Questionable Call, Injury-Tainted Defense, a Tie at the Top and Other Bullets

I know this place is something of an entertainment sanctuary from the intrusions of the real world, but it sure has been a very difficult two weeks to not say anything in this space about how disappointing it is to know that there are people in whom I have no trust and no faith speaking on my behalf as an American.

It’s hard to know in these times what a person like me – a random dude who writes about the Cubs – can or should even say. Maybe nothing. But I always think about how the very least I can do is speak for myself: I am a person who is genuinely about love, understanding, and empathy for those around us. I work really hard to understand where people are coming from. If your fundamental tenet of existence is about hate and exclusion, however, you are not offering a perspective worth considering. You are offering a reason to be ignored.

Back to the relative sunlight of baseball …

  • Oh. Right. The losing. The Cubs have done a lot of it the last two weeks, and the Cardinals have done none of it. And so it is that the two teams now find themselves in a virtual tie atop the NL Central standings (the Cubs are up by a game in the loss column). It doesn’t matter how long I follow this sport, and how intimately I think I understand it – I am humbled by it every year. This year’s edition involves my confident claims just two weeks ago that the Cardinals were making a mistake by not selling at the Trade Deadline. And now, here they are, more than in the thick of the race. I am a dope. Please clap.
  • (In my defense, it sounds very much like the Cardinals *did* shop Lance Lynn, who was their most marketable trade asset, but found his market lacking. They decided to keep him perhaps more on that basis than on a commitment to riding things out. Look at the weak market for Yu Darvish – it was a bad year to be selling rental starting pitchers, it seems.)
  • The Cubs do have a soft schedule the rest of the way, which is good, but so do the Cardinals. Heck, the division may wind up coming down to the head-to-head matchup, which the Cubs have dominated so far this season, but there are seven games to go. All of them come in the second half of September, with four in the final week of September – in St. Louis. One thing I know for sure: the Cubs *REALLY* need to clean up at home this week when they host the Reds and Blue Jays.
  • The Cubs probably weren’t going to come back last night, but they did mount a two-out, two-run rally that brought the tying run to the on-deck circle. The game ended before that batter could come to the plate, though, as Ben Zobrist was called out on a strike three that, live, looked like it was well below the strike zone. Zobrist was shocked by the call, later calling it the second worst he’s ever been a part of (the first being another infamous game-ender with Joe Maddon as his manager, back with the Rays). Mike Borzello’s reaction says what the Cubs bench thought of the call:
  • For what it’s worth, Brooks’ PitchFX did have the final pitch entering the very bottom of the strike zone. There was a lot of movement on the pitch, and it was received rather poorly, making it look worse than it was. But do I think it was actually a strike? No, I do not.
  • (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • The Cubs are really hurting to not have Addison Russell available, which not only shortens the bench, but it also softens the infield defense overall. Javy Baez is a great fill-in at shortstop, but he’s not quite Russell. And whoever plays at second base on a given day is definitely not Baez. After a key error by Baez last night, Maddon conceded the same (ESPN): “Javy is having a wonderful year overall. It’s just a matter of putting him out there too often sometimes. I like to give him a break once in a while. Right now, there is no break …. We need Addison back to balance it out. When Javy is [at second base], we’re really good on the infield. That’s hopefully forthcoming relatively soon.” Russell is eligible to come off the DL today, but the latest update had him instead hopefully returning to the team at some point during this upcoming homestand (Maddon told CSN it probably won’t be Monday or Tuesday). Hopefully that foot is feeling good when the team gets back to Chicago tomorrow.
  • What’s so impressive about this Byron Buxton catch is that he had no real time to track the ball off the bat – he simply knew that if he was going to have any chance, he was going to need to get way back first, and then try to find the ball. Which he did, and made a diving catch:
  • At TYL, Luis is back at Bears camp today, where he heard gems like this:
  • The Deals of the Day at Amazon include Adidas gear and the very ball chair I’m sitting on right now.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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