“We’re gettin’ off today. We’ll pick you up and take you away.” – Boston, Smokin’
Yesterday’s stunning 4-3 win over the Brewers might have been the Cubs’ best game of the season. Mike Tauchman was the hero, but Cody Bellinger and Jared Young set up the leadoff hitter with great at-bats against All-Star closer Devin Williams. Heads-up baserunning by Tauchman proved to be the difference maker, and Adbert Alzolay was electric in closing out the win.
Chicago will send Marcus Stroman to the hill against Milwaukee this afternoon with a chance to take three of four in what is becoming one of baseball’s better rivalries. It’s a great day to play hooky from work and catch a game, though I’ll admit to no such crime if questioned.
Cubs News & Notes
- They’re mocking David Ross up here in Milwaukee after his bullshit/horseshit presser on the 4th of July. I thought it was hilarious, however, as do most Cubs fans.
- Ross addressed the roof controversy and was able to laugh about it, but maintains the premature closure seems “shady.”
- Is Milwaukee’s stadium still considered Wrigley Field North? I went to dinner downtown last night and there was an 80:20 ratio of Cubs fans in the bars near American Family Insurance Field. The crowd at the game was evenly split, by the way.
- Ross has 8-1 odds of being replaced after the season according to a sports betting website, putting him in the top five of potential firings that are led by Buck Showalter.
- Justin Steele didn’t earn the win last night, but he showed he was worthy of his All-Star selection by holding the Brewers to three runs in six innings of work.
- Steele and Alzolay have become the Cubs’ dynamic duo.
- Dansby Swanson left last night’s game with a heel injury, though Ross didn’t seem overly concerned afterward. The shortstop won’t start today, but the skipper didn’t rule out letting him pinch-hit if needed.
- Swanson has caught a little shrapnel for his All-Star selection, but he’s the best shortstop in the National League and deserves the nomination.
- Nick Madrigal underwent imaging on his injured right hamstring and was diagnosed with a moderate strain and placed on the IL, so he’ll be out for at least 10 days.
- Jed Hoyer really wants to be a buyer at the deadline but he isn’t much for lighting a fire beneath his troops. At least the team is proving to the front office that they have no quit in them.
- The Cubs optioned Hayden Wesneski to stretch him out as a starter.
- Jameson Taillon was not optioned, but the organization believes mechanical changes and a new grip will help him turn his season around.
- The expected Shohei Ohtani courtship will be a test of what Tom Ricketts thinks of the Cubs and his team’s future.
Odds & Sods
Nationals manager Dave Martinez sure sounds like a guy who was fed a shovelful of shit.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez on Elly De La Cruz:
“I love the way he plays the game, but I didn’t like his antics after he hit the home run. We can do without that. He’s only got two weeks in the big leagues. But he’s gonna be a good player.”
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 6, 2023
- St. Louis: I love when the Cardinals lose, but it’s much more satisfying when they allow the winning run to score all the way from first base on an error.
- Milwaukee: Christian Yelich is quietly having a resurgent year.
- Cincinnati: The Nationals asked the umpire to check the bat of Elly De La Cruz, and the rookie shortstop responded with a 455-foot blast.
- Pittsburgh: David Bednar was named to replace Clayton Kershaw at this year’s All-Star Game, and the closer properly thanked the veteran ace.
Climbing the Ladder
“Oh Daddy, if I can make you see. If there’s been a fool around then it’s got to be me.” – Fleetwood Mac, Oh Daddy
Chicago’s Pythagorean record is inverse of its actual record, but that only tells part of the story. The Cubs are 9-0 this season against the Pirates and A’s, and they’ve outscored them 74-17 in those wins. They’re 31-45 against the rest of the league with a -57 run differential. The front office should be buyers at the deadline because the NL Central is very winnable, but you can’t blame Hoyer for his tepid suggestion that he needs to see a little more from this team.
- Games Played: 85
- Record: 40-45 (.471)
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,261
- Total Strikeouts: 776
- Strikeout Rate: 23.80%
- Team Batting Average: .249
- Runs Scored: 392
- Runs Allowed: 368
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 34.8%, 1.4% to win the World Series
How About That!
White Sox OF Luis Robert Jr. will participate in this year’s Home Run Derby and he’ll face Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman in the first round. Pete Alonso will, unfortunately, face Julio Rodríguez in Round One, and that’s a shame because one will be immediately eliminated.
Max Scherzer could be the most-coveted player at this year’s trade deadline and heads a list that also includes Bellinger and Yan Gomes. Stroman was not included, however, and neither was Kyle Hendricks.
The league announced it will debut its new virtual ballpark on Saturday with a celebrity softball game. Fans will be able to create an avatar, customizable with their favorite MLB team’s jersey, to enter the virtual ballpark, participate in the live-event experience, explore the ballpark, and interact with the other users around them.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Pablo López – The Twins’ starter threw a rare complete-game shutout at the Royals, striking out 12 batters in the process.
- Yainer Diaz – The Houston catcher hit two home runs and plated three runners in the Astros’ 6-4 win over the Rockies.
- Esteury Ruiz– The Athletics outfielder was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a stolen base, his 43rd of the season.
When we say that baseball is timeless, it’s videos like this that prove us right.
Today In 1933: The first Major League All-Star Game is played at Comiskey Park, Chicago! Babe Ruth belts the first HR as the American League defeats the National League by a score of 4-2! #MLB #Baseball #History pic.twitter.com/4iv07FccuA
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) July 6, 2023
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- I’m sad that I’ve only recently discovered the song “Time to Move On” by Tom Petty, but it has quickly become one of my favorites.
- On this day in 1957, Paul McCartney (age 15) first met John Lennon (16) at a garden party at St. Peter’s, Woolton’s Parish Church in Liverpool. It’s been called a chance encounter that changed the course of history. I highly recommend the movie “Nowhere Boy” in case you haven’t seen it. Now go watch it.
- Speaking of McCartney and Lennon, Mick Jagger takes the riff from “In Spite of All the Danger” but adds a crap ton of muscle to it on the song “Checkin’ Up on My Baby.” Taj Mahal and Gary Moore also covered the song.
- Mahal is of course more famous for the timeless “Lovin’ in My Baby’s Eyes.”
- If you liked that song, may I recommend a little Leftover Salmon? I promise you’ll love the “Nashville Sessions” album. It’s almost like a bluesy cross between Grateful Dead and Widespread Panic, with a bit of cajun zydeco tossed in for good measure.
- The song “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” by Oscar Isaac is also a recent discovery of mine, and I can’t get enough of it. Isaac’s lyrics are fantastic, and you won’t find many pop songs that mention Genghis Khan and Gunga Din.
They Said It
- “Our job is to try to win baseball games. Obviously, division games are important. But we just played the Guardians. We’re going to play the Yankees. Those wins matter, too. It’s also not just the Brewers. We’re just trying to play good baseball every day. Decisions like that — all we can control is our preparation and being ready to go.” – Tauchman
- “The leaders of this group continue to show up. They don’t waver. [It’s] not making excuses about scheduling and all the stuff that we’ve been through as of late. They continue to fight. [Seeing] their intensity and their preparation, that’s all you can ask for as a manager. That stands out to me. Because if you don’t have good character in there, you quit. We don’t have quitters.” – Ross
- “We show up every day. We put our hard hats on, and we go to work, no matter what. It’s throughout the entire clubhouse. I feel like everybody is here pulling on the same rope. That’s what’s important.” – Steele
- “When you look at a lot of underlying numbers, we absolutely should be in the division race right now. That’s the truth of the matter. Now, that doesn’t matter. They don’t put a banner up based on underlying numbers. We have to translate that into wins and losses. We haven’t done that well enough.” – Hoyer
Thursday Walk-Up Song
I will see Collective Soul on Friday night for the first time, and I hear they’ve been fantastic on tour.