Earlier today, Sahadev Sharma on The Athletic wrote a piece about the contrast about how the Astros pitching staff, rotation and pen, is built on missing bats and striking everyone out, and the Cubs is built on soft contact and grounders. And he stated how the difference was the ‘Stros “outclassing” the Cubs. Which I objected to at first, because hey, the Cubs could have easily won both of the first games and once they revamp the pen later in the year they’ll be more set to do that.
But then you remember the Astros were running out the B-team, and it feels a lot more apt. No Springer, no Altuve, no Correa, missing Verlander, and you realize the Cubs didn’t come close to seeing the real force of this team. Which hurts. Maybe it’s a bad stretch, and doesn’t mean anything. That’s generally how baseball works. And did we learn anything new? The Cubs offense is good, but when the rotation goes odd colors in the sun the pen isn’t anywhere near in a condition to pick up the slack. You knew that going in.
But hey, there’s Kyle Hendricks.
Let’s clean it up:
The Two Obs
-Let’s get it out at the top. I am heavily tempted to blame the lack of netting from foul pole to foul pole on the richest, asshole-iest customers who would say something like, “Well I pay the most money so I don’t want a net in my view!” for the kind of abomination that Albert Almora, and really both teams as a whole, had to go through tonight. But the thing is, if that kind of thing had been stated by season ticket holders in the first few rows, or corporate entities as they mostly are today, I feel like we’d have heard more about it. I think this is something ticketing departments around the league assume would happen but really don’t that often.
I know there are plenty of industries where it takes a disaster for things that seem so simple to change actually to change. I can’t say hockey got this right, because it took a little girl dying for them to do so. But with the netting behind the nets in hockey arenas, it’s the same reaction as the extended version in parks now. You walk in, see it, and say, “Oh, that’s new.” Then you sit down and don’t notice any difference in the view you had before after two minutes. My season tickets at the UC for the Hawks has been behind the netting, and I’m in the 300 Level where I would be in next to no danger without it. I’ve never noticed it making any difference in my viewing experience, and I honestly only think about it when something like this happens.
If there’s honestly any collection of ticket holder who throws a bitch at the idea of netting in front of him (and I’m sure it’s a male if they exist), do us all a favor and put cayenne pepper on his balls and leave the rest of us alone. Players have been screaming for this for decades now, and it’s specifically so they don’t have to go through what Almora went through tonight. Think about why this happened, and how truly stupid it is at its base level, and then wonder about how anyone goes about their day.
-All right, to the baseball. We’ve been through Hamels and Lester’s problems already, which makes it all the more impressive that Hendricks stood there and turned everything away in a place where every baseball looked like a Top Flite. The Cerebral Assassin has been sprinkling in his curve more and more as the season has gone on, and tonight he dropped his coup-de-grace when he put Marisnick down in the 7th with two on and two out on an 0-2 count. He’s never thrown that pitch in a big situation before, and if this is a new thing he can count on…well, the mind reels. It’s time Cubs fans accept that if the Cubs don’t have an ace. Hendricks is as close as they’ll get right now. He’s the stopper for sure.
-Javier Baez had a rough series, and he’s going through that phase where he’s pulling off everything. It’s frustrating to watch, because when he was leading the league in opposite field hits and homers he’s been an MVP candidate. So why try to pull everything?
-I’ve had enough of Alex Bregman, thanks.
-While I wasn’t looking, Addison Russell suddenly has representative offensive numbers. It doesn’t make anything ok, but as we live in a world where Daniel Descalso died, Russell probably is gong to get the majority of starts at second now.
-Unless David Bote can, who might actually be a major leaguer which I never would have guessed.
-Brad Brach is not going to happen.
-Me, I’m pounding Dillon Maples until it works. Because he’s my guy, he’s got the best stuff, and this is his now-or-never. He either gets it now or he’ll never. Fuck, Chatwood got there, maybe, right?