There is no perfect way to talk about something like what happened in Uvalde. No good way to talk to you about it. To my friends. To my kids. Every approach leaves something unsaid or unconsidered. It becomes easier to feel helpless than to feel like meaningful change is even possible. That helplessness, as I send the kids off to another day at their school, and say goodbye to my wife as she heads for hers, might be the most consuming and arresting sense I feel right now. I don’t know how to make this any better, and even if I did, I have no real power to do so. I have no evidence that those who do have that power have any real interest in wielding to make positive change.
We talk about sports here as a community, and I do think that has real value in this world for some people. Modest value in comparison to so much else, but not zero. So I’ll keep doing it. I just wish I could do more. I wish I didn’t feel helpless.
Cubs stuff follows. Enjoy it if you can, and if you can’t, that’s fine, too. Be well. Take care. Hold onto love.
• It was a very late scratch so we didn’t get much of an opportunity to discuss, but Cubs catcher Yan Gomes was unable to go last night because of “oblique tightness.” It seems “tightness” has become the euphemism du jure for anything that you don’t want to call a strain, and you just have to hope that it is, indeed, only that first inkling of something being off – and guys being better about pulling themselves when they feel that “tightness” – rather than a mere hopeful description for something that is likely worse. In Gomes’ case, an actually-injured oblique would be a nightmare, as we’ve discussed many times with obliques. They can keep guys out a very long time, and they present a constant risk of re-injury or setbacks when trying to come back. Baseball is just so rotational.
• The silver lining, I suppose, is that even if Gomes is going to be out a while, the Cubs now have P.J. Higgins up to back up Willson Contreras, whose hamstring “tightness” should be abating any day now. Earlier this week, I wrote at length about how you’d love to see Higgins get a whole lot of big league playing time this year so that you have more useful information when making a 40-man roster decision in the offseason, and I suppose injury(ies) would be the only way that could play out (or a midseason trade … ). Which is not to say an injury to Gomes or Contreras is magically a good thing, but (1) they do happen, and (2) at least in the Cubs’ current case there would be something useful to do in the interim.
• Higgins, who is a very good athlete, had two hits last night including this bunt single:
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) May 25, 2022
• Be careful out there, dude, as you might be the only healthy catcher for a while. But also, that’s just about the perfect first base slide execution/situation if you’re going to do it at all: (1) the slide was timed almost perfectly to get Higgins to the base fractionally more quickly than just running through (which, yes, is possible); (2) the slide was necessary to avoid an easy tag; and (3) the slide made a full-on collision less likely. There’s still always going to be danger when diving headfirst into a base – fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulder – but on a very, very rare occasion, I’d sanction it. That looked to be one.
• Marcus Stroman had eight strikeouts over his five innings last night, none of which was prettier than this unbelievably nasty pitch:
Marcus Stroman, Dirty 85mph Split-Changeup. 😨 pic.twitter.com/i4tU4P4G2k
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 25, 2022
• Stroman currently sports the best strikeout rate of his career and the best K/BB. That part of his game has been perfectly fine this season. The issue has been – weirdly – the contact quality. His groundball rate, historically excellent, is mediocre, and he’s given up a whole lot more hard contact than usual (barrel rare currently highest in his career). I think all of these things are likely to pull back toward their averages in the months to come, but we’ll see. Stroman is always tinkering and trying to improve.
• About as bad as it gets:
— cesar ozuna (@cozuna77) May 25, 2022
• There is good news and there is bad news:
There's nothing worse than a shitty team that also takes forever to finish a single game. With that in mind, here are the MLB fans that have suffered the most so far this year. https://t.co/Xtu5freiuA pic.twitter.com/EbVnLWqt3P
— Defector (@DefectorMedia) May 24, 2022
• Marquee/the Cubs caught justifiable guff for effectively censoring out criticism of management on one of their new shows:
Criticize the Chicago Cubs? Not on Marquee Sports Network’s ‘The Reporters’ show. https://t.co/eEA9bWqA3h
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) May 24, 2022
• And Marquee responded with an immediate change:
— Jeff Agrest (@jeffreya22) May 24, 2022
• It’s not a mistake they should’ve made in the first place, but I do think it’s worth noting that they made an immediate – and correct – change.
• I did not know Joc Pederson was hitting so well this year:
Our old friend Joc Pederson hit 3 homers last night and has a 149 wRC+ for the season! pic.twitter.com/DxsdSz8NCX
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) May 25, 2022
• Interestingly, I read that Pederson was credited as being one of the first guys – maybe THE first guy – to use the hockey-puck knob on his bat last year, but it looks like he isn’t using it anymore. If you missed the knob discussion yesterday about Patrick Wisdom’s switch.