The Rundown: Shake and Wake, Breathing Broom, Happ Goes Boom-Boom

As some of you may know, my family and I recently moved and we are finally starting to feel really settled in the new place. In addition to all of our worldly possessions, we brought with us three rose bushes that we’d planted at various times at the old house. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always had a great affinity for roses. For me, there’s nothing quite as amazing and beautiful as seeing a plant come to life, particularly when said life results in fragrant blossoms that brighten the world around them.

The newest of the three took immediately to its new environment and has already cycled through a round of blossoms. The middle plant, at least in terms of age, got a little punkish before starting to throw off some new shoots and come back. But the oldest, a straight-up beast of a bush with some stalks like small trees and some really scary-ass thorns, went to hell immediately after being planted.

Transplant shock was evident in all of them for a while after being moved, but the big guy completely withered and lost all of its leaves in a matter of days. The color left some of those epic limbs and I began trimming it back to prevent rot and/or burrowing insects. I fed it diluted sugar water, fertilized it, checked it, read online about how to save it. Eventually, I had pretty much reached the point of giving up.

And then, more than a month after our move, I started to see them: little shoots coming off of one of the main branches. Then another couple near the base of another branch. And then a whole new shoot coming up from the base of the plant itself. I’m not lying when I say I check this thing a couple times a day and that seeing it come back to life is one of the more satisfying events of the moving process.

Well, that and my wife finding the autographed screenshot of Wade Boggs toasting Charlie on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. So what has this got to do with the Cubs?

Much like my roses, the team has moved to a new place, one more focused on product than process and one in which they are World Series champs. People forget that last part. Anyway, the trials of Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell remind me very much of that monster rose bush. Joe Maddon tried just leaving them be, he’s tried moving them around in the order, and he’s essentially got both in some sort of platoon or timeshare at this point.

We’ve yet to see any significant growth, though there have been little shoots appearing here and there. The hope is that they’ll really start to take off and produce blossoms in the not-too-distant future, even if some have given them up for dead. In that, there’s perhaps something even more fulfilling than just coming out of the gate raking. Okay, that might be pushing it a little too far.

Even the crustiest among you have to admit, though, that it’s pretty cool to see something you’d written off come back with a vengeance. If my roses can do it, so can Schwarber and Russell. Because, you know, growing plants is pretty much the same thing as hitting baseballs.

Sweeps are fun

It wasn’t just because it was the Cardinals and it wasn’t just that this series came on the heels of a look-the-other-way bludgeoning on the Cali road trip. This was the Cubs team we remembered from last season, the one we’ve been expecting for some time now. They faced deficits in all three games and were far from perfect, but used contributions from different players each time to pull out wins.

The Cubs also busted out the longball to great effect in all three games. Kris Bryant’s homer in Friday’s game was a catalyst in that win; Schwarber’s grand slam carried the game on Saturday; Ian Happ’s pair of shots were his first in quite a while and propelled the Cubs to leads twice.

Though Kyle Hendricks was less than great Sunday night, his team picked him up and ensured that the loss wouldn’t stick on his record. A small thing given the reduced emphasis on such arbitrary stats, it can be a big confidence booster for Hendricks and his fellow starters. It’s easier to go out and be loose when you know your offense is going to erase your mistakes.

And not like those ink erasers that just smudge things up and really make it look worse. No, this was straight up washing the blackboard clean and acting like the walks and the home run Hendricks allowed never happened at all. Makes it a little easier to draw in that deep breath and stop hyperventilating, at least for a while.

Also, this all came against the Cardinals. Did I mention that already?

More news and notes

  • Ian Happ hit two home runs in his first eight trips to the plate, then went 62 plate appearances between home runs, then launched two Sunday night
    • He’s still susceptible to the high fastball, but Michael Wacha was working right down the middle
    • Even so, this was a very good sign
  • David Ross was part of the ESPN broadcast and he used “we” and “us” a lot, which I’m sure was fun for the non-Cubs fans watching
  • Steven Matz and Seth Lugo are expected to rejoin the Mets’ rotation this week
  • Tyson Ross may make a start this week
  • Carlos Rodon is set to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday
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