“He say, ‘One and one and one is three.’ Got to be good looking ’cause he’s so hard to see.” – The Beatles, Come Together
The Cubs will be world travelers this week after one of their best homestands in a few years. They play the Cardinals in London next weekend after a rematch in Pittsburgh with the Pirates. The St. Louis series also marks the first time the Cubs have played outside of North America since 2000, when they battled the Mets in Japan’s Tokyo Dome. Jon Lieber beat the Mets 5-3 in the season opener that year and Danny Young lost 5-1 the following day in what counted as a “home” game for the Cubs. Shane Andrews and Mark Grace homered for the good guys in the first game.
Who will be Chicago’s next international star? I’d bet heavily on Christopher Morel, who seems like he is on the precipice of stardom. We can argue whether starting Morel in the minors was the right thing to do, especially since he’s hitting home runs at a Ruthian pace. Though he’s still a bit under the radar nationally, that’s going to change if he has an outstanding two games in London.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs went 5-1 on the homestand, which included a lot of offense and stellar performances by Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman, and Justin Steele, to prove they are good enough to contend for the division title.
- Steele picked up right where he left off before hitting the IL.
- Hendricks said that David Ross is unfairly blamed when the Cubs struggle.
- Morel is hitting home runs at a pace that Cubs fans haven’t seen since Sammy Sosa played.
- Ross said Morel “has some of the most power” he’s seen in his career as a player and manager.
- Morel credits Dansby Swanson for helping him be more patient at the plate.
- Nico Hoerner has been at his best in clutch situations this season.
- Jameson Taillon said the infield pairing of Hoerner and Swanson is “nasty.”
- Rookie catcher Miguel Amaya was forced to leave yesterday’s game after taking a pitch to his wrist.
- Patrick Wisdom aggravated an ongoing issue with his right wrist on Friday and was placed on the 10-day IL. The Cubs used his roster spot for Steele.
- Outfield prospect Kevin Alcántara enjoyed a five-hit, two-homer game for South Bend on Saturday. Shortstop Ed Howard also homered in the game, his first since April 21, 2022.
Odds & Sods
This video is a blast, and Jeremiah Estrada steals the show.
One of the most iconic baseball movie scenes recreated 30 years later. ⚾
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 19, 2023
- St. Louis: Postseason hero David Freese declined the opportunity to be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame, though he plans to remain an active member of the team’s alumni activities and fan-related events.
- Milwaukee: The Brewers swept the Pirates over the weekend to take the lead in the NL Central.
- Cincinnati: The Reds have won eight straight after sweeping the Astros and are 10-2 since promoting shortstop Elly De La Cruz.
- Pittsburgh: A bus driver hired to transport the Pirates from Chicago to Milwaukee was stopped during the journey Thursday evening and charged with DUI.
Climbing the Ladder
“I have only one burnin’ desire, let me stand next to your fire.” – Jimi Hendrix, Fire
The Cubs outscored the Pirates and Orioles 44-22 on the six-game homestand. They travel to Pittsburgh for a three-game set before their series against the Cardinals in London on Saturday and Sunday. Mike Tauchman hit his first home run as a Cub in yesterday’s loss and he also had a stolen base, but his play of the day was nailing Austin Hays at the plate as part of an 8-2 double play. Morel has 13 home runs in 31 games after hitting 11 in 29 games for Iowa. That’s a 65-HR pace.
- Games Played: 71
- Record: 33-38 (.465)
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,705
- Total Strikeouts: 656
- Strikeout Rate: 24.25%
- Team Batting Average: .247
- Runs Scored: 318
- Runs Allowed: 309
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 40.8%, 1.8% to win the World Series
How About That!
I hope all the dads enjoyed their day yesterday. Veteran sportswriter Bill Chuck put together a wonderful Father’s Day quiz in honor of Chicago’s baseball dads.
White Sox infielder Zach Remillard is the only player in the modern era to have both a game-tying and a go-ahead hit in the 9th inning or later in his MLB debut. He’s also 29 years old and didn’t reach Triple-A until his age-27 season.
The Red Sox swept a doubleheader against the Yankees for the first time in 17 years.
The Pirates are promoting catcher Henry Davis for their series against the Cubs. Davis was the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft and he’s Pittsburgh’s top-rated prospect. He’s also the No. 3 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline.
The Rangers are baseball’s only team without a Pride Day celebration.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Lance Lynn – The White Sox starter struck out 16 Seattle batters in seven innings but still took a loss as the Mariners beat Chicago 5-1. Lynn tied a franchise record set by Jack Harshman in 1954.
- Eddie Rosario – Atlanta’s jack-of-all-trades was 3-for-4 with two home runs and six RBI as the Braves trounced the Rockies 14-6.
- Ian Gibaut – The Reds reliever improved to 7-1 on the season despite a 5.26 FIP. Gibaut entered the season with two career wins spanning five seasons.
Watching Morel rounding the bases is everything baseball is supposed to be. I hope this kid makes the All-Star team.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 18, 2023
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- A key American historical event finally received federal recognition in recent years: June 19, 1865, the day all people living in the United States, including the formerly enslaved, were officially granted freedom. On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law making the day known as Juneteenth a national holiday.
- Public Enemy rapper Chuck D praised baseball for honoring Juneteenth and also noted former major leaguer and TV analyst Harold Reynolds for his efforts. “MLB is trying to figure it out,” he said in an article published by The Athletic ($). “You know, teamwork in baseball, as far as Black folks were concerned, it was our biggest outlet. Especially talking (about) the national pastime, which was, like, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie — and a little bit of racism.”
- The Minneapolis police force has routinely discriminated against racial minorities and used excessive force, the Department of Justice said Friday at the conclusion of a probe into the MPD that it began one day after former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of killing George Floyd. As a result, the DOJ is working with the MPD on an agreement that would require it to make changes. President Biden called the report “a positive step forward” but also urged Congress to pass a law improving US policing.
- A radio station in Portland, Oregon, is cloning the voice of its midday host Ashley Elzinga and will use an AI version of her (“AI Ashley”) for some segments. The real Ashley isn’t losing her job, but automation continues to be a major concern among radio hosts.
- Scientists have found all the ingredients needed to support life in an extraterrestrial ocean for the first time, indicating that the waters of one of Saturn’s small moons, Enceladus, are indeed habitable.
- A rumor once circulated that Jimi Hendrix sold his soul to Satan and it was based on the story of blues pioneer Robert Johnson, who was said to have met the devil at a crossroads and executed a similar deal.
They Said It
- “You have to take it with a bird’s-eye view. You say, ‘Hey, we’re not playing good right now, but you always have to stay in the fight. You always have to show up every day to compete and good things will start to happen.’ A little bit of that adjustment in mindset has been good. It’s gotten everybody on the same page. No matter who you are, where you hit, when you come into the game to pitch, we’re all after the same thing. Sometimes we need a little bit of a refresher.” – Swanson
Monday Walk-Up Song
Acoustic Hendrix to start your Monday morning.