The Rundown Lite: Bleacher Bummed, Home Is Where It’s Hardest, Injury Updates, Pivotal Point in Schedule Looming

This past weekend of Cubs baseball is one of the strangest I can remember, though only part of that has to do with the team itself. Against the backdrop of four straight losses following three consecutive series wins, it felt for long stretches as though time and reality had come unmoored and left us — or maybe just me — scrabbling helplessly for purchase. Now just think what it’ll be like when Jed Hoyer trades everyone at the deadline for the second year in a row.

Your experience of the past several days was probably decidedly different from mine, mainly because I am chronically online and was also dealing with a youth baseball tournament. Between bad traffic, worse storms, and all manner of detours resulting from both, a 75-minute commute turned to 120 through parts of the state that aren’t conducive to either radio broadcasts or cell coverage.

As such, my nerves were frayed and I wasn’t able to follow the game very closely. Between that and my son’s games, the Cubs took a backseat for a while. And speaking of taking seats, there was some rather heated discourse throughout Saturday and even into Sunday about bleacher etiquette when a part-time bleacher season ticket holder took the seat of a regular.

The kerfuffle ensued when Bleacher Jeff took to Twitter to call this individual out, though what may have initially been meant as kind of a joke quickly became a primary storyline among Cubs fans on social media. Based on my understanding of it, the issue is not that someone just happened to make the grievous error of sitting in an open seat, but that the individual made a very specific point to “steal” Jeff’s particular spot.

At the heart of all this is bleacher culture, which is very real among those who call that section home for 81 games each summer. As someone who has been allowed behind the velvet rope out there a few times — in the very seats in question, no less — there are some general rules and a mutual understanding about the seating arrangement in spite of it being general admission.

That’s probably what made the weekend feel weirdest for me. I mean, an online squabble over a bleacher seat was taking up more of my timeline than any conversation about the team people were sitting in that seat to watch. Tom Ricketts is probably just happy someone was willing to pay for the product he’s putting out there, and it surely tickles him even further that the whole thing sort of reinforces the team’s “It’s Different Here” slogan.

Cubs news and notes

  • A 3-4 homestand makes the Cubs 7-15 at Wrigley this year; the Nats (5-15) and Reds (5-9) are the only NL teams with fewer home wins.
  • Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel went back-to-back in Saturday’s loss and Sunday’s win, making them the first pair of Cubs teammates to accomplish that feat since Ernie Banks and Jim Hickman on August 23 and 24 of 1969. Something tells me this group isn’t going to be remembered quite as fondly as that bygone team.
  • Willson Contreras was not placed on the IL after leaving Saturday’s game with a tweaked hamstring and David Ross said the initial evaluation offered “good news.” That’s hard to take very seriously coming from an organization that has routinely wasted roster spots by avoiding IL designations, but here’s to hoping Contreras is back soon.
  • P.J. Higgins picked up the slack in his 2022 debut, slapping a bases-clearing triple to right Sunday to put the Cubs up early.
  • Nico Hoerner is “probably at 80%” as he works back from an ankle sprain suffered when he collided with the second base umpire during the Cubs’ series in San Diego.
  • Alec Mills (low back strain) made a rehab start at Triple-A Iowa Sunday, going 2.1 innings and allowing one run on two hits and a walk. It was his first action in a month after experiencing right quad tightness in late April. Because Mills was recently moved to the 60-day IL, the earliest he can return is June 6.
  • Clint Frazier went 0-for-3 with a walk Sunday as he builds back from an appendectomy on April 22. He is expected to return by early June.
  • Michael Hermosillo and Jason Heyward are both on the IL with no designation, but the former had previously been placed on the IL due to a left quad strain. This feels like a situation in which the Cubs are keeping him with the organization for a while longer rather than making a roster decision with a guy who is out of options. The outfield is already crowded and certainly won’t be less so with Heyward and Frazier returning soon, so it’s hard to imagine Hermosillo being able to carve out a role.

You know, Ron, you feel like this could be a turning point

Remember that part about the Cubs being terrible at home and how the Reds are one of the few teams that are actually worse? Well, okay, the Reds actually have a better home winning percentage than the Cubs right now. That could change over the next four days, however, as the Cubs will be in Cincy for the first time to face the worst team in baseball.

Anything less than three wins could effectively seal the Cubs’ fate because things get much harder after these next few games. They head back to Chicago for a weekend set with the Sox, then host the Brewers for four games in three days before hosting the Cardinals for five games in four days. That’s 11 games in 9 days, all against teams that are appreciably better.

A pair of off-days sandwich a series in Baltimore, which could provide a soft landing, then the Cubs are in New York for three to start a stretch of 17 straight games. Unless they really start putting things together, it would make a lot of sense for Hoyer to jump the market and start making moves early.

Closing thoughts

The last two seasons have been pretty tough for CI, and likely for other outlets that cover the Cubs. Between the COVID shutdown, the lockout, and the team not even trying very hard to be competitive, site traffic is way down. Even though I never got into this for fortune and fame, or at least not fame, there have been more than a few times that I’ve had to ask myself whether this is all worth it.

I’m very thankful for all our loyal readers and commenters, even if the latter group leads to our infrequent trolls questioning our popularity. Now I’d just like for Cubs management to provide us with something a little more substantive to cover so that we can keep providing fans both die-hard and fickle with fun and interesting angles.

In the meantime, I’ll keep plugging away when I’m not sitting at 13U tournaments.

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