“He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind and he was willin’ to make a deal.” – Charlie Daniels Band, The Devil Went Down to Georgia
The Cubs kick off the traditional second half of the season with a…wait for it…night game at Wrigley Field on a Friday night. You may think that’s Tom Ricketts over in the corner with horns on his head, sporting a tail and a pitchfork, but it’s actually Satan. If the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, he blew his cover in Wrigleyville this season.
Not even the likes of Batman — Adam West, Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Christian Bale, take your pick — could remove the stench of Gotham City that will hover over The Friendly Confines this evening when the Cubs host the Red Sox.
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? Is that Jed Hoyer sliding down the Bat Pole into the Bat Cave? Doubtful.
Perhaps the Infernal One is hanging out at the corner of Clark & Addison because the Cubs need some dark magic to leapfrog the Brewers and Reds. Even though theologians will tell you God takes no rooting interest in sports, Chicago’s North Side Baseballers need a little help over the next 73 games, especially if Hoyer stands pat at the deadline. A hex on the Reds or a little too much imbibing by the Brewers may be just what the priest ordered, but it could be the Cubs just need an exorcism of their own. They should be running away from the division after all, Pythagoras be damned.
There’s precedent, too. The Cubs hired a Greek Orthodox priest in 2008 to bless the home dugout and spread holy water on the infield before their first-round playoff series with the Dodgers. Then they were swept. They also hired Rick Renteria as a manager only to quickly replace him with baseball swami Joe Maddon as a form of divine intervention. At least that change worked.
You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. The ball is in your court, Mr. Hoyer. I don’t have another 108 years.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs need help at the hot corner, and old friend Jeimer Candelario could be the answer.
- If Chicago does want to add, the team’s biggest needs are corner infield and an impact arm in the bullpen.
- If the Cubs decide to sell, Cody Bellinger, Marcus Stroman, Kyle Hendricks, and Mark Leiter Jr. are the likeliest to be moved.
- Stroman will be the biggest name to be moved in all of baseball according to Mike Axisa of CBS Sports.
- Six teams are on the bubble as the league navigates toward the trade deadline and the Cubs top that list ($) according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The Cubs are the only team in the NL Central with a positive run differential, but that’s heavily skewed by their nine wins over the Pirates and A’s.
- The Cubs are running out of time to prove to the front office that they’re contenders to win the NL Central. Chicago has little chance of entering the postseason as a Wild Card.
- The Cubs dropped their tentative 2024 schedule on Thursday.
- Top draft pick Matt Shaw probably won’t crack any Top 100 prospect lists, but Bleacher Report gave him an honorable mention.
- Dan Kantrovitz recapped the 2023 draft and if you’re into podcasts, it’s a great listen.
Odds & Sods
It almost feels like Opening Day redux!
BASEBALL IS BEING PLAYED TODAY pic.twitter.com/M7Hlg5Om0J
— MLB Deadline News (@MLBDeadlineNews) July 14, 2023
- Cincinnati (50-41): Elly De La Cruz, the most exciting rookie in baseball, has delivered hope in what was a hopeless season.
- Milwaukee (49-42): Could the Brewers be interested in trading for Shohei Ohtani? Milwaukee would go bonkers. Ohtani would immediately surpass Giannis Antetokounmpo as the city’s favorite son.
- Pittsburgh (41-49): The Pirates took a bit of a gamble when they drafted Paul Skenes, but it might pay off.
- St. Louis (38-52): The Red Sox are reportedly interested in three Cardinals players that St. Louis is reportedly peddling: Jordan Montgomery, Jordan Hicks, and Paul DeJong. They’re also interested in Michael Fulmer according to the linked article.
Climbing the Ladder
“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” – Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven
The Cubs should be buyers, period. No fan should be willing to accept another selloff, either.
- Games Played: 89
- Record: 42-47 (.472)
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,409
- Total Strikeouts: 816
- Strikeout Rate: 23.94%
- Team Batting Average: .246
- Runs Scored: 410
- Runs Allowed: 384
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 34.1%, 2.0% to win the World Series
How About That!
Baseball was once known for breaking racial barriers in the U.S., but now Black representation in the major leagues is at its lowest in decades.
The Dodgers and Orioles will be the most aggressive buyers according to insider Robert Murray. The Angels are on the fence once again.
A panel of MLB Network analysts believes the Phillies are the likeliest landing spot for Ohtani.
The two-way superstar is on a pace to produce 11.6 WAR this season.
This year’s deadline has the chance to be one of the busiest in recent memory.
The MLB All-Star Game has apparently jumped the shark, and I’m in full agreement.
The Cubs are hosting Marvel Super Hero Night on Tuesday.
Heroes aren't born. They're built.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 12, 2023
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- Happy Bastille Day, Vive le France, and as is customary, celebrate accordingly.
- Birth control pills will soon be as easy to get as THC gummies and generic Viagara now that the first over-the-counter oral contraceptive has the green light in the US. Also, watch for your social media feeds to light up with ads for Opill.
- A new US cricket league backed by tech money hopes Americans will find the sport wicket awesome.
- Calibri, take a seat on the bench. Aptos, you’re up!
- Disney CEO Bob Iger said he’s considering selling some of the company’s traditional TV assets, which include ABC and FX because he thinks traditional TV is dying. Welcome to the party, pal.
- Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. “A member of The Who and two Sex Pistols walk into a bar…“
They Said It
- “You want to prove that you’re worth whatever you were given. And you want to prove that you’re worth every penny. You can put so much internal pressure on yourself that you’re trying so hard instead of just being yourself. That’s the way [my wife Mallory] says it to me all the time: ‘Stop trying, just start being.’ That’s something that’s really tough to navigate through, at times, but we all learn each and every day in this life.” – Dansby Swanson
Friday Walk-Up Song
Don Henley wants to wish you all a happy Frey-Day. Enjoy your weekend, friends.