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Cub Tracks tunes in

Ian Happ leads off, Brian Duensing is back, Ben Zobrist is still here and in the best shape of his life™, and other bullets

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Divisional Round - Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs - Game Three
won’t you Murray me, Bill?
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Last time through the turnstyle, Cub Tracks found fertile ground on Mars. “It isn’t the first time I’ve been spaced out, Scott McCloud,” he said angelically.

“Don’t think about your errors or failures, otherwise you’ll never do a thing.” — Bill Murray

Hey, the Cubs cooked up a deal! Check out some details below. We have actual content once again, with a liberal application of subscriber articles from the Athletic, more fun stuff from the usual suspects, and a video and a podcast to boot. Plus my avatar if I was a South Park character. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1950 - Bob Feller asks and gets his salary reduced to $45,000, a $20,000 cut because he believes his sub-par record of 15-14 doesn’t merit an increase.
  • 2002 - Kerry Wood (12-6, 3.36) avoids arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal with the Cubs believed to be worth between $3.5 and 4 million.
  • 2008 - At their quarterly meetings, thirty major league owners voted unanimously to extend Bud Selig’s contract by three years, retaining him as commissioner through 2012.
  • Happy birthday: Charlie Eden, Babe Twombly, Billy Grabarkewitz, Dave Geisel.

Cubs news and notes:

  • Theo Epstein on Spiegel and Parkins [AUDIO].
  • A one-on-one interview with new Cubs pitcher Tyler Chatwood [VIDEO].
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): The New World of Streaming is already here – how brave will the Cubs and MLB be? “...the Cubs are about 80 percent inclined to move on from NBC Sports Chicago.” As a recent cord-cutter, this hits me right where I live. The medium is really underserved.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Creative concept for Yu Darvish contract could apply to Jake Arrieta as well. Building on Jeff Passan and Joel Sherman articles.
  • Anthony Castrovince (*): Tale of the tape: Darvish vs. Arrieta. “Darvish has the higher upside...”
  • Jon Greenberg (The Athletic {$}): C’mon Theo, everyone is rooting for you…to sign another starting pitcher. “I would really like the Cubs to sign another free-agent pitcher so we can stop writing and talking about whether they’re going to sign Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb.” Seconded.
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): Brian Duensing’s return to Cubs is big, but where does he fit in new-look bullpen? “...another reliable arm...”
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): A simple change in pitch mix helped Duensing flourish with Cubs. “...fewer sinkers...”
  • Jeff Sullivan (Fangraphs): There are two things to be said about Duensing. “...a lefty reliever who can pitch effectively to hitters on both sides.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): By the book: Dillon Maples seeks ‘pen role with Cubs. “He has a slider that no one can hit and he can throw it in any count,” Jaron Madison said.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): How do you like Joe Maddon’s bullpen now? “Love it,” Maddon said.
  • Mike Oz (Big League Stew): Yadier Molina claps back at Cubs catcher: ‘Respect the ranks’. “...during the 2017 season, Willson Contreras was more valuable than Molina according to Fangraphs’ WAR (3.2 to 2.1).”
  • Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic {$}): Ben Zobrist says ‘thank you’ to the haters as he prepares to be ‘best version of myself’ for Cubs in 2018. “I’ll play anywhere and whatever’s best for the team, that’s what I want to do,” he said.
  • Brian Davis (Wrigleyville-Baseball prospectus): Replacing Jon Jay, or at least his on-base percentage. A .374 OBP player with 433 plate appearances isn’t that easy to find.
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): Who should lead off for Cubs in 2018? Ian Happ is at the top of the list, which leads into a podcast episode.
  • Chris Emma (CBS Sports Chicago*): Happ hopes to build on breakout rookie season. “Be ready to help in any way I can,” Happ said.
  • CBS Chicago: Albert Almora Jr. not worried about full-time role with Cubs. “I’m going to do as I’m told, and whenever I get the opportunity, I’m going to go out there and try to help the team win,” he said.
  • Kelly Crull (NBC Sports Chicago*): Javier Baez, the Cubs’ versatile King of Swag. “El Mago,” the magician, knows his time is coming.
  • Chris Emma (CBS Sports Chicago*): Rejuvenated Kris Bryant striving for more improvement in 2018. “Hit it where it’s pitched,” Bryant said, “...punish the balls when they make mistakes.”
  • Paul Swaney (Stadium Journey): Top 100 Stadium Experiences of 2017. “...only Wrigley Field can offer everyone, a fan or a casual observer, a bucket-list life experience.”
  • Jeremy Dorn (FanRag Sports): Is Cubs vs Dodgers the NL’s best rivalry? Dorn says yes. I say not enough hate.

Food for thought:

  • Laura Geggle (Live Science): Little ‘rainbow’ dinosaur discovered by farmer in China. “Iridescent feathers glistened on the dinosaur’s head, wings and tail...”
  • Science Daily: Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read. “ detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.”
  • Beryl Lieff Benderly (Science): The grass is green for careers in cannabis research. There’s “a demand for well-trained scientists who can also “present their ideas clearly” and “translate their results””...real scientists, in other words.

Thanks for reading.