We’d planned to take the big kiddos to King’s Island yesterday as something of a last hurrah before school starts back up. Unfortunately, because of The Little Girl’s weekend-suffered elbow fracture, we had to scuttle that plan. But The Wife came through with a great backup: a couple hours away in eastern Ohio, you can do a safari-type tour at North America’s largest conservation center, The Wilds. The kids got to see animals up close in wide, open, natural environments, and even got an ostrich right in their face. They had a blast.
Bonus: the ride through the facility was far bumpier and more dramatic than any roller coaster they would have gone on anyway.
- Another loss for the Cubs last night, and they’re now just 2-5 in their last seven games. The Brewers also lost, but the Cardinals and Pirates continued their hot ways, each winning again. That means just 3.5 games separate all four teams in the NL Central, and things are truly wide open (in a supremely uncomfortable way). The Cubs are still the favorites on paper – in my view, by a reasonable margin – but with a race this tight, the “favorite” does not always win (hence playoff projections that would have the Cubs only in the 75% range … sometimes that other 25% is what actually happens).
- A win today against a terrible Giants team would go a long way to generating positivity heading into tomorrow’s off-day … but the Cubs face Madison Bumgarner. The nerves. I have them.
- The result is the result, but I can help but chuckle to myself – in a completely I’m-not-mad-online-you’re-mad-online way – when I see at ESPN’s Home Run Tracker that Buster Posey’s three-run homer last night (which came after a nothing ground ball and an error) was among the cheapest homers you’ll see. It was a pop fly that caught the wind, and caught the hands of a fan at the very edge of the wall. I still maintain that you can’t make that pitch to Buster Posey, but dang. That was about as unlucky as it gets.
- I love this read from Jesse Rogers on the rise of Willson Contreras, from a largely undiscussed prospect in 2014, to the Cubs’ top prospect in 2015, to a big-time contributor in 2016, to a borderline MVP candidate of late. Jason McLeod attributes a lot of the breakout to the experience Contreras had playing in the Venezuelan Winter League (their highest professional league) after the 2014 season.
- In what has become an annual tradition, folks from Ivy Envy and The Son Ranto Show host a celebration for John Baker Day, honoring the former Cubs backup catcher and his famous game from 2014 (come on, you know the one – he pitched the final inning and scored the winning run in the 16th inning). This year’s edition is on Saturday, August 19th. It’s at 11 am at the Nisei Lounge (the bar south of Wrigley Field on Sheffield – Wrigleyville’s oldest and best dive bar). Bonus: I’ll be going head to head against the man himself in a trivia contest. So if you want to see me take down John Baker, reserve your spot here (space is limited, proceeds go to charity).
- Joe Maddon does a great deal for his hometown in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, but apparently there are some in the community who aren’t to happy about comments he made in a recent interview, saying that they need to work together with the incoming immigrant population to help them integrate. Maddon used eye-catching language (“You have two options right here. Either you get on board and help us as we’re moving this thing along or you’re going to die.”), but his point seems both obvious and good-hearted to me: when a community sees a dramatic change in the population, the previously-existing pockets can adapt and progress, or they can fight and see that part of the community die off. A local editorial had the temerity to demand an apology from Maddon, who responded to CSN about the original interview: “If you watched the show in its entirety, it’s a really positive piece, and I think the message is 99.9 percent positive. So for those that misinterpreted the comments, I can’t even say I apologize for that, because there’s no ill intent involved.” Instead, Maddon explained it pretty clearly: “I’m really encouraging the people back home to become part of this positive movement. And understanding that if you choose not to, it’s still going to change anyway, even when you’re gone. That’s all I meant by that.”
- Joe West was finally suspended! But not for making stupifyingly bad calls:
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) August 9, 2017
- This could have been made an easier catch, but as it played out, it still looks absolutely crazy:
WHAT IN THE WORLD BILLY HAMILTON. pic.twitter.com/Ofz5QHKuHD
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) August 9, 2017
- Earlier, we talked about the injuries in the Cubs’ bullpen – hopefully nothing to be terribly concerned about.
- Big sale at Fanatics on Cubs Nike Gear – 25% off many beautiful things:
- Over at TYL, much like we see each year in Spring Training, there’s a bona fide camp superstar in the Bears’ wide receiver ranks. Also: the Bears DO have a Super Bowl shot, at least by the odds. A small shot.