Happy Friday, chums.
- In yesterday’s game, Kyle Schwarber hit a dramatic 3-run homer in the 7th inning to give the Cubs a lead they would not relinquish. Before that homer, Matt Szczur reached base on an unconventional dropped third strike, with which we had a lot of fun, especially because the Schwarber dinger had just gone out, and spirits were high:
File this under things you’ve never seen before … pic.twitter.com/zgr3eT8HP8
— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) April 6, 2017
- But, now that the lulz have worn off, should we be asking more serious questions about how exactly a quickly-moving baseball gets stuck to the front of a chest protector? There are two possibilities, in terms of the adhesion: either the ball stuck to a sticky substance, or the ball stuck to the architecture of the chest protector, itself. I rewatched a chunk of the game to see if Molina was going to that spot (i.e., to pass a substance on to the pitcher), and I didn’t see anything suspicious. Further, if it was pine tar or stickum, that was an especially sticky section to get the ball to stick THAT firmly even though it was coming in at 90mph and bouncing with spin. That’s not to say it’s not possible – or that Molina didn’t have a sticky substance all over the protector to help block pitches.
- On the best look I could get, I’m not sure it’s a substance or a damaged spot on the gear:
FWIW, I didn't see Molina going to this spot on a rewatch of several at bats. Also looks more like a damaged spot than substance. pic.twitter.com/Do4CfWQ4q6
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) April 7, 2017
- So, then, is it possible there was a damaged spot on Molina’s chest protector that simply caught a seam on the baseball? I say yes, it’s possible. If you want to go back into conspiracy mode and say Molina left the damaged spot there so that he could scuff the ball, that’s your prerogative, but I won’t go that far. In the end, I can’t say I know what happened from the visual evidence, but I’m not sure it was anything nefarious.
- As for Molina, he was asked after the game if he had a substance on his gear, and he told ESPN: “Do I put anything on my chest protector? No. That’s a dumb question.” Molina is right that it’s a dumb question in the sense that he’d be dumb to answer it honestly if he did put stuff on his gear. But obviously it’s a pretty fair question if Molina is trying to get some kind of illicit advantage. (And if he was, maybe the best revenge for the Cubs was living well – and they did, scoring four runs in the inning after the ball got stuck.) Molina’s manager Mike Matheny said he had no idea how it happened, and a couple Cubs offered that catchers putting sticky stuff on their gear is a common practice (ESPN).
- An aside: I actually don’t have a problem with pitchers using substances to help them grip the baseball. So many do it with their sunscreen or a pine tar mix, and if it helps them command their pitches … shrug, I say so be it. I’d rather that than pitchers always out there occasionally letting pitches fly because they couldn’t get a grip. A catcher, however, passing on a substance or using it on his gear to block pitches? I’d have to think about that one.
- Still can have a little fun:
- After the game, Schwarber referenced his lucky horseshoe, so that should probably become a thing (CSN). He also said that the team celebrated him making it through three games healthy this year (Tribune).
- Kris Bryant’s rough start continues, but at least he’s in good company:
Here's a weird coincidence. From Elias: The last reigning MVP (Kris Bryant) to start 0-13 or worse at the plate? Ryne Sandberg in 1985.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 6, 2017
- We get to see Brett Anderson make his Cubs debut tonight. If all is going right, he’ll be giving up some hits – mostly singles – but getting a ton of groundballs. They won’t all find holes.
- Yesterday, I wrote about those concerning Jake Arrieta velocity readings, and, because of the timing of my day, I had to publish it during the game. No, I was not trying to bury it, heh. So here it is again if you missed it.
- Miscellaneous TV-viewing note: although in-market streaming is now available for Cubs fans in Chicago who have CSN (i.e., you can stream the CSN games to your devices if you have a cable/satellite subscription that includes CSN), it is not yet available *OUT* of market, even if you have CSN. This shouldn’t impact too many people – folks traveling on business would be the big one, I’d guess. I’m told by CSN that the hope is to have out-of-market ability by midseason.
- As Luke noted in the Minor League Daily, there were a number of great pitching performances in Iowa’s season opener, including a three-strikeout inning from Pierce Johnson, and a solid first start by Eddie Butler.
- Tim Tebow made his minor league debut yesterday and, in his first at bat … he hit a home run. Seriously. Because of course he did.
- I mentioned above about pitchers getting a good grip on the ball? This college pitcher might want to try something new out, as he threw what might be the wildest wild pitch I’ve ever seen. Yes, worse than Adam Wainwright’s the other day.
- A plug for our Bears site – with the NFL Draft just a few weeks away, get yourself some BN-level Bears coverage by not only visiting The Ten-Yard Line, but also like it on Facebook: