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Cub Tracks in the flesh

All about Bouton, the unwritten rules of stealing signs, the mystery of Earth’s thermostat, and other bullets

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds
Have you heard the news?
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Last time around, Cub Tracks had web gems. I know -- if you ask the writers, they’re all gems, even if they’re highly-polished brown gems. This time around the block, we have mastered the art of late-inning karate. That Reds pitching is good for what ails you, if a lack of offense and/or wins is an issue. And that offense makes you keep on diggin’. It’s nearly a real treat, but it’s really a crime, to make a Floydian slip, he says sheepishly.

Forgive me. Huge offensive nights bring out the animals in me. And the bullpen was a relief for a change. Well, except for those three late homers...

"You can struggle in the second half or you can learn from your mistakes and get better," winning pitcher Mike Montgomery said after the Cubs moved 11 games over .500 for the first time this season. "Now it's all about getting into the playoffs. We're completely over last year."

I thought Bat Country was in Vegas, not Cincinnati. I sit corrected. Here’s a selection of the best and brightest. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1905 - At Philadelphia's Baker Bowl, Ed Reulbach goes the distance when the Cubs defeat the Phillies in 20 innings, 2-1. The 22 year-old right-handed rookie will finish the season with an record of 18-14 (.563), along with an ERA of 1.42.
  • 1919 - Indian right-hander Ray Caldwell is knocked unconscious after being struck by lightning with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. The free-wheeling spitballer refuses to leave the game, needing just one more out for the win, and goes on to record the final out for the 2-1 victory over Philadelphia at Cleveland's League Park.
  • 1951 - A thousand fans behind the Browns dugout are given yes and no signs to vote on decisions to be made by the coaching staff. Owner Bill Veeck's idea appears to work as St. Louis beats the A's, 5-3. Ned Garver picks up the win.
  • 1969 - The Pilots trade Jim Bouton to the Astros for Roric Harrison and Dooley Womack. The reinvented knuckleball pitcher, who posted a 2-1 record along with an ERA of 3.91 in his 57 games with the Northwest expansion team, will continue to chronicle the 1969 season for his controversial book, Ball Four.
  • 1971 - At Wrigley Field, Ernie Banks hits the final home run of his career in the Cubs' 5-4 loss to Cincinnati. Mr. Cub's 512th round-tripper, tying him for seventh-place on the all-time list with Eddie Mathews, comes in the fourth frame off right-hander Jim McGlothlin, a two-out solo shot to left field that ties the score at 3-3.
  • 2007 - Padres starter Greg Maddux becomes the first pitcher to win 10 games in 20 consecutive seasons when he tosses seven solid innings in the team's 14-3 rout of Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park. During the streak, the right-hander compiled a 339-196 record, with 196 of those victories earned while hurling for the Braves.

Cubs news and notes:

“His arm is tired. That is understandable if you look at the load he has carried over the past two years pitching in seven-month seasons. There comes a time when all pitchers need a breather. This is his time.” -- Theo Epstein, on Jon Lester.

ESPN video corner:

Ian Happ discusses his interviewing skills [VIDEO].

Kyle Schwarber discusses Ian Happ’s interview skills [VIDEO].

The Cubs have signed righty Scott Carroll to a minors pact. He had not previously appeared this season after seeing time with the White Sox over the past three seasons. In 168⅓ frames as a swingman with the southside Chicago organization, Carroll worked to a 4.60 ERA with 5.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. — Jeff Todd (MLB Trade Rumors)

  • Sam Fels (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Finally, the debate comes into the light. Bring on the robot umps.
  • Grant Brisbee (SBNation): The unwritten rules of stealing signs and taking your sweet-ass time with it. Interesting and full of Cubness.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Lester to throw ‘pen Friday, ‘figure out’ timeline. Lester played catch before the games Tuesday and Wednesday in Cincinnati. “We’ll take it one step at a time, but he felt good,” Joe Maddon said.
  • Zack Moser (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Jake Arrieta: Great again? “...Arrieta has made tangible improvements since the beginning of July, and that his effectiveness is not an illusion.”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Mike Montgomery is a spot starter now, but could be in the rotation next season. He has an above-average FIP. And that’s seemed like the plan™ for a while now.
  • Ryan Davis (FanRag Sports): Despite the lack of love John Lackey keeps performing. “He has continued his streak of pitching five innings in each start, and the Cubs are 6-0 when he takes the mound.”
  • CBS Chicago*: Joe Maddon stresses importance of Cubs getting Justin Wilson ‘right’ again. “The biggest thing is to get Justin Wilson back in the strike zone,” Maddon said. (includes interview [AUDIO]
  • CBS Chicago*: Chris Bosio on Justin Wilson’s struggles: “It’s about confidence, attacking.” “He just hasn’t gotten off to a good start, but another guy who I think his best baseball is coming,” Bosio finished. (includes interview [AUDIO]
  • Ryan Davis (FanRag Sports): Save streak underscores importance of Wade Davis to Cubs. “To say that the deal to acquire Davis has been a victory for the Cubs is, well, a total and complete understatement.”
  • Keith Law (ESPN-Insider* {$}): Best tools in MLB: Top gloves and arms in 2017. “Challenging Willson Contreras' throwing arm is a low-odds proposition.”
  • Andrew Call ( Anthony Rizzo laments lack of defensive action at 3B. "I didn't get any ground balls. I can't tell you much because I was just standing there," he remarked.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Javier Baez will get games at shortstop after Addison Russell returns to Cubs. "You're still going to see Javy over there as we readjust Addison back into it," Maddon said.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Maddon defends Baez from 'old school' critics. “Sometimes the old school guys forget what they looked like when they were young school guys,” Maddon said Tuesday night.
  • Dan Cahill (Chicago Sun-Times*): Kris Bryant jokes about Rizzo playing third base. “Add one more chapter to the Bryzzo story.”
  • Dionne Miller (ABC7): Blind Cubs reporter calls it like he hears it. [VIDEO]
  • Phil Rosenthal (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Comcast SportsNet Chicago gets a new name: NBC Sports Chicago. Effective October 2.

Food for thought:

  • Jeremy Deaton (Popular Science): Scientists are solving the mystery of Earth’s thermostat. “The climate must be relatively constrained. It can’t change too much, otherwise life would go extinct,” according to Philip Pogge von Strandmann.
  • Giorgia Guglielmi (Science) Why modern horses have only one toe. “As their body mass increased, horses’ center toes got bigger and more resistant to stress.”
  • Tia Ghose (Live Science): The solar eclipse had a spooky effect on nature. “From spooked horses to hungry fish, here are some of the most interesting impacts of the eclipse on nature.”

Thanks for reading. BTW — the title refers to the 1977 Pink Floyd Tour -— it was called the “In the Flesh” tour. I still have my ticket. Smell you Sunday.