The Wife came down with some sickness overnight, and the kiddos are all home for the break, which means it’s my duty today to keep them occupied and separated from mom so that they don’t also get sick. And, in the fleeting moments when I can get all three parked somewhere for a few minutes, I work.
Like these Bullets …
- MLB.com wrote up the top half-innings of the year, and what do you know? The Cubs get top billing! … for giving up 10 runs in the first inning to the Pirates in the final game of the first half. Remember that one? Jon Lester got absolutely blown up, and the Cubs fell to two games below .500. If the Cubs had stumbled coming out of the All-Star break, there was a chance – admitted by Theo Epstein – that the Cubs could have become sellers later that month. As it stood, the front office took a huge swing and added Jose Quintana, and the Cubs rocketed to six straight wins after the break, shrinking their NL Central deficit from 5.5 games to just 1.5. A series win in St. Louis after that, and the Cubs were tied atop the NL Central standings, and they would never fall behind again.
- Want to watch that first inning? It’s safe now. It can’t hurt you:
- The Cubs actually show up three more times on the list, twice for the absurd innings they gave up to the Brewers (the September 9 game better known for Jimmy Nelson’s injury) and the Cardinals (the July 21 loss where the Cubs were clinging to a one-run lead in the 8th … and gave up 9 runs). But the one time the Cubs are on there for a good reason is the best one of all: the fifth inning of the decisive Game Five of the NLDS, when the Cubs scored four ridiculous runs off of Max Scherzer, and never gave up the lead from there.
- Hardball Talk is running through the top 25 MLB stories of the year, and they’ve only reached 19 as of this writing, but I’m already like “oh yeah, that happened!” For example, I forgot that the Adam Jones, racial epithets at Fenway Park thing was this year. Sadly, it feels like something that should have only happened many years ago, but, well, here we are. I definitely did not forget number 19, the embarrassingly light punishment the Cardinals received for the hacking scandal. Others on the list so far include the Red Sox stealing signs with a watch, the Tigers unloading, the no-pitch intentional walk, and Disney buying MLB’s streaming arm. I’m sure more will be up by the time you’re reading this, so check them out.
- Ah, the annual tradition of dumping on advanced stats as part of the Hall of Fame voting process, as if it weren’t frustrating enough:
I'll try to say this nicely. The day I look at dWAR when doing my Hall of Fame ballot, to compare current players to inductees, is the day you'll know the Schulmans had the first known lobotomy in family history.
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) December 27, 2017
Tom Verducci on WAR: "A semi-junk stat." Tom Boswell: "Horse manure." Dave Kindred: "I want to waterboard the guy who invented it." Call those guys out-of-touch fossils and you truly don't get it.
— Bruce Jenkins (@Bruce_Jenkins1) December 27, 2017
- To be quite sure, I agree with anyone who says you can’t just use WAR as a proxy for Hall of Fame worthiness. To that end, Jenkins is right. But to throw it out completely when it’s another tool in the tool belt is, to me, both irrational and irresponsible. The same is true – again, for me – of any statistical measure we have available in making these weighty decisions.
- A bunch of Kindle books are on sale today for just $2.99. I also noticed that Dave Kaplan’s Cubs book, “The Plan,” is just $9.99 on Kindle.