The Rundown: Cubs Drop Third Straight, Just Pay Bryant Already, COVID Bug Hits Yankees, Umpires Continually Brutal Behind Plate

You love me, you hate me, you know me and then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in
I am everyday people” – Sly & The Family Stone, Everyday People

Instant Replay

Center field has become a Bermuda Triangle of sorts for Cubs players and if there really is any curse that currently exists with that position, David Ross needs to stop toying with the notion that Kris Bryant should play the number eight.

The former Rookie of the Year and MVP is having what could be his best season, something even Bryant’s detractors can no longer deny. Since center field has become a sinkhole of sorts, and an historic “stinkhole” at that since Dexter Fowler left town a few years ago, perhaps keeping his best player at a position better suited for his talents should be first and foremost on the mind of the Cubs manager.

The Cubs lost 2-1 yesterday and two things stand out: 1) Bryant entering as a pinch-hitter and then getting plunked on the wrist and subsequently removed from the game; 2) the absence of Craig Kimbrel in the 9th or 10th innings. Kimbrel hasn’t pitched since May 8 and this is the second time he has been “down” and apparently unavailable in the last week. I don’t want to say Ross is hiding a possible injury, but it certainly seems a little suspect that the team’s closer and best reliever has pitched just once since May 5.

Teams that are hoping to trade their best players will shrug off talk of any injury as nonsense. I’m sure Kimbrel is being marketed and I don’t know if he’s injured, but the Cubs could have used the fireballing righty yesterday. That said, it was kind of cool seeing Ross entrust Keegan Thompson with the inherited ghost runner to start the 10th. It’s too bad the outcome was less than favorable.

By the way, someone please pay Bryant the money he deserves. The Cubs are starting to look like the McCaskeys or Wirtzes own the team and if Bryant leaves in free agency, third base will be the team’s new black hole, just like it was for the better part of nearly 40 years between Ron Santo and KB. That is, if Rossy ever lets Bryant play the hot corner again.

  • The Good: Wilson Contreras was 4-for-5, all singles, and added about 35 points to his batting average.
  • The Better: Joc Pederson was 3-for-5 and his BA has quietly climbed to .244, so we should start to see the power soon. The 29-year-old is hitting .444 since returning from the injured list.

  • The Bad: Javier Báez struck out three times yesterday and will enter the weekend series against the Tigers with a 35.3% strikeout rate. He’s struck out 3+ times in eight games this season after having three such games in 2020.
  • The Ugly: The Cubs were 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left another 15 men on base yesterday. That makes 2-for-26 in the two-game set with 37 ducks left on the pond. Those are famine-like numbers.

Cubs News & Notes

Apropos of Nothing

Next time the Powerball gets near $2 billion, I’m going to win, buy the Cubs, and extend the contracts of Bryant, Báez, and Anthony Rizzo.

Climbing the Ladder

Speaking of devising a plan…

“I’d get it one piece at a time and it wouldn’t cost me a dime.” – Johnny Cash, One Piece at a Time.

  • Games Played: 36
  • Total Plate Appearances: 1,343
  • Total Strikeouts: 356
  • Strikeout Rate: 26.5%
  • Team Batting Average: .227

The Cubs has nine hits yesterday, but only two went for extra bases, and they struck out 12 times.

Odds & Sods

Service time manipulation is not a thing. Write that down.

How About That!

Mayor Carolyn Goodman of Las Vegas tweeted that the A’s have sought an opportunity to relocate to Sin City since 2019.

Rumors continue that the Rays “may resort to extortion” to seek relocation as well.

This may be the final season the National League plays without a DH. In 2020, the senior circuit outscored its junior counterpart by 110 runs. This year, pitchers have a combined batting average of .103 while striking out in 48% of their at-bats.

If you feel safety netting in ballparks is unnecessary, perhaps this story about Tracy Nabors will change your mind. Exit velocities continue to increase as do in-game distractions. Last year, the Phillies were offering prizes to fans whose cutouts were nailed by balls leaving the playing field. Yikes.

White Sox starter Lucas Giolito made some mechanical changes that made him a Cy Young candidate the last two seasons, now other MLB pitchers are following suit.

Orioles starter Matt Harvey has gone from rock star to rock bottom and the 32-year-old got a little emotional when Mets fans showed their appreciation for his continued persistence.

Longtime Orioles starter Chris Tillman is attempting a comeback of his own. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 10, 2018.

Seven Yankees coaches and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 and shortstop Gleyber Torres has been isolated from the team as a precaution.

Three of the New York Tier 1 employees, including coach Phil Nevin, were previously vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

Up and In

Through Tuesday, MLB batters were being hit at a record rate of 0.47 per team game, a figure unseen since the 19th century.

Safety Squeeze

Target has decided it will no longer sell trading cards “out of an abundance of caution” after a violent altercation in the parking lot of one at their Milwaukee stores last week.

Suicide Squeeze

It’s a sad representation of Major League Baseball that a Twitter account called Umpire Auditor has become a must-follow on social media.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Gerrit Cole – I think we can officially declare Cole the best starter in the bigs, no offense to Jacob deGrom fans. The 30-year-old Yankees starter struck out 12 Rays batters in eight innings of work and is now 5-1 with a 1.37 ERA, 78 punchouts in 52.2 innings, and a WHIP that sits at 0.68.
  2. Teoscar Hernández – The Blue Jays outfielder had a dandy day, going yard twice with three RBI as Toronto upended the Braves 4-1.
  3. Nelson Cruz – He’s nearly 41, takes “senior naps” on the daily, has the bat speed of a player half his age, and yesterday he belted his 9th home run of the season. He’s 74 shy of 500 career taters, and probably needs to play into 2023 to get there. I’m a believer.

Extra Innings

Justin Steele is as exciting to watch as Adbert Alzolay.

They Said It

  • “[Joc Pederson] has pulled his hands in well when they’re trying to pitch him in. He’s stayed on some lefties and taking some balls up the middle and the other way. It’s been a whole-field approach.”David Ross
  • “We are banged up. The grit and determination and the fight and how these guys approached really good pitching when we’re short-handed, I’ve been impressed with, to be honest with you. It’s been a positive sign. We didn’t come away with two wins and that’s what ultimately matters. But I would definitely say I like where we’re at.” – Ross

Thursday Walk Up Song

Judy in Disguise (With Glasses) by John Fred & His Playboy Band – I lost a good friend to suicide the other day and she’s going to be dearly missed, so this is my tribute to her. Aside from being one of the cooler women I’ve ever known, I never saw her when she wasn’t sporting a pair of rad sunnies and some trendy kicks.

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