dorr.
  • Bill Zwecker (Chicago Sun-Times*): Long L.A.-based, Fred Savage makes sure his kids are Cubs fans. “ wife and I are from Chicago and we do really miss it,” says the former “Wonder Years” star.

Food for thought:

  • Carolyn Gramling (Science): Tiny fossil reveals what happened to birds after dinosaurs went extinct. “...after the great dino die-off, birds rebounded and diversified rapidly...”
  • Charles Q. Choi (Live Science): 200,000-year-old 'Baby Tooth' reveals clues about mysterious human lineage. More about the Denisovans.
  • Helen Branswell (Scientific American): Scientists recreated an extinct virus. “This is an example of what modern technologies can do,” noted Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Cub Tracks will return Thursday with more news and notes. Thanks for reading.