Hey, college football is back. For those who don’t know, I am a big Michigan football fan (my family is originally from Toledo, where Michigan fandom is pretty rampant, and my dad was a big UM fan), which has been fun to pull off for the last 12 years living in Columbus (and having gone to Ohio State for law school). It’s gotten to the point where I’ll confess that I pull for the Buckeyes in every other game except the big one. It’s pretty much impossible not to when you live here.
The real difficulty, though, has been maintaining the Michigan fandom in the post-kid years. The Wife and I have relatively crowded work schedules, which means that weekend afternoons wind up being prime real estate for family time.
Today, for example, we’re all walking to a street fair, and I’m going to miss the first half or so of the Wolverines’ opener. And I’m OK with that.
- Jon Lester completed his game yesterday in a zippy 102 pitches, allowing only that solo homer to Hunter Pence. A recent blazing hot stretch now has Lester’s ERA down to 2.61, fourth in the NL. He’s probably put himself into the mix in the extremely crowded Cy Young race, which is incredibly difficult to sort out (including among Lester’s own teammates, Kyle Hendricks (the ERA leader) and Jake Arrieta (the “wins” leader (which, I know … terrible stat, but it factors into the discussion)). All of Noah Syndergaard, Max Scherzer, Jose Fernandez, Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner, and Stephen Strasburg could stake a plausible claim to the award, too, at this point. I’m not sure I remember the last time you had upwards of nine legit contenders for the Cy Young this late in the season (as in, I could make the argument for all nine of them, and none would be a huge surprise; usually it’s down to four or five, tops, at this point). Heck, you could throw in Clayton Kershaw, even though he hasn’t pitched since June, because he’s still second in WAR. I think it’s really going to come down to how each of these pitchers perform here in September, and the non-Cubs, non-Nationals starters probably have a slight edge, since they are involved in tight races, where the attention will probably be more fixed.
- Speaking of that group: Arrieta faces Bumgarner today at Wrigley Field. Nice.
- And speaking of Lester’s great start yesterday, this is excellent:
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 2, 2016
- Fun read at FiveThirtyEight – the best teams in baseball if they had only the players they drafted/originally signed. The Cubs still lead the NL Central, and I suspect that Josh Donaldson and Kris Bryant are the majority of that. The best in baseball? The Red Sox, the bulk of which would have been accomplished during the Theo-Epstein-led era.
- Good work, Wrigley Field fans. Yesterday’s starter, Albert Suarez, says he couldn’t hear his teammates telling him to throw to third base on a sac bunt by Jon Lester in the third inning because the crowd was so loud (Cubs.com). Had he been able to throw out David Ross at third base on the play, the Cubs don’t score their second (and decisive) run in that inning.
- Addison Russell is one of the defensive players of the month, according to ESPN. His DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) rocketed up during the month of August, from solidly north of average all the way to 17, which ties him with Brandon Crawford for the most at shortstop in baseball (and second most in the NL overall, behind only Starling Marte). In other words, just a month ago, Russell was having a very good defensive year. Now? He should at least be in the conversation for the Gold Glove.
- Eight years of cancer remission for Anthony Rizzo.
- OK, fine:
— 104.3 The FAN (@1043TheFan) September 2, 2016
- The Cubs’ lineup is out, by the way, and all right-handed.
- This 2016 complete Topps Heritage baseball card set is 20% off for the next couple hours only at Amazon.