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Cub Tracks rolls another crooked number

Happ drops bomb in bleachers, Mikita honored, nuclear pasta, and other bullets

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The baseball came around again, as it has for nearly for weeks in a row now, and once again Cole Hamels acquitted himself well. The Cubs’ bats came around late, and the team marched off, victorious, in the first game of a three-game tilt against the lowly Cincinnati Reds.

Me and my 4½ cats appreciated that very much. They don’t like it when the Cubs lose, as I am slightly irritable under the best of circumstances and they have no ability to supply my remedies in trying times. They just sit there and look like I ought to be doing something better, like feeding them. Bastiches. Fur-bearing varmints.

Cubs victories, however, mean that the remedies become celebratory. I even allowed myself a wee dram of my special special Cubs liqueur, which is Blue Curacao and Absolut infused with Blue Dream. It’s so good, it ought to be illegal. Some of the other writers might be blazing, too, it looks like. Ha! I’ll stop there before Al takes away my crayons.

It’s a little misty in here (as has been related, Stan was one of my idols, when I was growing up short and Czech in Chicago in the 60s, and I actually knew the man). Don’t look at me in that tone of voice — I’ve been slaving over a hot keyboard all day. But you’re not here to read about my misadventures. Here’s the news — as always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

“I think we’re going to take off soon, and hopefully this is the moment right now.” — Javier Baez.

Unless the Cubs can make a trade, manager Joe Maddon said before Friday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds that he envisions calling on a mix of veterans, including Jesse Chavez, Steve Cishek and Justin Wilson, to finish games.

”It’s going to be who gets the last three outs based on what happens before then, and we’ll see how it all shakes out,’’ Maddon said. “It’s a tough spot to be in, but we’ll have to figure it out.’’

The Cubs manager thinks his healthy relievers can do the job.

”To be without [Strop] for the next couple of weeks is going to be difficult, there’s no question,’’ Maddon said. “We definitely have guys who are capable [of closing].

”Wilson’s done it. Cishek’s done it. Chavez had already done it with us.’’ — ESPN.

  • Phil Rogers (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Ian Happ’s 3-run blast all the Cubs need in 3-2 win against Reds. “The Cubs remained in first place in the National League Central.”
  • Kevin Wells (WTMJ): Cubs star Javier Baez on Brewers: ‘Hopefully we don’t have to face them in the playoffs’. Ha. He thinks Javy’s afeared: “ appears he may not be up for the challenge of facing the Milwaukee Brewers in the postseason.” Cherry-picking fights, y’all. Tsk.

The full quote, from Bruce Levine on The SCORE:

“We have the experience to be in the playoffs,” Javier Baez said. “I think that is why we have to control ourselves better. Hopefully, we don’t have to face them in the playoffs. If we do, we have the experience.”

  • Cody Keenan (The Athletic {$}): Audacity of Joe and changeups you can believe in: A speechwriter moonlights as a ballwriter for a day. “Not “Embrace The Target” or “Try Not To Suck,” but “Grind It Out.””
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Report: Cubs on track to avoid the Luxury Tax this year. “Per the AP, only the Red Sox and Nationals are tracking this year (as of August 31) to exceed the $197 million luxury tax cap.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Pedro Strop (hamstring) out for regular season. “He’s been so big for us now,” Maddon said. “To be without him for the next couple weeks will be difficult.”
  • Jeff Burdick (Cubs Insider): Forget the Cubs offense, how about Joe Maddon’s bullpen offenses? “...Maddon goes through relievers like James Bond and Batman do lead actors. Or Spinal Tap through drummers.”
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Why pitching coach Jim Hickey will never panic about this Cubs team. “I still think that the bullpen is going to be a real strength of the team come October if we’re fortunate enough to still be playing,” he said. (I like Jim Hickey. He grew up a couple of miles from me [in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood — I was in West Elsdon] and is about 2½ weeks older than I am. I probably played against him in Pee-Wee and Babe Ruth-league games, but if I don’t remember, I’m sure he doesn’t. I remember him playing at Kennedy High School when I was at Curie. Anyway...)
  • Jared Wyllys (NBC Sports Chicago): ‘Stropy wouldn’t expect anything less from us’: Who steps up in the bullpen now? “If we dwell on the injuries, that doesn’t really create a positive atmosphere,” Cishek said. “For us, it stinks that it happened, but we still have a job to do.”

Food for Thought:

Thanks for playing along.