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Cub Tracks’ stochastic blues

there’s no scrying in baseball, yellow-dyed balls, a freak of nature, and other bullets

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St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
Meat Loaf Sunday!

Cubs Win #50! Joe wins his 250th as a Cub! 10K you very much, Jon Lester.

“The present time, together with the past, shall be judged by a great jovialist.” — Nostradamus

The chatter about sixth senses in the last episode reminds me that I still see red people. No Gary Collins, no Macaulay Culkin, no crystal ball or scrying glass. Pure Nostradamus -- a big weekend series with a bad beginning, a swell middle, and an as-yet-undetermined future, with pennant implications and ancient rivalry and all the drama one could ask for...I see them in the rear-view mirror.

“Indeed, the hereditary gift of prophecy will go to the grave with me.” -- Nostradamus

You know how we like to talk about the future, ‘we’ being Cub Tracks and baseball fans in general: Speculation is our meat and speculation, arms futures, projections, extrapolations, number-crunching, statistical analysis, and just plain day-game dreaming.

“Because of the vulgar advent, I decided to give way and, by dark and cryptic sentences, tell of the causes of the future mutation of mankind; especially the most urgent ones, and the ones I perceived, and in a manner that would not upset their fragile sentiments.” — Nostradamus

That all said, I see the Redbirds ending up in fourth this year. Let’s say that I was wrong and the Cubs pull it off -- they’re still the favorites. These people have those odds at -225. Look at the loss column. The Cubs look like they’re about to catch the Brewers.

“For a long time, I have been making many predictions, far in advance, of events since come to pass, naming the particular locality. I acknowledge all to have been accomplished through divine power and inspiration.” — Nostradamus

Yeah, Nostradamus didn’t show his work. I don’t either. I betcha a 50-game projection would favor the Cubs too, the most-recent 10-game sample notwithstanding. The Pirates won’t be at .900 the rest of the year. The Cubs are unlikey to play at a .700 clip. But I’d wager that 85-90 games will win the division. Nobody from the Central is gonna win any wild-card berth this year. Arizona and the Rockies made that a pipe dream a while ago. Probably have to play .700 (or so) ball to catch them, my off-the-cuff math says. An unreasonably tall order at any rate... Pythagoras says .521 for the Cubs. Closer to .550 might do the trick.

“Nothing in the world can one imagine beforehand, not the least thing, everything is made up of so many unique particulars that cannot be foreseen.” -- Nostradamus

The Cubs are 7-1 since the All-Star break. That's tied with the Pirates for the best record in MLB in the second half. Cubs starting pitchers have a 2.16 ERA in 8 second-half games (had 4.66 ERA in first half of season). -- ESPN

Enough daydreaming. We’ll save the kitten pics for another time. Let’s read the news, shall we? As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in Baseball History:

  • 1925 - In a Class C Western Association minor league game against the Topeka Jayhawks, Paul Richards of the Muskogee Chiefs is summoned from his shortstop position to pitch. The future major league player and manager throws with both hands during his brief appearance on the mound, including an unusual confrontation with a switch-hitter, that briefly results in both the pitcher and the batter continually swapping hands and batter's boxes, respectively, until the ambidextrous hurler becomes a left-hander and right-hander on alternate pitches, regardless of where the batter places himself.
  • 1939 - Using yellow-dyed balls, the Cardinals beat the Dodgers 5-2 at Sportsman's Park. The experimenting with the use of the colored sphere will be tested once more, in a September game played at Wrigley Field.
  • 1941 - Although Lou Boudreau is usually credited for implementing the shift on pull-hitter Ted Williams, White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes becomes the first to employ the defensive alignment against the Red Sox outfielder, who foils the plan when he goes 2-for-5, including a double, in Boston's 10-4 loss to the Pale Hose at Fenway Park. The Chicago skipper will abandon the strategy when 'the Kid' collects four hits in ten at bats in the two-game series.
  • 1944 - In the eighth inning of the second game of a doubleheader, with the bases loaded, Giants manager Mel Ott orders for Bill Nicholson, who has hit four home runs in the twin bill, to be intentionally walked with the bases loaded by his pitcher Andy Hansen. The free pass to 'Swish' doesn't work when the Cubs score three runs to tie the game.
  • 1991 - Rob Dibble, just back from a three-game suspension, is ejected for throwing at - and hitting - Cubs baserunner Doug Dascenzo in an 8-5 Reds loss.

Cubs News and Notes:

Giant Panda!

Jonathan Lucroy? Maybe.

Jesse Chavez? Intriguing.

"When they won it last year, I felt a little bit a part of it. "I didn't have much to do with it, but I always tell everybody, 'anybody who ever put that uniform on, they wanted to be the one who did it.'" -- Juan Pierre, to Kelly Crull [VIDEO].

Do the Wave!

"I don't even know what we're doing," Kris Bryant said. "No one is telling me. There's no memo. All the other years, it was confirmed, like 'This is what we're doing,' but this year, are we waving? Is everyone doing their own thing? It's like, okay, whatever. You wave at me. I'll wave back to you." — Jesse Rogers, ESPN

  • Jay Jaffe (Sports Illustrated*): The Cubs' recent surge has them back in the thick of a tight NL Central race. “...the real excitement is just beginning.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Quantifying Hope: Cubs opening up big lead in playoff odds. “...the Cubs project(ed) to tally 88.5 wins and finish 7 games ahead of the Cardinals.”
  • Vinnie Duber (CSN Chicago*): With NL Central suddenly bunched up, a reminder it won't all be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows for Cubs in second half. “Baseball’s crazy,” Kyle Schwarber said.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Recharging their battery: Cubs seek trades for catching, relief help. No Joe Smith please.
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): The effect of Cubs management’s commitment to young players. “Epstein’s interpersonal relationships with young players, such as Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber, are additional examples of how the front office emphasizes human nature.”
  • Carrie Muskat ( Jake Arrieta displays vintage form in tough loss. "Some really good pitchers had a tough time," Joe Maddon said. Arrieta talks about staying focused [VIDEO].
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): After losing uncle, emotional Jon Lester pays tribute with Notre Dame rallying cry. "My family — I lost my uncle yesterday," Lester said. "For the Notre Dame fans, he went to Notre Dame, so it's Play Like a Champion Today. Just to let him know that I was thinking of him."
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): Jose Quintana admits trade rumors have affected him negatively this season. "It was my first time [being mentioned in trades]," Quintana said. "I never heard anything about trades [before]. It was on my mind all the time.”
  • Chris Kuc (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Jose Quintana eager for his first at-bat with Cubs: 'I want a hit'. "I know I'm not a good hitter but I try to do my best. In this league it's really important with sacrifice bunts and trying to make contact,” he finished.
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): Willson Contreras: King of the bat flip. “The Cubs' fiery catcher has always worn his emotions on his sleeve and Friday was no exception.”
  • Zack Moser (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Gauging Willson Contreras’ excellence. “Contreras has improved to become one of the best catchers in the majors.”
  • Ryan Davis (FanRag Sports): Cubs infielders Addison Russell and Javier Baez have stepped up in big way. “... the Cubs will have to play at the top of their game if they are to emerge victorious at the end of the season. If the last 30-plus games are any indication, Russell and Baez are ready for the challenge.”
  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): Freak of nature: Kris Bryant wows again with insane healing ability. "Some good supplements right there, man," Joe Maddon said. Don’t let Magneto anywhere near Kris.
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*): For Cubs, buyer beware with deadline deals. “Lateral moves can work against you,” said Joe Maddon.
  • Tommy Birch (Des Moines Register): 5 Iowa Cubs who could be on the move at the trade deadline. “Folks around the team think at least one more deal could be on the way for the Cubs. And the Iowa squad could be affected by whatever move the Cubs make.”
  • Madeleine Kenney (Chicago Sun-Times*): Joe Maddon to discuss his ‘field of dreams’ on NBC News Sunday. Maddon’s “field of dreams” is encouraging acceptance among ethnic groups.
  • Laura Kennedy and Charlie Schlenker ( Baby Bump: New Cubs fans born 9 months after World Series win. "We have definitely seen an increase in the number of our babies. It's kind of been going for the last couple months, so it could be the whole playoffs that led to it," said Stephanie Wollenberg.

Food for thought:

  • Ashley Yeager (Science News): Earth might once have resembled a hot, steamy doughnut. Mmm, synestia.
  • Olivia Campbell (New York Magazine): Married people used to be healthier — but not anymore. “It’s possible that that the biggest change has actually been in the way the research itself is conducted.”
  • Giorgia Guglielmo(Science): Meet the scientist who turns data into music—and listen to the sound of a neutron star. “Mark Ballora...uses sonification to create symphonies out of scientific data.”

Thanks for reading. I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a meat loaf today.