I am sick about what happened in Highland Park, and I feel so sad for everyone affected by a shooter who was able to inflict so much harm so severely and so quickly. It touches a lot of us here because it was in the Chicago suburbs, but it’s not as if this is a new or unique phenomenon. As horrible as that reality is. My thoughts are with the victims and their families, and with a community that will now suffer the scars of this tragedy for decades.
I don’t think any of us should be asked to wait to speak out until it’s touching our city, our neighborhood, or our family. My anger and my words may not accomplish anything, but I know for sure that my silence won’t help. The epidemic of gun violence in this country, and its root causes, is such a complex and layered thing that I can’t pretend to have any kind of comprehensive answer. But I know one very obvious place to start: there is no reason to continue to manufacture and sell to the public the kinds of weapons that make fast, indiscriminate mass killing far too easy. We can’t fix all of this with one move, but we can absolutely do something to make it a helluva lot harder in the future for someone to destroy so many lives. Everyone deserves to be heard on this, even some dope on a sports blog.
On to baseball. It’s my job to write about the sport, and it provides (I hope) entertainment for you, as well as an opportunity for me to compartmentalize for my own mental health. Love to you all.
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- The loss to the Brewers yesterday was like a roller coaster that concludes with your buddy next to you puking all over the seat, but at least some of the hills were exciting while they were happening? I definitely jumped off of my chair for both the Nelson Velazquez homer and the Seiya Suzuki homer, though the Victor Caratini homer was not quiiiiiite as enjoyable.
- Speaking of those three moments, together they made some history:
- With the loss against the Brewers, the Cubs are now back up to their greatest deficit in the NL Central on the year, at 14.0 games back. The Cubs will almost certainly continue losing more than they win, and the focus of this year will be player development. But a note on that from Kyle Hendricks, via The Athletic – winning is a big part of player development:
“Maybe it’s not talked about outwardly enough, but definitely in (the clubhouse) and within smaller circles,” Hendricks said. “And it is a focus in the minor leagues. When I was coming up, winning was the focus.
“All the conversations and everything is still centered around winning. Especially with Rossy. That’s what he does, it’s in his DNA and it’s the culture he’s trying to facilitate. From the words he speaks it filters down to all the coaches and it gets to us ….
Player development matters, but it’s not like we’re accepting losing. We’re not going too far down that path, it’s a quick blip, a reset. Last year at the time we were in first place or close to it. We’re not that far removed. And all these young guys being in these moments and getting this experience will pay off for us down the road, and we won’t lose that winning mindset.”
- I could make the argument, then, that the Cubs competing in 2023 is important not only for all the reasons we fans would say (WE WANT TO SEE A GOOD TEAM!), but is also important for the continued development of the young guys who are coming up this and next year, and the years after that. In some ways, winning begets winning.
- Drew Smyly’s first rehab outing appears to have been a success with the South Bend Cubs, with him going 4.0 innings and 52 pitches. He started to get hit in the 4th inning, but that’s really not what you’re looking for in a first rehab outing like that – get in your pitches, stay healthy, and then let’s see how he recovers this week. I would expect Smyly to need at least one more rehab outing, given the length of his absence and the nature of his injury (obliques have a tendency to linger/pop back up). It’s encouraging to see that he’s already up to 4.0/52, though. Starting pitchers around the league are dropping rapidly, and if Smyly shows he’s a capable back-of-the-rotation arm – like he was looking before the oblique injury – that’s going to be a valuable piece this month.
- It was really nice to see Seiya Suzuki back with the Cubs for a lot of reasons, but it was obviously all the nicer that he was smoking the ball:
- Am I allowed to say Suzuki has had a hot last five games (.294/.381/.529/146 wRC+, 14.3% BB, 19.0% K) if those five games were separated by a month-long absence? Oh, probably not. But hey, he also raked in his three games at Iowa!
- If you missed it at the end of/just after yesterday’s game, Willson Contreras left in the 10th inning with “hamstring tightness.” No other word yet.
- Nico Hoerner continues to impress in every way, hitting .310/.349/.425/114 wRC+, and rating by multiple metrics as one of the two or three best defensive shortstops in baseball this year. I can barely believe I’m typing that, but it’s been true. From his manager, David Ross (The Athletic): “There’s a veteran aspect that [Hoerner] carries when he steps foot in the clubhouse, when he steps foot on the baseball field. Whether it was being around that championship group early on in his career … then going through his adversity, being able to get an opportunity to play every day, staying healthy and being able to prove what he knows about himself and what we believe in him. Definitely feels like that veteran soul.”
- An absurd bit from Evan Altman: out of the last 10 free runners the Cubs have had in extra-innings, they have scored … one of them. Runner on second, nobody out, and scoring him just 10% of the time. Pretty incredible. The Cubs have won just once in their last seven extra-innings games over the past month.
- Lefty Wade Miley is on a throwing program as he recovers from a repeat of his shoulder strain, which means he can’t just play normal warm-up catch with guys before games … unless he finds a lefty glove and throws with his right hand:
- I sure do love seeing all the praise former Cubs prospect Isaac Paredes is getting lately: