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Cub Tracks sees reflection and shadows

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opening day, predictions, and other bullets

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Play ball!
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

OPENING DAY! IT’S HERE! OH YEAH BABY! ARE YOU IN?

As referred to obliquely in the comments, this is the second edition of putting the tracks in Cub Tracks. We’ll be doing this for the rest of the season, borrowing riffs from That 70s Show and from the deep-cut treasure-trove that is YouTube. As always, there will be linked weirdness and pop culture subreferences and even some baseball from time to time.

That said...previously, on Cub Tracks’ Floydian slip, among other things, we reflected on one more time Theo got praised (but not by Easy Ed), the question of whether or not there will be more Joe after the current contract, and the always-burning issue of whether or not the core players will get raised.

Due to the fact that my big orange indoor cat was trying to chase a lizard out into the back end of the property when I was supposed to be e-conferencing, I didn’t get in on the seasonal predictions front-page writer thing. I’ll rectify that here, so be warned. I don’t have any stats to post to back up my predictions, though I used some in making them (and I wrote them down before the conference). Please forgive me, interbret (Chemistry is still the ultimate science). Lots of this stuff is easy, on paper. So I put lots of paper down in case the shift hits the fan.

Division winners: AL: Red Sox, Indians, Astros. NL: Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers.

Wild cards: Yankees over Twins, Diamondbacks over Phillies.

Division series: AL: Yankees over Indians, Red Sox over Astros. Cubs over Dodgers, Nationals over Diamondbacks.

Championship series: Yankees over Red Sox, Cubs over Nationals.

World Series: Cubs over Yankees.

Cy Young: AL: Chris Sale. NL: Noah Syndergaard.

MVP: AL: Giancarlo Stanton. NL: Anthony Rizzo

I’d honestly rather see the Cubs against the Red Sox or the Tigers, but the latter isn’t gonna happen any time soon. The former is possible.

Here’s more Spooky Tooth to accompany you while you’re out on the links:

Wait! They did that? I thought it was Judas Priest!

Ah...from Gary Wright to Gary Owens we go, if not to beautiful downtown Burbank (maybe Gary wintered in Miami?). And now it’s time for the news. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs news and notes:

“THE WAY THIS GAME IS SOME GUYS GET MORE ATTENTION THAN OTHERS. IT DOESN’T BOTHER ME. IF I’M MORE KNOWN FOR THE CHARITY WORK, THAT’S WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT, RIGHT?” — Anthony Rizzo

  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs and Marlins plan Stoneman Douglas tributes for opening series. The Cubs and Marlins will wear patches, and a replica of the patch will stay on the outfield wall throughout the season.
  • Maureen Mullen (MLB.com*): Theo Epstein dishes on data, Cubs life ahead of opener. “I’m a dinosaur in this game at 44,” he said.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Joe Maddon thrilled by Cubs’ ‘unique’ camaraderie. “They’re becoming even better human beings just by interacting with each other,” he said.
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Cubs Hitting Coach Chili Davis responds to Red Sox owner’s comments about his time with the team. “I have a hard time believing he was ever to blame for the Red Sox’s decrease in power last year.”
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Smooth sailing ahead for the Cubs — at least until October. “It all depends on how the ball bounces.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Cubs set to battle with strong lineup, rotation. “I can’t be happier with a group -- it’s impossible to feel better about a group than I feel about this group,” Maddon said.
  • Satchel Price (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs listed as favorites to sign Bryce Harper in preseason prop odds. “The Cubs are listed at +150 to be Harper’s next team...”
  • Andy Ziccarelli (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): The back half of Jon Lester’s contract — what can we expect? “He’s durable, he doesn’t rely on premium velocity, and he uses five pitches which he locates very well.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cost & effect: Why Jon Lester’s value remains high halfway through Cubs megadeal. “He has averaged 32 starts per season, made an All-Star team and came within a few votes of winning the National League Cy Young award in 2016.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs veteran Chris Gimenez caught off guard by roster decision, vows to be ready. “I still think I match up very well with what I need,” said Gimenez.
  • Dan Wiedener (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Victor Caratini builds bond with Cardinals pitcher seriously injured by his line drive. “Daniel Poncedeleon knows it might sound silly, but the competitor within him often emerges when he thinks about the moment that threatened his life.”
  • Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): Respect me! The case for Anthony Rizzo to be the 2018 NL MVP. “Rizzo’s old school approach to the game...” That says it for me.
  • Bob Nightengale (USA Today): Q&A with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo: Cubs icons on stardom, gun violence, Bryce Harper and more. “They are the millennial version of Ernie Banks and Billy Williams, the bookend faces of the Chicago Cubs.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Opener vs. Cubs another reminder of how close Starlin Castro got — twice. “It’s passed through my mind sometimes,” said the former Cubs’ All-Star shortstop.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}):Can Castro play himself onto a contender by the trade deadline? ‘Whatever happens, happens’. “That’s the thing I’m going to do,” Castro said Thursday.
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): A good reason to bat Javier Baez 8th, and a different kind of clean-up. “...the ball may end up in the seats, as opposed to trying to get on base for the pitcher. It’s really not a bad spot,” opined Maddon.
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Exit velo numbers show how shoulder issues hurt Addison Russell’s offensive performance. I don’t doubt that for a second. I have recurring frozen shoulder and it affects everything you do.
  • Ken Schultz (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Kris Bryant, Scott Boras, and the turbulent offseason. “Ronald Acuña is the latest reminder that baseball owners would rather create a poster child for service time manipulation than a poster child for actual posters.”
  • Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): Someone could be losing a lot of playing time because of Ian Happ. Albert Almora is the un-named shadow in this story.
  • NBC Sports Chicago*: Ozzie Guillen and Doug Glanville to join Leila Rahimi on Baseball Night in Chicago. “The new half-hour show will serve as the lead-in program for every 7:00 PM weeknight Cubs or White Sox game on NBC Sports Chicago this season.”

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading. Where to get my books.