Everything Else

I hope everyone had a good All-Star Break. I moved apartments and was living life out of half-unpacked boxes and no wifi for six days. Luckily, I didn’t miss anything memorable outside of Willson Contreras having a small meltdown and the trading of Joc Pederson (what a replacement for Kyle Schwarber that turned out to be). The Cubs return from the break to face the Arizona Diamondbacks — a more even matchup than what may have been originally expected just three short weeks ago.

The MLB is about to rev back up again at the halfway point of the season, meaning we’re about to see Cubs galore get shipped off to (hopefully) greener pastures. Pederson is the first of the regular starters to do so, being traded to the Atlanta Braves for first base prospect Bryce Ball. I hear that Ball is supposed to be one of the higher-ranked prospects, and I also hear that his strikeout rate is at a glowing 27.8%. He’ll fit right in with the Javy Baezes of the team, if Baez will even come out the other side of this offseason as a Cub.

Meanwhile, the Braves hope that Pederson will be a suitable replacement for Ronald Acuna Jr., who has been sidelined for the rest of the season thanks to an ACL injury a few weeks ago. Acuna’s a really hard member of the team to replace, considering he leads his team with 3.6 WAR, but Pederson will try his best to fit in there as they try to make a playoff push.

July 16, 2021
Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 1
WP: Hendricks (12-4) LP: Bumgarner (4-6)
Box Score

Hendricks officially becomes the winningest pitcher in baseball; he’s already cemented his spot as the only truly consistent pitcher in the Cubs’ starting rotation, as they used the All-Star Break to give him the rest he needed to start after pitching technically just two games ago. He allowed only run one total in his 6.0 innings pitched, another quality start in the bag. Only six hits were made off of him and he walked three batters, striking out four. A single and a double in the 3rd inning scored the Diamondbacks’ only run.

The Cubs made quick work of the Diamondbacks after that. In the 2nd inning, Baez was able to single, steal second base, and score when Jake Marisnick hit a sacrifice fly. Then three home runs in the 4th and 7th innings closed the game down for the Cubs thanks to Rizzo, Patrick Wisdom, and Jason Heyward. Heyward also scored Ian Happ, who singled on a ground ball that hit Nico Hoerner as he tried to run for second base, getting him out. It ended up not mattering too much, though, as 5-1 would be the final score.

The bullpen allowed only one hit all game, and it was Ryan Tepera in the 7th inning. He did, however, throw three strikeouts in an otherwise dominant performance. Andrew Chafin allowed no hits and had a strikeout, and Craig Kimbrel shut the Diamondbacks down with a flyout and two strikeouts to finish out the game.

July 17, 2021
Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 2
WP: Brothers (3-2) LP: Soria (1-4)
Box Score

The first half of this game made it seem like the Cubs were slipping back into their pre-All Star Break ways, but they ended up returning to true form in the late innings of the game. It was Adbert Alzolay starting on the mound, and in the 2nd inning he had given up two singles and a groundout that scored a Diamondback. He walked a batter after this, putting himself in a tough situation with runners on 2nd and 3rd, but he was able to get out of the jam thanks to a groundout and help from Hoerner and Rizzo behind him making the play.

The Diamondbacks scored again in the 5th, once again off two singles. A double play took a little bit of the pressure off, but with a runner on third base, Josh Rojas was able to score him to make it 2-0 Diamondbacks. This would be Alzolay’s final inning, as he allowed five hits, two walks and two strikeouts in his time out.

The bullpen once again played solidly, allowing no more Diamondbacks runs to give the offense time to sputter to life. Willson Contreras, after telling the media that others on the team don’t work as hard as he and Baez work just a week ago, proved it for the rest of this game; Contreras himself was directly responsible for three of the Cubs’ four runs, and Baez helped with the first one. After Contreras singled and Rizzo walked, Baez doubled to score Contreras. One play later, Rizzo was tagged out at home and Wisdom lined out, the score still being 2-1 Diamondbacks. In the 9th, however, Rafael Ortega was able to double, and Robinson Chirinos singled in a pinch-hit situation to score Ortega and tie the game. Immediately after, Contreras came in and hit a home run, scoring two runners and giving the Cubs the 4-2 lead. In the bottom of the 9th, Craig Kimbrel once again shows off his closer abilities to any other teams in the market who may be watching, shutting down the D-backs and throwing two strikeouts in the Cubs win.

July 18, 2021
Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 6
WP: Kelly (6-7) LP: Winkler (1-2)
Box Score

The Cubs were once again late to the party when it came to generating offense, and this time it really came back to bite them, as Arizona had a late-inning rally of their own that proved too much to overcome. Zach Davies was on the mound, where he gave up 6 hits, 4 walks and 2 runs in just 4.2 innings, if that shocks any of you. In the 4th inning, Davies loaded up the bases so that a single scored a D-backs run, and then in the 5th a double and a single scored yet another run for the opponents. When he gave up another single shortly after that, he was pulled for Kyle Ryan, who loaded the bases with another walk. Luckily, a groundout play ended the inning.

