Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

happy cubs old logoAlmost fifty years after Sandy Koufax, arguably the best left handed starter in history, pitched a perfect game against the Cubs, Cole Hamels, another lefty, pitched a no-hitter. So, out of curiosity I took a look at their Baseball Reference pages. The results contained a few of those odd coincidences that seem to happen all the time in baseball.

Koufax was born on December 30. Hamels was born on December 27.

Koufax went to high school on the East Coast (Brooklyn), and played (for most of his career, anyway) on the West Coast (Los Angeles).

Hamels went to high school on the West Coast (San Diego), and has played his entire career (to date, anyway) on the East Coast (Philadelphia).

Koufax, in his career, only shutout the Phillies once (and the Phillies are the only team he shutout just once). Hamels has one shutout against the Dodgers.

Koufax pitched his final game against Philadelphia.

And there were a few more as well. Completely meaningless, but interesting nonetheless.

After the weekly survey of the standings, we’ll take a quick look at an equally meaningless but even stranger story that comes straight out of the Cubs’ farm system.

Standings Watch

Iowa : 52-48, 3rd place.

Iowa has now lost five games in a row and fallen four a half games behind Omaha for second place. They remain nine and a half back of first place Oklahoma City.

The Cubs will need to break out of this skid while on the road, because they don’t return to Iowa for the rest of the month. They remain in Memphis until Monday, then travel to Nashville until Friday, and then it is on to Colorado Springs.

Here’s hoping Baez has made it back to the I-Cubs before they visit the baseball launching pad known as Colorado Springs.

Tennessee : 12-16, 3rd place.

The Smokies are still seven and a half games behind first place Birmingham, but they have been unable to make up much ground lately. The fact that they are seven games under .500 on the road in the second half doesn’t help matters any.

After today’s game against Chattanooga, the Smokies return to the road to face Montgomery. They’ll be back home to start a huge five games series against Birmingham in a week.

Myrtle Beach : 15-15, 3rd place.

After streaking up the standings, the Pelicans are now streaking the other way. They have lost four straight and are back into a tie for second in the division, two and a half behind Winston-Salem. They also recently shipped two of their key bats on up to Tennessee, so it will be interesting to see how their offense responds in the coming days.

This week includes a homestand against Carolina and Potomac, followed by a trip to Frederick. I’ll be doing everything I can to make one of those games in Frederick next weekend. Details to come once I know which one.

South Bend : 16-14, 2nd place.

The Cubs are in the playoff hunt. Right now they stand in a three way tie for second, one and a half games behind West Michigan. At 8-5 they have the best road record of any team in their division, but they remain a game in the red at home. They’ll stay that way a little longer; this team is not at home all week.

They wrap up a trip to West Michigan (and go for the sweep) this afternoon. The roadtrip then continues on Tuesday as they venture to Great Lakes, and then to Dayton. If you can make it out to see this team as it travels around the Midwest, you will also get to see first round pick Ian Happ.

Eugene : 17-19, 3rd place

Going into Saturday’s contests, Eugene had already been eliminated from first half division title contention. They trailed Hillsboro by four games and the first half ends today. That means, starting Monday, the records reset and the Emeralds will have a chance to secure a playoff slot with a second half division title.

They open the second half with a home series against Boise, and then hit the road for Spokane.

Arizona : 13-13, 2nd place (tie)… sort of

The Cubs entered Saturday with the above record and having been eliminated from the first half title chase. I think, though, that their actual record starting Saturday may have been 0-0. The second half of the season starts this weekend, but I’m not sure which day (and the league playoff procedures aren’t much help).

They will start the second half with games against the Brewers and Diamondbacks, including a double header on Monday. The Angels and Giants will round out the month and escort them into August.

Minor League Strangeness

I’ve been puzzling over what to do with this story for a few days now, and I’m pretty sure the correct answer is “not much”. But, after a rough couple days in the majors, I figured we could use a little bit of something completely different.

Anthony Giansanti, one of the greatest Twitter follows in minor league baseball today, drew a fair bit of the national spotlight this week when various publications learned that he had left a ticket at the Iowa box office for UFC’s Ronda Rousey.

If you follow Giansanti on Twitter, this would come as no surprise. This guy manages to be as entertaining, eccentric, and unexpected off the field as he is versatile on it. (Seriously, he has played every position. All of them. Including pitcher and catcher.) And along the way he has been a fan favorite at every ballpark where I have watched him play.  Leaving a ticket for a famous athlete he has never met (and probably never will) probably doesn’t even register on the top ten strangest things he has done since joining the Cubs’s system.

But a national media looking for something unusual to splash across the headlines picked up on it, and I’ll let tell the tale of the massive amounts of articles that ensued. Suffice to say if you can think of a website that has any sort of a passing familiarity with sports, Giansanti was probably written up in it.

I suspect stories like this are happening all the time in the minors, simply due to the high level of abnormal that is normal for minor league baseball, but Giansanti was the one lucky enough to be spotted. And maybe that’s a good thing. There might be a few of you out there who aren’t following this guy on Twitter, and this might be your chance to stop missing out.  I guess that’s a silver lining of sorts.

After all, how can you go wrong with a guy who tweets like this after the All-Star game?

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