I missed this a couple days ago, but there’s a new teaser trailer for Season 6 of ‘Game of Thrones.’ Four more weeks.
- I see the grumblings. Some of the Cubs’ pitchers have had rough patches lately. Not all the bats are clicking at the same time. The Cubs are losing a lot of Cactus League games. My response to these things is a consistent, and perhaps frustrating for some of you, hearty shrug. Wins and losses don’t concern me at all in the Spring, and the other stuff seems like a lot when you collect it, but so much of it is explainable by the nature and environment of Spring Training and the tiny sample sizes. I’m just not worried. For those of you who are, however, I want to turn your attention to this SCardenfreude article about the “Cardinals enduring spring of discontent.” As Derrick Goold writes, and you probably haven’t noticed, it’s been a rough Spring Training for the Cardinals, who’ve won just twice in their last 14 games, are dealing with a number of minor injuries, and have a group of veterans all trying to get into a rhythm despite erratic playing schedules. The team, according to Goold, has had an unusually large number of meetings, including some that have gotten “pretty raw.” The feel Goold communicates is pretty unpleasant, much more somber than what we’ve seen from Cubs camp, even as the Cubs deal with various things. So, that is all to say: if you’re bumming about the Cubs right now, stop. But if you absolutely must, at least take heart in knowing that other NL Central competitors are dealing with their own malaise. (Also take heart in the fact that the Cardinals are probably missing Jason Heyward and John Lackey.)
- Speaking of the mood at Cubs camp: although everyone sees the crazy gimmicks this spring, the Cubs are still very much focused on their work. Sahadev Sharma writes about the possible perception disconnect between the fun, light-hearted stories we see about mimes and baby bears and motor scooters, and the actual work that’s going on to prepare for the season. Among Jed Hoyer’s comments: “I think what people see is what happens during stretch. The reality is in our actual clubhouse all our players and coaches know that we’re a defending third-place team. I think as a result there’s a lot hunger and humility. Over the last five years, we haven’t finished ahead of the Cardinals, we haven’t finished ahead of the Pirates.” Given the projections and expectations and attention, you’re probably going to see more and more “third place” messaging coming from the Cubs. And, of course, it is true: the Cardinals and Pirates have utterly dominated the Cubs in recent years. It’s up to this team to actually turn that around on the field.
- You’ll want to read this profile on Kris Bryant and his father from ESPN the Magazine.
- The lead for Sports Illustrated’s Cubs season preview: “‘They’ve sent in they’re ring sizes already,’ says a scout for a rival team. ‘I don’t even know why we’re playing the season!’ He’s being sarcastic, but not entirely.” Shrug. The best part of the preview is in the section on the reasons why the Cubs might not win this year, noting that they might have only the NL’s fourth best pitching staff. Nooooooo!
- I enjoyed this read from Jesse Rogers on the Cubs’ “sophomores”, the challenges they’ll face, and the uncommon maturity they bring to the equation.
- The “towel drill” (employing the throwing motion with a towel in your hand instead of a baseball) became something of an infamous punchline in the days of Mark Prior, but Hector Rondon is a big fan (Tribune).
- David Ortiz is both outspoken and comfortably celebratory on the field, so you can probably guess his response to the idea that players should not flip bats or have outbursts on the field. He had a whole lot to say on the topic, with plenty of expletives, but the essential message was: if you don’t like a player flipping his bat on a homer, get that player out next time. That’s not the reason I’m pro-celebrations (for me, it’s simply … who cares? Enjoy the game if you’re feeling it in the moment), but I don’t disagree with him.
- Struggling with a gift to give someone (or an ad for the Bullets)? How about an Amazon gift card?!
- Although Fox RSNs worked out an in-market streaming deal with MLB last year, we’ve been waiting on others (like, for example, CSN, which carries more than half of the Cubs’ games) … maybe good news looms for those of you who subscribe to CSN and want to be able to stream Cubs games:
FOX RSNs are in, Comcast very close. Working on DTV(ROOT Sports) and Indy carriers. https://t.co/7MmOfe9Nci
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) March 29, 2016
- Joey Votto had a weird weekend, but it’s fun. Also fun (when there’s no injury): another catcher plunked his own pitcher in the head on a throw to second.
- A mini-catch-up on the biggest bits from yesterday:
- Ben Zobrist has lots of praise for him middle-infield-mate, and I love the talent up the middle.
- Woo hoo, Jake Arrieta is good to go for Opening Day, and the rotation is set.
- Good news on Dexter Fowler’s side, questions still on Javy Baez’s thumb.
- Michael dug in on a bunch of batted ball data, which tells you a lot about the types of hitters the Cubs have.
- The Cubs’ outfield fares well in power rankings … well, except one spot.
- Spencer Patton was dominant this Spring, but he won’t make the big league club.
- The latest episode of Limited Range from me and Sahadev Sharma.
- The Cubs spent big internationally last year.
- And the Cubs tied the Angels yesterday, which is not a loss.