The Cubs came back to tie things up in the 6th inning. Robinson Chirinos hit a ground-rule double, Bryant doubled to score Chirinos, and Baez singled to score Bryant. Wisdom striking out ended the inning and the two-out rally, and the Diamondbacks wasted no time at the bottom of the next inning preying on Dan Winkler, who walked the first batter, hit the second batter, popped someone out, and then threw a wild pitch to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Winkler intentionally walked Pavin Smith to load the bases with only one out, a galaxy-brained decision at best. A groundout happened for the next batter, but not before a run was scored to give the D-backs the lead they’d never get back.

Rex Brothers replaced Dan Winkler after that at-bat and the fun didn’t stop there. After a wild pitch to score yet another runner, Brothers decided to intentionally walk Daulton Varsho, who immediately stole second base. Luckily it was the pitcher, Merrill Kelly, who grounded out next to end the inning.

It wasn’t over. The next inning, Brothers walked his first batter and then a home run two batters later gave the Diamondbacks a 6-2 lead. By the 9th inning, the Cubs started things off with a double and a single that led Kelly, the starting pitcher, to finally leave the game after allowing six hits, four runs and six strikeouts in his 8 innings pitched. Baez was able to steal two bases thanks to the Diamondbacks — the DIAMONDBACKS — feeling defensive indifference toward our team in this 9th-inning, two-out situation. Ortega hit a line drive after that to score Baez, but the Diamondbacks got the final strikeout to end an absolutely embarrassing game, all things considered.

The Cubs came out of the All-Star Break winning a pair of games, which is good for their confidence, theoretically. However, it IS the Diamondbacks, who are 27-68 on the year. And today’s loss was pretty embarrassing. Our team is pretty bad, folks.

Next comes a four-game series against the Cardinals at St. Louis, who are now exactly tied with the Cubs at just a tick under .500. Both teams are 9 games back of the 1st-place Brewers and 7 games back of the 2nd-place Reds. Though the playoffs aren’t realistic for either of these teams anymore, it’s always good to not get embarrassed by the Cardinals, so let’s try and get the job done, alright? Go Cubs go!

Everything Else

Yes, the Padres are even more injured than the Cubs are. And they were without Fernando Tatis Jr. in the lineup today. But don’t allow those factors to demolish the good times that were had this week at Wrigley as the Cubs were able to sweep their series against the 1st-place Padres.

Things were looking just fine for the Cubs after the first game, stomping the Padres with half an infield of “who?”s, but that’s just who the Cubs have been for most of the season. Then Anthony Rizzo came back for games two and three, collecting himself five hits and two RBIs on his time out. His .832 OPS at the end of game three was second on the team only to Patrick Wisdom, who has a ridiculous 1.458 OPS after hitting three home runs this series. Who the hell is this guy? More please?

Fielding errors and home runs galore made this series an exciting one to the very end as a Cubs fan, and it came without having to watch Yu Darvish pitch against us so we don’t have to feel that pain. (I’m sure we’ll see him next week, however.) Let’s break this series down before going on to the next.

May 31, 2021
Cubs 7, Padres 2
WP: Stewart (1-0) LP: Paddack (2-4)
Box Score

This was supposed to be Trevor Williams’s start, until he had to get an appendectomy and got put on the 10-day IL because that’s how this season has been going for the Cubs so far. Instead, they put Kohl Stewart to the fire, who has only 17 big-league outings to his name, with the last one being in 2019.

However, Stewart and the Cubs held things together against the Padres. Stewart pitched five innings and allowed only three hits and one run. He walked only one batter and struck out 2 keep his ERA at 0.0. He also had a nasty play to walk off the fourth inning, as the ball was hit right to his glove, which he caught on a bounce with his back turned to the batter and making the throw to Kris Bryant at first base. The other bullpen guys, Andrew Chafin and Tommy Nance, closed down the game completely for the Padres, allowing no hits and striking out three batters between them.

The bullpen was able to keep the Padres’ scoring down, as well. Keegan Thompson continues to impress despite his outing being the statically worst of the bullpen this outing. He allowed three hits and one run but also struck out three batters in 2.1 innings. He allowed Tatis Jr. to homer off of him, but that is forgivable considering how out of this world he plays.

This game was a homer-dependent game, as the Cubs homered five times which allowed them to score all 7 of their runs. Javier Baez homered twice, RBI-ing Kris Bryant in the 3rd inning as well. Patrick Wisdom also looked great offensively, as he hit his 2nd and 3rd homers of the year today while being a competent third baseman during this time of injury. Kris Bryant also had a homer, but considering the MVP numbers he is continually putting up it’s not much of a surprise to anybody.

June 1, 2021
Cubs 4, Padres 3
WP: Hendricks (6-4) LP: Weathers (2-2)
Box Score

This game was the only real nail-biter of the series, as Hendricks was able to make it one full rotation before the Padres were able to really start hitting off of him. Wisdom homered in the 2nd inning, scoring Baez, to put the Cubs up in a relatively comfortable 2-0 lead early. Then, on his second round through the rotation, Hendricks started to slide a little, allowing a solo homer from Victor Caratini (making Cubs fans to bitterly remember what a competent backup catcher looks like since at the moment our backup catcher is on the 60-day IL), a single to pitcher Ryan Weathers, and then another two-run homer to put the Dodgers ahead, all in a two-out situation. Manny Machado singled, but after that Hendricks was able to finally get the strikeout he needed to get out of the inning.

