The Rundown: Cubs Drop Two, Post-Deadline Apathy Sets In, Contreras Relaxed Again, White Sox Still Kicking Bricks

“All I want to do is be more like me and be less like you… In the end, it doesn’t really matter.” – Linkin Park, Numb

The post-deadline apathy has set in, and it affects how I feel about writing as much as it does my lack of wherewithal to watch the Cubs. This is the time of year when I start to have buyer’s remorse for purchasing the MLB all-access package. I can live without Chicago’s North Side baseballers, but I’m a little too jealous to watch contending teams fight for postseason berths.

Let’s face it, the Cubs’ success from 2015-2019 made us baseball junkies. But like every addiction story, we’ve reached an abyss of sorts. We don’t have anything to really look forward to until the GM and Winter Meetings after MLB crowns its 2022 champion. The front office told us the Cubs would be competitive this season, but most of us knew what the fine print said without reading it. For those who didn’t, the key phrases were “at times” and “not enough.”

So, we get to go through the motions, searching for rays of sunshine to parse from the doldrums of watching a mediocre baseball club.  We’ll hope Keegan Thompson can put the finishing touches on a breakout campaign and we’ll wait in anticipation for another appearance by Caleb Kilian. I’m interested to see if anybody on the 40-man roster can become a consistent closer.

The Cubs traded four relievers this week and it showed in yesterday’s two losses to the Cardinals. Erich Uelmen gave up a walk-off single to Lars Nootbaar in the game one loss, and Kervin Castro and Matt Dermody were beaten up in the nightcap. I doubt any of those three will be part of Chicago’s long-term plan, but I understand the hesitancy to use Rowan Wick in those situations. Wick’s 1.73 WHIP is incendiary.

It’s funny, but I never thought I’d write a paragraph that contains the names used in the previous one.

The Cubs will define the phrase “going through the motions” for the next 58 games thanks to non-events like Drew Smyly starting and a quorum-less bullpen-by-committee. Bright spots will be few and far between, and hopes rest on the 2024 and 2025 squads, at least for now. For the second year in a row, wake me up when September ends.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Remember when everyone said the Cubs were cursed? I know a franchise that is starting to develop a more woeful track record. At least Shohei Ohtani went deep twice.

Climbing the Ladder

“No matter how I try I find my way to the same old jam.” – Led Zeppelin, Good Times, Bad Times

The Cubs are now 1-6 since the Giants stopped their six-game winning streak on July 30. They play their next 13 games against the Marlins, Nationals, Reds, and Orioles. Chicago follows that with a 17-game stretch against the Brewers, Cardinals, and Blue Jays.

  • Games Played: 104
  • Total Plate Appearances: 3,949
  • Total Strikeouts: 918
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.25%
  • Team Batting Average: .242
  • Runs Scored: 433
  • Runs Allowed: 515

How About That!

The White Sox were supposed to be Chicago’s next great baseball team but did nothing at the deadline except acquire reliever Jake Diekman. Retired team icon Frank Thomas said watching the Sox lose so often is like “death by 1,000 paper cuts.” I think it’s more akin to kicking bricks no matter how many times you break your toes.

The South Siders are 53-52 after losing to the Rangers last night.

Apple and Major League Baseball announced the September 2022 “Friday Night Baseball” schedule. All games continue to be available to watch for free, only on Apple TV+. One of the games is a tilt between the Red Sox and Yankees. Shocker.

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported that Kodai Senga, a right-handed pitcher of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball, “is expected to consider MLB contract offers this winter.” Senga has a 2.62 ERA, 1.113 WHIP, and 1,211 strikeouts in 1050.1 innings pitched in the NPB.

The Phillies have released infielder Didi Gregorius.

Noah Syndergaard earned a rain-shortened win in his Philadelphia debut.

Aaron Judge is one of just four players in MLB history with at least 43 home runs through 106 games. The others are Barry Bonds (2001), Mark McGwire (1998), and Babe Ruth (1921 and ’28).

Thursday’s Three Stars

  1. Justin Verlander – He’s now 15-3 with a 1.73 ERA after shutting out the Guardians 6-0 yesterday. The 39-year-old gets better with each start and should have been a Cub. Verlander also triggered his $25 million player option by reaching 130 total innings.
  2. Ryan McMahon – The Rockies’ second baseman was the difference in a 7-2 win over the Padres. McMahon had a home run, a double, and plated five runners.
  3. Tyler Naquin – The big deadline acquisition by the Mets was 2-for-4 with four RBI on Thursday.

Extra Innings

Fingers crossed nothing postpones it again, such as a new COVID strain or monkeypox.

Friday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Things have ramped up at Halas Hall, and Matt Eberflus believes that position battles will be won or lost now that the pads are on.
  2. Case in point: Equanimeous St. Brown has outdistanced the competition in the battle for WR2.
  3. WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison after being convicted of drug charges. It sets the stage for a high-stakes prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia, two fierce geopolitical rivals.
  4. The DOJ charged four current and former Louisville police officers for several crimes in connection with the killing of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in March 2020, which sparked protests for racial justice around the country.
  5. Cracker Barrel, a chain known for its Southern classics, posted on Facebook that it would introduce plant-based protein as an optional substitute for bacon or sausage. Attacks on boomers, Trumpers, “woke” liberals, and more filled the replies all because of…one new menu item. Don’t people have better things to do with their spare time?
  6. New Zealand is considering a name change to confront its troubled past of colonization and denying Maori people their rights. If successful, it will undoubtedly lead to similar petitions in the United States and other countries.

They Said It

  • “We’re always thinking about how can make our club better, both for the current and for the future, and part of that is giving opportunities for players over the course of the next couple of months. We’re excited about getting the young guys leverage innings and getting them consistent at-bats.” – Hawkins
  • “We weren’t in that position, unfortunately, to leverage our player resources to try to increase our World Series odds this year. So that’s the reason we weren’t aggressive.” – Hawkins
  • “I just wanted it to be over and clear my mind and play baseball. I feel more relaxed like it took a weight off my shoulders.” – Contreras
  • “We’ve got some new guys that our priority is to get at-bats and you just have conversations [with] some of the guys that might not get as much and just talk to them about, ‘Here’s kinda the role moving forward. All that stuff will work itself out real soon.” – Ross

Friday Walk-Up Song

We’re really attacking a restaurant chain that caters to mostly retirees?

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