It will likely change after 2019, and we’ve already heard plenty of complaints about WGN America not carrying Chicago Cubs games (or any sports) anymore. But today, we harken back to the days when Cubs baseball shone upon our televisions screens on the good old number 9, though this will only happen 45 times in 2015 instead of nearly every day like in your grandpa’s day. Like with TV broadcast schedules and rights, this year’s Cubs team has also changed, and in due time, we might see that both may have been for the better.
For today, though, we get some highlights from Cactus League play where the Cubs defeated the visiting Cincinnati Reds with just enough offense and pretty darned good pitching. The visuals of Sloan Park in Mesa were breath-taking, and I envy everyone who got vacation time and had saved up enough dough to make the trip out there and enjoy a great game. In the meantime, the Cubs and WGN kept bombarding us with hype commercials for the coming season, and it would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least somewhat moved by all the rah-rah-rah. The marketing department is really working well here.
Anyway, among the highlight videos, some notes:
- Travis Wood is my pick to be the number five starter, following Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks. He showed some good stuff over his first starts, and even with a clunker in there, he was never actually terrible or embarrassing out on the mound. He also made a great cover play to get the out at first after Anthony Rizzo ranged to field a ground ball. There was this:
I mean, that looked pretty good. The framing from David Ross probably helped some. At the same time, observing the accuracy and movement on some of Wood’s pitches makes me think that he can be more than serviceable if this isn’t just a fluke or smoke and mirrors.
- Chris Denorfia was the only offense on the day with a two-run bomb off Johnny Cueto:
You’d like to see more offense, but this was just enough.
- Even though the Cubs only mustered up one hit, they got on base a number of times via the base on balls and one Tommy La Stella hit-by-pitch. Even when they struck out or otherwise made an out, the Cubs hitters up and down the lineup battled against Cueto and in no small way, this probably contributed to Denorfia’s home run that was the difference in the game.
- Ross and Kyle Schwarber did a good job behind the plate. Whether Ross contributed with framing or not, I can’t really tell, but he did throw out a baserunner and called a decent game. Schwarber couldn’t block a wild pitch late in the game, but did make a splendid swipe tag to prevent the tying run from scoring:
The throw was good but seemed a bit off line and slowed down when it hit the dirt, but Schwarber’s effort made it a great play.
We’ll end with some comments from Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon, and now we wait for the next TV broadcast…