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Cub Tracks unpacked

No business like snow business, happy birthday, Rifleman, rush to judgement, and other bullets

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs
a frosty mug shot
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

On this Tuesday afternoon...we decide which is right, and which is an illusion? Which Cubs team is the one you believe in — the one that played Miami, or the one that played the Brewers?

Last time around, Cub Tracks covered it all. Yesterday, Mother Nature covered it all, and the fans didn’t get through the turnstiles. It’s a beautiful day for a ball game —more today than yesterday, anyway.

Here, I have the swamp cooler on. I’m not into packing snowballs — it’s why I don’t live in Chicago any more, or Rochester, NY, or anywhere else cold. I like to see the snow on top of Mt. Lemmon where it belongs, and if I’m packing, it’s bowls. If I want cold, I can call my Mona Lisa. Modern love can be a strain.

And now it’s time for the news and the olds. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1913 - In their first official game as Yankees, New York loses to Walter Johnson and the Senators 2-1. After giving up an unearned run in the first, Johnson begins a string of shutout innings that will reach a record 56 before the St. Louis Browns score in the fourth on May 14. (2)
  • 1947 - Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American in the modern major leagues when the Dodgers purchase his contract from Montreal. (2)
  • 1962 - At Colt Stadium in Houston, thanks to a pair of three-run home runs by Roman Mejias, the Colt .45’s, in their first ever major league game, defeat the Cubs, 11-2. Former Yankee hurler Bobby Shantz gets the win for the new franchise on the owner Judge Hofheinz’s 50th birthday. (1)
  • 1971 - Despite temperatures in the low 40s, a crowd of 55,352, the largest in the history of Pennsylvania ever to watch a baseball game, witnesses the Phillies’ first game at Veterans Stadium. Jim Bunning throws the first pitch and Larry Bowa singles, for the park’s first hit, as Philadelphia defeats the Expos, 4-1. (1)
  • 1973 - A crowd of 39,464 chilly fans watches the first game at Royals Stadium and sees the home team rout the Rangers, 12-1. (1)
  • 1976 - The Brewers trail 9-6 with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning at packed County Stadium. Because of crowd noise, Yankee reliever Dave Pagan does not hear the time-out called by first baseman Chris Chambliss. Pagan pitches to Don Money, who hits a grand slam. Because of the time out, the home run is nullified. Money bats again, and hits a sacrifice fly. The final score is 9-7 and the Brewers protest the game. (2)
  • 1976 - After being granted his free agency in a landmark case which will forever change baseball, Andy Messersmith becomes one of the first major leaguers to use his new status to sign with a team of his choice. The former Dodger right-hander comes to terms with the Braves. (1)
  • 1989 - Ken Griffey Jr., the youngest player in the majors, hits his first career homer on the first pitch he ever sees at his home ballpark, the Kingdome. (1)
  • 1997 - The Cubs fall to 0-8, the worst start in the club’s 122-year history, following a 1-0 loss to the Marlins at frigid Wrigley Field. Florida pitcher Alex Fernandez, making his first appearance in Chicago since he left the White Sox over the winter as a free agent, is two outs away from a no-hitter when pinch-hitter Dave Hansen legs out an infield hit off the pitcher’s glove. Fernandez settles for the one-hitter.
  • 2015 - Mound opponents, Cubs Travis Woodand Tyler Matzek of the Rockies,each hit eighth in their team’s lineup, marking just the 12th time in major league history that both pitchers have not batted ninth in the same game. (2)
  • Cubs birthdays: Tom Parrott, Chuck Connors, Tom Lundstedt. Also notable: Ross Youngs (HoF). (3)
  • (1) — The National Pastime.
  • (2) — Today in Baseball History.
  • (3) — Baseball Reference.

Cubs news and notes:

Down on the farm:

Zo’s feeling pretty good about himself,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He just looks different.”

“I changed some things but not everything,” Ben Zobrist said. “For sure, I did the same type of workouts, but I did get going earlier in the offseason. I only took 10 days off instead of a whole month. I spent more time trying to build a foundation for my body. I spent the whole month of November focused on getting in really good shape and having that strong foundation.” — Carrie Muskat.

  • Carrie Muskat (*): Matt Szczur sends Tom Ricketts gift for Wrigley Suite. “He’s a special guy all the way around,” Ricketts said. “He’s just a really good young man. It’s the iconic shot. It’s really cool, and something I’ll treasure forever.”
  • ESPN*: Dave Kaplan talks to Jed Hoyer [AUDIO]. “...about the start of the season, electronic strike zones, possible extra innings rule changes and Anthony Rizzo’s back.” Also, Tom Ricketts [AUDIO].
  • Doug Glanville (NBC Sports Chicago*): My memories of Opening Day at Wrigley Field. “The determination to endure is not on the back of your baseball card...”
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Cubs welcome warmth of Wrigley after long, cold, uneven trip. Ok...not sure if that title’s ironic. “It should be fun,” Kris Bryant said. “Good to be home. Nice and cold. Snow. Home opener. I wouldn’t have it any other way in Chicago...can’t wait.”
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): The art of the walk-up song: How Cubs choose their music. “A well-selected song can also inject feelings of relaxation and mental clarity into the situation...”
  • Jeff Burdick (Cubs Insider): Are Cy Youngs impossible during Cubs’ championship window? “...the team’s priority to save the rotation for extended postseason play also means less chance to rack up award-winning stats.”
  • Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic {$}): Yu Darvish is expanding his repertoire as he gets comfortable with the Cubs. “For a guy like him, what intrigues us and what we talked about with him, we want all your pitches,” Tommy Hottovy said.
  • Nate Greabe (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectcus): Yu through two starts. “ only takes one or two starts to get some pretty interesting—if not predictive—pitch data.”
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Willson Contreras has highest exit velocity in MLB. “His overall stat line doesn’t suggest he’s been on fire, but the raw data darn well does.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Thames old situation: So who was Contreras yelling at? “We had an incident back in Venezuela back in 2014 and he knows who he is.”
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Why Zobrist is looking like a World Series MVP again. “Nate the Video Guy”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): How a hand injury might take Bryant’s MVP game to another level for Cubs. “Bryant still feels it when he tries to crack the knuckles on his left hand.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Maddon won’t rush to judgement with Happ. “I just want to show some confidence in him right now,” Maddon said Monday.
  • Carole Kuhrt Brewer (Chicago Eats): Chicago Cubs food lineup looks to be a grand slam. “...the Cubs and hospitality partner Levy have beefed up their menu...”
  • Brian Conybeare (ABC57): South Bend Cubs owner brings Major League touches to Minor League baseball. “...Andrew Berlin can’t wait for his team to take the field this season.”
  • Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): TV reporter arrested and facing possible felony charge after fight at Cubs-Brewers game. “Adair Bayatpour, a TV reporter for WITI, the Fox channel in Milwaukee...”

Food for thought:

dark matters

little ‘stitions

the heart of the matter

That oughta keep you for a little while until the game starts. Thanks for reading. Where to get my books.