The Rundown: Kyle Schwarber’s Big Game, Addison Russell Saga Deepens (Updated), Hawk Still a Beast

One game does not a turnaround make, but Kyle Schwarber’s eight total bases in Wednesday’s loss sure had the makings of a defining performance. He was more aggressive at the plate, attacking pitches while also taking what the pitchers gave him, hitting a homer and a double to the opposite field and yanking another double to right-center.

To add to the impressive nature of his feat, the latter two hits came in two-strike counts, which had been a real bugaboo for him prior to that. Schwarber entered the game batting only .088 with two strikes in general and only .074 in 1-2 counts. While those numbers are still anemic (.103 and .100, respectively), they’ve at least gotten a healthy dose of iron.

If he can keep producing in the nine spot and Ian Happ (who homered again Wednesday to give the Cubs a dinger in 11 straight at Wrigley) can maintain what looks like an upward trend, that’s not a bad combo. Then again, who are we going to complain about if that happens?

Russell’s struggles might go beyond field

I almost didn’t include this and maybe I’ll regret it later (Should I have led with it? Buried it further down? Given it its own post?), but rumors travel faster than everything but light and I figured pretty much everyone had heard about it by now. If not, you can feel free to check Melisa Russell’s Instagram post from during last night’s game.

So here’s the thing: This is a veritable Russian nesting doll of takes, many of which are better left ungiven. I’ve got all kinds of problems with the type of behavior being reported here, even if it’s just infidelity (which, I mean, the fact that I’m even prefacing like this is already treading on dangerous ground). I also know that it’s really none of my business, except that it’s now out there for public consumption and lord knows this isn’t the first scandal to be put on blast.

I’m glad I didn’t actually see various since-deleted comments, but you can imagine what happens when the lowest common denominator of idiots can and will do when they somehow feel the need to say awful things to strangers. Particularly when those strangers have said something about one of their favorite athletes.

But things turned sharply in light of yet another since-deleted comment left by one of Melisa Russell’s friends. And that’s where we start to wade into the very murky waters of speculation and trustworthiness of social media posts and whatnot. I’m not here to comment on the propriety of the use of social media or the ever-expanding window we’ve got into athletes’ lives. Those are inescapable parts of life for those who choose to use Twitter, IG, Facebook, etc. and also consume sports.

What I will say — and this is a general comment and neither accusatory nor dismissive of the central figures in this — is that anything that can drag an issue like domestic violence further out from the shadows is a good thing. Even if the only light being shined on a topic too long in the dark comes from the flash of a camera phone, it’s a start. Besides, a million camera phones can can illuminate quite a wide swath.

The last thing I’ll offer on this topic is an entreaty to those who would allow the uniform a player wears or his ability to throw a ball to color their view of a given situation. Again, this is general, though it’s clearly driven by this more specific situation. No one wants awful things to happen, much less for the fallout from those things to encroach upon an area of our lives typically reserved for escape.

But if your take is that you don’t want to hear about something because you just want your sports without personal drama or that Player X couldn’t have done what they’re saying he did because he has a nice smile and a well-crafted public persona, it’s maybe best to keep it to yourself. Perhaps it’s hypocritical of me to offer an opinion on people offering opinions. After all, I’m far from the authority figure on most topics, let alone this one.

Like it or not, we’re going to be hearing about the struggling shortstop’s off-the-field issues and I’ll certainly be offering more thoughts here and elsewhere as things unfold.

Update: An MLB official said Thursday morning that the league will investigate the allegations of domestic violence made against Addison Russell in that aforementioned Instagram comment (which is contained in linked post).

Update #2: The IG post in question has been deleted, thus making the link above obsolete, so we’re including a screenshot for the sake of posterity.


Andre Dawson still awesome

Now in the employ of the Marlins, The Hawk was in Chicago for the recent series. Though still displaying the chiseled V-shaped torso that made him a Cubs legend three decades ago, his ceremonial first pitch prior to Monday’s series opener withered that image a bit. That famous hose only got the ball about 50 feet from the mound. Woof.

But as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Steve Greenberg found, Dawson has lost nothing when it comes to the weight room. Unwilling to go under the knife to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff, the 62-year-old opted to start throwing around all kinds of iron.

Dawson, who played his entire career at under 200 pounds, started lifting weights in ’87 upon joining the Cubs. Never did he get close to heaving the sort of weight around that he deals with now. Currently 230 pounds and more muscle-bound in his upper body than ever, he lifts five times a week. And here’s what he did — on the bench press alone — in the bowels of Wrigley before Tuesday’s game:

Three sets of 10 reps with 225 pounds. Then sets of eight, six and four reps with 245 pounds. And finally, four reps with 295 pounds.

Are you feeling faint yet?

“I don’t really consider myself strong,” he said in that humble, dignified manner he was famous for as a player. “It’s just what I’ve become now.”

Good God, man. And this is from a guy who’s got a jacked-up shoulder. Guess I really need to get back into the gym.

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