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Cub Tracks can’t even

Casey’s views, Lester’s rookie card, embarrassing factoids, and other bullets

Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs
Yeah, it was like that.
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

Cubs lose :(

The Cubs go for meatloaf™ today, on the eve of the All-Star break, seeming slightly out-of-step at a game below .500.

“July is a month full of conversations.” — Theo Epstein, according to Bruce Levine.

Maybe it would be better to seek willing dance partners? I dunno. At any rate, all of the aphorisms in the world won’t help. Hitting with runners in scoring position would be a welcome change. The Cubs are leaving 6.97 runners on base per game. They score 4.58 per game. That’s about in the middle of the pack (19th). If they scored one more run per game, they’d be on top of both leagues. Half a run would be top ten material. Solo homers won’t do it. What will? Brown paper bags full of cash as offerings for the baseball gods? Little bags of oddments for a mojo? Gris gris a few palms? Jon Jay in the Travis Wood role? Front-line starting pitching? The twist remains to be seen.

Because the reigning World Series champion Cubs have been mired in mediocrity all season, club officials have considered trading a young position player to jump-start the team, according to Ken Rosenthal. Such a move would presumably land the Cubs a sorely needed controllable starting pitcher. — Connor Byrne, MLB Trade Rumors.

I can see a few problems with that...can’t you? Perhaps the answers are buried in the lede, or in the links. Let’s investigate, shall we? As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in Baseball History**:

  • 1903 - In a Tri-State League contest against York, Pennsylvania, Dan McClellan throws a perfect game. The Philadelphia Giant hurler is the first black pitcher to accomplish the feat in professional baseball.
  • 1956 - The BBWAA, by a narrow margin of 14-12, votes to establish the Cy Young Award to honor the major leagues' most outstanding pitcher. Commissioner Ford Frick initiated the idea because he felt hurlers were not recognized in the MVP voting, but ironically the first recipient of the Cy Young Award, Dodger Don Newcombe, also won the Most Valuable Player Award.
  • 1958 - On Capitol Hill, Casey Stengel and Mickey Mantle appear in front of a Senate subcommittee investigating baseball's antitrust exemption. After 'the Old Perfessor' gives 45 minutes of rambling and confusing testimony, Sen. Estes Kefauver laughs when he asks 'the Mick' to respond to his inquiry about the issue and the slugger answers, "My views are just about the same as Casey's."
  • 1969 - Tom Seaver's near perfect game, which will be immortalized as "The Imperfect Game", is broken up when Cubs' outfielder Jimmy Qualls, a lifetime .223 hitter, singles into center field.
  • 1970 - At Tiger Stadium against his former team, pinch hitter Dalton Jones slugs an upper deck grand slam 'single' against the Red Sox. He is called out when he passes teammate Don Wert between first and second base, resulting in the round-tripper being ruled a three-RBI single.
  • 2005 - On the first pitch of his only big league plate appearance, 24-year-old Adam Greenberg, entering the game as a ninth-inning pinch-hitter for the Cubs, is struck in the back of the head by a 92-mph fastball thrown by Marlin hurler Valerio de los Santos. The Guilford High School (CT) standout, the first player in the history of the state to be named to four all-state teams, sustains a concussion and will experience positional vertigo as a result of the beaning.

Cubs News and Notes:

  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Theo Epstein bears blame for Cubs’ mediocrity. “I am responsible for this team being under .500,” Epstein declared on the Spiegel and Parkins Show Friday afternoon.
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*): Joe Maddon holds meeting with Cubs centered around positive reinforcement. “I wanted them to understand that the solutions are in the room,” Maddon said.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Cubs hope Maddon's midseason message sinks in. “I’m not concerned or interested in the trade market,” Maddon said. “I believe the answers are in our room. ... It’s a mental challenge more than physical.”
  • Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): The back of Jon Lester’s rookie will literally make you laugh out loud. It’s true. Here’s a twist.
  • Vinnie Duber (CSN Chicago*): Consistency continues to elude Jake Arrieta as Cubs' fortunes, future contract hang in balance. “Below average for me individually and honestly for the team,” Arrieta said when asked for an assessment of his first half.
  • Brian Sandalow (Chicago Sun-Times*): Arrieta falters, unable to build off previous strong start. The only thing consistent is inconsistency™.
  • Grey Papke (Larry Brown Sports): Arrieta reportedly will not get long-term deal from Cubs. Building on Jon Heyman article.
  • Carrie Muskat ( Kyle Hendricks to make rehab start on Monday. Assuming that he does well in Double-A Tennessee, Hendricks could be inserted into the rotation for the Cubs' series against the Orioles.
  • Carrie Muskat ( Wade Davis taking teammates' admiration to Miami. This is Davis’ third visit to the All-Star game, and the first for a Cubs reliever since 2008.
  • Vinnie Duber (CSN Chicago*): With Bryzzo Souvenir Co. providing the power, maybe a Cubs second-half surge isn't so hard to imagine. “Everybody relies on their big guys all the time,” Joe Maddon said.
  • Chris Kuc (Chicago Tribune* {$)}: Kyle Schwarber's progress on offense 'a continuous process'. “Schwarber said he has focused on slowing down his mechanics and limiting movement.”
  • Brian Sandalow (Chicago Sun-Times*): Kyle Schwarber shows progress, Cubs don’t in loss to Pirates. “We haven’t been able to sustain a streak for as long as we would like, but we’re a five- or six-game winning streak away from being right there,” Jake Arrieta said.
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Bryce Harper on report he wants to play for Cubs: “I don’t know what Peter Gammons is talking about”. Discusses Barry Svrluga column.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Cubs name Victor Caratini, Thomas Hatch Minor League Player, Pitcher of Month for June. This is good to read, especially about Hatch.
  • Zack Moser (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): A meditation on the futility of Trade Speculation, redux: speculating futilely. “The Cubs’ status quo as of the beginning of July is frustrating, and the rest-of-season prognosis is troubling, and possibly bleak.”
  • Mary Craig (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Bill Nicholson, the unconventional wartime hero. “...though for only a short while, Nicholson became the face of Chicago baseball...”
  • Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): David Ross is coming back to play baseball. For the Kansas Stars.
  • James Neveau (NBC Chicago*): Kris Bryant's wife Jessica Tweets embarrassing factoids about Cubs' star. “...her least favorite thing about her husband is that he takes pictures of her while the couple is eating dinner.”

Food for thought:

  • Tim Appenzeller (Science): The AI revolution in science. So-called ““deep learning” systems don’t need to be programmed with a human expert’s knowledge.” Seem to recall Kurzweil saying something about this...
  • Bruce Bower (Science News): Fossil tooth pushes back record of mysterious Neandertal relative. “Denisovans lived in Asia at least 100,000 years ago, DNA analysis suggests.”
  • Giorgia Guglielmi (Science): Getting rid of carpool lanes could double travel times. “The findings come thanks to an unusual decision made by the government of Jakarta last year.”

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

Thanks for reading. See you Tuesday morning.