“But the freak, and his type, all for nothing misses a step and cuts his hand, but showing nothing, he swoops like a song. She cries, ‘Where have all Papa’s heroes gone?'” – David Bowie, Young Americans
The Cubs are a frustrating bunch, aren’t they? They usually have great starting pitching except when Jameson Taillon takes the bump. After yesterday’s 8-6 loss, Chicago has lost five of six at home after winning four of five in Pittsburgh and London. Their attempt to finish with a strong 13-game run ahead of the All-Star break has gone haplessly awry.
We are now at the halfway mark of the season and it’s difficult to tell how good or bad this team is. I could use many more games like Friday night’s 10-1 win and a lot less of yesterday’s disappointment. Hopefully, Chicago’s North Side Baseballers will turn it around when they play the Brewers here in Milwaukee starting today. I may go to today’s game, but I’ll definitely be at Wednesday night’s affair, so look me up if you are in town.
Cubs News & Notes
- Dansby Swanson, Marcus Stroman, and Justin Steele have been named to the National League All-Star roster.
- Stroman and Swanson have been selected previously, but Steele is a first-timer.
- Stro said he will be focused in the second half of the season on winning the division.
- The Cubs have an excellent chance to gain ground in the four-game set with the Brewers.
- The Cubs are confident that their best baseball of the season lies ahead, and they have the league’s fifth-easiest schedule after the All-Star break.
- MLB Insider Bruce Levine believes the Cubs should trade Stroman instead of extending him.
- Oft-injured, hard-throwing Brailyn Márquez has been added to the Myrtle Beach Roster, his first affiliated experience since 2020.
- Nick Madrigal hit a home run over the weekend and the utility infielder is emerging as the player the front office always thought he could be.
- Madrigal is reaping the benefits of finally being fully healthy.
- The draft is less than a week away, with Dan Kantrovitz heading his fourth for the Cubs.
- The Blackhawks’ top draft pick, Connor Bedard, threw out the first pitch before yesterday’s game. Ex-Bear Jay Cutler also threw a ceremonial pitch.
- The Baseball Prospect Journal dropped its latest mock draft and projects the Cubs will select Maryland shortstop Matt Shaw.
- The Cubs are ranked No. 21 overall in the first-half power rankings.
Odds & Sods
Shohei Ohtani is at the top of my wishlist and if Tom Ricketts is serious about winning, he needs to do whatever it takes to sign the two-way superstar this winter.
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) July 2, 2023
- Cincinnati (45-39): Rookie pitcher Andrew Abbott is one of the reasons the Reds are now tied for first place in the NL Central.
- Milwaukee (45-39): The Brewers could use a boost at this year’s trade deadline, but GM Matt Arnold is not anticipating any major changes.
- Pittsburgh (39-44): Rookie Nick Gonzalez is small in stature but showcased some mammoth power over the weekend.
- St. Louis (35-48): Willson Contreras has had a miserable first year with the Cardinals and it keeps getting worse. Announcer Michael Kay claimed Contreras has been calling pitches that his pitchers don’t throw.
Climbing the Ladder
“Some blame the management, some the employees.” – Dire Straits, Industrial Disease
Christopher Morel played third base yesterday and was 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI. He now leads the club with 15 big flies even though he wasn’t called up until May 9. Let’s hope he becomes a fixture at the hot corner.
Taillon needs to turn things around in a hurry because he’s starting to remind me a lot of Danny Jackson, who was 5-14 for the Cubs in 1991-92 after signing as a free agent. Chicago traded Jackson to the Pirates halfway through the ’92 season for Steve Buechele.
I’m not a fan of the ghost runner rule, which seems to be an advantage for visiting teams.
- Games Played: 81
- Record: 38-43 (.469)
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,135
- Total Strikeouts: 749
- Strikeout Rate: 23.89%
- Team Batting Average: .248
- Runs Scored: 375
- Runs Allowed: 351
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 29.9%, 2.1% to win the World Series
How About That!
Ohtani made the American League All-Star team as a pitcher and also as a designated hitter.
There are 26 first-time All-Stars heading to Seattle next week.
Eight Braves players made the National League squad.
The White Sox and Cardinals are the teams most likely to conduct a fire sale this month. The Pirates, Rockies, and Tigers are also listed.
July 1 was Bobby Bonilla Day as if the Mets don’t have enough of a problem with this year’s bloated payroll. Bonilla has 12 years of deferred $1.2 million payments left and will be 72 when his contract expires.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Javier Báez and Jake Marisnick – Both ex-Cubs players hit grand slams for the Tigers in a 14-9 win over the Rockies. Zach McKinstry also had two hits for Detroit and Kris Bryant had two knocks for Colorado.
- Mark Canha – The Mets first baseman was 2-for-4 with a home run and a stolen base.
- Andrés Giménez – The second baseman had a double and a home run plus a stolen base in the Guardians’ 8-6 win over the Cubs. Giménez also scored three runs.
I love watching Haydn McGeary hit. He has such a beautiful swing.
— Tennessee Smokies (@smokiesbaseball) June 24, 2023
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- Would you be shocked if I told you that Mark Knopfler wrote songs for Tina Turner, Jeff Healy, and Jimmy Buffett?
- Americans increased their spending on fireworks by about $100 million this year compared to last summer, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.
- Deploying the unusual business move of restricting how much people can use your product, Twitter owner Elon Musk slapped daily limits on the number of posts users can see each day, and the deluge of unhappy posts was reportedly relentless.
- The Coney Island hot dog-eating contest takes place tomorrow, and as is customary, celebrate accordingly. Emcee George Shea likes to say “The Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest is the crucible through which greatness is forged.” Can I get an amen?
- Wimbledon begins today, and Novak Djokovic is the clear favorite in the men’s draw, but keep your eyes on Taylor Fritz and Francis Tiafoe.
- A growing number of Australian students are “hot-bedding”—sharing a bed with a stranger—because rental costs are too high.
They Said It
- “Baseball is one of those games where you can have a bad month and a great two months, or vice versa. You just really have to stay even keel and balanced. The guys in this clubhouse know what we’re capable of, so it’s just a matter of doing it. Hopefully, we catch fire. One win after another, it starts to kind of roll and we have clumps of big winning streaks, because the division is wide open, truly.” – Stroman
- “I love our team. We’ve got a great starting staff and our bullpen has kind of worked its way out. We’re not going to slug you to death. I don’t think we’re that type of team. But, we’re going to have to get key hits, get guys on base, take our walks, and get timely hits.” – David Ross
Monday Walk-Up Song
I love this video because it’s an exact visual encapsulation of the lyrics.