I’m not kidding when I say this has been one of the most brutal 3-5 days to be a Chicago sports fan that I can remember – at least, as far as regular season results go for Cubs and Bears fans. The Bears lost one of the most frustrating football games in recent memory, while giving a one-legged Aaron Rodgers another feather in the cap of his storied greatness.
And the Cubs got swept in a doubleheader in Washington, had their entire rotation plans messed up, dropped the first game to the Brewers last night, got their off-day on Thursday taken away (for now) and scheduled for the middle of a hurricane, and are on the doorstep of losing a first-place lead they’ve held for nearly 60 days. We also learned that Drew Smyly wouldn’t be returning, found out that Jason Heyward had a legit hamstring strain, and have watched, in anguish, as the bullpen continues to struggle without their closer, Brandon Morrow.
It’s been rough. Here’s some news from around the league to distract you from the terror building inside you in advance of tonight’s game.
- When the Cubs announced that Drew Smyly would be shut down, they noted that they simply ran out of time to get him back. The Cardinals have echoed a similar sentiment regarding Michael Wacha (oblique): “We’re running out of runway to get him ready to come back this year,” GM Michael Girsch said after the moving Wacha to the 60-day disabled list on Monday. “Our expectation is that he’s not going to pitch again this year.” Unlike Smyly, however, who’s apparently feeling fine, Wacha sounds like he’s still very much in pain. Girsch continued to mention that every time he coughs, sneezes, or even laughs, he feels it and that was enough to determine that they just shouldn’t push forward. Uh … ya think?
- I think the award for best headline of the week has to go to Whitney McIntosh for “The Phillies tried to use flamethrowers to fix their field but the game was postponed anyway.” I don’t care if the flamethrowers are more functional than bada**, I just love that they exist at all.
Phillies groundskeepers are using two flamethrowers to try to get the infield dirt ready in an effort to make the field playable for tonight’s game vs. the Nationals pic.twitter.com/ywwfE6NqDp
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) September 10, 2018
- If you’re missing the need for flamethrowers here, you’re thinking about it all wrong – who cares what the need was!?! They’re flamethrowers on a baseball field! … and yes, I need one, honey, it’s for business just sign for the package when it arrives, please. Or, you might want to note that the tarp at Citizen’s Bank Park was not down on the field for at least part of this past weekend.
- At The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal has a must-read on what I consider to be one of the most interesting baseball stories going on in the background of everything at this moment: the future of Mike Trout and the Angels. As you may or may not know, Trout’s current contract keeps him with the Angels through the 2020 season, before releasing him into free agency. And while the Angels would obviously love to keep him beyond that, there are absolutely no guarantees (especially for a guy who’s already earned a $150M+ deal), and you can wonder about what their next couple of years will look like, competitively-speaking. So … do they trade him? The Angels owner is apparently (and understandably) very much against the idea, but it has to be considered, especially if Trout rebukes a legitimate extension offer (Rosenthal proposes 8 years and $40M per year as a loose structure).
- That offer, however, may want to wait until after Manny Machado and Bryce Harper sign, because their deals will set a floor for whatever Trout is capable of getting. And again, if he’s not open to the idea of an extension (there are rumors that he may want to get closer to his home on the East coast), then a trade has to be considered. Rosenthal takes a couple of guesses of teams that could be involved (in terms of interest and ability), but that’s all very theoretical at the moment. If you thought the market stopped when Giancarlo Stanton was a trade candidate, just wait until you see what happens with Trout.
- This is ROUGH. Good luck, dude:
Tough news for #Athletics starter Sean Manaea who's told that he needs shoulder surgery that will sideline him until 2020.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) September 11, 2018
- If you’re a pitch-grip hound (like our own Luis Medina is), this article at FanGraphs detailing the fastballs of Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, and Charlie Morton is for you. Each guy details how they’ve come to hold, deploy, and best utilize their fastball and it’s a good, informative read.
- The KBO is cracking down (big time) on foreign players signing with their teams. If I’m reading this correctly, they’ve apparently limited rosters to just three foreign players, and all first-time players must sign – at longest – a one-year deal worth – at most – $1 million, including all related fees. That’s pretty nuts. Extensions can be given to these players, but if a foreign player wants to move from one KBO team to another, the one-year/$1M restriction is put back on. There are some competitive/fairness reasons for this decision, but it seems like a big mistake to me – and perhaps even another way to unjustly limit the earnings of players.
- Today is the anniversary of September 11th, and MLB.com has put together a post detailing the unique impact the tragedy had on baseball.
- And finally, a little something cheery to end on:
“Just put your glove out like this … I’ll do the rest.”
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) September 11, 2018