The Rundown: Cubs Still Middling, Nothing Wrong With a Little Salt & Swagger, Rizzo Slowly Getting Better

“Humanity is the keystone that holds nations and men together. When that collapses, the whole structure crumbles. This is as true of baseball teams as any other pursuit in life.” – Connie Mack

“Some guys are admired for coming to play, as the saying goes. I admire players who come to kill.”  – Leo Durocher

Prior to yesterday’s win, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle questioned Javy Baez’s respect for the game during Wednesday night’s tilt, referring to an incident where the Cubs’ second baseman flipped his bat after he popped out in the 7th inning of a Cubs win.

Hurdle isn’t the next Connie Mack when it comes to managing and there’s nothing wrong with a little salt and swagger in your game. Personally speaking, if the Cubs are going to carry themselves with the demeanor of a first-place team I’d like them to be 9-3 instead of 6-6. No need to temper Javier Baez or Willson Contreras, but maybe win a few more games while you’re at it, too.

Team Maddon is not off to a fast start — at all — and aside from taking three of four against the Brewers last weekend, they’ve gone a combined 3-5 against the Marlins, Reds, and Pirates. If you wanna be straight butter (thank you, Stuart Scott) you can’t be a middling team.

“Baseball’s tired. It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do.” – Bryce Harper

There are good ways of expressing your emotions and there are bad ways. And Harper is right: baseball players are often held to too high a standard when it comes to celebrating their accomplishments. Whether it is a walk-off home run or a pitcher striking out a batter in a clutch situation, the game needs personality if it wants to attract younger fans, not a pitch clock or any other ridiculous pace-of-play rules. The criticism by reporters that follows is at times off-base as well. And though I am glad both players are members of Chicago’s North Side squad, how epic would a Pedro Strop vs. Javy Baez at-bat be?

“Don’t hate the playa, hate the game.” – Stuart Scott

Baez is a human highlight reel and if you try to check his emotions my guess is that his play will suffer. So let him pimp his home runs if he wants. And besides, he already apologized for not running out that lazy fly ball. Further, his teammates made sure he knew that he was in fact disrespecting the game, his team, and the fans in that instance. And it goes directly against Maddon’s Respect 90 approach to the game. So thanks for piling on a day late, Mr. Hurdle.

“He is eager to prove his worth to his team. He is willing to do whatever we ask of him. He’s a good team man. You want players like Sean Rodriguez on your side.” – Clint Hurdle

And really, if the Pirates’ manager wants to talk about players suppressing emotion as a means of respecting the game, I submit the following into evidence:

Cubs News & Notes

Anthony Rizzo spent time in the batting cage Thursday, Carrie Muskat of reports. Rizzo should be back in action when he’s eligible to return from the DL on Monday prior to the series opener against St. Louis. “It’s slow and steady, like a turtle,” Rizzo said of his progress.

Kyle Schwarber homered, doubled and singled for three of the Cubs’ seven hits in yesterday’s game. Ian Happ had his first two-hit game this season.

How About That!

The Nationals have reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with first baseman Mark Reynolds, according to

After Wednesday night’s half-hearted brawl with the Rockies, the Padres have vowed not to be pushed around by anybody this season. San Diego was labeled as soft by some when they chose not to retaliate after Anthony Rizzo slammed into Austin Hedges at the plate last year. MLB determined that Rizzo violated the home plate collision rule, but didn’t punish him.

Twins’ first baseman Joe Mauer got his 2,000th career hit in yesterday’s 4-0 win over the White sox. Mauer is off to a fast start this season, slashing .412/.545/1.075 across 44 at bats.

Good health and a dominant bullpen are the keys to the Mets’ amazing start to the 2018 season. The Mets are 10-1 entering a weekend series at Citi Field with the 7-6 Brewers.

Thursday’s Three Stars

  1. Jose Martinez – The Cardinals’ first baseman had a home run and six RBI in yesterday’s 13-4 victory over the Cardinals.
  2. DJ LeMahieu – The Colorado second baseman homered twice, added two doubles, and drove in a career-high four runs as the Rockies earned a 5-1 victory over the Washington Nationals.
  3. Jose Berrios – Minnesota’s ace tied a career high with 11 strikeouts and allowed just three hits for the second time in three starts this season. The right-hander is 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA in five career starts against the White Sox after pitching seven shutout innings yesterday.

Hot Takes & Syrup

  • He will drool the drool of regret into the pillow of remorse (thank you Keith Olbermann): A fourth-grader cut school to attend a Cubs-Pirates tilt and was spotted by his principal, who just happened to be participating in a grammar school ditch day of his own.
  • The Red Sox-Yankees brawl from Wednesday night continued in the local papers on Thursday. Phil Nevin, who knows a thing or two about being ejected, just won’t let the incident die. The Red Sox will travel to Yankee stadium for a three game set with the Bronx Bombers on May 8th. Should be interesting.

They Said It

  • “Last year, there was a player talking about my game style; now this year, it’s a manager. Like I say, I don’t control it. Whatever I get from it, I learned from the bat flip. That’s all I’ve got to say. If anybody has any negative stuff to me, they can save it, to be honest. That’s all I have to say.” – Javy Baez
  • “When I was on the field, I did say something to him, absolutely, right to his face — and a couple of their coaches, I think. Just let them know how I felt about what happened with [Tyler] Austin and that was it. At the time, there was zero response [from Cora]. In fact, maybe even a little backpedal, if you will.” – Phil Nevin

Friday Walk Up Song

Respect Yourself by The Staple Singers. Rest in peace, Yvonne Staples.

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