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Cub Tracks plays Pepper

the grill game, and other bullets

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Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds
oh, the humanity
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Cubs Lose, go a game under .500. Again. Tough to swallow.

“It happened, baby, it happened.” — Anthony Rizzo.

Last time around, Cub Tracks got caught up by using the magic of the Cub Tracks continuum, and we move along on that plane, propelled by the possibility that this season may still turn out to be positive despite the Cubs stewing in their own juices so far. Flop sweat makes terrible marinade. BFIB tears are less salty.

“Chicago, look at what the boys got me.” -- David Ross.

It’s certainly been a dog’s breakfast. Most of us knew going in that WS champs rarely sniff the playoffs the next year, but seeing it happen is so much like the proverbial train-wreck that I find myself rubbernecking and I’m buttsore from sitting here, waiting for the pot to boil, to serve up a mixed metaphor and spice up the narrative a little.

“Look at this s—!” — Jon Lester

The zeitgeist is getting so toxic that my ChiSox friends are making jokes, from their lofty perch in fifth place in the AL Central. Bitter, most of them, like an IPA made of Flint water, and probably just as poisonous. I rooted for Houston in 2005, and I’m not sorry.

“Let’s do it again next year!” — Kyle Schwarber

Losing to the Reds, that’s a bitter pill, too. Those people can’t even make proper chili (have you ever had that stuff? I have), so they get meat loaf with noodles. I bet they wouldn’t know a Hatch chile if it bit them. And they do bite...unfortunately, so do the Cubs right now. Not as badly as the White Sox, though. And they shouldn’t be as bad as the Reds, and they’re not. They’re worse??!! Ugh. We all know what happens with losing teams...catcalls, backbiting, rampant I-told-you-so-ism. Negativity, unleavened.

"Now that it's over, it's a really cool thing to say that we probably won the best game ever. I think now that Series becomes even more memorable, and people will talk about that forever." -- Jed Hoyer.

No bueno. Not really suitable thoughts for a sunny Sunday morning but it is what it is. I’ll drop the ball there at any rate. I’m gonna take a swim, load up on Marin mango and then dive into the brunch buffet at Casa Molina Norte and maybe drown myself in a bloody Maria. At least I live on the north side of Tucson...where they make proper chili, without noodles. Feel free to join me if you’re in the area. Otherwise, we have words of questionable wisdom from the rogues’ gallery. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in Baseball History**:

  • 1903 - Ed Delahanty, who once hit four homers in one game, goes over a Niagara Falls railroad bridge and drowns. The circumstances concerning the Senator outfielder's death are never discovered.
  • 1903 - Pitcher Jack Doscher, making his debut with the Chicago Cubs, is the first son of a former major-league player to also play in the major leagues. His father Herm, was a third baseman with Troy, Chicago, and Cleveland before the turn of the century.
  • 1934 - At Wrigley Field, veteran ump Bill Klem's delayed call of the infield fly rule leads the Cardinals to protest their game with the Cubs. The game is suspended with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Cubs ahead 5-1, and will be completed on the last day of the month with St. Louis losing with the final score of 7-1.
  • 1963 - In one of baseball's most memorable pitching duels, Giants' right-hander Juan Marichal and the Braves' southpaw Warren Spahn both hurl 15 scoreless innings before Willie Mays ends the marathon contest with a homer off Spahn in the bottom of the 16th, giving San Francisco a 1-0 win.
  • 1967 - After Chicago's 4-1 victory over Cincinnati at Wrigley Field, many of the 40,464 patrons stay in the ballpark, awaiting the outcome of the Cards/Mets game. When the results are posted with a New York win, which puts the Cubs in first place by half a game, the enthusiastic fans refuse to leave the 'Friendly Confines' until the flags above the scoreboard are changed to reflect the home team's position at the top of the standings, a task usually done the next day.
  • 1979 - Don Kessinger (46–60) is fired mid-season as the player-manager of the White Sox and replaced by rookie skipper Tony La Russa, who had been managing the club's Triple-A Iowa Oaks in the American Association.
  • 1999 - National League President Len Coleman suspends Tom Hallion for three games without pay for bumping Colorado catcher Jeff Reed and pitching coach Milt May during an argument. It is the first time an umpire is suspended for an on-field dispute.

Cubs News and Notes:

does anybody remember laughter?

So, the Mets have basically been a disaster --and yet they're only 1.5 games worse than the Cubs. In other words, as the Cubs hit the halfway point a game under .500, maybe it's time to stop assuming they're going to suddenly get going. Maybe they're just a mediocre team. -- David Schoenfield, ESPN

“And we can close the book on the 2016 Cubs and all that was, choosing arbitrarily the morning of June 29, 2017 to make a marking point of the end of the championship honeymoon and the beginning of the next thing.” — Dan Bernstein, CBS Sports

