Finally. I fell to my knees, arms extended to the sky in celebration. As joy and relief washed over me, I was overcome with a powerful urge to kiss the court. So I did. The dirty, gritty ground satisfied my lips as meaningfully as my first awkward kiss as a dorky 12-year-old.
I have been playing tennis against my friend Chris for some two years now, and, while we aren’t as unevenly matched as the record would indicate, I’d never beaten him in a single set. Not once. Lately, I’ve gotten closer and closer – we even went to a tie-break last time out – but, as I’ve mentioned here before, I’m something of a sports-mental-midget, and I would get too inside my own head to close things out.
Well, last night, thanks in part to some struggles on his part, and also thanks to an improving service game, I did it. I won 6-3, and it was my greatest sports accomplishment since being named a Junior Olympic alternate bowler some 16 years ago. And somewhere, Queen plays softly in the distance …
- In speaking to the media yesterday, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer tied the Darwin Barney DFA directly to the arrival of, and need to play, Arismendy Alcantara. “It’s time for ‘Mendy’ to play,” Hoyer said, per Cubs.com. “He’ll play second, he’ll play center. I think he’ll be in the lineup every day. One of the things we feel strongly about is that when we do bring guys up, they’re here to play. We’re not going to bring up these guys who are part of our future to share time on the bench.” If I wasn’t already pretty sure Hoyer had a future in this GM’ing thing, I’d say he could do well in coming up with Cubs fan phrases on Twitter: “Itttttttt’s MENDY TIME!”
- If you missed Alcantara’s serious display of power last night, you can see it here. He has such a direct path to the ball on his swing, and it has good speed … but I still don’t know how he generates so much easy power.
- Hoyer spoke on Javier Baez, too, refusing to tip his hand on whether the move to second base implied a promotion later this year. Instead, Hoyer focused on how impressive Baez’s turnaround has been: “We’re proud of what he has done this year,” Hoyer told the Tribune. “In some ways, it has been ideal for him. He really struggled in April and in May a bit. He has built on every single month until the last three to four weeks, he has been outstanding. And hopefully we’ll continue to see that trajectory. But in the minor leagues, you want to see guys finishing strong and conquer that level, and his trajectory and ability to fight though a difficult start has been really impressive.” That sounds great to me. Maybe more than any other prospect, Baez stood to gain from experiencing some deep struggles at AAA. He’s fought through that, and, while you wouldn’t say his pitch recognition issues are behind him, it is fair to say he’s improved, adjusted, and succeeded.
- It’s unclear, but C.J. Edwards may not pitch in an AZL Cubs game today, as previously indicated. This Cubs.com piece suggests he may instead throw a bullpen session … but this Tribune piece suggests he is going to appear in the game. I guess we’ll see what happens tonight (the Tribune piece is awfully specific, though, saying that Edwards is scheduled to throw 55 pitches/3 innings, so I’m going to lean toward that one). Either way, an Arizona Fall League appearance could be in Edwards’ future.
- Totally apropos of Hoyer’s Alcantara comments, here’s Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on why top prospect Oscar Taveras is with the big team, but hardly ever playing (per StlToday.com): “We all just got to that point in realizing that …. everybody knows we need to do what we need to win the game. We’re not here for development.” To his credit, Matheny went on to explain that it’s a tricky balance between getting a guy enough at bats, winning at the big league level, and keeping a player who’s already dominated AAA challenged. It’s not quite SCardenfreude, but the “We’re not here for development” quote is a good buzz line.
- Yes, these gotcha-on-the-street things are a little unfair, because folks instinctually try to people-please, but they can also be awfully funny. Here are some Cubs fans expressing their love for Cubs prospects … who don’t exist.
- Excellent musician Jack White was at the game last night, and he may have offered the most meme-able Cubs-related picture in recent memory:
Is that Jack White pic.twitter.com/m94sBgqmxT
— Torque Penderloin (@AndrewCieslak) July 23, 2014
- You can imagine the possibilities there. Cubs screw up? Jack White is angry. Cubs don’t promote a guy you wanted to see promoted? Jack White is angry. The Wrigley renovation is delayed again? Jack White is angry.
- If you missed the overnight/early morning stuff: Jorge Soler and Albert Almora have been promoted, and Mike Olt has been sent to AAA Iowa.