Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

john lackey cardinals‘Paranoid Android’ came on my radio this morning, and I was reminded just how good ‘The Bends’ and ‘OK Computer’ were, especially back-to-back. I know many folks who are crazy into Radiohead believe their creative peak came later, but, for me, I’d put that back-to-back record set up there with anyone else’s back-to-back offerings. Just brilliant stuff throughout.

  • Patrick Mooney writes about the Cubs’ additions from a clubhouse perspective, which is a good read, and includes this quote from Theo Epstein on John Lackey, whom I know some Cubs fans are eager to dislike for their own reasons: “There’s this misconception about Lackey in some circles, from fans and [seeing] him from across the field. But I can tell you he’s a beloved teammate and a leader in any clubhouse — and really takes charge of a starting staff with workouts and camaraderie and leadership.” As an outsider, and as a fan of an opposing team who saw him only on the field, Lackey generally struck me as a gruff, self-serious type on the field, who could not always contain his competitive outbursts … none of which is necessarily a criticism. I think he may be a different type of player than some Cubs fans are used to, but I also know that the front office and the coaching staff knows him well, and feels like – in addition to his actual pitching performance – he’s a good fit for this particular team and this point in time.

  • A variety of personalities is not a bad thing in the clubhouse, as long as it all works together. Certainly, when you see how successful the Cubs were in 2015, and how dang fun-loving, it does make you a little nervous to see too much turnover. But this front office chooses its imports very carefully, and you have to remember that the core that’s already in place, as well as the coaching staff, will set the tone. Adding a competitive, been-there-done-that veteran like Lackey (and Ben Zobrist, and even a younger been-there guy like Jason Heyward) could be good fit for a younger, less-experienced team.
  • He keeps coming up in rumors and it’s easy to say that he hasn’t put it together at the big league level offensively, but Jorge Soler has probably been better than you think – Matt Trueblood notes that although Soler’s career big league line is .268/.325/.433, but when you include playoff stats, it raises to .276/.338/.460. Since it’s all small sample anyway, and since playoff games are as competitive as regular season games in terms of evaluating results, it’s not like including playoff stats skews Soler’s performance unfairly if all you’re trying to do is evaluate how good he’s been. Also, Soler is still just 23 years old, and barely played any competitive baseball between 2010 and 2012, and then barely played any healthy minor league ball, and then reached the big leagues in 2014 at 22.

  • The Cubs’ popularity in Chicago ticked back up in 2015 for the first time in years according to Crain’s, though they remain only the fourth major sports team in Chicago in terms of popularity (based on what percentage of Chicagoans watched or attended at least one game in a given season), behind the Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls. I suspect the Cubs will see their numbers spike dramatically in 2016, but there’s a long way to climb – at 44% now, the Cubs are far behind the near 55% mark they were seeing back in 2010. (Note, though, that the data ended in August, so it could be – and probably is – even stronger for the Cubs.)
  • Buster Olney writes about the Cubs’ additions and the seeming urgency to win now.
  • David Ross was on MLBN Radio discussing the Jason Heyward courtship and addition.
  • Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper are getting ceremonial keys to Las Vegas.
  • Cut4’s random wacky baseball awards includes Bryant netting Best Eyes, because duh.
  • Looking at Cubs collectibles on Amazon, I saw a category titled “personal checks.” That’s … different.

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