  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times): There’s lots of blame to go around for 2017 Cubs debacle-in-the-making. “It doesn’t always happen,” Theo Epstein said. “You can be searching all year.”
  • David Haugh (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Blame front office, not Joe Maddon, for Cubs' shortcomings at midseason. “...unless Epstein and Hoyer fill the holes exposed in the first half, the Cubs will be no match for the Dodgers or Nationals in the playoffs no matter how shrewdly Maddon manages.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): June not an entire swoon for Cubs. Some things went all right. Yay.
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs — halfway to who-knows-where at 40-41 — opine on what’s to come. “Baseball,” Jason Heyward explained. “It’s baseball. It’s just baseball.” That’s so baseball.
  • AP via CSN Chicago: Even with injuries, Joe Maddon thought Cubs would have better record halfway through season. "But it's OK," Maddon said. "We get everybody healthy right now, get everybody back out there, and I'm very confident that we'll start looking like we're supposed to look."
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): For Cubs, this has become year of uber-angst. You can’t make this stuff up.
  • Micheal Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Perhaps “Adversity” is the Cubs identity in 2017? The school of hard-won knocks? “...maybe the 2017 Cubs will succeed in spite of their identity not because of it.”
  • Russell Dorsey (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): It’s time to talk about the Milwaukee Brewers. Eric Thames, Travis Shaw, Ryan Braun, those guys. “The Brewers may run out of gas soon, but who knows? Until the Cubs decide to take control, the Brewers, at least for now, look like they’re here to stay.”

“Jason Heyward (hand) will join Single-A South Bend for a rehab assignment...” — Jesse Rogers, ESPN

  • Jeremy Vernon ( Jake Arrieta aims to rebound in Cincinnati finale. Arrieta “had arguably his worst start in his last outing.”
  • Randy Holt (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Justin Grimm showcasing more than a return to form. “Not only are the walks way down, but he’s getting hitters to put the ball on the ground more.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Cubs going all-in with Willson Contreras and youth movement at catcher. “Veteran pitchers pretty much know what they want to do or how they want to do it,” Maddon said, “so I’m always relying on (them).” And Mike Borzello.
  • George Castle (Chicago Baseball Museum): Montero outburst yields to Santo’s ‘69 rips of Don Young in ranking of Cubs’ impact. “...the grand prize for way off-kilter criticism goes to Hall of Famer Ron Santo.”
  • Martin Alonso Ratcliffe (Beyond the Box Score): Are catchers to blame for allowing stolen bases? “ is a team sport and as with many team sports, you either take the blame together or fall prey to bickering and individuality.”

"The kid is such a hustling player, and I was just trying to go sinker in, and he was trying to swing, and I thought it got a little bit of the bat, so that's why I didn't think it was that bad. He stayed in the game. Then, all of a sudden, I hear broken wrist. I didn't feel good when I heard that." — Pedro Strop, talking about Trey Turner to Carrie Muskat

  • (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Anthony Rizzo will be content with results of All-Star voting Sunday. "It will shape out the way it's supposed to," said Rizzo.
  • Grey Papke (Larry Brown Sports): Report: MLB wants Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo in Home Run Derby. Jon Heyman is the source.
  • Bob Nightengale (USA Today): Javier Baez emerging as a marketing star. Earning some seed money, he is.
  • Scott Spratt (ESPN Insider {$}): Baseball's 2017 defensive all-stars: Addison Russell. Andrelton Simmons is mentioned as a comp.
  • CSN Chicago: Kris Bryant dealing with ups and downs of Cubs season thanks to 'The Subtle Art of Not Giving AF’. "...what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," Bryant says, going by the book.
  • Grey Papke (Larry Brown Sports): Kris Bryant explains Bryce Harper’s Instagram hashtag. “I think he’s just having a whole lot of fun with it,” Bryant said, referring to the rumor that Harper wants to play for the Cubs, which are in part fomented by Harper.
  • Carrie Muskat ( Jeimer Candelario (left knee) 'better than anticipated'. Negative X-Rays and no DL.

“I think it’s going pretty well. Adjustments are being made. I like where I’m at.” — Kyle Schwarber, to Tommy Birch.

  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Kyle Schwarber has made a noticeable mechanical adjustment in Iowa. “...taking the upper body out of his swing.” Barreling up in more ways than one.
  • Bradley Neveu (DRays Bay): What a phone call to the Cubs for Kyle Schwarber would sound like. “...if there were ever a time when Archer is off limits, it’s right now.”
  • Carrie Muskat ( Ian Happ returns to alma mater, breaks up no-no. "He does a good job moving the ball -- cutters, two-seam, his big curveball," Happ said of Scott Feldman. "He does a good job mixing it up.”
  • Mike Rosenbaum ( Dylan Cease spins five strong for South Bend. Struck out six, walked one, hit another, allowed three hits. Cease has a 2.47 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 47⅓ innings (13.5 K/9).
  • Tommy Birch (Des Moines Register): New Iowa Cubs reliever Matt Carasiti happy to be traded from Rockies. “I feel like I kind of did myself a disservice by not showing up when I got called up,” Carasiti said.
  • Fox Sports: All-Star Game memories with eight-time All-Star Andre Dawson [VIDEO].

Food for thought:

  • Candace Choi (KRQE news): Science Says: Hot dogs minus added nitrites may be no better. Despite the change, “nitrite-preserved foods tend to be high in salt and should be limited or avoided anyway.”
  • Science Daily: Cocoa and chocolate are not just treats -- they are good for your cognition. “...cognitive performance was improved by a daily intake of cocoa flavanols.”
  • Joe Brown (Popular Science): 9.5 tips to scientifically enhance your grill game. Important: “Grilling over charcoal is objectively, scientifically better than grilling over gas.” Pro tip: Use a chimney, not lighter fluid. A ribeye should not taste like napalm in the morning.

** baseball history information derived from The National Pastime and Today in Baseball History.

Thanks for reading. Marinade recipes available on request. See you July 5, after I grill a few suspects.