Off-days sure feel a lot better when they come after a Cubs win, don’t they?
- With yesterday’s tense win locked up, the Cubs won this week’s series against the Cardinals 2-1, which is notable not only because that’s two series wins in St. Louis already this season for the Cubs, but also because they’ve now won five straight series – include the NLDS – against the Cardinals, and haven’t lost one since last June. I won’t say the shoe is on the other foot after years and years of Cardinals dominance, but I will say it’s as clear as it’s ever been that there is no special psychological power that the Cardinals hold over the Cubs. These are two good teams that can play good games, and the Cubs can win a lot of them. So far this year, the Cubs have, and they now have an 8.0 game lead on the Cardinals – or 3.5 games more than the Cardinals had on the Cubs at this point last year.
- As for the road trip the Cubs just concluded, how about the way things turned – for you, I mean – in those final two games? At 4-5, it was not a great trip, overall, for the Cubs. But I suspect you, like me, feel a lot better now than you would have if the wins and losses had been organized in another way. Part of that is the importance of beating division rivals, of course, but part of it is also just the internal recency bias we all have. Like I said before these last two wins, the Cubs were never playing all that bad, even during their 4-8 stretch, so that helps, too.
- Apropos of nothing (I guess Luke and I happened to have the same random “hey, remember amateur player acquisition?” triggers this morning): the current international signing period ends very soon (June 15; there is then a quiet period of no signings until the next IFA year opens up on July 2), so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn of another Cubs signing or two in the coming weeks. You’ll recall, there are a huge number of intriguing and available Cuban prospects still out there, and the Cubs are in the maximum penalty range already. That means they can sign elite prospects (i.e., guys who’ll cost more than $300,000) until June 15, and then not again for two years (unless the next CBA (hey, did you forget that the CBA is expiring this year?) retroactively changes the rules). You’d love to see the Cubs land a big arm or two.
- I am an unabashed Puma fan (in this instance, I mean the brand, but I suppose the large cats are cool, too), and some of their gear is a Deal of the Day at Amazon today.
- A hilarious (fake) oral history of the 1998 home run race.
- Hey, let’s talk for a minute about that Yadier Molina hit by pitch yesterday, which came in a big moment, too, as the Cardinals were threatening to score in the 5th inning:
Yadier Molina totally accidentally hit by this Jake Arrieta curveball. pic.twitter.com/0u2hJlS34L
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) May 25, 2016
- Here’s the thing: by rule, that’s not a hit by pitch. Some may not know, but the rules require not only that a pitch hit you, but also require that you actually make an attempt to get out of the way of the pitch if at all possible. At a minimum, Molina did no such thing on a slow, spinning curveball that could have easily been avoided. And, of course, at a maximum, he pretty obviously stuck his padded elbow out to get hit. That should have simply been called a ball. None of that is especially controversial, since the rule is clear, and Molina’s action/inaction was equally clear.
- What’s more interesting to discuss, in my opinion, is what we think about the rightness or wrongness of Molina doing that. If a Cubs player did it and got first base, I think 99% of Cubs fans would say it was a savvy move, and why not take a shot at it? The risk is minimal (especially on a slow curve with a padded elbow), and the upside is pretty huge. I think I have no beef with what Molina did. I just think the home plate ump really blew the call – yes, it’s rarely called, but it’s also rarely that obvious.
- A very nice and sweet video of Jake Arrieta talking about his family and playing catch with his son – it’s a Father’s Day thing, and it tugs at me in just the right way (The Little Girl and I have wiffle ball practice tonight, after all):
- That video is part of Arrieta’s deal with SAXX underwear – you didn’t forget that Arrieta is not only awesome, but also an underwear model, did you? – which sent me a few sample pairs to try out, so I’m pretty much Jake Arrieta now. I’ve been wearing them primarily when I work out because they … well … help, uh, secure … I do a lot of running and jumping when I work out, and so … you see, the … I’ll just say they’re extremely comfortable, especially in that context.
- And speaking of awkward but legitimate groin-related conversations: a fun read at ESPN on Cubs players’ position on wearing a cup. I took a grounder to the boys back in high school when I *was* wearing a cup, and it still set me down for a good long while. Heck, now that I’ve got kids who love to kick and punch (playfully), there have been half a dozen times I wished I was wearing a cup in my daily life.
- Cubs players, including Jorge Soler, made themselves some binoculars yesterday:
"That's right. Unhappy Cardinals fans as far as the eye can see." pic.twitter.com/OwMKdGx4Ps
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) May 25, 2016