Luckily for us, the Cubs answered immediately to this one. Sergio Alcantara, bright-eyed and playing his 13th career MLB game, got on base with a leadoff single. Despite Kyle Hendricks’s best efforts on a bunting attempt, Alcantara was called out at 2nd, meaning Willson Contreras was the leading run when he stepped up to the plate. He crushed the ball to center field for a two-run homer, of course.

Are you bored yet of me telling you the bullpen was fantastic with no issues? There were no hits allowed for any of the three bullpen pitchers, and together they recorded four strikeouts. Three of them came from Craig Kimbrel, who struck out three Padres in a row to end the game. Thanks Kimbrel. Don’t ship him off to another team please.

June 2, 2021
Cubs 6, Padres 1
WP: Alozlay (4-4) LP: Johnson (1-2)
Box Score

The Cubs were able to sweep this series in a quite miraculous way, immediately answering back when the Padres took the lead in the 4th inning thanks to a throwing error on the Padres’ part to score Anthony Rizzo and get Rafael Ortega to reach first base. One inning later and Rizzo made his presence known, doubling on a huge, huge hit that scored two runs and put the Cubs up in a much more comfortable 3-1 lead. Rizzo is back and you missed him, but whatever you do, Ricketts family, don’t resign him.

We all thought that 3-1 lead was going to come the inning before in the 4th, after two Padres fielders pulled a Nico Hoerner/Ian Happ-à-la-1-month-ago, colliding trying to catch a fly ball and ending the inning on a double play before both collapsed on the field in pain and were taken out of the ballgame. Probably the worst part of this game to watch by far.

Back to the show: there was still so much to like. Ian Happ’s infield single scored another Cub to make it 4-1, and Javier Baez shortly thereafter hit an absolute bomb to make it 6-1. The people at Wrigley were going absolutely nuts, and that was before a fan hopped onto the field with a Jesus sign, got tackled by security, and Pat Hughes announced that he’d be “going to jail for the night,” though he didn’t seem sure of his prediction by any means.

Adbert Alzolay got the win, allowing the Padres’ only run and three hits, striking out seven batters. And the bullpen was once again absolute nails: they allowed two hits between the four of them, Nance got himself in and out of a pretty sketchy jam in the 7th inning, allowing 0 of 2 Padres in scoring position to score that day. It was exactly the game the Cubs needed to end on before the west coast trip.

Finally, shoutout to Boog Sciambi for singing what was legitimately the worst version of the 7th-inning stretch me or my dad have ever heard.

It’s road trip time, as the Cubs will be spending some time in California to play the Giants, who were on a four-game win streak before they got walloped by the Angels yesterday to the tune of 8-1, and that was without Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani in the lineup, so yikes.

Despite this, and thanks to the Padres’ collapse this series, the Giants now find it is them at the top of the NL West standings with a 34-21 record. Some wins against the Giants, who are slightly less injured than the Padres right now, are quite necessary. Like Soundgarden (good all the way to the end), the Cubs will have to just keep on rowing through these games, come hell or high water, picking up as many wins as they can in order to stave off the selloff. They’re trying their damndest to do so, and it’s making great baseball. Go Cubs go!

Everything Else Hockey

In a move that should surprise no one, Andrew Shaw called it a career at the age of 29 earlier this morning, in a move that sadly is probably a couple years overdue. After having suffeded his third major concussion in 4 years, the message of doctors finally sunk into that thick cocker spaniel skull of his, and it’s the right move for his long term health and for his young family.

Shaw arrived on the scene in the first half of the 2011-12 season as a Rockford callup who had put his time in as a fifth round pick, and immediately endeared himself to the large swath of meatball Hawk fans with a goal and a fight right away in Game 1. And while his cement head antics would keep him front and center and often detract from the team – he was always an overzealous offensive zone penalty waiting to happen – the fact of the matter is that he could contribute on all four lines, and was instrumental as a depth piece on two different cup runs, playing the style of playoff hockey that every team needs to get 16 wins, with his two famous OT contributions of the I Love Shinpads goal, and the headbutt goal that was disallowed. Of course, that same rambunctiousness led to suspensions for plowing into Mike Smith (which really, who hasn’t wanted to do?), and having a Heated Gaming Moment in throwing out a homophobic slur in 2016, which is truly a black mark on his and hockey’s reputation. To his credit, however, Shaw seemed to be truly regretful of using it, and sought to make amends by speaking with then-Hawks reporter and openly gay man Chris Hine as well as putting plenty of effort into the league’s You Can Play Initiative.

Shaw was traded to Montreal in the off season following the latter incident, and in return the Hawks received the pick they’d use to select Alex DeBrincat, so that was truly a case of the Hawks winning a trade, even if they did what they always do which is trade back for and/or re-sign players that have been here before. In his second stint over the past two years, Shaw has only played 40 total games over two interrupted seasons, and he’ll end his career having played 544 games with 247 points. It’s just unfortunate that the same style of face-first play that was the only way for him to make it to the league and stick here will ultimately be what ends his career before 30. But this is the right move for everyone involved, regardless of whether this is an actual retirement with paperwork submitted, or another LTIRetirement, which remains to be seen.

In other news today, according to many reputable sources such as Elliotte Friedman and Uncle Bob Mackenzie, NBC is pulling out of negotiations for the rights to the other half of the NHL’s American national TV package after ESPN rejoined the party a couple months ago. With NBC folding their national sports outlet NBCSN likely in an effort to push more people towards their subscription streaming service Peacock, and with ESPN paying what NBC did in the last contract negotiations for half the games, it likely seems like NBC did some cost/benefit analysis here and cut bait. And while Fox and its national network Fox Sports 1 were thought to be the other frontrunner involved, it appears to be Turner sports, whose NBA coverage on TNT is the industry standard for sports coverage both in their studio show and gameday production, and whose MLB coverage on TBS is lukewarm at best. There’s nothing concrete about anything yet with no official announcements being made, but it would stand to reason that plenty of NBC’s analysts are now going to be looking for new homes, and it would go a long way for Turner to endear itself to the hockey consuming public to bring on some of the youngish and diverse faces at NBC like our gorgeous boy Patrick Sharp and Anson Carter, but also by telling Regis “Pierre” McGuire to finally go do one, as there is literally no one (the audience, the players, his co-workers) who can stand his bullshit, but time will tell. Or just Ernie, Kenny, Chuck, and Shaq do the NHL show too.

Everything Else

Box Score: Game 40 | Game 41
Game Log: Game 40 | Game 41
Natural Stat Trick: Game 40 | Game 41

The Hawks certainly showed them last night. It always astounds me how this team can always be counted on to do the exact bare minimum necessary to kind of stay in the playoff race. Now things are a bit more difficult for them as their loss last night put the Hawks at a .500 record, 4 points behind 4th-place Nashville, who can’t stop winning, and only 3 points ahead of Dallas, with Dallas having three games in hand.

I’ve had about enough and I honestly don’t have a lot of hope left for the playoffs. We keep seeing the same issues over and over not being addressed. Here they are, some of them for the umpteenth time, in bullet form, with some good things mixed in there too.

  • At least Kirby Dach looks back in business, with three points in five games. He looks great playing with Kane. His first goal on Tuesday was called off for offside, but he set up Kane for the first real goal of the game to give Kane a nice breakaway chance. He also had another goal of his own halfway through the first. If you had told me he was still having pain in his wrist I wouldn’t believe you.
  • Vinnie Hinostroza reminded Hawks fans that he exists with a great pass to assist Kubalik on the 2nd goal on Tuesday. He also passed it right to Kubalik for the Hawks’ lone goal last night. The two seem to play well with each other so let’s see more of this.
  • Nikita Zadorov is solely responsible for a solid 11% of the team’s total penalty minutes. He leads the entire team with 31 minutes and has nearly double what the second-most guy has. The Hawks have been getting better of staying out of the box except for this clown. He also sucks on the ice at defense when it really matters, being solely responsible for Dallas’s second goal last night by once again passing the puck right to a Dallas Star to set up the scoring chance instead of dumping it out. Why do people like this guy so much? If they re-sign this doofus I’m really going to lose my mind.
  • I did just mention the Hawks were getting better at staying out of the box, but last night’s game they gave the Stars three powerplay opportunities, the most they’ve given an opponent since March 25 against the Panthers. The Stars were able to capitalize twice on their powerplay opportunities also, which was obviously pivotal for the Stars’ win. The Hawks need to stay out of the box, especially when you’re 30th in the league with your penalty kill.
  • The Hawks’ powerplay has also gone cold, with 1 goal in the last 20 powerplay opportunities; 1 goal in 7 games. We are 21st in the league with even-strength goals, so our powerplay cannot be sputtering the way it is now.
  • I’m not sure why the Hawks get domed possession-wise when they win and are winning the possession metrics when they lose. It doesn’t make any sense at all. HOCKEY.
  • Congrats on the Cat for 20 goals. Here’s to 20 more, we’ll need them.

Since the last writing, the Hawks traded away two Lucases – Lucas Carlsson and Lucas Wallmark – to the Panthers for Brett Connolly, Riley Stillman, Henrik Borgstrom and a 7th-round pick, cementing the Blackhawks as the team to offload all your cap issues to because we have the space.

Connolly only has 4 points on the season but had 33 points last season and a career-high 46 points the season before. He also won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals. Riley Stillman is not a points-getting defenseman, but Bowman says he is AGGRESSIVE and COMPETITIVE, so take that with whatever grain of salt you’d please. This is the last year of his contract so he may become a free agent after this season. Borgstrom is still more of a prospect, but he did play 50 games with the Panthers in the 2018-19 season and had 18 points. This year he was playing in Finland and has 19 points so far.

The Blackhawks start a 5-game road trip this weekend against Columbus, who just hilariously split a series with the Lightning this week. The Blue Jackets are now tied points-wise with the Stars, so the Blackhawks (once again) need TWO – not ONE – TWO huge wins here to put distance between them and other playoff contenders in the Central, I guess.


Everything Else

It started out a complete disaster, but the Cubs were able to figure it out against the Pirates to start 2-1 on the year. The bullpen went from looking atrocious to making me feel cautiously optimistic. The hitting went from non-existent to being shouldered by the World Series champions who couldn’t be found offensively last season. We were able to rebound, so I’ll take it for now. Let’s look at each of the games:

April 1, 2021
Cubs 2, Pirates 3
WP: Howard (1-0) LP: Hendricks (0-1)

There is truly nothing better than starting the season off the Cubbie Way—playing like inexcusable garbage. Kyle Hendricks allowing a 2-run homer in the top of the 1st inning just for laughs. Throwing only three strikeouts in four innings. All Cubs fans were given a grim reminder of how bad our pitching could look like without Yu Darvish at the helm.

Joc Pederson had a great chance to show all Cubs fans what he could do with a bases loaded situation in the 1st, whacking the ball to left, but unfortunately the wind was not with him and he only ended with a sacrifice fly. Additionally, Willson Contreras had a very nice double steal play, and Anthony Rizzo was able to sac fly him home. Rizzo was responsible for one of two (2) total hits today for the Cubs, BUT WHATEVER YOU DO, RICKETTS FAMILY, DON’T RE-SIGN HIM.

By the 4th inning Hendricks was pulled, meaning we got to see a whole plethora of bullpen pitchers, which was a horrible experience. Brandon Workman started us off for the first time this season, where he was throwing 91-93 mph fastballs. And balls that hit the ground in front of the plate. And wild pitches. Eventually he got switched out for Rex Brothers because he couldn’t throw any strikes, but Brothers certainly didn’t look any better.

Jason Adam was next up in our bullpen as he attempted to fastball the ball past any Pirate up to bat. Even with that pitch hitting 95 mph, Jacob Stallings was able to figure Adam out as he was able to rope the ball to left, extending the Pirates’ lead to 4-2. Winkler had some time at the plate as well, surviving the longest out of everyone in the bullpen – a whole 1.2 innings! Chafin, Tepera and Mills also pitched, but at that point the game was literally at the 3-and-a-half-hour mark and you guys are telling me that you weren’t turning the channel to watch Yu Darvish and the Padres?

The Cubs did score another run thanks to the second of two (2) total hits from the Cubs—a Contreras sacrifice fly to send Bote substiution Eric Sogard home, but by that point it was too little, too late.

April 3, 2021
Cubs 5, Pirates 1
WP: Arrieta (1-0) LP: Anderson (0-1)

The Cubs offense looked a lot better Saturday, even without leadoff hitter Ian Happ out of the lineup because apparently, it’s better to shelter Happ from lefty pitchers than give him experience to help him improve against lefty pitchers. Love it.

Javier Baez was legitimately not pulling our leg about his need for crowds cheering and in-game video to help with his play. He had a huge game tonight unlike any we’ve seen from him for at least a year, with two hits, a run, an RBI, and 2 stolen bases.

Jake Merisnick, Happ’s substitute at center field, also had a great game offensively. He had a run, a hit, and a Baez sacrifice fly RBI, ending the day with a .250 batting average.

Heyward made me look like an idiot saying he wasn’t the player he once was, because he had a great game as well: 2 hits (one a home run), an RBI, and a .875 OPS. Finally, let’s even give Kris Bryant a hand because he was our other home run hitter of the game, also responsible for an RBI and leading the team with a 1.042 OPS.

To the pitching! Even though Arrieta was looking a little shaky at first, he was quickly able to bounce back and survived through 6 innings, twice as far into the game as Hendricks stayed in on Thursday. He struck out five batters and ended the game with a 1.50 ERA. He also allowed 6 hits, and though the Pirates would make contact off of him pretty regularly throughout the game, the Cubs defense behind him was solid and kept the Pirates to only one run.

Although Arrieta had a good pitching game, good Lord he is awful at the plate. Watching his first at-bat was an atrocity to my eyes. He was just so behind each swing and both times he put himself in a three up, three down situation. His second at bat he at least took a ball, but he was still so slow to swing, just going through the motions. Both of his strikeouts ended innings and it made me understand why people advocate for a DH.

We saw Workman again out of the bullpen, and he looked much better Saturday than he did on Thursday. He ended the top of the 7th with a wild pitch in the dirt again which bounced away from Contreras, but luckily the throw to first base made it in time, showing once again the Cubs’ defensive prowess against what is essentially a minor league team. Take the wins as they come, I guess.

Andrew Chafin looked better, too. In the 8th, he had 3 strikeouts to end the inning. Additionally, we saw the first appearance of Craig Kimbrel this season, who also had 3 strikeouts to finish the game. Even though the Pirates are projected to be the worst team in the entire MLB, hopefully both pitchers can continue to build off of these good outings.

April 3, 2021
Cubs 3, Pirates 2
WP: Davies (1-0) LP: Keller (0-1)

This game was Zach Davies’ Cubs debut since getting traded to us in exchange for Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini. He survived 5.2 innings and had 5 strikeouts, 3 walks and one home run allowed late in the 6th inning.

The Cubs’ offense continued to be good today, although that doesn’t really mean a ton when you’re playing the Pirates; it’s more like the bare minimum required of you as an MLB team. Kris Bryant RBI’d Ian Happ to score early in the first. Happ also had a nice solo homer in the 3rd. Joc Pederson, now the king of sacrifice hits, RBI’d Anthony Rizzo in the first as well when he grounded out to first base.

Ex-Cub Duane Underwood Jr., who embarrassed us completely on Thursday, collapsed completely by the bottom of the 6th, letting Bryant and Baez hit off of him. The Pirates’ fielders didn’t really help much either. Just like we remember the Pirates being.

Rex Brothers was a bit terrifying out of the bullpen, allowing three hits and a run, but luckily a Bote/Baez/Rizzo double play kept the Cubs in the lead by one run. The other bullpen pitchers, however, were actually fine. Winkler only played a third of an inning after Davies was pulled thanks to looking a little shaky his third time through the batting order. Winkler was able to get the final out of the 6th inning and gave up no hits or walks. Tepera played 1.1 innings and only allowed a walk; although hitters were getting contact on his pitches, the Cubs defense was able to bail him out.

Finally, Craig Kimbrel had another solid outing closing out the game with another three-up, three-down inning and two strikeouts. It gives him something to build on after his tough performance last season.

To wrap it up, I’m not sure what’s going on with David Bote. They made a huge deal about how it was DAVID BOTE’S TURN to play full-time at second base, but he’s only played one of the first three games to completion. Would like to see what happens when he’s in there a full game, honestly. Is Eric Sogard really any better?

With the season in full swing, the Cubs will continue their homestand with a 3-game series against the Brewers Monday-Wednesday. The Brewers just finished opening their season against the Twins, who beat them 2-0 yesterday and stomped them 8-2 today.

Everything Else Hockey

The Rockford IceHogs have set a franchise record for futility to open a season, dropping two games this past week to fall to 0-4-1 on the 2020-21 campaign.

The piglets have been in most of these games. However, the discrepancy in talent is pretty evident.

The IceHogs began a four-game home stand by losing to the Wolves on Tuesday. Thursday night, Grand Rapids came to the BMO and stifled Rockford.

As expected, the IceHogs are struggling to put pucks in the net. The passing and puck skill aren’t up to AHL speed as of yet. For the time being, Rockford is going to have to work hard, put back rebounds, and create traffic in front of nets to create offense.


Roster Activity

Rockford jettisoned goalie Scott Darling on Wednesday, releasing the veteran from his PTO. Darling played in one game for the Hogs, giving up five goals in Rockford’s 5-2 loss to the Wolves on February 9.

Defenseman Michael Krutil, who was on an amateur tryout, was released from his ATO, then signed to an AHL contract. Krutil, 18, has appeared in three games for Rockford this season.

The IceHogs also announced on Wednesday that defenseman Anton Lindholm, recently sent to Rockford from the Hawks taxi squad, would be out for four to six weeks with a broken thumb. The IceHogs currently have just seven healthy defenseman on the roster; there may be a real need to sign a couple of players in the coming weeks.

Back on Tuesday, Rockford skated without captain Garrett Mitchell. Mitchell was serving a one-game suspension for a cross-check to the head of Iowa’s Ryan O’Rourke on Saturday.



Tuesday, February 16-Chicago 3, Rockford 2

The IceHogs dug a three-goal hole in the first forty minutes of action. Despite rallying for a pair of goals in the final stanza, the IceHogs fell to the Chicago Wolves for the third time this season. Rockford drops to 0-3-1 after a 3-2 defeat at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

The Wolves quickly went up 1-0 on Anthony Richard‘s quick strike past Hogs goalie Matt Tomkins 1:22 into the game. The scoring play was started by Jeremy Davies hauling in a wayward shot attempt by Rockford’s Cole Moberg. The puck rapidly made its way to Tom Novak, who hit Richard coming into the Hogs zone. Richard finished off a 2-on-1 rush by finding the top right corner of the net.

The IceHogs were nailed with a too many men on the ice infraction midway through the first period. Chicago converted late in the man advantage. Ryan Suzuki did the honors, taking a pass from Richard in the near right circle and one-timing into the open net. The Wolves led 2-0 at the 12:55 mark and took that lead into the first intermission.

Tomkins denied several high-percentage shots from the Wolves in the second period. However, Philip Tomasino got himself open in the slot, taking a pass from David Cotton and driving a shot over the Rockford goalie at 13:32 mark. Rockford came up empty on three power play chances in the second stanza and began the final period down 3-0.

Two goals in the span of 19 seconds midway through the final frame brought the Hogs roaring back into contention. Brad Morrison brought the puck out of the Rockford zone, up the left side, and into the high slot. There, he floated a backhand shot toward net. Just before Wolves goalie Beck Warm could glove the attempt, Chris Wilkie batted it into the net at 7:01 of the third.

