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On firings, injuries and Nico Hoerner

Hope is kindled

Nico Hoerner turns a double play in the Arizona Fall League
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

I’m about as optimistic of a Cubs fan as anyone I know. I try to keep a level head throughout the long season. Part of the reason I like to dive into the numbers is to keep my expectations for the team grounded in long term trends and numbers rather than a single bad game, or weekend series. But I will not lie to you, after the Cubs dropped Saturday’s game I was about as low as I have been at any point since 2015. Javier Baez was hurt. The Cubs came back against Josh Hader, only to get walked off in the end. This team felt like it was collapsing and couldn’t get worse.

Until Sunday’s loss made it worse, particularly with the news that Addison Russell was undergoing concussion protocol after taking a 94 mile per hour pitch to the head. What kind of team loses two shortstops in the span of a week?

Late on Sunday night I finally, begrudgingly, started putting together the show notes for Cuppa Cubbie Blue. Andi and I try pretty hard to keep it level, celebrating the good, keeping it real about the bad. As I was writing those notes all I saw was a lot of bad.

I was about as low as I’ve been on baseball when Twitter blew up with news about my other favorite team, the Red Sox. The Red Sox have always been quicker to act than the Cubs, it’s probably a product of the Boston media market having a lot less patience than Chicago. But even with that variable, I expected Dave Dombrowski to make it to the offseason. Alas, he did not and I went to bed thinking “great, now we’ll have to talk about injuries, no shortstops, and high profile firings tomorrow. What a downer of a show.”

And then, 30 minutes into recording the 38th episode of Cuppa Cubbie Blue I had to go on Twitter to answer the important question: “Who even plays shortstop for the Padres anymore?” and saw it. The Cubs would be calling up Nico Hoerner. You can hear my reaction and Andi’s in real time just after the thirty-four minute mark below:

Look, I have no idea if this is going to work or not. Nico Hoerner is really inexperienced for a callup even though he did look incredible in spring training. This tweet is a good summary of his experience:

But I will say this — I feel a lot better as a Cubs fan this morning as I write this than I did as a Red Sox fan last night. One team has stared into the face of free agent signings that didn’t pan out, injuries and a disappointing 2019 and chosen to fire their President of Baseball Operations. They released a memo and won’t even hold a press conference about it. The other has looked at a closing window, inconsistent play, injuries piling up and decided to play the last great chip that they have, even if it starts Nico’s service time clock early.

Intangibles are weird and hope matters in a stretch run. One of my favorite books and movies is the Shawshank Redemption, and since the Cubs have hope this morning, I will leave you with this quote from it as we wait for Cubs baseball tonight:

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”