“Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown, waiting for someone or something to show you the way.” – Pink Floyd, Time
Can October get here fast enough? There was time we’d be saying that in anticipation of the postseason, but I think we are all in agreement that we want this dreadful season to end. I know I’ve had enough and our beloved North Side baseballers are making it difficult to find any positives to write about.
The Chicago Bulls finished 62-20 in 1998 and won their sixth NBA championship in eight years, their second three-peat, which I don’t think was even a word until Michael Jordan and his entourage owned the NBA for nearly a decade. I could never compare those Bulls teams to recent iterations of the Cubs and it’s folly to even try. That championship run was historical and though there is significant history to breaking a 108-year-old championship drought, it’s just not the same. If the Bulls of that era were akin to the Beatles, the 2016 Cubs are more like Badfinger.
After that ’98 season, Jerry Krause replaced Jordan with Brent Barry, Dennis Rodman with Mark Bryant, Scottie Pippen with Toni Kukoč, Steve Kerr with Rusty LaRue, and Luc Longley with Dickey Simpkins. That teardown resulted in a 13-37 (.260) record in a shortened season. Our post-deadline Cubs are every bit as bad as those ’99 Bulls. Luckily for Jed Hoyer, he’s not the villain Krause turned out to be because the boys in blue haven’t even sniffed a championship since 2017. The Bulls are still in the midst of what is now a 30-year rebuild, by the way.
Corbin Burnes tied an MLB record by striking out 🔟 CONSECUTIVE BATTERS 🤯
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 12, 2021
That doesn’t mean that Hoyer’s current pet project is easy on the eyes or the stomach. The Cubs lost 10-0 to the Brewers and made Milwaukee starter Corbin Burnes look like Randy Johnson in the process. Burnes struck out 15 Chicago hitters, including 10 in a row to a major league record, and walked none while scattering four weak singles. By no means am I suggesting Burnes couldn’t have done that were he facing the pre-deadline Cubs, but it certainly wouldn’t have seemed so boring and workmanlike if he had.
Chicago is now 1-9 this month as the replacement-level club struggles with pitch recognition, has few impact bats, and features a starting rotation that is transitioning from veterans to rookies. In essence, we should expect more of the same moving forward. As nice as it would be to chalk this up to growing pains, it’s likely not a single batter in last night’s lineup will be on this team when the Cubs are ready to compete again. As fans, that means we will be going through the motions for the bulk of the next 50 days.
It’s odd to start counting down to hot stove season in mid-August and this is uncharted territory for any Cubs fans who jumped on board in 2015 or later. If you told somebody the Cubs were the worst team in baseball right now, it would be hard to argue against that. All the proof you need is the performance of Jake Arrieta through the first two innings last night. The Cubs are bad and Arrieta is the poster boy for everything that has gone wrong. That may be unfair because I think a selloff was the plan all along, but it’s certainly the truth.
Cubs News & Notes
- We must now consider the reunion between the Cubs and Arrieta an abject failure.
- If you’re trying to find compelling reasons to follow the Cubs the rest of this season, look no further than the team’s young pitchers.
- The masochist in you may want to see just how far Ian Happ will let his batting average fall or his strikeout rate climb.
- There are four hitters worth keeping an eye on, including hitting machine Rafael Ortega and Rookie of the Year candidate Patrick Wisdom.
- Per David Ross, who accidentally slipped on the big reveal, the Cubs are tentatively scheduled to play the 2022 Field of Dreams Game. Perhaps the ghosts of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, and Craig Kimbrel will appear from the cornfields to help Chicago.
- Jason Heyward continues to be a leader in the Chicago community.
- Rowan Wick is hoping to get work in high-leverage situations, perhaps as the team’s future closer.
- Minor league outfielder Alexander Canario, acquired from the Giants in the Bryant deal, is lighting it up for South Bend right now.
Odds & Sods
It’s Field of Dreams Day and thank the universe for television!
- The most expensive ticket price is $3,792.00
- The average ticket price is $1,326.19
- The cheapest seat is $1,220.00
My column from the Field of Dreams: As long as you’re here, reality waits in the on-deck circle — and, like Moonlight Graham, never gets to bat. @MLBNetwork @MLB @PlayBall @Yankees @whitesox https://t.co/zXcOI5I7iJ
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 12, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“Can you teach me about tomorrow and all the pain and sorrow, running free? ‘Cause, tomorrow’s just another day and I don’t believe in time.” – Hootie & The Blowfish, Time
- Games Played: 116
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,243
- Total Strikeouts: 1,131
- Strikeout Rate: 26.7%
- Team Batting Average: .227
It’s tough to watch Happ at the plate. Perhaps I should change this section to the non-tender watch.
How About That!
For the first time in MLB history, there was a “Maddux” (complete game on fewer than 100 pitches, tracked since 1988, named after Greg Maddux), a 15-strikeout game, a team scoring 20 runs in a game, and a walk-off home run all on the same day, per STATS.
Burnes is the third pitcher in MLB history to strike out 10 consecutive batters.
The Red Sox and Yankees may be headed for an epic September battle.
It appears that San Diego shortstop Fernado Tatis Jr. will get playing time in the outfield once he returns from his injury. The Padres are hoping that the move will help prevent Tatis from needing season-ending shoulder surgery.
The Diamondbacks became the first team to reach the 80-loss mark this season.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Corbin Burnes – It’s a miracle the Cubs were able to scratch together four singles against the Milwaukee fireballer.
- Adam Wainwright – The veteran Cardinals hurler threw a Maddux yesterday, needing just 88 pitches to shut out the Pirates on two hits. Wainwright had seven punchouts and did not issue a walk.
- Miguel Cabrera – Miggy hit his 499th career homer on a 3-for-4 night. The future Hall of Famer also plated three runs as the red hot Tigers beat the Orioles 5-2.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Though the movie is now 30 years old, there is still some magic to the Field of Dreams site.
The goal of the event is to bring Major League Baseball closer to those who may not always be able to touch it, a part of the league’s continued stated goal of building a larger audience and drawing in new fans.
Dyersville has been buzzing all week in anticipation of tonight’s game between the White Sox and Yankees.
Not a shocker that Kevin Costner would show up. I’d rather see Ray Liotta or James Earl Jones.
If you build it, he will come.
— MLB (@MLB) August 12, 2021
They Said It
- “Would I have liked to pitch better throughout the season? Of course. Now the job description includes a lot more than just that. It’s about helping these young guys grow. And finding any way that I can in my power to have success, and that’s important.” – Jake Arrieta
- “Jake’s in a unique spot where he’s trying to clean up his year, [as] some of the other guys around here, and finish strong and continue his baseball career. And also there [are] moments I’m sure he should take in, at a place where he’s done really special things and continues to impact this organization and the young guys here.” – David Ross
- “I got nothing for you, man. I’m doing the best I can. And that’s what I’ll continue to do.” – Arrieta
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Overkill by Men at Work – The Cubs can’t lose every single game, can they?