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Cub Tracks’ cakewalk

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it was over by the end of the first, and other bullets

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs
Well, that was fun.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekend. Last time through the turnstiles, Cub Tracks faced the music, and the music was good. We talked about how sweep it is, how we’re having a lot of fun, about spooky action at a distance, and other bullets and notes and happenstance, following a refreshing slate of games in which the broom was applied with a vigor heretofore unseen in 2018.

That ledge looks mighty far away right now, innit? The tractor is back in the north forty and the needles have been sterilized and put back in their haystacks, and all is well in the Cubbie bubble, for the mighty Willson has struck. By now you’ve seen the game at least once, and read Al’s recap of Willson Contreras bobblehead day, in which Willson clubbed two long ones and threw a runner out at second and just generally did Willy things.

I spent dinner explaining advanced metrics to two of my Cubbie converts, in order to explain why I had faith in Anthony Rizzo’s bat, and maintain faith in Addison Russell’s ability to murder baseballs, and we made up a verse of ‘Beer Barrel Palka’, poking gentle fun at the White Sox’ burly player. We were watching the game at the time, so it just seemed the natural thing to do. Possibly it was the freely-flowing Stella Artois, which tastes like Old Style to me. Possibly.

Certainly you’ve had similar moments. Some of the good parts of being a fan. So, let’s keep a short story short and just move on to the news — as always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs news and notes:

“It’s always fun. Any time you have a legitimate rivalry, it’s good, and it’s good for the fan bases on both sides, and it’s good for baseball. It’s entertaining. It’s interesting. I have not been here long enough, but I’m starting to catch the vibe. Even though the one team is not not doing so well, they’ll be ready to play.” — Joe Maddon

Of course we believe you, Aliya. Of course we do.

“As a rule, we will not be paying premiums for rentals. We just won’t. It’s hard to build an organization that way. Let’s be honest: We’ve poured a lot of resources into this team and this group, a lot of crazy dollars and a lot of trade resources. We’ve made a number of trades over the last few years.

“If we play ourselves into a position where we can benefit from some improvement and we’re a legitimate championship contender, absolutely we will be pushing the envelope to try to get better. But that will probably not include paying a significant premium of future assets for a rental, because we have to build this organization and keep our focus on this group and this year’s team and the immediate future in the next couple years but also keep an eye on what’s going to happen after 2021.

“We can’t be sacrificing all of our future assets in drafting guys exclusively to trade them. We can’t do that. We have to build farm system. It’s been used quite a bit to support this group, and we need to start growing the farm back as well.” — Theo Epstein, on the Bernstein and McKnight Show.

  • Phil Rosenthal (Chicago Tribune {$}): You’re not allowed to root for both the Cubs and the White Sox — but why? “This is yet another of those conflicts where many of the current combatants don’t even remember why their side turned on the other in the first place.”
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times*): A Cubs-White Sox ‘fraternity’? That’s no way to stoke the flames of rivalry. ‘‘Actually, we’re all kind of in this together. We’re all, like, one fraternity,’’ said Kris Bryant. Liberté, égalité...
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Taking apart the myths behind Cubs’ rebuild and what it means for White Sox. “At first, the young guys, they’re just totally happy to be there and [have] the perks that go with it. You got to get them beyond that. They have to understand it is really easy to lose, but it’s very difficult to win,” said Joe Maddon.
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): The state of the National League is good news for the Cubs. “...the NL powerhouses may not get any weaker than it is at this very moment and the Cubs are primed to take advantage.”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Yu Darvish will return on Tuesday, which works out fine for the rotation. Everybody goes on normal rest.
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): Are the Cubs doomed to repeat history with a dynamic bullpen? “...before the 2017 postseason even started, the Cubs bullpen was already wearing down.”
  • David Haugh (Chicago Tribune {$}): Contreras’ huge day exposes big-as-ever gap between Cubs and White Sox. “It had everything to do with the bobblehead,’’ Cubs manager Joe Maddon kidded.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Contreras’ grand 2-HR day leads Cubs over Sox. “I don’t think of home runs -- I try to pick a good pitch and make solid contact,” Contreras said. “I can’t start thinking about home runs. I just want to make contact as much as I can.”
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Maddon’s personal belief in Ian Happ and the importance of getting him fully developed. The reason Joe believes in him is the same reason the whole organization does, but I do think he has taken a personal interest in him,” said Jed Hoyer. Expansion of ESPN article.
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): No fanfare, but Victor Caratini, David Bote thriving for Chicago Cubs. “...the Cubs aren’t done bringing young players to the big leagues.”
  • Jason Shull (Cubs Insider): This Week in Cubs History: Toothpick Jones becomes first African American in MLB history to throw no-no. “...he did manage to have a few exceptional seasons in the major leagues.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Maddon understands rebuild of intracity rivals. “What helped the turnaround? Maddon said it was a balance of veteran players with the youngsters.”
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): How a White Sox hat led Andre Dawson to the Cubs. “...Chicago, just the thought of Chicago, not the White Sox per se, but Chicago, I kind of think it had a ring to it.”

Food for thought:

  • Bruce Bower (Science news): The window for learning a language may stay open surprisingly long. “Study suggests people are skilled at picking up grammar in a new tongue up to age 17 or 18.”
  • Isabel van Brugen (The Express): Scientists to use Neanderthal DNA to grow ‘MINI-BRAINS’. “Scientists are creating genetically engineered “miniature brains” which contain Neanderthal DNA, in a bid to understand how our brains differ from our closest relatives.”
  • Roni Dengler (Science): First carbon-rich asteroid found beyond Neptune. “...meaning the rock probably came from an area closer to the sun...”

Thanks for reading.