The Rundown: Cubs Continue Offensive Futility, Pederson Earns Waffle Iron, Second Wave of Home Openers Begins Today

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…” – Rudyard Kipling

Cubs hitters really need to do some soul searching after following Tuesday’s 1-for-25 performance with yesterday’s 3-for-33 debacle. I suppose there are two ways to think about their current stretch of futility:

  1. With a .124 team batting average, the Cubs could start today’s game against the Pirates with 20 consecutive hits and still be batting just .212; or
  2.  Just forget about the first six games and hope the team can hit at a .255 clip from here on out that, while not great, is pretty close to normal for this lineup.

Since that first scenario is highly improbable, the best anybody should hope for is the second. It’s almost not even worth talking about anymore because at some point things skew from actual reporting to something far more ignominious. The Cubs are a good team that is simply struggling right now. Any GM would love to have Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, Anthony Rizzo, or Willson Contreras on their team, and I’m sure savvy talent evaluators can pinpoint the reasons for their amplified struggles.

If pitchers can exploit Chicago’s weaknesses, there certainly exists a savvy hitting instructor who has the ability to help the hitters adjust and overcome such enfeeblement. Realistically, one would hope Anthony Iapoce and David Ross are fully capable to assist in a much-needed turnaround.

What happens if the Cubs can’t break the slump? The 1969 Mets won the NL East and that year’s World Series with a .242 batting average. For those of you who think that’s a flawed measure of a team’s ability to produce runs, New York also struggled to get on base (.311) or slug the ball (.351). They also had a pitching staff that included Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Tug McGraw, and Nolan Ryan, and only one member of the team’s 10-man staff finished the season below league average.

On the bright side, if the Cubs are to finish in that .252-.258 range that has been customary over the past five seasons (excluding last year’s short season), they just need to hit .259 the rest of the way. That’s something that is easily doable and emphasizes the point that, yes, it’s only been six games. The Cubs batted .256 when they won it all in 2016 so, while things stink to high heaven right now, perhaps we should all hold off on hitting that panic button, myself included.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Nothing is as sad or infuriating as seeing Ron Santo in a White Sox uniform. If Hell ever froze over, it happened the day he was traded to the South Side.

How About That!

Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres is struggling defensively and it seems most of his miscues are of the high profile variety. He cost New York a win against the Orioles yesterday.

The Nationals have had a surreal trip since winning the 2019 World Series. What a long strange trip it’s been.

The Mets and Nationals received their makeup dates for the season-opening series that was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Mariners placed left-handed pitcher James Paxton (left forearm strain) and outfielder Jake Fraley (left hamstring strain) on the 10-day injured list after both exited Tuesday night’s game unexpectedly.

Outfielder George Springer has yet to make his debut with the Blue Jays and he’s been scheduled to have an MRI on his bothersome right quad.

Cleveland announced that half of its team and tier 1 employees were vaccinated ahead of yesterday’s travel day and today’s day off. Manager Terry Francona hopes more players will get the shot but said he understands it’s a personal choice. “You can’t make somebody do that,” he said. “That wouldn’t be right. I hope we get to a certain amount though, where we are able as a team to relax some of the restrictions. That would be helpful.”

Cleveland pitcher James Karinchak took to social media to announce he wouldn’t accept a vaccine and used a quote attributed to Hermann Goering, a convicted war criminal and leader of the Nazi party during World War II, about how it is possible to control people through fear, in the since-deleted post.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

The Brewers have lifted their tailgate ban outside American Life Ballpark. Fans will be able to resume the traditional pregame ritual starting Monday night when the Cubs visit Milwaukee.

The Reds are offering discounted tickets for fans with proof of COVID immunization.

The Mets open their home schedule tonight and fans attending will be required to bring documented proof that they’ve been vaccinated or present a negative on-premise test in order to enter Citi Field.

About 8.500 fans are expected to attend the White Sox home opener and because of the pandemic, there are new measures in place to ensure safety. All fans aged two and older need to wear a CDC-approved face mask, even in the stadium parking lots.

The Cardinals are bringing back the Budweiser Clydesdales for their home opener and will observe a moment of silence before the first pitch to honor those who have perished due to the novel coronavirus.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Lorenzo Cain – The Brewers center fielder single-handedly beat the Cubs yesterday with two homers and four RBI. Not bad for a guy who sat out all last year.
  2. Nathan Eovaldi – The Red Sox starter held the Rays to three hits over seven innings and notched seven strikeouts in leading Boston to a 9-2 win.
  3. Stephen Strasburg – The Nationals ace was in midseason form against the Braves yesterday. Though he took a no-decision, Strasburg held the Braves to one hit with eight punchouts in six innings of work.

Honorable Mention: Cleveland ace Shane Bieber had 12 strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work against the Royals yesterday. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner was tagged for two runs, one coming on a bomb by Kansas City catcher Salvador Pérez.

Extra Innings

Still my favorite baseball movie of all time. Maybe the Cubs should get back to playing the game like kids do.

Apropos of Nothing

Who’s in favor of eliminating the “magic runner” rule to start extra innings? Rob Manfred’s tenure as league commissioner can’t end soon enough.

They Said It

  • “[As a team] we have 500 plate appearances and we’re at a really small number right now. You’ve got to let guys settle into the season. This is a really good group.” – David Ross
  • “We have some really talented people in the group and when we get clicking it’s going to be fun to be a part of, and it’s coming soon. So just enjoy the show.” – Joc Pederson
  • “[The home run] was huge. Grinded a little bit to start the season, just to kind of get the first one, especially in front of the fans and whatnot. I think it’s a little bit more added pressure than normal. Yeah, it was a big relief.” – Pederson
  • “It’s just got to all come together. It’s a long year.…Our guys are going to be just fine.” – Kyle Hendricks

Thursday Walk-Up Song

Things Can Only Get Better by Howard Jones – They certainly can’t get any worse

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