Road to Opening Day: #18

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The Cubs played a late night game (for us in Chicago anyway) against the Mariners in Peoria on Wednesday.  Not much to say, except for the part where Mike Olt and Javier Baez hit really long home runs (probably Arizona- and Randy Wolf-assisted, but still).  James Russell got to pitch and gave up a bomb of his own, but we’ll forgive him since he had dead arm and didn’t pitch all preseason just yet.  The Cubs also lost their first ever replay challenge when manager Rick Renteria unsuccessfully lobbied for Ryan Kalish to be safe at first on a REALLY close play.  Most of Twitter thought he was safe, but whatever.  The Cubs got to enjoy an off day after playing their first night game (they didn’t win, but who cares, Baez & Olt!) of the Cactus League season; their previous attempt got rained out.

While coaching high schoolers in the art of baseball, I thought of the many reasons why one should choose baseball over football if one is capable of playing the sport at a high level.  Here’s a good tweet…

 


Chew on that for a moment.  Of course, Revis may have gotten more if he hadn’t been injured or just released by the Buccaneers, and Ervin Santana had wanted a billion-gajillion dollars (yeah right), so grain of salt applies.  But not having your brains splattered on the inside of your skull every other play is probably a good thing, no?

Anyway…Javier Baez is likely going to play at second or third base given Starlin Castro‘s incumbency as the Cubs’ shortstop at least until something weird happens.

 Top prospect Javier Baez is projected as the starting shortstop at Triple-A Iowa but will get some playing time at second base in Cactus League games, beginning next week, Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Wednesday.

 

“We want to still be able to see him work and play at different positions,” Renteria said. “We still haven’t gotten him over at second base. We plan on doing it Monday or Tuesday. We’ll go from there, maybe working him at third.”

 

Baez has been working with infield coach Gary Jones at second and third.

There was a rapid fire list of roster moves on Wednesday:

The Cubs made the first roster cuts of spring on Wednesday. Arismendy Alcantara, Logan Watkins, Jorge Soler and Matt Szczur were optioned to the Minor League camp. Kris Bryant, Jeudy Valdez, Albert Almora, Carlos Pimentel and Eric Jokisch were assigned to the Minor League camp. Outfielder Aaron Cunningham was granted his release. The Cubs now have 56 players in camp.

 

Alcantara, Watkins, and Szczur were optioned to Triple-A Iowa; Soler was optioned to Double-A Tennessee.

Doesn’t mean they suck, just need a bit more seasoning, y’know?  The likely assignments to start the season:

Almora is likely to start the season at Single-A Daytona, Bryant and Soler at Double-A Tennessee, and Baez and Alcantara at Triple-A Iowa.

After the off day, Bryant and Baez will still get to hang out and play with the big boys in Vegas against the Mets.  We’ll keep counting down for now, next on the lineup:

The 1918 World Series

This World Series was famous for a number of reasons.

  • Despite having played in Wrigley Field for the past couple seasons, the Cubs had to play their home homes at old Comiskey Park because Wrigley couldn’t hold enough fans.  The Cubs wouldn’t play at World Series at Wrigley Field until 1929.
  • This was the last Red Sox World Series featuring Babe Ruth.  They’d sell him to the Yankees a couple seasons later for $100K, which was a lot of money back then.  But damn, man, it’s Babe Ruth.  Can you imagine the Angels selling Mike Trout to the Cubs for $20MM?  Because that’s basically what happened.
  • For whatever reason, people keep bringing up the conspiracy theory that the Cubs may have thrown the World Series.  This was of course the year before the White Sox threw the 1919 World Series.  Baseball players didn’t make that much money (it was way before free agency and before salaries got crazy) so it was somewhat understandable why certain players would sell out.
  • The gap between this World Series and the 1929 World Series represents the biggest World Series appearance drought for the Cubs behind the one we’re in right now.  Wow that’s depressing.

The Cubs had a solid rotation headed by Hippo Vaughn, who was actually a pretty good and productive pitcher for his day.  I’ve never heard of any of the other guys, but Hippo Vaughn had such a great name that he’s hard to forget.

Check out the box scores!  Neither team hit a home run.  That’s right, a World Series featuring BABE RUTH did not have any home run(s) at all.  Through six games.  Astounding!  Also, this would be the last time the Red Sox clinched a World Series championship at Fenway Park until 2013, when they beat the Cardinals (also in six games).

Babe Ruth didn’t need home runs though, as he pitched mightily well, earning two victories.  His line was a little wacky but I think they were still trying to pitch to contact back then.  Thanks to the Babe, the Red Sox didn’t even have to score all that much in six games, and Boston in 1918 was 5-for-5 in World Series victories before they hit a drought of their own.

This World Series was eight years after the Cubs’ last appearance, their third longest drought.  It was still a short enough time that Cubs fans in that period were expecting a contender year in and year out, as the Cubs had their runs in the ‘aughts (and later on in the 30s).  Alas…but that’s what the new front office is working on now so maybe we can dream about the pre-Prohibition days once again.

18 days!

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