“Squinting faces at the sky. A Harold Robbins paperback. Surfers drop their boards and dry and everybody wants a hat.” – Squeeze, Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)
A weird convergence of events took place in my world before the Cubs played the Dodgers last night.
- A friend texted me about our trips to The Hamburger Hamlet and Canter’s Deli when I spent three weeks in L.A. back in 2011.
- I got into a fender bender last on my way home from picking up sushi for dinner and the woman who hit me was on her way to Summerfest to see Milky Chance dressed like Molly Ringwald from Pretty in Pink.
- Just before the game started, I switched over to the local FOX affiliate to watch Seinfeld and it was the episode where Kramer went to Hollywood and stayed at a knockoff of the Chateau Marmont.
Being the superstitious wannabe Oddfellow that I am, I presumed that those were all signs that fortune was to smile down upon Chicago’s Northside baseballers in their first of four games at Dodger Stadium. Unfortunately, Tony Gonsolin, who is on a continuing quest to finish a lossless season with at least 20 wins, tilted my windmills. Los Angeles defeated the Cubs 5-3.
The self-proclaimed “feline fanatic” who takes the mound to frightening musical abominations such as “What’s New Pussycat?” by Tom Jones and the “Smelly Cat” song by Phoebe from Friends was positively purring as he won his 11th straight decision, making kitty litter of Cubs’ hitters. Gonsolin leads the majors with a 1.62 ERA and is the first National League pitcher to reach 11 wins (Justin Verlander is 11-3 for the Astros). One of those two pitchers is going to the Hall of Fame and it isn’t Gonsolin.
I used to love Los Angeles, a city where dreams can come true for the unlikeliest of humans. No matter who you meet, you’re being pitched a movie, television series, or business opportunity. The music industry is as alive today as it was back in the Laurel Canyon days of the Doors, The Mamas & the Papas, and The Monkees, though the genres are severely limited. If you’re lucky, you can still find an Angelyne billboard or catch a retired actor hanging out at Dan Tana’s.
Yes, L.A. is the land of opportunity for everybody except the Cubs. In fact, a harsh reality sets in when you see these Cubs as compared to the Dodgers. When Theo Epstein came to Chicago he wanted to build an organization that would compete for a pennant every single year. Jed Hoyer is trying to pick up the pieces from that boondoggle while the Dodgers will most likely go to the playoffs for the 10th straight season. Using Pulp Fiction as a pop culture reference, Los Angeles is Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega compared to the Cubs, who would be represented by Big-Brain Brad and the Flock of Seagulls dude.
Give Chicago credit, however. They tried to make a game of it late against closer Craig Kimbrel before Alex Vesia salvaged the save. The Cubs, who could generate nothing but baby-shit soft contact against Gonsolin, worked Kimbrel for a single, an RBI double by Seiya Suzuki, and a nine-pitch walk by Patrick Wisdom. When was the last time Wisdom saw nine pitches in a single plate appearance? A wild pitch moved Suzuki to third before Nelson Velázquez struck out to end the rally and the game.
The Cubs will face another journeyman tonight with a surprisingly great record in Tyler Anderson (9-1). Apparently, LA is the place where middling pitchers go to accumulate wins. Someday we’ll say that about the North Siders. Not meow though.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Yankees are seeking a high-leverage bullpen arm and are reportedly interested in David Robertson.
- An MRI revealed no structural damage to the throwing shoulder of starter Kyle Hendricks.
- Javier Báez is in Chicago this weekend for a series against the White Sox, and the all-everything shortstop had some kind words to say about the Cubs and their fans.
- The ascension of shortstop Nico Hoerner to team cornerstone is one of the biggest emerging stories of the 2022 season.
- Willson Contreras talked about being an All-Star while promoting his #VoteWilly campaign.
- Contreras has all but sealed a starting assignment at this year’s Mid-Summer Classic.
- Adrian Sampson is stepping up for the Cubs just when they needed him most.
- The emergence of Christopher Morel has been a breath of fresh air for Cubs fans.
