Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

eloy jimenez homerMy uncle Tom was a baseball lover from his earliest days. Grandpa played on the Navy’s baseball team, and he passed that passion and talent on to Tom, who was a great pitcher from a young age. At family gatherings, if you wanted to find someone to throw a ball around, Tom was always ready.

I will remember Tom in a dozen other ways and for a hundred other reasons, but Tom the baseball player is on my mind as I head up to his funeral today. Tom passed away over this past weekend, as I was in Chicago for the NLDS. I’ll be heading up to Toledo today to visit with the family and remember the best moments before going back to Chicago for the start of the NLCS. It’s probably just something I tell myself, and Tom certainly passed too soon, but it feels appropriate for this process – for me, personally – to be bookended by baseball.

Logistically, just so you’re aware, this means I’ll be in and out today. Michael will have the mic for most of the day, so treat him well.

  • Speaking of which, Michael will have a Playoff Miscellany for you in a bit, which will get more into the game, but an obvious note up front: the Dodgers beat the Nationals last night, so they’ll be coming to Wrigley Field tomorrow to face the Cubs. I think the Nationals were a better match-up overall for the Cubs, but, at the same time, that Dodgers pitching staff sure has been used heavily at this point. Clayton Kershaw (he of the long-term back injury this year) started twice in the five-game series AND closed the game out last night. He is saying he’ll be ready to start Game Two of the NLCS on Sunday, but boy that’s such a huge strain that you have to wonder if even Kershaw would wear down. The Dodgers are going to want him to go in Game Two, and then again in Game Five or Six, and then probably out of the bullpen at the end of the series if it comes to that.
  • Also, as tough as the Dodgers are as a match-up for any team, keep in mind that they have to beat THESE Cubs four times in seven games to win the series. How many times did the Cubs even lose four of seven games during the regular season? It’s so hard to do. (Rough count: outside of that one ugly stretch before the All-Star break when they were completely worn down, the answer is four times.) We’ll see. Again: more on the NLCS soon.
  • The Cubs will probably decide on their roster and rotation today (, though it’s possible we won’t hear the final word until tomorrow.
  • Over in prospect action, you’re going to want to see what top Cubs prospect Eloy Jimenez did yesterday in the AFL:

  • Routine groundout? Not quite. Note first how quickly the ball gets to the third baseman, and how he barely manages to handle the ball back into and through his own legs. That’s because Jimenez hit the ball 119.4 freaking miles per hour:

  • With the Cubs moving on to the NLCS, I’m reminded of what I wrote after the Mets completed last year’s sweep. It was something of a cathartic writing, to move on from a series that was such a complete and surprising shut down of the joyful feelings that had been building. I’m not sure how well it was received at the time, since we were all down in the dumps, but maybe it’s a better read now that the Cubs are on the doorstep again.
  • A very thorough piece from the Tribune on the Ricketts Family’s ownership of the Cubs.
  • Jason McLeod is with the Cubs for now and maybe for a good long while yet, but he’s still a top GM candidate (CSN).

  • Not everyone is a snapback fan, but dang that’s a snazzy looking Cubs hat. Only one left in stock, or so says Amazon.

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