The Dream Dies as Cubs Drop Spring Opener

4-1 World Series odds, my foot. Well, the excitement was fun while it lasted, I guess.

I apologize in advance for any typos that may follow, but I’m drafting this from the ledge. After all the projecting, expecting, and downright genuflecting, the Cubs went out and promptly dropped their first game of the Spring 2-1. To the Brewers. Ugh. Oh well, the bandwagon was getting a little full anyway.

Those of you who’ve been reading me for a while probably picked up the sarcasm there, though, in fairness, I was laying it on with all the subtlety of a teenage lothario bathing in Axe body spray. On the off chance that some of that opener actually resonated with you, I’m going to have to ask you kindly to leave my site and then clear your browser history. I’d also request that you have someone administer a firm kick to your rear end.

Okay, not that we’ve taken care of that little bit of housekeeping, let’s move on to the game itself, equipped with the full understanding that the outcome has zero bearing on the Cubs’ season. There are, however, a few takeaways.

Javy Baez in Center, huh? Yeah, About That…

The ball always finds the new guy, doesn’t it. Playing in center, Javy Baez was pressed into action early and often as the first three batters of the game tested him. He looked like he was on skates when Jonathan Villar led off the bottom of the 1st with a triple, then made an off-line throw on a Colin Walsh sac fly. That was followed by a circuitous route and a failure to haul in a Jonathan Lucroy fly ball.

Not sure if this is more a problem of Baez needing to get more familiar in the outfield or just platooning him out when the Cubs are facing a lineup with guys named Jonathan.

Quick hook for Travis Wood

I know he’s not going to be expected to throw more than two or three innings at a time, but it doesn’t bode well when he can’t even get into the 3rd inning. For as much talk as there’s been about faith in the bullpen and the good vibrations radiating from Joe Maddon and his players, you have to wonder if both were somewhat undermined Thursday afternoon.

Or not, since the starter was only going two innings regardless. Actually, the pitching was really good as six Cubs combined to allow only two runs on four hits with 13 strikeouts and only a single walk. I guess I’ll take that.

Sheriff of Nottingham

One of the stars for the Brew Crew was 20-year-old Jacob Nottingham, who ended up 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI. Nottingham is new to the organization, having just arrived a few weeks ago from Oakland as part of the Khris Davis trade. The Brewers also received pitcher Bowdien “Bubba” Derby, thus winning at least the cool name portion of the deal.

Nottingham actually began his career in the Astros farm club, but was dealt to Oakland as part of a package for Scott Kazmir. Already well-traveled, the still-raw catcher is viewed as a potential replacement for Lucroy when the rebuilding Brewers inevitably trade the All-Star. The Sheriff was a DH on Thursday but can play a little first base, which probably gives him the quickest path to the majors.

Guess who’s back? Vogelbach

Nice to see Big Dan picking up the Cubs’ lone RBI on the day. It was also nice to see some conversation springing up around the pronunciation of his name, which most of us have long presumed to be Vogel-bock. When I first saw him play live, the PA announcer pronounced it Vogel-back, as did Mick Gillespie and Len Kasper.

Overall, it was a good news/bad news kind of game. The Cubs were disappointing, but at least now we’ve only got 364 days or so until next season’s first real fake game.

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