“What has happened to it all? Crazy, some would say. Where is the life that I recognize? Gone away…” – Duran Duran, Ordinary World
Back-to-back homers by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to christen yesterday’s 5-1 win over the Diamondbacks sure felt like old times, didn’t it? It was the seventh time the duo has homered in consecutive at-bats in their Cubs careers and the first time in two years. It’s hard to believe all of this is ending, if not this week then certainly before the team reports to spring training next year when Jed Hoyer will roster his first signature team.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 25, 2021
Fittingly, Chicago started its series against the last-place Diamondbacks on Friday with a three-run jack by Javier Báez that plated Bryant and Rizzo. If Hoyer and Tom Ricketts are intent on breaking up the brand, it’s nice to see none of the core intends to go quietly. The three have combined for 539 home runs and 1,686 RBI while playing for the North Siders. That’s a lot of offense to replace at once and it may be a long time before we see that kind of firepower at Wrigley Field again.
The vibe at Clark & Addison felt a little awkward this weekend, perhaps because Cubs fans realize this might be their last chance to see the faces of the franchise playing together. Each bout of excitement was tempered by an equal amount of trepidation due to all the trade rumors. Things should get just a little crazier for the four-game set against the Reds that starts today. It’s the final home series before Friday’s deadline, which will come just about the time the team starts its pre-game warmup in Washington D.C.
Rizzo is aware that this could be it for him and his two buddies, though he is showing little desire to move on.
“It’s going to be what it is,” the captain said after yesterday’s game. “I have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s been almost four years now since all this talk has been out there. I don’t think really much has changed in four years.”
Cubs fans feel the same way for the most part. We heard about a reckoning under Theo Epstein’s guidance, then a rumored full-scale rebuild this winter and everything in between. Nobody knows what Hoyer intends to do, and the uncertainty that comes with an expiring collective bargaining agreement probably adds to any anxiety he may feel about whether and how hard to hit that reset button. It’s that unknown, however, that prevents most fans from celebrating Bryzzo & Co. the way they should. Nobody wants to say goodbye, nobody really knows if it’s appropriate and at some point, we’ll just have the shattered remains of what’s left and the memories of 2016.
When Bryant fielded that groundball in the bottom of the 10th inning for the final out of the seventh game of the World Series, his grin made us all feel like this could go on forever and perhaps lead to multple championships. Sadly, as we are about to find out, flags fly forever but the vessels that take us from one to the next are often different.
Next year’s team will feel like the new family that moved in down the street. It may take us a while to warm up to the new guys, and the passion, confidence, and swagger we’ve all felt since 2015 may be missing for quite some time.
Cubs News & Notes
- Rizzo’s homer was the 240th as a Cub, putting him in sole possession of sixth place on the franchise’s all-time list, one ahead of Aramis Ramírez. Next up: Ryne Sandberg at 282.
- Báez appeared to hurt his ankle late in yesterday’s game, and David Ross was blatantly non-committal after the game as to the extent of the injury.
- The Mets, Phillies, and Blue Jays were all scouting the Cubs this weekend and, more than likely, a representative from every contending team was present for at least one of the three games. Call me crazy, but if Bryant gets traded, I have a feeling the Phillies will step up to acquire him.
- ESPN’s Buster Olney stated “I think Rizzo is going to wind up with the Red Sox. I think the Mets are going to wind up with one of three guys: [Bryant, Báez] or Trevor Story.”
- Perhaps the Cubs and White Sox can pair up to help each other this week.
- The Daily Herald provided a recap of the previous trades between the two Chicago franchises.
- David Bote was activated off the IL before yesterday’s game, started at third base, and hit a two-run homer in the 6th inning.
- Justin Steele is almost ready to join the rotation for the final stretch of the season. Of the Cubs’ starters, only Zach Davies has been mentioned as a potential trade target. Though it’s doubtful, Jake Arrieta could be an after-deadline DFA if he’s not traded.
- Per Robert Murray of FanSided, some Cubs scouts considered the return for Joc Pederson, minor-league first baseman Bryce Ball, an underwhelming start to the team’s selloff and believe Hoyer may have pulled the trigger on a deal too quickly. I didn’t like the trade, personally. It wouldn’t be the first time Hoyer limited his market by not involving other teams on a potential deal.
Odds & Sods
One fan did his best to remind Ricketts how much Bryant means to Cubs fans. The photo, not credited in the Tweet, was sourced from the Chicago Tribune, by the way.
One dude bought BRYANT jerseys for the 40 people sitting in the same section as Tom Ricketts. I freaking love it. pic.twitter.com/bJfLrXZ0J5
— Michael Canter of Cubs Insider ✨ (@MEdwardCanter) July 24, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“Cause I going make you see there’s nobody else here, nobody like me. I’m special, so special. I gotta have some of your attention, give it to me.” – The Pretenders, Brass in Pocket
- Games Played: 100
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,660
- Total Strikeouts: 960
- Strikeout Rate: 26.2%
- Team Batting Average: .225
Something tells me Bryant, Rizzo, and Báez will dominate trade rumors all week.
How About That!
The Phillies will be buyers and desperately need relief help. With seven games against the slumping Nationals and dead-in-the-water Pirates this week, Philadelphia could enter August with real momentum.
From Gabe Lacques of USA Today: An analysis of 94 July trade-deadline deals from 2015-19 that shipped 204 prospects from buyers to sellers confirms a strongly held feeling throughout the industry that teams are holding their top prospects tighter than ever, making it exceedingly difficult to extract value for star players.
Byron Buxton and the Twins have failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension and the two could part ways before Friday if Minnesota trades the oft-injured five-tool centerfielder.
What do we think of Cleveland’s new nickname?
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Bryzzo – Please pause to give the iconic Cubs’ stars the standing ovation each deserves.
- Shohei Ohtani – He hit his 35th home run of the year and stole his 13th base on a 2-for-3 afternoon as the Angels bounced the Twins 6-2. Let me be the first to say what we’ve all thought at some point: Ohtani is now the face of that franchise, apologies to Mike Trout.
- Lance Lynn – The veteran White Sox righty stymied the Brewers yesterday and has quietly entered the Cy Young race. He’s now 10-3 on the season with a tidy 1.91 ERA after six innings of one-run baseball with six strikeouts.
I’ve never witnessed a more bizarre way to piss away so much money. Remember, Trevor Bauer was to earn $40 million this year and another $45 million next season. I’m sure the Dodgers front office may try to find a way to void that contract if they can. Even if you’re anti-ownership, it would be difficult not to root against Bauer.
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) July 26, 2021
They Said It
- “Looking [at the scoreboard] at the numbers of these guys, it’s very uncharacteristic of who they have been so, I mean, that has to be a factor. The group has been together for so long, and we’ve got [several] free agents, so I think that’s natural. I don’t know but I would assume and you see the guys trying harder when things did go a little bit sideways and went sideways hard — guys are trying extremely hard — so yeah, I would say that’s a decent assessment.” – David Ross
- “I mean, that’s just every day I feel like I carry that with me. As far as the sentimental stuff, I’ll have to save that one for another time… but I would definitely address all that at the appropriate time. But with the next five days, there’s going to be a lot more rumors. I’m sure the whole trade market, in general, is going to be heating up, and we’ll see what happens.” – Anthony Rizzo
Monday Walk-Up Song
Endless Summer Nights by Richard Marx. I’m not a fan of this performer, nor the song, but it fits thematically today. It’s going to be some time before summer nights at Wrigley feel the same. If you can get out to a game this week, don’t pass up the opportunity.