The Taylor Family is taking an impromptu trip to an amusement park today, so I’m gonna go ride some coasters. It’ll still be a normal day around here, though.
- Mark Prior wrote a fascinating and wide-ranging piece at Sports Illustrated on his career, the perception of his standoffish personality, his post-playing days, and much more. It is a highly, highly recommended read.
- Perhaps of most interest to Cubs fans, Prior is adamant that he does not blame his manager with the Cubs, Dusty Baker, for working him too hard during his short, injury-plagued pitching career. “I don’t blame Dusty for what happened to me,” Prior writes. “I wouldn’t change a single thing that happened during that season — beyond us failing to bring a World Series Championship to Chicago, of course. No matter how many pitches I threw, I never asked to come out of a game — doing so would have been unthinkable.”
- I did feel like at the time – and, with apologies to Prior, who is much more entitled than I am to judge the situation, still feel it to some degree – Baker rode Prior and Wood too hard that year. Young players need the protection of a manager precisely because they’re not going to proactively protect themselves by asking to come out of a game. In 2003, Prior made 33 starts, and threw fewer than 100 pitches just four times. He exceeded 120 pitches 10(!) times. In his nine September and October starts, he never threw fewer than 110 pitches, and topped 130 pitches a whopping four times. Pitch count, alone, we now know, is a crude model for protecting pitchers, but even back then we knew that this was just ridiculous. Prior was incredible, physically impressive with a beautiful delivery, and he dominated hitters. So his manager rode him hard, nearly to the Cubs’ first World Series in 60 years. I think you can talk about that in a number of ways, and I absolutely respect the way Prior frames it.
- (One thing I’ve gotta say, though: Prior mentions the July 2003 collision on the basepaths with Marcus Giles as an injury issue that people forget when blaming Dusty Baker, but that’s actually something Cubs fans remember all too well. Specifically, we remember the image of Prior writhing on the ground in pain holding his right shoulder after a collision so forceful that it sent Giles to the hospital. And then we remember Dusty Baker sending Prior right back out to pitch the next inning.)
- Joe Maddon’s philosophy of extra rest, limited batting practice, etc., does not stop in August, but this is when you start to see the benefits from it (in theory). This ESPN piece gets into that a bit, and how the Cubs will keep getting other teams’ best for the rest of the season. Even as the Cubs aren’t fighting to overtake some other team, they are fighting to hold on to their comfortable playoff position. And that should be motivation enough.
- As part of his retirement gift tour, the Seattle Mariners gave David Ortiz … 34 pounds of fish?
- Former Cubs prospect Dan Vogelbach is still at AAA in that Mariners organization, but he must feel like he’s already getting the big league treatment facing the most extreme shift (non-9th-inning-walk-off-prevention-edition) I’ve ever seen.
- Heavy-duty grill gloves are 58% at Amazon for those of you who really like to shove your hands right in there when you’re grilling some brats, but are tired of grill marks on your hands.
- Not sure about the optics here … (I am poking the Mets, as there are no bad optics here):
— Anthony Rizzo (@ARizzo44) August 5, 2016
— David Ross (@D_Ross3) August 5, 2016
- Last night, the top 20 prospects in the Cubs system according to our Minor League Editor Luke Blaize dropped. Check it out if you missed it.
- A look at one of the many community events the Cubs host, which probably don’t get as much attention as they deserve: