The Rundown: Cubs Fall to Bucs, Contreras Rumors Gain Steam, Farnsworth Displays Jacked Bod, MLB Demands Muddy Balls

“There’s nothing that will drive them away, but we can beat them just for one day.” – David Bowie, Heroes

I think you can safely say the Cubs have hit rock bottom when they continually get blasted by the Pirates. After last night’s 7-1 loss, Chicago is now 4-7 against Pittsburgh this season. If you remove three wins in which the North Siders outscored their division rivals 36-0, the Buccos have paddled the Baby Bears 41-16.

Let’s face it, the current iteration of Chicago baseball looks a lot more like the beaten and battered version that Pittsburgh keeps punishing. Normally, one would think that the lopsided victories by the Cubs show the potential of a team that could be dominating but I don’t think anybody is tuning into that vibe these days. Suffice to say, we still have a little more than three more months before Wrigley Field closes its gates for the year. October can’t get here quick enough.

If you’re looking for a silver lining behind that dark cloud, it’s that the Cubs really can’t get any worse. Sure, they’re going to be active in the trade market, but perhaps the team will turn it on once they realize there’s nothing left to lose. Last year’s squad of scrubs was darn near enjoyable to watch at times once the core was traded. Maybe we’ll see a similar surge come August.

In the meantime, take advantage of Chicago’s lack of professional-level baseball to enjoy your summer away from the game. I no longer watch full contests because thankfully MLB-TV offers truncated versions of games two hours after each has ended. Nobody should be forced to sit through the entirety of the last two tilts against the Pirates, should they?

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Kyle Farnsworth looks like a villain from the MCU. Check, please.

Climbing the Ladder

“How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air…” – Led Zeppelin, Ramble On

The Good: Wisdom hit a home run last night to prevent the Cubs from being shut out. Jason Heyward had two hits to get above the Mendoza line. It’s the little things, right?

The Bad: Matt Swarmer wasn’t great. His final line reads 4 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 H, 5 K, 2 BB.

The Ugly: Andrelton Simmons has a .200 OBP and a .388 OPS.

  • Games Played: 68
  • Total Plate Appearances: 2,579
  • Total Strikeouts: 591
  • Strikeout Rate: 22.91%
  • Team Batting Average: .242
  • Runs Scored: 277
  • Runs Allowed: 364

How About That!

MLB issued a memo indicating that all 30 of its teams are to “muddy” the ball to the same specifications.

The Braves are playing like champions again after holding a closed-door meeting for players and coaches.

The Mets are shopping for starting pitching and Luis Castillo, Frankie Montas, and Kyle Freeland are all listed as potential fits.

A six-year-old fan in Houston literally stole second base.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. Shohei Ohtani – The do-everything superstar hit two home runs and plated eight runners and the Angels still lost to the Royals. I think Los Angeles is going to have a difficult time extending him. Ohtani is eligible for free agency in 2024 and will most likely become the game’s highest-paid player. I can’t imagine what his contract might look like.
  2. Nolan Gorman – The St. Louis rookie was 4-for-4 with two taters and four ribeyes. The Cardinals and Brewers are both 39-31 and are tied for first in the NL Central.
  3. Matt Olson | Freddie Freeman – Though the Dodgers and Braves did not square off last night, the current and former Atlanta first basemen combined to go 5-for-10 with two home runs and 10 RBI. Everybody wins!

Extra Innings

Aaron Judge in Chicago? Per ESPN’s Buster Olney, Judge would be perfect for the Cubs. But hang on for just a hot minute.

“He wants to win. He’s not going to sign with a loser like the Cubs are right now,” a rival evaluator said. “I don’t see him signing up for the rebuild.”

You’ll need a subscription to ESPN+ to read the entire article, but why would you want to?

Wednesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Left tackle is the most important position on the offensive line, and the Bears could start rookie Braxton Jones there this year. Jones was a 5th round draft choice from Southern Utah.
  2. The NFL doesn’t trade players with the velocity and volume of MLB and the NBA, and that usually means trade suggestions are almost always horribly one-sided.
  3. “Lightyear,” Disney’s latest Pixar flick and a spinoff of the movie “Toy Story,” fizzled at the box office.
  4. The new Disney flick is a genre of its own, a Pixar movie that happens inside of a Pixar movie watched by Pixar characters, but somehow, also, watched by moviegoers. The confusing concept has led to some bad reviews and poor box office showing.
  5. Netflix dropped its full trailer for Stranger Things 4 Volume 2 and it looks like a favorite character or two won’t survive. I’ve said this previously, but I think poor little Holly Wheeler might be on Vecna’s hit list. You may remember she almost got too close to a potential portal in ST1.
  6. Based on the trailer, it looks like Kate Bush can count on the continued success of Running Up That Hill. The song is currently garnering 10 million streams per day on Spotify and is in YouTube’s Top 20 of all videos.

They Said It

  • “It’s been awesome. I’ve learned so much. I’m trying to take in as much as I can, whether from the trainers, the strength coaches, the pitching coaches, everyone. I’ve just been picking people’s brains, trying to learn as much as I can. Maybe I’ve got too much going on in my head at the moment, but I think in the long run it will be good. It will pay off.” – Kilian
  • “It looked like they were all over [Swarmer’s] stuff.”David Ross
  • “[Crow-Armstrong’s] exit velocities are up two, three miles an hour from last year, which is a really significant jump. Obviously, he’s been driving the ball.” – Jed Hoyer
  • “I’m no baseball player, and neither apparently is Frank Schwindel.” – Stephen Colbert

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

I was really tempted to play hooky today because it is genuinely the most perfect morning ever, at least here in Milwaukee. I cruised to McDonald’s at 5:30 AM with the top down and some Fleetwood Mac on the Blaupunkt, and I almost drove off into the sunrise.

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