- Brennen Davis will resume baseball activities soon and is planning to play again this season.
- Double-A third baseman Jake Slaughter of Tennessee was named the Southern League’s Player of the Month for June.
- Red Sox reliever Josh Winckowski has slightly walked back his “stock standard” remark about Wrigley Field.
- Rick Sutcliffe shared his story about the day in 1987 that Andre Dawson was hit in the face by Padres pitcher Eric Show.
Odds & Sods
Now accepting applications.
If you ever find a pretty girl who keeps a scorebook at baseball games, marry her. pic.twitter.com/PSX1f40nYL
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) July 7, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar… of nothing in particular.” – The Smiths, How Soon is Now?
Gonsolin made Cubs hitters look pathetic last night, but he’s doing that to the rest of the league, too. The Dodgers No. 3 starter doesn’t really strike anybody out, but he induces a lot of poor swings. Only Morel was able to light him up last night. The journeyman righty is 11-0 now after starting the season with a 10-5 career record. Somebody should gift wrap the Cy Young award, please, and thank you.
- Games Played: 83
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,183
- Total Strikeouts: 734
- Strikeout Rate: 23.06%
- Team Batting Average: .248
- Runs Scored: 362
- Runs Allowed: 426
How About That!
The Orioles have the lowest payroll in baseball but have been one of the best bets this season.
This year’s trade market has a buyer/seller imbalance rarely seen previously.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Trevor Williams – The ex-Cub pitched seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts as the Mets beat the Marlins 10-0.
- J.D. Davis – The Mets’ DH plated five runners with a home run and a double in the same game.
- Jorge Alfaro – San Diego’s pinch hitter extraordinaire had a walk-off single in the Padres’ 2-1 win over the Giants last night. Alfaro has three game-ending knocks so far this season.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 8, 2022
Apropos of Nothing
I’d like to use this space to show my appreciation for EIC Evan Altman. Evan edits my articles, and I do the same thing he does over at Bears Insider. If I can be frank for one moment, editing is a lot tougher than writing. In fact, once I’ve corrected someone else’s work, I lose a lot of incentive to write my own stuff because it drains me. Evan, on the other hand, is a content machine here at Cubs Insider and deserves the gratitude of all of the site’s writers, and the appreciation of our readers.
Ed. note: This was very kind of Michael to share, but it’s really just a matter of me being the exact wrong combination of compulsive and totally badass.
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- WNBA star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges as her trial continued in a Russian court on Thursday, admitting to bringing cannabis into the country but saying she had packed in a hurry and did not intend to break the law.
- The Bears are going to run a Tampa-2 base defense this year, the same one that Lovie Smith used to take the 2006 team to the Super Bowl. How does this year’s defense stack up to that Super Bowl team? BI writer Rick Leen gets into it, and the missing pieces are modern-day versions of Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman, and Nathan Vasher.
- Want to retire a millionaire without crypto? Follow these tips from USA Today.
- The arrival Saturday of an Emirates flight in Australia offered a stunning revelation: a large hole was discovered in the side of the plane, which had just completed a 14-hour flight. Yikes.
- Hollywood is refusing to budge for Chinese censors, and the latest Top Gun movie is a great example.
- I missed this earlier this year, but Mado Diaz, who was a Jivewired discovery, recently performed a Tiny Desk concert for NPR Music. I am always happy to see artists I worked with have continued success.
They Said It
- “The first thing that comes to my mind is that I did it: I made it to play professional baseball. That was my dream. I stayed in the right lane. I’m just thankful, for everything [the Cubs] did for me and my family, and obviously, for the 2016 World Series. My fans follow me everywhere. Some of them are going to come out. I had some friends reach out to me about seeing my jersey around. We will see what we see out there, but it’s obviously special to be here.” – Báez
Friday Walk-Up Song
A pattern is emerging in my recent walk-up selections. I can’t figure out what’s driving my mood though. Maybe I need to watch a John Hughes movie or two.