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Cub Tracks is IN

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So many things with Rizzo and Russell and Maddon and other bullets and tweets and videos

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in for the long haul
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Last time through the turnstiles, Cub Tracks went to the pen. Granted that this was likely due to crimes against humanity and the English language rather than any need for this old rag arm to provide any relief, but I done busted out and am back to bother Yu you again.

Some of the usual suspects have gotten busy now that there is actual baseball stuff to talk about. Gordo is trying...and sometimes even succeeding. Patrick Mooney seems to be somewhat refreshed by his new environs. Carrie Muskat continues to contribute no-nonsense material. And there’s Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, and Kris Bryant talk too. I love it when KB talks hitting.

Let it be said in these pages that Cub Tracks is against any of the proposed pace-of-play changes to the grand old game, and we’ll leave it at that. Jon Lester has more words about that below.

Al will have more on the pace of play changes coming up at 8:30 a.m. CT.

Current events are such that baseball and politics intersected for a moment. The CubsAnthony Rizzo tries to unpack it a little bit, and that’s as close as I’m going to go to that intersection. There’s more in the links, but here’s a good sample:

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Rizzo said Monday about meeting with families of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “You don’t know what to say, there’s nothing you can say. When people get shot, you’re grateful they’re alive. When they pass away, you’re grateful you knew them. Just to see how real it is, it’s sad and it’s why I’m so proud of what they’re doing back in Parkland and how everyone is coming together. They’re going to turn this tragedy into something positive.”

We here at Cub Tracks Central have also divined that MLB.TV is not available on a monthly subscription basis this year. Should that change, you will be notified.

Lots and lots of articles. I’ve probably missed some. Enjoy. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1923 - Christy Mathewson and Giants attorney Emil Fuchs put together a syndicate that buys the Boston Braves for $300,000, The future Hall of Famer right-hander become the principal owner and team president, but due to his deteriorating health, he was no more than a figurehead, turning over the presidency to Fuchs at the season.
  • 1929 - The Red Sox announce the team will play its newly allowed Sunday games at Braves Field, the home of their National League rivals located on Commonwealth Avenue at Babcock Street. The team will not be able to play Sunday contests at Fenway Park until 1932 because of the blue laws that restrict the use of the venue due to its proximity to churches.
  • 1943 - Phil Wrigley and Branch Rickey charter the All-American Girls Softball League. The league will operate around the Chicago area and is formed as a sports backup in case the government shuts down major league baseball. The league will later change its name and switch to hardball with a pitching distance of 40 feet and bases 68 feet apart.
  • 1953 - August A. Busch, seeing the purchase as a marketing tool, convinces the Board of Directors of Anheuser-Busch to buy the Cardinals from Fred Saigh for $3.75 million. The beer baron convinces the former owner, who has been convicted of tax evasion, as a matter of civic pride to take less money than the offer from an ownership group that would move the Redbirds to Houston.
  • 1963 - The Cubs officially put an end to their radical approach in using multiple field bosses during the season when they hire Bob Kennedy as their only manager. With the “College of Coaches” system disbanded, the club will post an 82-80 record under their lone skipper.
  • Happy birthday: Frankie Gustine, Julio Borbon, Spencer Patton.

Cubs news and notes:

“At this point in my career, I’m not going to play 158 games or whatever. I’m going to have to manage and figure out how to play great for 130,” he said. “And I think that would be a good thing to shoot for, if I was healthy, is playing 130 games of nine innings would be great. And then you’re talking about postseason, too, when you add the games on top of that, and well, you need to play for the team in the postseason, you’ve got to be ready for that, too.

“From my standpoint, from their standpoint, it’s about managing, managing my performance and my physical body and making sure I can do all that at the highest level, keep it at the highest level I can.” -- Ben Zobrist

  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Tom Ricketts eyes Series return as Cubs open camp. “Coming out of our team meeting, the vibe feels a lot like two years ago,” Ricketts said Monday. This adds on to yesterday’s front-page article.
  • Vinnie Duber (NBC Sports Chicago*): Cubs’ World Series expectations are no surprise, but they show how radical transformation from Lovable Losers has been. “I won’t say a season’s a failure because you don’t win the World Series, but it is our goal,” said Tom Ricketts.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Let’s paint, too? Maddon unveils more Cubs art. “Maddon added to his Cubs-inspired art collection on Monday.”
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Why Joe Maddon simply doesn’t care how Brewers and Cardinals respond to Cubs getting Yu Darvish. “You try to beat the game of baseball every day by playing a better game than that other team. That’s it,” Maddon said.
  • NBC Sports Chicago: Jim Hickey goes one-on-one with Kelly Crull [VIDEO].
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs’ Jon Lester on MLB efforts to speed up pace of play: ‘Terrible’. “It’s a terrible idea. It’s all terrible...the beautiful thing about our sport is there’s no time,” he said.
  • Cub full circle: Kyle Hendricks, Tyler Chatwood reunited. “The summer after their junior year in high school, Hendricks and Chatwood played on a baseball travel team in southern California called the Southland Shockers.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Contract flap resolved, Cubs’ Chatwood works on earning multiple Cy votes. “...it didn’t turn out to be a big deal,” he said.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): With a heavy heart, Rizzo opens up about Parkland shooting. “I play baseball,” Rizzo said. “I’m an athlete.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Rizzo back in camp after ‘hardest thing I ever had to do’. “It’s hard enough to hit a baseball.”
  • Sean Holland (Cubs Den): Anthony Rizzo: The Heartbeat. “What defines a true leader?”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Super-utility-man Ben Zobrist understands he won’t be an everyday starter now. “Last year was one of the most difficult seasons I’ve ever had as a player,” Zobrist said to Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports Chicago.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): How aging Ben Zobrist rebounds could impact playing time, Cubs’ leadoff question. “I’m not going to play 158 games or whatever,” said Zobrist.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): After World Series hangover, Ben Zobrist can already see a difference around Cubs: ‘The hunger is back’. “We’re excited to get back at it and prove to the league that we’re the best team again,” Zobrist said.
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Addison Russell says he’s ready, but that’s been the case since last August. “To clarify that a little, I think his plate approach has been ready since then.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Kris Bryant using 4-step process to improve pitch recognition, zone coverage for 2018. “...the thing that really impresses me about Bryant is his drive to constantly get better.” So much yes. That’s what makes me think HoF.
  • Michael Ernst (Cubs Den): Cubs organizational depth: Relief pitching. “The Cubs could have entered 2018 with as many as a half a dozen new dancers under the bleachers.” Also, Starting pitching.

Food for thought:

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