On the ensuing faceoff, Wilkie found himself with the puck on his stick just outside the Chicago blueline. He passed to a pinching Issak Phillips, who drove to the net and sent a shot that Warm stopped with his left pad. Phillips, who continued to drive to the net behind his shot, scooped up the rebound and cut the Wolves lead to 3-2 at the 7:20 mark.

The IceHogs kept the pressure on Warm, firing 15 shots on the Chicago rookie in the third period. Despite a frantic push in the final minutes, Rockford was unable to complete the comeback.

Warm stopped 37 of 39 shots on the evening to pick up the win. Tomkins kept the Hogs in the contest with several point-blank saves, finished with 33 saves on 36 shots.

Three Stars: Richard (First), Wilkie (Second), Tomasino (Third).

Lines (Starters in italics)

Brad Morrison-Chad Yetman-Chris Wilkie

Matej Chalupa-John Quenneville (A)-Andrei Altybarmakyan

Mitchell Fossier-Evan Barratt-Gabriel Gagne

Riley McKay-Dylan McLaughlin-Tim Soderlund

Chad Krys-Cody Franson

Alec Regula-Michal Krutil

Issak Phillips-Cole Moberg

Matt Tomkins

Scott Darling

Power Play ( 0-5)



Penalty Kill (Wolves were 1-4)




Thursday, February 18-Grand Rapids 3, Rockford 1

The IceHogs offense was as ferocious as a box of kittens on Thursday, mustering just 13 shots in Rockford’s fifth-straight loss to open the season. Rockford falls to 0-4-1 with the defeat. Grand Rapids improves to 2-2 in the first of eight meetings between the Central Division rivals.

The Griffins came out firing, out-shooting Rockford 8-2 in the opening minutes on the way to a 12-5 shot advantage in the first period. Grand Rapids had several chances in two power plays in the first, only to be nullified by some off-target passing.

The two Central Division rivals traded goals in the second stanza. The Griffins Michael Rasmussen got his blade on a Dennis Cholowski shot just over a minute into a Grand Rapids power play. Hogs goalie Matt Tomkins could only watch as the puck entered the net. The Griffins led 1-0 at the 4:33 mark.

Rockford drew even just after a man advantage of their own expired. Rookie Alec Regula pounced on a rebound of a shot by a Chad Krys shot from the point. Gathering in the puck, Regula beat Grand Rapids goalie Kevin Boyle to the left side of the Griffins net. The score was even at a goal apiece at 13:34 of the second period.

The game remained tied until the Griffins Riley Barber worked his way into an open look from the slot. Taking a pass from Taro Hirose, Barber sent a wrister over the blocker of Tomkins for a 2-1 advantage at 7:13 of the final period.

Rockford had a huge chance for an equalizer midway though the third. However, the IceHogs came up empty on a power play that included almost a minute of a five-on-three advantage.

Tomkins, who stopped 26 of 28 shots in the game, was pulled with 2:12 remaining during Rockford’s timeout. The Hogs lost an offensive zone draw, leading to an empty-net goal by Chase Pearson that made it 3-1 Griffins with 2:01 left.

Three Stars-Hirose (First, 2 assists), Cholowski (Second, 2 assists), Barber (Third, game-winning goal)

Lines (Starters in italics)

Matej Chalupa-Evan Barratt-Chris Wilkie

John Quenneville (A)-Garrett Mitchell (C)-MacKenzie Entwistle

Riley McKay-Dylan McLaughlin-Tim Soderlund

Andrei Altybarmakyan-Chad Yetman-Mikael Hakkarainen

Issak Phillips-Dimitry Osipov

Chad Krys-Cody Franson (A)

Alec Regula-Michael Krutil

Matt Tomkins

Cale Morris

Power Play (0-5)



Penalty Kill (Grand Rapids was 1-4)




Coming Up

Rockford is idle this weekend, but have four games with the Cleveland Monsters next week. The Hogs play host to Cleveland Monday and Tuesday, then visit the Monsters on Saturday and Sunday.

I’ll be back with a preview of the Monsters on Monday as the Hogs attempt to pick up that elusive first victory. Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for reports on Rockford throughout the season.


Everything Else Hockey

There are people and outlets out there that will demure and deflect in situations like this, where a disaster could be spotted a mile away and was called out at the time, and still failed to be avoided. This is not such an outlet, never has been and never will be.

I fucking told you so.

Exhibit A on October 29th :


Exhibit B on December 23rd:


So Kirby Dach had his hand hanging onto the rest of his body by the gristle, and for what? This was AN EXHIBITION game in an exhibition tournament that is unpaid, and Dach has literally nothing to prove in, and that the Hawks cannot reasonably glean any scouting information from as he’s playing against other (unpaid) children. There are simply no reasonable arguments to be made towards the fact that Dach wanted to play and he wanted to win a championship for his country. And that the Hawks front office allowed this at any level is patently ludicrous. There is enough of an adjustment to go from a junior hockey slate of games to the NHL even aside from the level of competition, and that was prior to the whole of society (including the NHL schedule) thrown into the blender with covid. It was readily apparent that as the season last year approached the 50 game mark Dach hit a lull, so why put extra miles on him in games that are of lesser competition? None of it makes sense, and now the Hawks are in an even deeper pile of shit as far as their roster construction is concerned than they were before.

