The Rundown: Dog Days of Baseball Blogging, Contreras Viewed as Future Cubs Mainstay, Judge vs. Ohtani MVP Debate Rages
“See the man with the lonely eyes? Oh, take his hand, you’ll be surprised.” – Supertramp, Give A Little Bit
I’m not a fan of off days during the final month of a season that can best be described as a non-event. I had originally written 500+ words about veterans Jed Hoyer might jettison after the season, but it was forced and it disgusted me, so now it’s gone. Football is the story in Chicago these days, and I just don’t want to publish something about the Cubs that is the equivalent of “phoning it in.”
It’s not even about me. I don’t know how many readers I have, but I certainly don’t want to waste your time. You’re worth much more than that. Off days mean rehashing topics that have already been covered far too often. And I’m not the only writer who feels the same way. There was no new Cubs content over at NBC Sports Chicago this morning. Just don’t believe the rumor that Gordon Wittenmyer and I were hitting the 4am dive bars overnight instead of creating content. Gordon will have to come to Milwaukee to make that dream come true.
So today you get a break from my wit and wisdom — at least when it comes to baseball — and I will instead bullet point a few things that matter to me.
- Make sure you vote in the midterms this year. A lot of people complain about the government, but less than 55% of eligible Americans actually register and vote in most elections.
- One side effect of record inflation that’s not talked about enough is homelessness. Rents are skyrocketing in most major cities due to high demand and homelessness rates are increasing in a like manner. Winter is coming and it wouldn’t hurt you to donate old coats, hats, mittens, and blankets. Give to food banks, too. A record number of Americans are facing poverty for the first time in their lives, so please also consider donating to outreach and suicide prevention centers. If money is in short supply, perhaps you can volunteer.
- We have become a society that prefers texting and tweeting to speaking on the phone. I miss our old friend Scott Crandall (Twin34s) because we spoke on the phone at least three times each week. It made a positive difference in both our lives. Call a friend this weekend. There is no better cure for whatever may be ailing or troubling you.
- I want to start podcasting next year, but only if I can find a way to make a positive contribution to society. I really want to do a podcast telethon to raise money to fight cancer. My goal is to invite baseball’s best writers and bloggers to talk baseball and football in small segments over a 24-hour period. I’ll even also talk about music and other relevant topics. Reaching a modest goal of $225 in donations per hour would make it worthwhile.
- Try to discover new music, even if “new” means something that is 30 years old that you’ve never heard. Music, like most art forms, is at its popularity floor. The output of recorded music today is close to the industry’s pre-piracy peak, but revenues are down 20% since the start of the pandemic. Spotify reported in April that 80% of their registered artists have less than 50 total streams.
- I don’t thank our readers and those who comment enough. Each of you is the reason I continue to write here at Cubs Insider. I’m not the subject matter expert that Evan is, and I’m okay with that. But we have a heck of a lot of fun here each day, and our readers are the primary reason. Therefore, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. That includes those of you who test my patience.
Cubs News & Notes
- According to Buster Olney, rival executives believe that Willson Contreras will remain with the Cubs beyond this year, perhaps even on a multi-year contract. The article is locked behind the ESPN+ paywall, but the gist of it is that the veteran backstop doesn’t have a very robust market, according to rival executives.
- The Cubs are expected to pursue some of the marquee pitching free agents this winter, including Japanese righty Koudai Senga.
- Seiya Suzuki is finally materializing into the player the Cubs thought he would be when they signed him to a five-year deal last winter.
- One guy who isn’t surprised by the breakout season minor league slugger Matt Mervis has had is Mervis himself.
- Mervis blasted another homer Wednesday night, his 33rd of the season.
- The parent club has struggled, but there have been clear signs of progress at Myrtle Beach, South Bend, and Tennessee. Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reports that all three affiliates made the playoffs this season, and the Cubs are developing a culture that is based on winning baseball ($).
Odds & Sods
This is for Vegas Jack.
On this day in 1983, Huey Lewis and the News release the album Sports, which sells over 7 million copies. The album features the singles "I Want a New Drug," "The Heart of Rock 'n Roll" and "If This Is It." pic.twitter.com/not69Y1p3a
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) September 16, 2022
How About That!
Baseball celebrated Roberto Clemente with a ceremony at Citi Field before the Mets and Pirates took the field.
Roberto Clemente Jr. and Roberto Clemente III simultaneously threw an honorary first pitch.
The Rays made history yesterday by fielding an all-Latino lineup in honor of Clemente. It’s worth noting that the Rays’ claim hinges on not counting the pitcher in the lineup, as Cy Young candidate Shane McClanahan started for Tampa Bay.
The Astros’ magic number to make the postseason is down to one thanks to an outstanding effort on Thursday by Lance McCullers Jr.
The ban on the shift will make a noticeable difference next season. I still believe it also means Albert Pujols will return for one more season.
The Mets could be in play to sign Judge this winter.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Kyle Schwarber – He blasted his 38th home run of the season on Philadelphia’s 5-2 loss to the Marlins. It’s too bad the Cubs didn’t need him.
- Drey Jameson – The rookie Diamondbacks pitcher blanked the Padres in his major league debut. San Diego is clinging to a precarious 1.5-game lead over the Brewers for the final NL Wild Card spot.
- Yoan Moncada – The White Sox are making a serious run at the Guardians under interim manager Miguel Cairo. Moncada punctuated Chicago’s 8-2 win over Cleveland with a 4-for-5 night that included a double and a solo home run. The White Sox are now three games out of first place with 18 to play.
I’m taking Aaron Judge over Ohtani. Sorry, not sorry. I’d lose my mind if both ended up on the Cubs next season, though.
Aaron Judge or Shohei Ohtani — who's your pick for AL MVP? pic.twitter.com/RTohk4aAkm
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) September 16, 2022
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears need a stellar effort from their defense to beat the Packers this weekend, but they may be catching Green Bay at an opportune time. There is a good chance the Packers will be down three starting offensive linemen. Expect Robert Quinn, Dominique Robinson, Trevis Gipson, and Roquan Smith to shine in the nationally televised tilt.
- Why do I like the Bears this weekend? Aaron Rodgers doesn’t seem very focused on football.
- Last night’s Chiefs-Chargers game on Amazon Prime marked the first time that an NFL regular season game was aired exclusively on a streaming service. It was a helluva contest for launching a new era.
- Patagonia’s billionaire founder Yvon Chouinard just gave his company away, asserting that “Earth is now our only shareholder.”
- Lite-Brite, Spirograph, and Nerf are contenders for a coveted handful of spots in the National Toy Hall of Fame, a long-running exhibit housed at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y.
- You’re never too old to hoop my friends. Get this guy to the Rucker Classic, he could be the real-life version of Uncle Drew.
They Said It
- “If you develop a bunch of really good players and help them get better every day, you’re naturally going to win games. It’s building that competitive nature within our players. Every time they take the field, they want to win and beat the opposition. That’s the focus of the game. It’s a team game, first and foremost. Now, in order to help the team win, there are certain things that you need to do individually. Those are a lot of the things we focus on with our individual player-plan goals and a lot of our conversations. But ultimately the goal is for these guys to come up to Wrigley and help us win. The more practice they get doing that, the better.” – Jared Banner
Friday Walk-Up Song
My weekend is jam-packed with birthday celebrations, a local fall festival, and the Bears-Packers game in Green Bay on Sunday night. Don’t expect my best on Monday morning. Have a great weekend everybody.