The Rundown: Cubs Can Make Statement Friday, MLB Celebrates Jackie Robinson Day, Could Pedro Strop Come Back?

A growing social awareness movement among MLB players led to the postponement of seven games scheduled to be played yesterday. This comes on the heels of a divisive time for Cubs fans, many of whom are upset the team elected to play against the Tigers on Wednesday night. Baseball will be celebrating Jackie Robinson Day today, so how would you feel about the Cubs making a statement on racial injustice by refusing to take the field in Cincinnati for their game against the Reds?

Though I don’t think that will be an option, I’m sure the team has something significant planned following the lead of Jason Heyward. This year has been anything but predictable, so you never know. They could show they are united with Heyward on racial injustice, find some way to honor Robinson, and still refuse to take the field tonight. In doing so, they would also be taking a stand against the league, whose response to current events has been milquetoast at best.

“I had full support from them — teammates, coaching staff, everyone,” the right fielder said. “I encouraged them to go out there and play the game. I didn’t want anyone to sit here and say ‘No, we don’t need to play the game.’“

As far as baseball is concerned, there is no question there needs to be better outreach into Black communities and more support for Black players and coaches. At times it feels like MLB is more interested in protecting their brand than trying to be leaders and difference-makers. In that sense, it’s puzzling that fans aren’t directing more vitriol at Rob Manfred and team owners.

On a much larger scale, the country continues to smolder with embers of hate that seem almost inextinguishable, scrambling for solutions to a problem that remains tragically large. Some feel it is disingenuous to even talk about sports, let alone watch. As the country divides itself in extreme discord, so do fans of the game who have real and genuine concern for the optics created by non-compliance. Cubs fans, and almost anyone who follows baseball, will be watching to see what the team does tonight. Whatever it is, assuredly other teams will follow suit.

Cubs News & Notes

  • As if yesterday wasn’t a bad enough day for the organization, the Cubs are making significant layoffs within their scouting and player development departments.
  • Despite a division-leafing 18-12 record, many questions remain about how good the Cubs really are at the halfway point of the season. Chicago is just 5-9 over the last two weeks.
  • Though no All-Star Game will be played this season, one would think Yu Darvish and Ian Happ would be likely additions to the NL squad. It wasn’t long ago that many Cubs fans wanted to see both traded.
  • Pedro Strop headed to Chicago after being designated for assignment by the Reds. Could a return to the Cubs be on the horizon? I hope not. The Cubs already have plenty of relievers who put too many batters on base, and Strop has lost quite a bit off of his fastball over the last two seasons.
  • Trevor Rosenthal, Daniel Norris, and old friend Tommy La Stella are among the players the Cubs should be targeting ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.
  • The return of José Quintana from the IL might be as good as it gets for the Cubs at this year’s deadline, unless you are a proponent of a reunion with Strop.

Odds & Sods

Harry Caray’s haunted by the ghosts of Al Capone and Frank Nitti? Nothing could be more Chicago than that.

How About That!

So far, at least 75 players have committed to donating their salaries for today’s games to The Players Alliance, an organization of 124 current and former Black MLB players “focused on building equitable systems in order to change the trajectory of diversity throughout baseball.” The organization sponsors several programs to serve the black community, including baseball mentorship, donating gear, and promoting Negro Leagues Appreciation Day.

If you, too, would like to donate to The Player’s Alliance Baseball Mentorship Program, here’s how. No one is expecting you to donate a day’s pay, but every dollar matters.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Robinson’s historic signing with the Dodgers, breaking baseball’s color barrier. It is also important to remember the significance of Brooklyn GM Branch Rickey forcing baseball to finally integrate.

The Mets and Marlins joined in 42 seconds of silence to honor Robinson, then left the field. The only thing that remained was a Black Lives Matter t-shirt at home plate.

Meanwhile, the Mets as an organization are a reality TV show waiting to happen.

Two minor leaguers in the Yankees system would like the organization to publicly support players of color and Black Lives Matter.

The Red Sox were not unified in support of outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., a bad look for an organization (and city) that has been accused of blatant racism throughout its history.

The Cardinals lost both games of a doubleheader against the Pirates yesterday.

The Brewers also lost a doubleheader to the Reds yesterday.

Trevor Bauer and Josh Hader headline today’s latest trade rumors.

Thursday’s Three Stars

No need to provide explanations, as each showed individual leadership over the last two days that transcends the game itself.

  1. Jason Heyward
  2. Mookie Betts
  3. Dexter Fowler

Extra Innings

Steve Stone is 73 years old and he listens to Guns ‘N’ Roses. Day made.

They Said It

  • “Baseball is an escape for all of us. For our own sanity, to just be able to play together does a lot of good. As long as we can move forward and acknowledge that there’s things in this country that are not right, right now – instead of trying to sweep it under the rug and move on to the next story – that’s a start.” – Anthony Rizzo
  • “This is not the end of this conversation. Every day something pops up new here. Like Jason said, we’ll continue to navigate tomorrow, tomorrow.” – David Ross

Friday Walk Up Song

For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield – I’m probably one of the few who likes Stephen Stills with Buffalo Springfield more than I do with Crosby, Stills, & Nash. By the way, if you haven’t seen it on Netflix yet, I highly recommend Echo in the Canyon.

“There’s battle lines being drawn, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong. Young people speaking their minds, getting so much resistance from behind.”

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