The Dodgers may be the Golden State Warriors in spikes (which, is it weird for a journalist to openly play the fanboy role?), even though it was actually the Indians that made like the Dubs in blowing a 3-1 lead. When it comes to finding a comp for the Cubs, however, it’s probably better to look to Northern California, where there’s another baseball team that has actually won a championship in the last 29 years.
In fact, the Giants have won three titles over the last seven years, which I think is kinda decent. And it’s exactly that kinda decent that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer set out to establish when they blew into Chicago between the first and second of San Francisco’s recent titles.
To say the Cubs execs were intentionally emulating what Brian Sabean and Company had/have done isn’t quite right, but there are certainly some parallels when it comes to establishing sustainable success. It’s fitting, then, that the Cubs were the ones to break the Giants’ streak of even-year success in last year’s NLDS. The Cubs eventually went on to win the World Series, a fact that many people have forgotten over the last nine months.
And while seeing the empty husk of a team putzing around AT&T Park these days might have you thinking bad thoughts about the Cubs’ future, consider that circumstance and time have taken a hefty toll on the Giants. Cubs fans should be so lucky as to look back six years from now and see three Commissioner’s Trophies in the background.
As much fun as it would be to win every single year, that was never the goal. The goal, as it was clearly stated from the start, was to have a team that could consistently compete for the playoffs and a shot at the title. You may not like that the Cubs aren’t running away with the Central or that Joe Maddon makes questionable bullpen decisions, but let’s not get it all twisted.
The window is still wide open for the next few years. And, ironically enough, it’s the Giants who might help the Cubs to prop it open a little further this year.
Ike Davis’s pitching conversion
I am a fan of reinvention. Though his success came with the Cardinals, I was really rooting for Rick Ankiel to make it as an outfielder following his brief career as a pitcher. And I even (looks around warily) like seeing Tim Tebow trying to make it.
Sure, some of that stems from the fact that there’s no small measure of novelty involved. But think about the skill it takes to succeed at the highest level of athletic competition and then imagine having to start back over from scratch along a different path in that same endeavor.
In that, Ike Davis is basically Roland of Gilead but with baseballs instead of bullets. The former standout first baseman for the Mets is trying to make it as a lefty reliever in the Dodgers organization and he’s looking good at this (admittedly very early) juncture. Davis debuted with the Arizona Fall League Dodgers last night, striking out the side in his lone inning of work.
It’s only fair to point out that Davis pitched in college, for Arizona State at that, so this isn’t like some complete rebirth. Still, it’s a cool story and one I hope comes full circle at some point.
Javy bowls a strike
I love my curvy ballparks. As a teenager, I was often teased by my friends for my attraction to fields on the more unique side, ones with shorter and curvier walls, ones that the average bro might refer to as “old” or even “weird.” Then, as I became a man and started to educate myself on issues such as capitalism and how the media marginalizes ballparks by portraying a very narrow and very specific standard of money-making, I realized how many men have bought into that lie.
And…yeah, there’s only so far I can take it with that riff (if you don’t know the source material, you’re probably better for it), so I’ll move on. I really do love stuff like Fenway’s Monster and short porch, even the late Tal’s Hill in Houston. But Triples Alley in San Francisco is pretty cool too. In fact, several facets of AT&T Park make for a fun experience. Heck, the angle of the concrete facing in right saved the Cubs from a back-breaking Brandon Crawford home run in last year’s NLDS if I recall correctly.
One such feature is the very deep alley in right-center that led to a phenomenal catch by Jason Heyward last season and that created some excitement last night as well. Javy Baez sent a line drive deep to the opposite field, pausing for a moment to admire it before realizing that it wasn’t getting out. Only 16.11 seconds later, he was sliding headfirst into home with an inside-the-park two-run homer.
More news and notes
- The Cubs agreed to a minor-league deal with utility journeyman Mike Freeman, who was DFA’d by the Dodgers to clear 40-man room for Yu Darvish; Freeman can play nearly every position on the field and will serve as emergency depth
- Mike Trout collected his 1,000th career hit on his 26th birthday, later adding a home run
- Bryce Harper hit his 150th career home run…at the exact same age Trout was when he reached 150 (24 years, 295 days)
- The Tigers have called Jeimer Candelario up to the bigs, where he’ll likely serve as a bench bat for the remainder of the season
- The Cardinals have optioned Stephen Piscotty to AAA, making three significant players they’ve sent to minors this season (Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, Aledmys Diaz)
- Tyler Chatwood has been moved to the Rockies bullpen; not a great development for him, but could reduce his FA value for interested teams