The Rundown: Cubs Underwhelm National TV Audience, Hendricks Historically Bad, Suspensions Agitate Ross, League Salaries Down Nearly Five Percent

“This has nothing to do with demons. This has to do with allaying the pain to get you through. Leave the demons to the church and trust the pain to me.” – Doc Cochran, Deadwood

It was nice of Kyle Hendricks to immediately free up our Sunday evenings. Before the cheese for my nachos had melted, Braves hitters Freddie Freeman, Travis d’Arnaud, Ehire Adrianza and Guillermo Heredia had unloaded on Hendricks to stake Atlanta to a quick 6-0 lead and I no longer had to listen to Matt Vasgersian and Álex Rodríguez for the rest of the night.

I opted for watching reruns of “Deadwood,” a series based on the misfortunes of its entire cast, rather than succumb to the misery of a 13-4 Cubs loss on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

In doing so, I missed the bomb Buster Olney dropped regarding Javier Báez‘s declination of a $180 million extension prior to the 2020 season. If true, that may be one of the more spectacular mistakes in the history of the game. I won’t get into the specifics because Evan Altman did a fantastic job of covering Olney’s after-the-fact reveal, but there’s probably a regret or two attached to that decision.

Forthrightly, I don’t think the team is collectively worth $180 million considering the way the Cubs have busted out of the gates to a 6-9 record. That they are in last place but just three games out of the lead is either a horrible tease or a reflection on their milquetoast divisional brethren. Just like last year, it appears nobody really wants to win the NL Central. I know it’s early, but May is just around the corner and we should have a pretty good idea of Chicago’s postseason chances once we get to Memorial Day.

If the Cubs aren’t in it to win it, I suppose I’ll root for Pittsburgh. Unlike the Cardinals, Brewers, and Reds, they’re almost impossible to dislike, if only because they’re just so bad. I suppose it’s no coincidence that the Pirates and the fictional Bad News Bears sport identical color schemes. If the Cubs intend to hang out in last place all summer, perhaps they should take a page from the antics of Coach Buttermaker’s squad and take the field to the chorus of Les Toreadors Suite One by Georges Bizet.

Anyway, I’ve just spent a few minutes relaying the pain of watching Cubs baseball and I copped out before the boys in blue even batted last night. For that, I apologize. It’s a new week, so let’s hope the North Siders can turn it around against the Mets and Brewers.

Cubs News & Notes

Apropos of Nothing

Just so you know, things really aren’t always as bad as they seem. Batters were hitting just .235 across the entire league going into Saturday’s slate of games, to which I say please ban or modify the shift.

Climbing the Ladder

Fantasy baseball expert Ron Shandler preaches that once a player acquires a skill he never loses it. It may temporarily disappear, but it will never be gone forever. The Cubs are thoroughly testing that adage through the early part of the season.

  • Games Played: 15
  • Total Plate Appearances: 536
  • Total Strikeouts: 151
  • Strikeout Rate: 28.2%
  • Team Batting Average: .192

The North Side baseballers entered their series with the Braves batting .163 as a team. It’s amazing what pounding out 24 hits over two contests can do to fatten that up. Things won’t get any easier when the Mets come to Wrigley tomorrow. Chicago will face Taijuan Walker, David Peterson, and Jacob deGrom in the three game set.

Odds & Sods

The legend of Cubs reliever Andrew Chafin grows by leaps and bounds on the daily.

How About That!

Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer is the game’s highest paid player this year at $38 million, but salaries are down 4.8% overall this year. The 50 highest-paid players are getting 33.4% of all salaries, up from 28.6% in 2017, and the 100 highest-paid are receiving 52.4%, an increase from 42.5% in 2017.

Despite a month of leaguewide depressed offensive statistics, the Dodgers continue to mash. They’ve outscored their opponents by 38 runs on their way to a 13-3 start.

In their weekly joint statement, MLB and the MLB Players Association announced on Friday that three new players and three staff members returned positive coronavirus results in the latest round of testing, a slight uptick among Tier 1 employees from the previous week, but spectacular nonetheless.

Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase throws an absurd 100 mph cutter.

Nobody in the past two decades can throw a fastball as hard as Julian Merryweather and deaden a changeup as much. His average gap between those two pitches this year is an unprecedented 17.6 mph.

Friday’s Mets-Rockies game was postponed due to a snowstorm, giving New York their seventh postponement in the three weeks since Opening Day.

The Mets’ workplace environment is under further scrutiny after a new report details additional accounts of inappropriate behavior that were ignored by team management and the HR department.

Sunday’s Three Stars

  1. Guillermo Heredia – The Braves outfielder was 0-for-7 in three games before busting out against the Cubs with two home runs and six RBI. According to STATS, he became the first player to drive in at least six runs in a game from the No. 8 spot in the Braves’ lineup since runs batted in became an official stat in 1920.
  2. Aaron Nola – The Phillies ace blanked the Cardinals yesterday, allowing just two singles in a complete game 2-0 victory. Nola had 10 strikeouts, didn’t walk a batter, and threw 79 of 103 pitches for strikes.
  3. Shane Bieber – Cy Young awards seem to come in pairs recently and the Cleveland ace is well on his way toward his second consecutive honor. Bieber went eight strong with 13 strikeouts in beating the Reds 6-3 yesterday, and now has 48 punchouts in 29.1 innings pitched this season.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

The Cubs, Dodgers, and Red Sox were among the league leaders in lost revenues in 2020, each taking hits of $175 million or more due to lost ticket sales. The top ten teams accounted for more than half of the league’s total losses.

If you like a little baseball with your breakfast, the Red Sox and White Sox will kick it off at 10:10am CT as Boston honors the city’s annual Patriots Day celebration.

Extra Innings

I don’t know about you, but if allowing Rizzo to release his inner ham will get us two taters per game from the articulate first baseman, I say surgically implant the microphone onto his body and roll with it all season.

They Said It

  • “Just not very good overall from the start. Not aggressive, falling behind guys and then just everything was flat.”Kyle Hendricks
  • “Their lineup is deep with a lot of thump, and just tonight wasn’t Kyle’s night.”Anthony Rizzo
  • “We threw one behind a guy’s calf, and we’ve got suspensions and fines everywhere. That makes zero sense to me. Since I’ve been here, we lead the league in getting hit by pitches, and it’s not even close, and we’ve never intentionally retaliated to my knowledge.”David Ross

Monday Walk Up Song

Dyslexic Heart by Paul Westerberg. The Cubs and Braves swapped 13-4 wins on Saturday and Sunday. By the way, if you take away the epic soundtrack and appearances by members of Pearl Jam, “Singles” is a really bad movie. It’s a great time capsule, though.

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