This Dach injury, along with Dylan Strome still yet to be signed and languishing in RFA purgatory led the Hawks to go out and sign whatever is left of Carl Soderberg for a mildo to put a band aid over the shotgun wound that is now their center depth. At one point Soderberg could have been considered depth scoring who will give you 15 goals whether they’re needed or not, but he has been upside down in possession both in straight numbers and relative to his team his entire career, and now at 35, it’s unlikely there is going to be a radical shift in that trend. It also begs the question why the Hawks are signing all of the exact same type of guy with Soderberg now being added to Lucas Wallmark and Matthias Janmark, quote-unquote two-way players who offer next to nothing offensively and generally get domed in possession, when David Kampf has been on this roster for years and has generally flipped the ice when given the opportunity, but that feeds into the next problem here. Anyone who has seen Coach Kelvin Gemstone’s usage and deployment, particularly in the playoffs against Vegas, knows that there is no way in hell that he is going to maximize whatever it is this rabble can produce by giving them the zone starts and matchups they’ll need. And of course, the added insult to this is perennial 30 goal scorer Mike Hoffman, pain in the ass as he and that wife of his might be, just signed on for a PTO in St. Louis. But again, that’s what Magic Training camp is for (again).

The entire league’s schedule was announced right before the holiday, and in order to simplify logistics and limit exposure, for this abbreviated 56 game intradivisional-only campaign, teams will play mini two and three game series, similar to NCAA and sometimes AHL scheduling. Again, it’s a rare occasion that the NHL actually gets something right, but if they’re not going to bubble up, this is probably the best route, and that also leads into some practical matters here.

Given how life has intruded in many different ways for everyone over the past nine months (and counting), that’s left things with basically a skeleton crew still here at FFUDHQ. It’ll basically be just me and AJ covering things the vast majority of the time, with Pullega and Hess still only pinch hitting occasionally and Rose and Sam moving on. As a result, we will only be doing a preview and wrap once per “series”, before and after, and covering anything major that happens in between should it become necessary.

We also, at some point will be returning to an ad-based model here, as the subscription model made much more sense when Sam was churning out the content here that replaced the print program. As always, we’ll make every effort to keep the ads as unobtrusive as possible, and if you’re getting ads for hentai and mail order spouses on here, that’s just what google is gathering from your search history, not us putting gross ads here.

Given both of those factors, we’re now taking submissions for contributors to any who are interested. The compensation a few extra bucks in your pocket a month depending on the traffic-based revenue, so there isn’t any misunderstanding on that front. And since all we have left are straight white dudes as regular contributors, more diverse voices are encouraged to inquire. You can email McClure@FaxesFromUncleDale.com or send a DM to the @RealFansProgram account.

Everything Else Hockey

There is no way to dance around how the breaking story from respected and long-time Panthers reporter George Richards impacts us here. In short, Dale Tallon is reported to have used racist language while representing the Panthers as recently as their appearance during the preliminary round of the playoffs in Toronto. And while nothing is confirmed, and all the information I’ve received is third-hand, it’s from people I trust when they say that it’s bad. And that this happened recently in the current state of things in American society speaks to the degree of Tallon’s ignorance, defiance, or both.

This raises many questions on the professional side- like if it led to his ouster in Florida, or here. Or if the environment that John McDonough fostered here during his tenure with all of the enabling of rape culture and differing accountability based on a player’s value to a team, and to what degree these two mentalities fueled one another during their brief overlap in the front office here. Not to mention all of the larger questions of hockey culture at large that this asks among the already numerous ones that need to be addressed in the current momemnt.

But on a much smaller scale, this impacts the very existence of this site, as obviously our namesake is poking fun at Tallon and his infamous boning of the qualifying offers over a decade ago now. The previous incarnation of this publication and site had its own issues which were clung to for far too long out of stubborness, and the inability to learn the “Impact Versus Intent” lesson, which is an incredibly valuable one. And now that this issue has come up again, it raises the question of just where to go.

Obviously with Sam no longer steering this ship, the subscription model has been scrapped because the rest of us are doing this in our spare time, and it’s not the primary source of income for anyone. We were going to go back to ads to help compensate everyone for their time if the world ever got back to normal, but that may never happen. It becomes a matter of energy and resources to rebrand the entire site and start all over again, and that costs money to web developers. Not to mention the feeling of defeat that once again comes with this, that even if we overhaul everything, no matter what joke name we give it going forward will eventually get Milkshake Ducked and we’ll have to repeat the cycle all over again.

As of right now, I’ve instructed everyone else that we’re going to need to go dark for a bit and hash this out as a group with what we want to do. Hopefully something can be agreed upon that’s acceptable for everyone going forward, but I simply cannot promise anything right now. This won’t be the last you hear from us, even from here. If nothing else, there’d need to be a big Irish wake.

Be Excellent To Each Other.