I have to admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for a sob story. Well, not sure if it is a sob story so to speak. But I certainly wax nostalgic. The 1984 Cubs were my first love. The 1989 Cubs were like summer love, that time when you were just completely caught off guard. I was there for the one-game playoff in 1998. There were the 2008 Cubs that won 97 games becoming the first group of Cubs to appear in the playoffs in consecutive years (in the divisional era). So there have been some great memories.
But none of those will ever hold a torch to this group. Three straight NLCS, one World Series championship, five playoff trips in six years. The three guys at the top of this article, they were there for all of it. Javier Báez has been in the organization the longest. Anthony Rizzo has been on the big club the longest. So it’s just a matter of how you look at it. Kris Bryant has the most hardware. He’s also the one most likely to not be here a week from now.
I’ve been saying for a couple of years now what so many others have said. This organization needs to shake things up. To just keep rolling out essentially the same group year after year, it just doesn’t add up to how things are going to change. At times it has felt like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. This year has been one of the most frustrating for me. And not because it will be the one that loses the most games. It is because they did such a fantastic job putting together this bullpen. They caught career years from a number of guys, including possibly the best year of a storied career for Craig Kimbrel. It’s always hard to compare until all of the dust has settled. But he’s having a monster year.
Kimbrel, like Bryant, is likely to be gone a week from now. Times they are a-changing. I can recognize that and, to an extent, embrace that. And at the same time, I can be a little sad about it. We’ve already watched guys we loved who weren’t part of the core like Travis Wood go. John Lackey who certainly wasn’t here to get a haircut. Then things got tougher and there was Jake Arrieta and then Jon Lester. Albert Almora Jr. and Kyle Schwarber. So many guys have come and gone.
It seems like most of the guys who are going to head out in the next week are guys who have been here no more than a couple of years. Kimbrel is right at about the two-year mark, spread over three different calendar years. Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera arrived last year, Jake Marisnick this year. They might not all go. But none of those guys departing will be the same as seeing one of those core guys get traded.
So, it was fun to see the moment at the top of this piece. The three guys, Rizzo, Báez and Bryant together at home plate after they all scored on a Javy home run. Nothing cures what ails a team quite like a team that is historically bad. To be fair, the Diamondbacks have done a little bit of damage at home. But when they play on the road, particularly since the start of May, they basically lose every game. And they did lose this one. One more hurrah for a proud Cubs group. Good for them. I hope they enjoyed every minute of it and soaked in all of the accolades from the crowd.
On that happy note, let’s go to the numbers. As you’ll recall, the Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA (Win Probability Added) and are not in any way subjective. Many days WPA will not tell the story of what happened, but often it can give at least a glimpse to who rose to the occasion in a high-leverage moment or who didn’t get the job done in that moment. And now, let’s get to the results.
Game 98, July 23: Cubs 8, Diamondbacks 3 (48-50)
- Superhero: Javier Báez (.172). 2-4, 2B, HR (22), 3RBI, 2R, DP
- Hero: Zach Davies (.145). 5⅓ IP (25 batters faced), 7H, 2BB, 2R, 8K (W 6-6)
- Sidekick: Anthony Rizzo (.116). 1-2, BB, HBP, 2R
- Billy Goat: Rafael Ortega (-.039). 1-4, K
- Goat: Jason Heyward (-.035). 0-4, K
- Kid: Ian Happ (-.001). 0-1
WPA Play of the Game: Javier Báez took Zac Gallen deep with runners on first and second and one out in the first inning to jump the Cubs out to a 3-0 lead. (.214)
*Diamondbacks Play of the Game: In the third inning, with runners on first and third and no outs, the Cubs were still leading 3-0. The same matchup with Gallen on the mound and Báez at the plate. Javy grounded to third and Kris Bryant was out at the plate for the first out. (.043)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Robinson Chirinos (3-4, 2HR)
Keegan Thompson (3IP, SV)
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Craig Kimbrel/Kris Bryant +20
- Kyle Hendricks +10
- Rex Brothers -10.5
- Jake Arrieta -14
- Ian Happ -16
Up Next: Game two of the three-game set with Arizona on Saturday. The Cubs will start Alec Mills. The Diamondbacks counter with Merrill Kelly, who is 6-7 with a 4.46 ERA.