pirates bucketI’m headed to Chicago tomorrow so I can be there to take in some of the Nationals series. Good bet I’ll be there in the right field bleachers on Thursday and Friday if you are going to the games.

  • You may recall that, among many other extremely notable things from last year’s Wild Card Game between the Cubs and Pirates, there was some feistiness. The Pirates took exception to Jake Arrieta hitting two Pirates batters (unintentionally, obviously, because WILD CARD GAME), and Arrieta, himself, was plunked. Benches cleared, tensions rose, but ultimately the only casualty was a Gatorade cooler.
  • Fast forward to last night, the first rematch between the teams since that game, and, while I naively thought there would be no residual hostilities when you consider the situation, I suspect I was wrong. In the sixth inning last night, Jason Hammel inadvertently hit Starling Marte with a pitch (evidence that it was unintentional: Marte was leading off the inning in a four-run game, and the HBP got Hammel yanked from the game). The next inning, Pirates reliever Kyle Lobstein hit the very first Cubs batter he saw, Ben Zobrist, with the very first pitch he threw. The pitch was thrown behind Zobrist, right at his butt, and there was no question that it was intentional. The benches were warned, but I would have been in favor, considering everything, of seeing Lobstein (and maybe even Pirates manager Clint Hurdle) immediately tossed. I could not be more opposed to that kind of retaliation, which is something in which the Pirates engage too cavalierly. When Michael interviewed former Cubs catcher John Baker about retaliation last year, he alluded to this kind of thing.


  • I’m glad Zobrist was OK. I’m glad Joe Maddon shouted out for his player. And I hope the Cubs do not do any retaliating of their own today. I understand the idea of protecting your guys, but it’s just so freaking dangerous – not just for the other team, but for your own, because plunking begets more plunking. Just let the Pirates look like jerks in this situation – because they do – and move on.
  • Oh, and if you can get revenge with a little light trolling using the replay system, as Maddon did last night, then all the better (CSN).
  • Hammel said he was surprised to be pulled at 89 pitches in the 6th inning after that Marte HBP, by the way, but he admitted his command was a bit off (Tribune). Given the relative importance of the game, the early stage of the year, the well-rested bullpen, and the fact that Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester go the next two days, I think it was a good decision to pull Hammel when Maddon did.
  • Maddon told ESPN that the current themed road trip – the zany suits – is one of his best ever because of how well all the guys bought in. They even have to wear at least one part of their suit at all times on the trip when they’re out in public, otherwise they’re fined $100.


  • Matt Trueblood looks at the Cubs’ defense thus far, which has been performing at a historic level.
  • Earlier, I checked in on the Cubs’ two outfield injuries, and where things might go from here. Luke’s got your Minor League Daily here.
  • Those new Polaroid instant print cameras are on sale today at Amazon. I don’t have one, but I have some family members that do, and I have to admit, I was surprised by how fun they are. I call them “new,” because this iteration is new, but of course the idea of instant-printed Polaroid pictures is quite old. And that’s exactly why I thought, in the era of cell phone cameras and unlimited space to get the perfect picture, doing the Polaroid thing wouldn’t be worth it. But we’ve had some fun at family parties with them, in large part because you get something tangible immediately. It’s old school, but it’s fun that way.
  • My favorite play from last night’s game was this one, and it gives me a reason to tell you to follow Baseball is Fun on Twitter:


  • Impressive stuff:


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