I’m still steamed about the rally-hindering called third strike on Tony Kemp last night. The pitch by Hector Neris wasn’t even close to the strike zone and I’m not sure Kemp could have reached that ball without crossing the plate had he swung at it anyway.
Phillies fans can consider it a gift, but last night’s 4-2 defeat is compounded because it wasted a remarkable effort by starter José Quintana.
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) August 14, 2019
Further, it was another road loss, which in and of itself is disgusting to report about at this point, and yesterday’s game capped a day of he said/he said gossip surrounding the team, specifically with regard to manager Joe Maddon.
Whether Maddon is a good, poor, or great manager remains just a small part of the criteria that should be considered when deciding whether to retain him. At some point, the message becomes stale and the wisdom, real or manufactured, falls on deaf ears. Even those in the strongest relationships can sometimes find that things that once seemed endearing eventually become more than a little grating. And I believe that point has been reached by Maddon in regards to the front office, reporters covering the team, a great percentage of Cubs fans, and probably the players, too.
The schtick, the Maddon-isms, the sound bytes, the hunches, and just about everything that makes Maddon so different than any other skipper in the game feels completely played out. What was once a refreshing change of pace from so many previous failures now feels like nails on a chalkboard. That said, if you think life without Joe Maddon at the helm could be so much better, you have to concede that the next Tom Treblehorn may also be lurking on the periphery waiting for a chance to lead this team. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer did hire Dale Sveum after all.
To be fair, it’s important to recognize that Maddon has accomplished things no other manager in the history of this franchise has done. At the end of the day, his number 70 deserves to be hanging from one of Wrigley’s flagpoles the minute he steps down. There should be no debate about that.
But the events of yesterday have me believing that the relationship has fractured, and even if it can be repaired, it might still be best to move on. I know Epstein shot down rumors of internal conflict regarding Maddon’s open discussion of his current contract and future expectations. Shortly after that, it was reported that Anthony Rizzo was slightly riled up at his manager’s fondness for the type of hunger that new outfielder Nick Castellanos has exhibited, the implication being that the rest of his teammates don’t share an equal desire to win a championship because they’ve already won one.
These are the types of issues that eventually get swept away as irreconcilable differences once a change has been made. The fact they are being covered by the media right now, whether true or not, is not inconsequential. Where one finds smoke, one usually also finds fire. There’s just no room to add extra fuel to said fire when the current accelerant is an incredibly tight pennant race.
Cubs News & Notes
- Last night, Quintana became the second pitcher in Cubs history to strike out 14 batters while pitching six innings or fewer, joining Kerry Wood (2001).
- Maddon chose not to confront umpire Marty Foster face to face on the egregious strike-three call on Kemp last night because of their history and also because Foster “knew how badly he’d screwed up.”
- I’m not a fan of batting Kris Bryant leadoff, but current evidence suggests that he could be one of the game’s best one-hole hitters.
- It might do the rest of the team good to feed off of Castellanos’ hunger.
- In his defense, Rizzo has seemed to embrace the new outfielder’s quest for his first ring.
- Rizzo is suffering through a bit of a power outage ($). He is still near the pace for a typical season of 30 homers and 100 RBI.
- Believe it or not, Cole Hamels will make his first career start as a visitor at Citizens Bank Park. He was traded from the Phillies to the Rangers in 2015, then from the Rangers to the Cubs in 2018, and had yet to return to Philadelphia as a player.
- Craig Kimbrel and Brandon Kintzler could return to the Cubs for this weekend’s series against the Pirates.
How About That!
Aristides Aquino is the reigning NL Player of the Week. Give Cubs pitchers an assist.
The Indians and Twins have alternated first place in the AL Central the last few days. Cleveland wraps up a wild back-and-forth series with the Red Sox at home while Minnesota closes out a quick two-game interleague series in Milwaukee.
Nationals RHP Max Scherzer threw two innings in a simulated game Tuesday, reports MASN Sports. He’s been dealing with a back issue in the second half and could return to the rotation this weekend, albeit on an abbreviated pitch count.
The Yankees continued to blister Orioles pitchers.
That was the Yankees' 150,793,072,758,578,324th home run off Baltimore pitching this season.
Or it just seems that way.
— STACEBOOK 🏳️🌈 (@StaceGots) August 13, 2019
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Rafael Devers – The Red Sox third baseman put on a hitting clinic yesterday, going 6-for-6 against the Indians with three RBI.
- José Quintana – Q had 14 punchouts in six innings, but a solo home run by J.T. Realmuto tied the game and turned it over to the bullpen.
- Kyle Seager – The Mariners third baseman had a three-homer game with six RBI, including this crazy jack…
I GOT IT!
NO, NO – I GOT IT!
Neither got it…but Kyle Seager had a 3-HR day! 💪
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 14, 2019
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Telephone Line by ELO. I’m late with this post today because we had an entire call center down at my regular gig. Sorry for the weak effort.