Although I was not super on board with the season premier, I’ve been very pleased with the second two episodes of ‘Game of Thrones,’ including last night’s installment. There hasn’t been much, if anything, that has surprised me this season (which, in some ways, is itself surprising, since the show is now past the books and could be doing anything, in theory), but I’ve enjoyed the execution.
Relatedly, with a hat tip to G on Twitter, this is a freaking hilarious version of the ‘GOT’ intro if the show was on in the ’90s and had been taped on VHS.
- After yesterday’s incredible series-capper, the Chicago Cubs stand at an equally incredible 24-6 to start the season. Their lead in the NL Central is 7.5 games over the Pirates, and they’re up a full 10 games in the loss column over the Cardinals. If the Cubs go .500 the rest of the way, they will still win 90 games. At an .800 winning percentage, the Cubs lead all of baseball by more than 100 points (the White Sox, incidentally, have the second best record in baseball, at a .688 clip). The team is on pace for 130 wins, which won’t happen (right? … with this team, I can’t help but hesitate momentarily), but an incredible – word of the day – 110+ wins is becoming a very real possibility.
- And how about the week the Cubs just had, when you look back? The team went into Pittsburgh without Jason Heyward and Miguel Montero (to say nothing of Kyle Schwarber, who is out for the year) and comfortably swept the Pirates and three not-all-that-competitive games. Then, the Cubs took on team with the second-best record in baseball for four at Wrigley, had to come back late in a couple of the games, had to lean heavily on all corners of the roster in the final two games, and ultimately won all four. That’s a week’s worth of sweeps over two of the best teams in baseball. Is some of it flukey and doesn’t necessarily prove that the Cubs are the best team in baseball? Sure. But I didn’t need that week to already know this was the best team in baseball. The incredible week simply put a stamp on it.
- Circling back to yesterday’s extra-innings win. Jake Arrieta was not at his best, though with a better bounce or a more consistent strike zone, he probably could have gone another inning or two and giving up a run or two fewer. We were already talking about it long before this start, so it’s squarely on the radar now: although Arrieta’s stuff and velocity appear to be as good as ever, he hasn’t been able to consistently locate and command all of his pitches in a given start for a little while now. The stuff and the velocity allow him to do that and still be very successful, but it’s going to occasionally lead to shorter, less successful outings like yesterday. Longer-term, though, I still don’t think there’s any reason for concern.
- A shoutout to the Super Utility Pitchers of the Cubs’ bullpen, three of whom (Trevor Cahill, Adam Warren, and Travis Wood) combined to throw six scoreless innings in relief of Arrieta. And, hey, maybe Justin Grimm – who was, you’ll recall, a starter until coming over to the Cubs – will join their ranks, as he, too, threw a couple scoreless innings.
- (On the Bryce Harper strategy and that side of things, I’ll have much more soon.)
- A terrifying moment early in the game, as Dexter Fowler took a pitch off the hand/wrist, and it sounded and looked sufficiently bad that Joe Maddon came sprinting out of the dugout (VIDEO). Fowler went into the clubhouse with the trainer once he was off the bases, but he stayed in the game (later doubled), and seemed to be OK. Still, sometimes there is some post-game swelling and/or soreness, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him get an extra day of rest at some point this week. Fowler’s been crazy good so far this year (including on defense), so nobody’s looking to see him miss time.
- God I love Hector Rondon’s face in these shots, because he’s done this before and you can’t fake it:
A picture's worth a thousand words. pic.twitter.com/3H4XEyiA4s
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 8, 2016
- I would like to know the filter you used and then name it the “Wrigley is Gorgeous at Night” filter:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 9, 2016
- If you missed anything this weekend, catch yourself up here. Lots of great analysis this weekend from Michael, Luke, and Luis.
- The latest Series Review for the Cubs’ sweep: