Last Sunday night, the Chicago Bears blew a huge lead against the Packers on the same day the Cubs finale in Washington was banged, forcing the team to lose their only off-day, Thursday, just before playing (and losing to) the Brewers.
Needless to say, it was a rough start to the week.
Chicago sports has been mean to me again this week. I don’t know why it keeps hurting me like this, I love it so much. Why won’t they love me back? I wish it were still 2016.
Despondent Cubs and Bears fan.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) September 11, 2018
But last night was completely different. The Bears won their second game of the season – and even stole the Cubs’ post-win disco ball dance party – and the Cubs not only won, they did it by more than one run, Kyle Hendricks looked dominant and nearly tossed a complete game, and Kris Bryant even launched his first homer in forever. It was a great start to the week.
Here’s some news from around the league …
- Don’t shoot the messenger, but the Brewers won again last night and Christian Yelich notched his second cycle of the season:
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) September 18, 2018
- Yelich now has 22.2% of the Brewers’ total cycles in franchise history, and he’s been with the team for less than one full season. And the funny thing is, he did both against the Reds, which is another record in and of itself:
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) September 18, 2018
- Yelich is now slashing an impressive .318/.385/.570 (154 wRC+), and has officially reached the 6.0 WAR mark. As far as the MVP race goes, I still believe Javy Baez should have the edge not only because of the plus defense he provides all over the infield, the elite base running, and all the other almost unquantifiable abilities and skills, but also because he has Yelich beat in a lot of important traditional categories, as well: homers, RBI, stolen bases. We’ll see. As much as I love Javy, I don’t think a second-place finish would be entirely out of the question, even if I’d disagree.
- Speaking of the NL MVP award, another theoretical candidate, Trevor Story, just had some very bad luck last night. If you missed it, Story left last night’s loss to the Dodgers with right elbow soreness, stemming from a diving stop and throw in the bottom of the first. I’m not sure how much of a threat to win the NL MVP he ever really was, but the Rockies’ chances of taking the West or getting a Wild Card spot just got a little tougher. We’ll find out more about how much time he’ll miss after some tests today.
- We had heard earlier this season (even after their sell-off) that the Nationals’ brass intended on keeping former Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez as manager for another season. According to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, that remains true. On that matter, Martinez received kind words from Daniel Murphy, Sean Doolittle, and Trea Turner, among others like Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer. Martinez may have had a rough year, but it sure sounds like he never lost that clubhouse. That’s very good and I hope he does better next season – when he’s not playing the Cubs.
- The Orioles lost their 107th game on Monday, tying their single-season team record low. And the 1988 club that finished 54-107? They started 0-21. This is a VERY bad Orioles team. Of course, it doesn’t help to be in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox. I mean, just look at these AL East standings:
- Red Sox: 103-47
- Yankees: 91-58
- Rays: 83-66
- Blue Jays: 68-82
- Orioles: 43-107
- The Orioles are 60(!!!) games out! Perhaps the Red Sox and Yankees will win so many games because the Orioles are so terrible, or perhaps the Orioles are so terrible because the Red Sox and Yankees have won so many games. Either way, this division is weird and unusual. And there is still drama. The Yankees aren’t going to pass the Red Sox, of course, but the A’s could over take them for the first Wild Card slot, moving the game from New York all the way out to Oakland. According to NBC, now is the time for the A’s to pass them.
- While we continue to focus on the fight between MLB and the players’ union, it’s worth remembering that Minor Leaguers are still fighting – in court – for fair pay. And now, they’re apparently considering unionizing to press the issue further. According to the Los Angeles Times, the maximum monthly wage for first-year players is $1,100. Again, that’s PER MONTH. Most of these guys did *not* get huge bonuses and very few of them will make it to the big leagues. They deserve – at least – minimum wage for the hours they work and to be paid throughout the entire year.
- Joel Sherman thinks the statistical revolution is killing the next generation of MLB fans, who are missing out on the classic stats that used to hold fan interest throughout the year. And while I can understand the motive and logic behind that claim, I just don’t agree. Perhaps my scope is too personal, but the statistical revolution is quite specifically the thing that drew me to the game in the first place (at least to the obsessive degree I follow it now and even before I started writing for Bleacher Nation).
- Bill Baer (NBC Sports) responded directly to that claim and shot it down. In Baer’s opinion, Sherman isn’t necessarily wrong for people his age … but every era is different. Every era of baseball brings with it new statistics to romanticize. It doesn’t necessarily matter which statistics were putting up on a pedestal as long as there’s something to strive for or achieve. I didn’t think that’s where I’d land on this side of the argument, but I can certainly understand that point – which is nice, because it doesn’t deflate the feeling Sherman is sharing. It just explains it.
- The Marlins and Phillies set an NL/MLB record, combining to use 15(!) pitchers in last night’s game who never came to the plate. Marlins Manager Don Mattingly didn’t really enjoy the distinction, though, and he’s right: “What we did today and really what they ended up doing, too, is something that really only happens in September and, quite honestly, shouldn’t be able to happen,” Mattingly said after the Marlins’ quirky 5-4 loss to the Phillies. “It’s too many guys. It’s not really regular baseball.” There are a WHOLE LOT of tangential issues attached to this particular thread (pace-of-play, roster decisions, competitiveness concerns, overuse of bullpens, etc.), so maybe we’ll pull on that another day.
- And finally, if you missed it, Tyler Austin flipped way the heck over the dugout for a catch and fell a long way down. It was pretty nuts and this picture of the aftermath does it justice:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) September 17, 2018