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Cub Tracks reads between the lines

Dimaggio debuts, Kenney fires back, Yu has jokes, and other tweets and bullets

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MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs
Coming soon to a field near Yu
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings and solicitations. Jon Jay and Jorge Soler aren’t here today to make Royal pains out of themselves, so I suppose I’ll just have to start a whole new article. Damn, and on a Saturday, no less. What gives?

“Baseball is drama with an endless run and an ever-changing cast.” — Joe Garagiola

If you’ve been reading the writing on the bathroom wall between the lines, you’ll have noticed some changes...we at Bleed Cubbie Blue and especially the editorial we at Cub Tracks are pleased as punch to announce that we will be here to bother regale you with our particular brand of infotainment stylings at least an additional day, starting today.

Yu can get anything you want, at Joe’s restaurant.

I oughta be committed. Instead I’m examining tea leaves to see who the 25th man is. Hey! The Cubs beat the White Sox — that’s always a good thing. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1871 - The National Association of Professional Baseball Players is founded setting the stage for the future National League (1876). The entry fee for a National Association franchise is set at $10.
  • 1936 - Joe DiMaggio makes his Yankee debut in a big way. The 21 year-old future Hall of Fame outfielder collects four hits, including a triple, in an 8-7 exhibition loss to the Cardinals.
  • 1940 - At Plant Field in Tampa, a capacity crowd sees the National League beat the AL in an interleague exhibition all-star game. The charity contest, which is heard nationally on the Mutual Broadcasting System, raises over $20,000 to help feed, clothe, and house the non-combatant citizens of Finland, whose country was attacked in November by the Soviet Union.
  • 1953 - The Braves’ spring training game against the Yankees in Bradenton will prove to be the team’s last full one representing the city of Boston.
  • 1966 - Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale play hardball when negotiating with the Dodgers. The duo signs movie contracts, showing they are serious about retiring from baseball if Los Angeles doesn’t agree to their salary demands.
  • 1976 - All clubs will comply within forty-eight hours to Commissioner Kuhn’s orders to open spring training camps as soon as possible, abruptly ending the 17-day work stoppage. The lockout, initiated by the owners over their concerns about free agency and the free-entry draft, will not impact the start of the regular season.
  • 1978 - For the St. Patrick’s Day exhibition game, the Reds don green uniforms, rather than their traditional red, starting an annual ritual. The Cardinals and other teams will follow suit.
  • 1986 - During a Cactus League contest, Carney Lansford is credited with an unusual two-run inside-the-park homer in the A’s 5-3 victory over the Indians in Phoenix. The infielder circles the bases in the fourth inning when Mel Hall’s shirt gets stuck on the fence, preventing the outfielder from playing the ball, that is just barely out of reach, while his teammate, shortstop Julio Franco, closest to the play, is so incapacitated with laughter that he is unable to help.
  • 2005 - During 11+ hours of the Committee on Government Reform hearing concerning the use of steroids in major leagues, Mark McGwire refuses to talk about the past and does not deny taking performance-enhancing drugs. Other players testifying included Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and former big leaguer Jose Canseco, whose recent book prompted the congressional hearing.
  • Cubs birthdays: Fred Pfeffer, Bill Gannon, Charlie Root, Hy Vandenberg, Hank Sauer, Jerry Tabb, Bill Mueller, Scott Downs.

Cubs news and notes:

Somehow Joe Maddon got on this topic: “I like hyphenated last names. Like Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I wish I had been Joe Maddon-Closack or whatever. I dig the hyphenated last name. I think it should be utilized more often....I wanted my wife to hyphenate.” — ESPN

Could be worse. He could have been channeling Norm Crosby. “When my dad was explaining the facts of life to me, he drew me a big diaphragm.” But let’s cut to the chaste.

Cubs reliever Pedro Strop (calf) says he should be ready to get into a game next week and believes he will be ready for the regular season as well -- but understands that decision isn’t up to him. He commented on how good the Cubs rotation is: “I’m pretty sure those guys are going to be throwing 7 innings every game. We’re (relievers) going to be asking for innings to pitch.” — Jesse Rogers (ESPN)

“This, for me, of all the things we’ve had to address, to think that putting up a tent on our own property would be something we had to address with our alderman is kind of hard to believe. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this stage.” — Crane Kenney

  • Steve Rosenbloom (Chicago Tribune* {$}): If you’re bummed that Jake Arrieta didn’t sign with the Cubs, then blame Jake Arrieta. “Arrieta left the Cubs because he chose to leave the Cubs.” (italics mine)
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Statcast sets Jon Lester’s baseline, suggests he’s working on changeup. “...he had weird numbers last season.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Yu Darvish gets a taste of hitting and baserunning against White Sox. “I’d rather walk home than run home, so I’ll practice that,” Darvish said.
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Yes, Yu Can! Righty in disbelief at 98 on radar. “I think there’s something wrong with the speed gun,” Darvish said.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): After releasing Grimm, Cubs may be fishing for surprise replacement. Eddie Butler? Anthony Bass?
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs like the way their bullpen is coming together. “Our bullpen can be as good as anyone’s,” Pedro Strop said.
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Joe Maddon not masking excitement about ‘pen. “Outstanding,” Maddon said Friday when asked about how good this group of relievers is.
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Under Maddon, versatility key to Chicago Cubs bench. There is water at the bottom of the ocean. This is what Maddon does.
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): Willson Contreras’ bat-flip game is already in midseason form. “I’m not sure what’s more majestic: The 450-foot shot or the 45-foot bat-flip.” Andracki also makes 5 bold predictions, one of which includes Contreras.
  • ESPN: Kaplan, Carmen, and Jurko talk to Anthony Rizzo [AUDIO].
  • Russell Dorsey (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): What if the Cubs moved Jason Heyward to center field? “The goal is to convert as many balls hit to the outfield into outs as possible, and moving Heyward to center field would give the Cubs a better chance of doing that.”
  • Jim Walsh (East Valley Tribune): Cubs’ PA announcer is voice of Cactus League. Tim Sheridan “reserves his “PA voice,” or public-address voice, for games and does not use it otherwise.”

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading. Smell you tomorrow.