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Cub Tracks goes back to back

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Exemptions and intentions, Pafko, Santo, wild horses, and other bullets

MLB: World Series-Cleveland Indians at Chicago Cubs
We miss you, Ron.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras just went back-to-back as I write. Jed Hoyer was talking to Pat and Ron. Chili Davis has moved out of the shade and into the spotlight with that little bit of “instant offense”. Nice. Jason Heyward and Javier Baez barreled up, too, and some farmhands added on later. Go Cubs! They won 6-1 behind a succession of Triple-A pitchers. Al has the details of the radio-only game here. Still no home video feed. Maybe tomorrow, maybe someday.

Here’s Rizzo’s blast, courtesy of Cubs Insider’s YouTube Channel:

And Contreras’ clout:

And a Javy Highlight:

Great to hear, great to see. Read all about it — as always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

“We’re going to try to audition the dudes we think might be in that spot,” Maddon said Friday before putting switch hitter Ian Happ at the top against the Brewers in the exhibition opener. “There’s nothing that can be read into it yet. We’re going to audition people. — Joe Maddon

  • 1957 - The U.S. Supreme Court decides 6-3 that baseball is the only professional sport exempt from antitrust laws. The issue arises when pro football seeks similar protection from the laws.
  • 1965 - The MLB owners refuse to raise the minimum salary requested by the players to $7,000 from the current $6,000, a level that is only $500 more than the first minimum salary established 18 years ago. In 1968, thanks to the first-ever collective bargaining agreement in professional sport, the amount will be raised to $10,000, setting the tone for more rapid increases in the coming years.
  • 1969 - Baseball avoids the first work stoppage in its history when the owners agree to increase their contribution to the newly revised pension plan, which changes the players’ ability to qualify from five years to four with the minimum age being lowered from fifty to forty-five to receive benefits. Other improvements include the players agreeing to collect $5.45 million per year, retroactive to 1959, as well as a percentage of the revenue generated by televised games.
  • 1973 - The spring training lockout ends when the players’ union and the owners reach a three-year agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. The CBA establishes salary arbitration for players with two+ years of major league service, raises the minimum salary to $15,000, and includes the new ‘10 and 5’ trade rule that allows a player with ten years of service, in which the last five are with his current team, to veto any trade.
  • 1981 - The Executive Board of the Players’ Association votes unanimously to strike on May 29 if the issue of free-agent compensation remains unresolved. That deadline will be extended briefly, however, when the Players Association’s unfair labor practices complaint is heard by the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Happy birthday: Howard Earl, Monte Irvin, Andy Pafko, Ron Santo, Bob Brenly, Ed Lynch, Henry Rodriguez, Felix Pena, Jorge Soler.

Cubs news and notes:

  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN): Maddon goes deep on impact of limiting mound visits. “A lot of this rule change has been built around this concept that people have been cheating through technology,” Maddon said.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs take flier on former first-round pitcher Danny Hultzen.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Yu Darvish to make Cubs spring debut Thursday in Mesa against Rockies. Tyler Chatwood, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Darvish, Jose Quintana is the rotation to start out, Monday through Friday. This sets up Lester for Opening Day. Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation) has additional thoughts about that. Evan Altman (Cubs Insider) also piles on.
  • Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic {$}): How Brandon Morrow’s early-career struggles set him up to become the Cubs’ closer. “It’s just consistency and developing command over a long period of time,” Morrow said.
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Welington Castillo returns to Chicago with newfound respect. “...he’s glad to be back in Chicago and the White Sox are happy to have him.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Joe Maddon on Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo: `What he just did, he’ll never be the same’. “And some of it in a good way, in this horrible situation, just personally [through] the growth...I mean, the maturity level – what he just did, a lot of us can’t do that.”
  • James Neveau (NBC Chicago*): Rizzo asks Dexter Fowler’s daughter to be his flower girl. “Rizzo sent Naya a beautiful note asking her to be part of his special day, and of course she agreed to the responsibility.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Ben Zobrist details back stiffness; Cubs starting pitchers to make spring debuts next week. “They’re just taking me slow and want to make sure I’m good before they put me in any games,” Zobrist said Saturday. Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times) concurs.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Javier Baez sets sights on winning Gold Glove. “I’ll try to be healthy the whole year again and try to get that Gold Glove I want because obviously a lot of people notice me because of my defense,” Baez said.
  • Vinnie Duber (NBC Sports Chicago*): Javy Baez can do anything defensively, but what’s next for him at the plate? “The biggest thing for me for him is to organize the strike zone,” Maddon said.
  • Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): Ian Happ and Tommy La Stella are already making web gems. Neither are known for their defense. Happ is also in the leadoff rotation.
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago Sports*): Albert Almora ‘Would love opportunity’ to be Cubs’ lead-off man. “That would be fine,” Almora said. “We have great players I can lean on for intel if that happens to be the case.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Peter Bourjos eager to fulfill long shot dream with Cubs. “I really believe he’s going to help us get back to the Promised Land this year somehow,” Maddon said. “I have a lot of faith in this fellow.”
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Spring training could be entirely devoid of roster drama for the Cubs (and that’s fine). There are (maybe) two spots open to competition.

Food for thought:

  • Elizabeth Pennisi (Science): Ancient DNA upends the horse family tree. “...the world’s only remaining wild horses, called Przewalski’s horses, are not truly wild.”
  • Ian Graber-Stiehle (NPR): Olympians are using nonalcoholic beer as recovery drinks. Here’s the science. Ambrosia+social benefits.
  • Malcolm Ritter (AP via KRQE News 13): Science Says: European art scene began with Neanderthals. “New age estimates that show paintings on cave walls and decorated seashells in Spain were created long before our species entered Europe.”