The Rundown: Random Baseball Rants, Cubs Players Staying Safe, Báez Wants Extension, Eddie Vedder Impresses

“Sometimes I think it is a great mistake to have matter that can think and feel. It complains so. By the same token, though, I suppose that boulders and mountains and moons could be accused of being a little too phlegmatic.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

I had a bizarro-world dream last night, which has been a regular occurrence lately, and in it all Cubs fans were Cardinals fans and vice versa. In that nightmare, I was a St. Louis blogger and couldn’t think of anything noteworthy to write about. So, first thing this morning I did a search for relevant Redbirds news and it turns out I’m really not alone. I suppose I could have written about the egregious take by former Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler regarding Chicago pizza.

I am 100% certain that if Theo Epstein and his entourage leave the Cubs after next season, the organization will fall back into the baseball Dark Ages that existed on the North Side for 11 decades before his arrival. Yes, Epstein has made some questionable moves, but every front office does. When fans talk about the Cubs retaining their core, Epstein and Jed Hoyer should be included.

I am not against Joe West umpiring this season — in principle — despite the fact that he thinks the statistical aspect of COVID-19 is somewhat of a conspiracy. He’ll be required to follow rules just like any player, and if he does not he will be suspended. Where I do have a problem with West is that he is probably not adhering to safety recommendations away from the game, and is therefore more likely to come in contact with the contagion and pass it to others.

I’d be rather naive, however, to think that any of the thousands of people required to orchestrate a single game aren’t just as lax, or similarly opinionated, as the veteran umpire. I suppose that is my biggest issue with the league’s attempt to play this season anyway. The risk just isn’t worth the reward.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has reportedly offered the Wilpons a total of $4 billion to buy the Mets and their sports television network. Can you imagine what the Ricketts family might get for the Cubs? It’s too bad baseball does not offer a profit-driven financial model for its owners. I couldn’t imagine selling something for billions of dollars and then navigating the local Mariano’s with my EBT card.

It’s fair to ask if professional athletes are being prioritized over the general public when it comes to coronavirus protocol. Demand for COVID-19 tests is skyrocketing globally and athletes have been designated as Priority 1, meaning that results are scheduled to be delivered within 24 hours. Civilians are not offered similar privilege, so results can take up to a week to be revealed.

As of Thursday morning, patients attempting to access test results on the BioReference website would be met with an alert that reads: “If you are looking for your COVID-19 PCR (swab) results please note that these may not be available in the patient portal for up to 5-7 days after collection. As always, we appreciate your business and thank you for your patience during this unprecedented time.”

If you thought Rob Manfred was bad, a writer at The Hollywood Reporter wants to see additional safety requirements if MLB intends to play its 2020 season. Among them:

  1. All players must mask up at all times.
  2. No tagging. All outs involving base runners are force plays only, even if the traditional force rule is not in place.
  3. The “force base” or “tag point” must remain at a distance of six feet from the runner’s ultimate destination. Imagine a runner charging to first, but Anthony Rizzo receives a throw from Kris Bryant at a designated spot that is socially distanced from first base instead.
  4. A play is halted when the ball is touched by more than one person, which is impossible on any batted balls, since the pitcher starts each play with a baseball in his hand.
  5. Any baseball that comes in contact with more than one human being must be immediately replaced.
  6. Violation of any safety rule results in the immediate cancellation of the player’s entire season, which also includes spitting, face touching, improper mask use, and any breach of social distancing requirements on the field or in the clubhouse.

When I state my disdain for most mass media outlets, stories like this generally trigger that emotion.

Cubs News & Notes

Find Your Inner Hero

Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder is 55 years old and one-upped the hell out of Epstein in his ALS trick shot challenge for Calgary Flames assistant GM Chris Snow. Vedder and I are the same age, but even if I was 30 years younger I couldn’t do what he does here. Big in the box, high leg kick, swing hard…

MLB News & Notes

If baseball is going to succeed in 2020, it appears as if it will do so only by repeatedly soiling its pants. It was reported yesterday that multiple players who took one of two MLB-chartered flights from the Dominican Republic to Miami on July 1 have since tested positive for COVID-19. Apparently none were tested before boarding. Six Nationals players, including Juan Soto and Victor Robles, were on one of those flights.

Nicholas Castellanos would prefer not to be a designated hitter, which is one of the main reasons he chose to sign with the Reds.

The list of players opting out of the 2020 season continues to grow.

Giants catcher Buster Posey took his third consecutive personal day as he weighs the pros and cons of playing this season. He’s obviously leaning toward exercising his right to opt out.

New Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon believes that “it’s stupid” that baseball stadiums may pipe in artificial crowd noise this year. I agree wholeheartedly. I’m not a fan of the cardboard cutouts, either.

I’m still going with Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger as the odds on favorite to hit .400 in the truncated season, especially if he continues to lower his strikeout rate.

NL managers weighed in on the universal DH rule, and not all are in favor.

Extra Innings

“The pitcher has got only a ball. I’ve got a bat. So the percentage in weapons is in my favor and I let the fellow with the ball do the fretting.”Hank Aaron

On Deck

Author/Illustrator Gary Larson has resumed writing The Far Side comic strips for the first time since going on hiatus in 1994. I’ve been in a state of arrested development since then, and will now resume my life as the 30-year-old nerd I was when Larson walked away.

Sliding Into Home

I would like to thank readers Justin Pederson and Scott Crandall for the wonderful gifts I received in the mail yesterday, and I would like to thank my friend Cheri for helping to make me almost famous. The last two days have been pretty rough for me healthwise, so I enjoyed the generosity and warm thoughts by all.

They Said It

  • “It’s been really difficult with all that’s happening right now. We have a really good communication, relationship between me and the owners, and obviously my agent. I think when this goes past, I think we’re going to talk. We’re going to obviously stay in touch.” – Javier Báez
  • “I get a lot of hellos from fans.  I think the people in the community are starting to know what my mask looks like. And my bald head. Wrigley [Field] looks amazing. You kind of turn into a 12-year-old thinking about baseball and how much you’ve missed it in this time.” – David Ross
  • “The ivy’s all grown in. “You leave the house with a phone, your keys, your wallet and your mask. But once we get on the field and we’re out there, it’s amazing how fast you can tune everything out.” – Anthony Rizzo

Friday Walk Up Song

Alive (Live) by Pearl Jam – Go Eddie. You are an inspiration to all middle-aged men.

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