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Cub Tracks looks for today

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A menace to the sport, a ton of weak contact, odd man out, and other bullets

Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs
Hulk smash.
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

Cubs Lose. What a difference a day makes.

In our last episode, Cub Tracks looked to the future. At present, we’re just looking for today. Meat loaf is still a possibility. But the Cubs have to get past Zack Greinke.

Odd how the Cubs’ fate mirrors my own sometimes. Tuesday was one of the best days of my professional life. My first book came out in paperback and hardcover. A household name in weird fiction wrote me to say that he had ordered one. Two chapbooks came out that I had edited. The Cubs tore it up. I walked on air with my head in the clouds.

“Castles in the sand fall in the sea...eventually.” — Jimi Hendrix

Wednesday, we found that there was a story in the chapbooks that didn’t belong there. Damage control was summoned and the error was repaired in time to ward off the apocalypse (POD has pluses). Nobody will get the story that doesn’t belong in a printed copy. But that error might cost me a couple hundred dollars as we might have to reorder a large print run. The day was marked by anxiety, and the Cubs didn’t do well either. I walked on all fours with my tail between my legs.

“Rollercoaster. Say what?” -- The Ohio Players

I know, the above has nothing to do with baseball. Think of it as metaphor, and let’s have Thursday work better, yes? Here are some items for your infotainment needs. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

c’est plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

  • 1940 - During a road trip in Boston, Reds backup catcher Willard Hershberger is found dead in his room after taking his own life at the Copley Plaza Hotel. Having talked with his fragile player for hours after the game, Cincinnati skipper Bill McKechnie thought he had consoled the worn-out backstop, who was distraught about leaving runners on base in every at-bat with his 0-for-5 performance at the plate.
  • 1948 - Satchel Paige makes his first major league start, hurling seven innings to lead the Indians over the Senators, 5-3. Prior to that game, the future Hall-of-Famer made eight appearances in relief, compiling a 1-1 record for the Tribe.
  • 1957 - Bobby Bragan hears on the radio that he has been fired as the Pirates' manager and replaced by Philadelphia third base coach Danny Murtaugh. Pittsburgh general manager Joe L. Brown leaked news of the hiring before informing his deposed skipper.
  • 1959 - For the first time in major league history, a second All-Star game is played in the same season. The American League goes on to post a 5-3 victory at the Los Angeles Coliseum when White Sox second baseman Nellie Fox singles in Tony Kubek with the decisive run in the top of the seventh inning.
  • 1967 - Charlie Finley fires his manager Alvin Dark after the two disagree over the owner's handling player discipline. 'Charlie O' had fined and suspended Lew Krausse, Jr. for the pitcher's reported rowdy behavior on a team flight, prompting the team's first baseman Ken Harrelson, who will be also released, to call the A's owner a menace to the sport.
  • 1967 - "The pennant should be decided in the traditional manner." - Warren Giles, National League President. A joint meeting held in Chicago that was foreseen as a formality turns into a four-hour fierce debate when American League and National League owners strongly disagree on implementing divisional play for the next season. The AL owners had unanimously agreed to the plan earlier in the day, but Senior Circuit brass makes it perfectly clear they believe their league will oppose any effort by the American League to implement the plan by itself, citing the possibility that an AL division winner could be a fourth-place club (under the present standings) that would play a first-place team in the World Series.
  • 1987 - Home plate umpire Tim Tschida throws out Joe Niekro after discovering an emery board in the possession of the Twins' starting pitcher. The 42-year-old knuckleballer receives an automatic 10-day suspension from the American League for defacing the ball.
  • 1998 - In the eighth inning of the Astros' 11-3 loss to Florida, C.J. Nitkowski hits three consecutive batters, making it only the third time since 1900 the deed has been accomplished in major league history. The Houston southpaw shares the dubious distinction with two other hurlers who also spent time in Columbus, Ohio as minor leaguers, Dock Ellis (1974 Pirates) and Wilbur Wood (1977 White Sox).

Cubs news and notes:

Bye-bye Taco Bell?

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jon Lester joined John Smoltz as the only pitchers since 1900 to hit a HR and record [their] 2000th strikeout in the same game. -- Jesse Rogers

  • Tim Baffoe (CBS Chicago*): What if the Cubs are actually good? “...even winning a World Series hasn’t quite cured the desire by many Cubs fans to self-mutilate.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Jed Hoyer: Cubs still loaded with young talent. "When we go play other teams, I'm still struck by how we're the youngest team on the field," Hoyer said.
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*): No time for egos now, Maddon says. “This is no time to be thin-skinned,” the manager said sternly. “You cannot be thin-skinned and win. You cannot.”
  • CBS Chicago*: Chris Bosio: Cubs pitchers ‘Working a little harder, wanting it a little more’. “The road trip coming out of the break, the guys had a chance to regroup,” Bosio said on the Mully and Hanley Show (audio included in article).”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Jake Arrieta is now among the league leaders in contact management. “...inducing a ton of weak contact.”
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Illustrating Jake Arrieta’s evolution in three images. “Not many pitches are being grooved nowadays.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Justin case for closer? Wilson gives Cubs strong option for 9th in ’18. “Obviously, he’s done it before,” Joe Maddon said. “We’ll probably cross that bridge when we get to it.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Cubs may have lined up Wade Davis’ replacement with Justin Wilson move. “I just want to pitch – it doesn’t really matter when to me,” Wilson said. “I don’t anticipate anything. I pitch when my name’s called.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Alex Avila explains what it’s like to be traded by your dad. “...when it comes to doing our jobs, we both have to do our jobs. There was nothing more to it than that,” he said.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Kyle Schwarber still has desire to get behind the plate. “If I ever get called upon to catch, I know I can still do it,” he said.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Kyle Schwarber hosts young fan's first Wrigley visit. Campbell Faulkner and his family were at Wrigley Field for the Cubs' series against the D-backs, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
  • Sam Borden (ESPN Insider-{$}): Ian Happ could be traded next. Might be odd man out?
  • Martin Oppegaard (12UP): Cubs send touching letter to family of fan who recently passed away. “Sometimes it's more than just a game.”
  • John Arguello (Cub Den) A Father’s Day baseball story. “...achingly slow continental drift that happens gradually over the span of a generation.”
  • Ron Clements (The Sporting News): Ryne Sandberg enjoying life after 'life-changing' 2016 Cubs season. “...it was the most gratifying baseball season of his life.”

Food for thought:

  • Mitch Leslie (Science): Got allergies? Scientists may have finally pinpointed the cells that trigger reactions. “It’s exciting for those of us who are looking at potential ways to treat allergic diseases,” says Thomas Casale.
  • Pdeter Dockrill (Science Alert): Scientists just revealed a hidden secret about the sun's inner core. The core doesn’t rotate at the same speed as the surface.
  • Bryce Gruber (Reader’s Digest): If you’re neurotic, you’re in luck—science says you have this major advantage. “Neurotic people may tend to be more aware, but experts suggest living a healthy lifestyle is probably the most advantageous.”

Thanks for reading. Cub Tracks will return Sunday in time for breakfast.