Cubs Beating Good Teams, Willson is on Fire, Absurdly Obvious Cheating, and Other Cubs Bullets

The Little Boy and I head back home today after a very, very nice time in Chicago (could we have picked a couple better games to be around for?). Michael will have your game coverage today, which he’s done six(?) times so far this year, and the Cubs are 6-0 in those games. So there’s a streak on the line today! Well, two, actually …

•   The Cubs have played 8 games against the current NL playoff teams. The Cubs have won all 8 of those games.

•   … I say that mostly to have fun, because both sides of that equation could change dramatically in the months to come. But to the extent that there’s a “point,” it’s probably this: so far, the Cubs have been able to beat good teams. And that’s likely because, so far, the Cubs have been a good team, too.

•   You know who’s gotten really hot again lately? Willson Contreras. His TOOTBLANs notwithstanding, Contreras, who doubled and homered last night, is raking. Since May 8, he’s hitting .313/.405/.453 (142 wRC+). That, after a rough .161/.238/.304 (47) from April 18 to May 7. He has been as much of this hot Cubs streak as anyone. And that look back at Victor Caratini last night had me smiling:

•   Fernando Tatis Jr. was removed early from last night’s game as a precaution because of oblique tightness, per the Padres, so you wonder if he’ll get another day to rest today. If so, Ha-Seong Kim probably starts in Tatis’s place, and here’s where I have to concede that the guy a lot of us REALLY wanted the Cubs to sign in the offseason has yet to adjust to MLB pitching (.194/.247/.328, 61 wRC+). It’s early (146 PAs), and he’s still young (25), but so far, it has been ugly. (But again, he got only $28 million guaranteed over four years, so the risk wasn’t HUGE for the Padres.)

•   Well this is as obvious as you can possibly get when it comes to applying a substance to your fingers and the baseball, so if MLB does nothing, we know the score:

•   At least use a black glove if you’re gonna be that obvious. Then again, we’d still be able to see the application of stick to the fingers and the thumb, because again, there was nothing even remotely subtle about that. I understand the implications here for something that so many pitchers are doing (yes, sadly, probably a lot of Cubs pitchers, too), but MLB has to step up on this now. Clearly. It’s cheating, it’s rampant, and Trevor Bauer has clearly showed the pre-and-post grip-enhancer performance. What’s even more aggravating is that, in a year when MLB says it’s going to step up and stop this practice, Karinchak was caught on video doing this OVER A MONTH AGO. And he’s still doing it. Has he not even gotten a dang phone call? We’ve got eyewash like making Craig Kimbrel change his hat, but nothing done about an OBVIOUS case of cheating?

•   It really is steroids all over again: no one wants to call it out and enforce the rules, because every stakeholder knows how pervasive the cheating is. MLB got lax and let it go for years and years, believing it was kind of this gray area (“eh, if they’re just using it to get a better grip that’s OK! … oh wait, they’re doing what to their spin rate? and that has what kind of effect? uh oh … “). I mean, what the hell is the reasonable push back from pitchers here:

•   No, pitchers using grip substances to increase spin and movement is not necessarily *the* reason for spiking strikeout rates (that’s multi-factored), and it shouldn’t be treated that way by MLB. But it’s clearly a factor at this point, and, you know, there are rules for a reason. I’m getting more and more frustrated as I type. Just make the baseball more tacky already, or create a uniform grip substance – more than rosin – that pitchers are allowed to use. Period. Done.

•   *choking on my stupid need to give credit where it is due* Good catch to end the Cardinals-Dodgers game and preserve the win:

•   Great shots of a happy Patrick Wisdom:

•   Today is Lou Gehrig Day in baseball, honoring the life and legacy of the Iron Horse, but also calling attention to – and raising funds for – ALS research, and supporting those who live with the illness:

•   Kosuke Fukudome, age 44, still gettin’ after it:

•   Bob Brenly still saying things like this:

•   It would be great if the entire Mets roster came out wearing durag for today’s game against the DBacks:

•   Kind of an amazing and random factoid in the early going for a guy who is otherwise hitting a whopping .274/.343/.584:

•   A bunch of Prime exclusive deals today at Amazon, together with the usual Deals of the Day. #ad

•   Cubs relievers down on the farm very much doing what their big league counterparts have been doing – you see their names show up again and again and again on these things:

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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