I am headed to Cincinnati today to watch the opener of the series between the Cubs and Reds – Happy Jake Arrieta Day to me! – so hopefully I’ll be able to get you some fun stuff from down there. And, if not, I’ll just enjoy me some baseball and Cincinnati chili (which is fantastic so long you as you understand it is a condiment – not actually “chili” – and should be used as such).
- The Cubs and Cardinals played a solid, competitive series this week in St. Louis, with each team showing – as much as a team can in a three-game set – that there is a foundation there with which games can be won this season, and leaving little doubt that they will be among the teams duking it out this year in the NL Central, as expected. It wouldn’t be Cubs-Cards without a little controversy, though, and among yesterday’s incidents, fans who were wearing Joe Maddon’s “Try Not to Suck” shirts were told they could not wear them to the game, which bemused Maddon. The word “suck” has apparently not been allowed at Busch for sometime as offensive, but now there might be a policy change coming. The thing is, I kinda get it from the Cardinals’ standpoint. You have to have a policy in place that covers a wide range of potential clothing and signs, because doing case-by-case could become really tedious and slow everyone down at the park. And, if you’re going to have a policy barring certain words, “suck” also kind of makes sense, since what team wants their fans to bring a bunch of “So-And-So SUCKS!” signs and hold them up all game long? On the other hand, Maddon’s shirt is for charity, and doesn’t actually have a vulgar expression on it. Here in 2016, I think we’re to the point that “try not to suck” is so far removed from any kind of offensive meaning that it should be allowed to slide everywhere.
- Speaking of offensive, Maddon added that he knows some of his “offensive” players haven’t quite been all that “offensive,” but will soon be “offensive.” (Tribune) Indeed, hopefully guys like Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist are offending opposing pitchers as soon as today.
- Obligatory praise for Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio over at the Tribune, with thoughts from Joe Maddon and Jake Arrieta. The Cubs’ pitching staff has been one of the best in baseball for years now, even as the personnel has changed, as well as the manager. The one constant during the Cubs’ long stretch of pitching success this decade? Chris Bosio. That’s not to say he, singularly, deserves all the credit for the Cubs’ pitching success, but he definitely deserves a whole lot of it.
- Pedro Strop and Javier Baez pranked Jorge Soler yesterday during the rain delay, which, alone, is worth noting for its light fun. But it’s what happened after the prank was revealed that has me still smiling.
- Speaking of Soler, the hopes for his improvement at the plate remain high, and the patience element remains in place for the coaching staff (CSN). I know we say it a lot, but it’s important to remember how little high-level pitching he’s had a chance to face consistently in his career – he’s got the professional experience level of an A-ball player, but he’s got to learn to recognize pitches at the big league level. The only way to get there is with reps – real, in-game, often-frustrating reps. Over time, as he’s shown in flashes before, I think that improvement will come. And once it does, he could turn into a monster.
- Kyle Schwarber is pulling for his team:
— Kyle Schwarber (@kschwarb12) April 20, 2016
- META: One more bit on Cubs/Cardinals offensive stuff – if you read the MLBits yesterday, you saw that the Cardinals, together with ESPN, conducted an investigation into whether racial taunts were hurled at Jason Heyward this week in St. Louis, and whether they were caught on an open mic, after accusations of that had blown up in all corners of the web. We didn’t cover the original “story” because (1) no one here at BN had actually heard the alleged audio, and (2) even if we had, and a stray a-hole had said something awful (and probably would have been ejected from the park in the process), I don’t like the idea of turning that situation – whether intentional or not – into a “hey, did you know Cardinals fans are racists?” thing. Which, of course, the internet being what it is, is exactly what that story became. (I got into that in more detail at the open of the last Limited Range podcast, which was recorded before the story had blown up on other outlets). The whole thing stinks, and I don’t think it reflects well on Cubs fans or the way these kinds of stories spread (a flaw in social media and traditional media, alike). Here’s a read from a Cardinals blog on how it happened, and, if you can get past the parts that, I think, are a little too accusatory of Cubs fans on the whole, I think it’s a good spotlight on how everyone can be too quick to sharpen their knives when they see an easy mark, especially when that mark is the Cardinals (and/or any other person or team with a large group of folks who don’t like them). If you’ll excuse a little preachiness here, I just think we can all stand to be a little nicer to each other, and not immediately assume the worst in people when it conforms to something you were hoping to believe. Ok. I’m set. Can we hug?
- Series Review for the Cardinals series, which the Cubs won 2-1 … so why is Brett crying in the thumbnail for the video? OMG don’t you want to know?!? Don’t you want to watch it and see, and then subscribe to BN’s YouTube channel? Yes, you do:
- If you missed anything yesterday, catch up:
- Jason Heyward’s wonderful arm.
- Bijan Rademacher continues to go off, and Gleyber Torres hit a long one.
- Kyle Schwarber is expected to make a full recovery.
- There’s a new outfield sign coming to Wrigley Field.
- Cubs pitchers have been humorously good at the plate.
- MLBits, including Rafael Palmeiro’s journey.
- The Cubs lost 5-3 to the Cardinals.