My apologies that I have not been a daily contributor lately. I have been working with our overseas desk so I have been putting in long hours because of the time change. This will be the last week and then after I spend next weekend catching up on my sleep I will be back to a daily column. Life happens, and unfortunately it oftentimes leads us down the path of what we must do rather than the path of what we’d rather do.
So, Anthony Rizzo has been really hot the last two weeks, huh? According to my fantasy baseball site, he is now the ninth most productive hitter in the National League. Imagine what this guy could do if he could manage to avoid the 3-4 slumps he falls into each year. When Rizzo slumps, he’s just a hot mess. But for 18-20 weeks of every season he’s one of the strongest offensive players in the game. When Rizzo and Kris Bryant are equally hot at the same time, the Cubs are generally unstoppable.
Cubs News & Notes
- Rizzo is hitting .481 in his last seven games with four home runs and 11 RBI.
- The Cubs’ first baseman held his annual Cook-Off for Cancer Charity Dinner the other night. Rizzo’s fundraiser for his pediatric cancer foundation topped last year’s record by generating $1.8 million from tips, tickets, auction sales, and other donations.
- A gutsy start by Yu Darvish yesterday has earned Joe Maddon’s trust. His 108-pitch performance over 7+ innings when he didn’t have his best stuff allowed the Cubs’ manager to give his bullpen some much needed rest.
- Addison Russell went 3-for-4 yesterday with an opposite-field home run, yet his most impressive play was getting a tag down after Victor Caratini short-hopped his throw on a stolen-base try.
- Tyler Chatwood got the save in yesterday’s 8-6 victory. That’s exceptional, but it just points out that the team desperately needs a legitimate closer if they have any hope of a deep playoff run. The bullpen has earned the decision of every game of this home stand except in the 9-7 loss to the Phillies on Thursday. Jon Lester took the loss in that game.
- Perhaps if Sean Doolittle or Will Smith are made available that may interest to the front office.
- How much pressure is on the Cubs’ front office to add bullpen help?
- For what it’s worth, Maddon said he has not asked the front office for reinforcements and probably won’t going forward.
- It was good to see the Cubs even the series after losing two of three to the Reds when the teams met earlier this month in Cincinnati. Since 2015, the Cubs are 52-27 against the Reds, and there is only one instance in MLB of a team with a better record against a divisional opponent in that span (Dodgers vs. Padres, 56-25). Wining the rubber game of the match would be huge because the Astros come to Wrigley Field tomorrow.
- The Cubs recalled right-hander Dillon Maples and lefty Tim Collins before yesterday’s game and demoted outfielder Mark Zagunis and reliever James Norwood to Triple-A Iowa. Norwood spent just one day with the Cubs.
- Happy Birthday Ben Zobrist!
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 26, 2019
How About That!
Zach Plesac will make his big-league debut against Boston on Tuesday night. The Indians’ 12th-round pick out of Ball State is 4-1 with a 1.41 ERA in nine minor league starts and was recently promoted from Class AA Akron to Class AAA Columbus. The young hurler is the nephew of former Cubs relief pitcher and current MLB TV analyst Dan Plesac.
The Orioles ended their seven-game losing streak with a 9-6 victory over the Rockies.
A team of sailors played the Washington Senators during World War II – and the sailors won! “Sailors” is not a euphemism for the Miami Marlins, in case you were wondering.
After averaging just 2.6 runs per game in its first 41, Miami (16-33) is averaging 4.9 in its last eight with a 6-2 record. Rookie Harold Ramirez is batting .370 in the time frame and sits at .353 entering Sunday in Washington.
Saturday’s Three Stars
- Patrick Corbin – The Nationals’ No. 3 starter, who would be a No. 1 on most teams, shut the Marlins out with five strikeouts and needed 116 pitches to get through the full nine innings. A complete game is rare in baseball these days, hence the top spot.
- Entire Padres Lineup – Austin Hedges connected for a grand slam and the Padres hit a franchise-record seven home runs to romp past the Blue Jays 19-4 for their fifth consecutive victory. Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe each hit two home runs and Ian Kinsler and Eric Hosmer also homered. The previous team record was six, set at Cincinnati on July 17, 1998.
- Charlie Morton – The Rays right-hander struck out a season-high 10 and allowed one run over six innings for his 18th straight start without a loss.
Apropos of Nothing
I don’t know if this is a thing in Chicago, but up here in Milwaukee, Mountain Dew releases their Baja Blast flavor each Memorial Day weekend, and by Labor Day when it is discontinued I find myself fighting extreme sugar and caffeine withdrawals and accompanying anxiety. So I stocked up and bought every single 12-pack of the brand’s best flavor ever at the local Piggly Wiggly. I may sell it on the black market all winter.
In working long hours I see a lot of strange things. For example:
- Coming home on the CTA Blue Line early Wednesday morning a traveler paced up and down my car through the Jefferson Park and Harlem stops. At Cumberland he dropped trou and relieved himself of the beer he must have ingested before getting on said train. Thankfully that was my last stop and it was a cloth-free seat.
- The weather has been crazy all across the country in the last week as an elongated winter has abruptly turned to summer thanks to some massive and powerful jet streams. Still, the woman I shared my Lyft with tried to convince me that the average temperature in the Arctic Circle has been near 90 degrees throughout the entire month of May. It has not. Climate change is a real and scary thing, but NOAA still provided accurate forecasts and daily temperatures without the rabid sensationalism.
- There was a car accident on Wednesday at about 9pm near the Oak Creek Ikea in Wisconsin. Both drivers were dressed as clowns and I couldn’t help myself from thinking of the obvious clown car jokes, but also that they were probably going to the same gig and, as a result, some shindig was clown-less for the evening. Brewers fans really struggle with driving in bad weather.
- I have challenged Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Brewers OF Christian Yelich to a beer-chugging contest for charity. Neither has responded so far.
It’s Memorial Day weekend, and we honor those who have fought and died to preserve our individual freedoms. To me, three of the many we equally honor define this day: Joshua Chamberlain, John Basilone, and Alfred Rascon, who defended this country as an immigrant. Did you know that nearly 20% of all Congressional Medal of Honor recipients have been immigrants? Alfred’s daughter Amanda is one of my best friends.
I hope you will take a few minutes to read about each. Then put the Cubs game on, fire up that grill and tap that pony keg. No drinking and driving.
They Said It
- “I gave up like 18 hits and 12 runs, but still, I’m a little happy I went seven innings.” – Yu Darvish
- “He was available. If Chatty is throwing strikes, he can do anything for us or any team.” – Joe Maddon
- “It was awesome to be out there and get the job done If I get more (chances), cool. As long as I’m helping us win, that’s all I want to do.” – Tyler Chatwood
Sunday Walk Up Song
Wild Horses by The Sundays. I am not sure why any band would want to cover a Stones song because to me, it’s a losing proposition and absolute folly. I suppose the Sundays do an okay job with their too-subdued arrangement, but to be honest they only get this space because I believe it is the first time I have ever written a Sunday column. That being said, I bet the Smashing Pumpkins could have killed this song. By the way, it was nice to write here again. I’ve missed it.