I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve been stranded in the middle of the baseball desert, dyin’ of a thirst that’s only gonna get quenched by drinkin’ the metaphorical blood of the Mets. It’s not just that they waterboarded us in the playoffs last year … it’s that they found a way to do that after we zeroed them in the season series, 7-zip. I practically went into some kinda painintheassic shock, which admittedly isn’t as bad as your hypovolemic or neurogenic or anaphylactic shocks, but it hurts like a beach ball sized hemorrhoid. Anyway, I’ve been impatiently waiting for this series cuz it’s our chance to reassert our obvious superiority over the flowing locks of Noah Syndergaard, the 57-inch waistline of Bartolo Colon and the rest of that group of Queens … I mean from Queens.
What happened last year just doesn’t add up for me, cuz theoretically the Cubbies got a lot better AFTER we swept the Mets during the regular season. We called up Schwarber, who basically was Babe Ruth reincarnated for the rest of the season, moved Castro to 2nd and added Russell, although he was injured for the post season. But Baez stepped into his slot so there were really no beats skipped there. Not enough to put us on a 4 game skid against that bunch of plankton anyway.
As David Schoenfield points out, it seems like we’ve got an edge this year, and I’m talkin’ Game of Thrones, swingin’ Valyrian steel sword edge, pal. Better pitching, better hitting, waaaaaay better record, more confidence, better uniforms, better city, better fans, better hot dogs, better pizza. Gettin’ carried away there, but you get my point. I’d like to say if the Cubs lose this series I’ll eat my truck, but I said that about The Donald becoming the nominee of the Republican party, and look how that turned out.
Game starts in a couple of hours. That oughta be enough time to pin the hell outta my Steven Matz doll.
Gettin’ smacked in the jewels is no picnic. It’s not even a leftover bowl of little Doritos scraps, so I can only imagine how Willson Contreras musta felt when he got a foul tip off of his foul tip. I money-back guarantee you that every single guy that saw that play made one of those “ouch” faces, with teeth clenched, and where the eyes squint like somebody just emptied a couple of lemons in ’em. It’s a universal reaction to seeing that happen to somebody, cuz we’ve all been there. Maybe not with a baseball, but if you hit ground zero with a bean bag, it’s gonna hurt.
What’s not universal is the way Contreras was breakdancin’ all over the infield tryin’ to shake it off. That was totally new territory, my friend. Most guys — like 90 out of a 100 — are just gonna go fetal position. Another 9 are gonna LeBron James it — whaling like the Mountain just whacked off an arm or something. Contreras, on the other hand, looked like he was tryin’ to get a shot on Dancin’ With the Stars, shakin’ and bakin’ like the boogie woogie bugle boy. It’s only a matter of time before somebody with not enough to do sets it to music and throws it up on YouTube. Can’t wait.
The weird thing about this play — and I think this is universal, too — is that about 6 seconds after it happened, and I’m finished makin’ my “ouch” face, I started to laugh. Yeah … like I already said, it hurts like a (nasty word of choice here). As guys, we know that. But if it ain’t you, it’s funny. Especially with that Jupiter Walk (like the Moon Walk only way way further out in space) Contreras laid on us.
Anyway, I felt bad for him. As bad as everyone in the Cubs dugout, anyway.
Boris Spasky? Garry Kasparov? Bobby Fischer? Pfft. You wanna talk about the grandest master of ’em all, you’ll be throwin’ the name Joe Maddon around, my friend. If you saw last night’s game, you know exactly what I’m talkin’ about. If I didn’t know better — but I do, cuz guys were wearin’ uniforms instead of suits, and the game was in Cincinnati not Reykjavik — I’d have sworn I was watchin’ a great chess match.
Maddon opened with the Zobrist Attack — nearly impossible to defend against — and then began to slowly and methodically dissect the Reds like the pawns they are. It was masterful; different than the night before, though, where he basically commanded the entire game with a single piece — a tactic known as the Bryant Challenge. But last night … last night’s middlegame was almost cruel. Maddon lulled the Reds into a sense of over-confidence by toyin’ with ’em. Even lettin’ them back in the game when he had a chance to close it out. This is known as the Rondon Gambit. There are similar Gambit moves — the Wood, the Grimm and the Stroup — that Maddon will attempt on occasion, but last night he went with Rondon.
You could see the Reds thinkin’ they had an opening, especially when they shut the door on the Cubs with their semi-brilliant (nothing the Reds do can technically be called “brilliant”) execution of the Votto Defense. But then Maddon started movin’ pieces around like a friggin’ tornado and exchanging ’em like teenage girls sharin’ a closet; Grimm for Rondon, Goghlan for Almora, Szczur from left to center, Edwards for Grimm, Montero to Edwards’s spot then Cahill for Edwards. This kinda chess-like mastery continued for the next 5 innings, with Maddon makin’ one of his most blinding moves — the Patton-Wood castling — in the 14th. Filthy. Really filthy.
It wasn’t until the 15th, though, that Big Joe pulled out the rarely-used Javier Baez Slam. An end game I don’t think anyone expected, least of all the Reds. That just friggin’ crushed whatever hope they’d been clinging to and 3 outs later … check-friggin-mate, my friend.
Tip of the Joe cap to you, Joe Maddon. That was 4 hours and 43 minutes of brilliance.
Unless you’re still weeping over the fact that Game of Thrones is done for the season, you know that Kris Bryant leapt a few tall buildings in a single bound last night on the way to becoming the first player in Chicago Cubs history to have 16 total bases in a single game. Those came at the expense of the Cincinnati Reds in the form of 3 yard shots and 2 doubles. In fact, no one in the 177 years we’ve been playin’ the sport of baseball has ever had that particular combination of five hits in a game. Not even once. Seems to me parents oughta be marchin’ their kids by a plaque somewhere that commemorates this feat of basballian heroism.
The last time I saw the kinda power Bryant put on display last night was when the Soviets paraded their military might through through the streets of Moscow. I’d suggest marching Bryant through the streets of whatever city we happen to be in, but he’s not that kinda guy. And that’s the part I like best about Kris. You won’t see him flippin’ his bat, or standin’ at home admiring one of his dingers, or showin’ up another team. He just goes about his business and lets the performance do the talkin’. Bryce Harper, put your comb down for a minute and pay attention.
What makes this even filthier than it already is, is the fact that he did it while playin’ 3 different positions. There are certainly exceptions, and the Cubs are filled with players who qualify, but most guys get all twisted when you move ’em around the diamond. It throws their games off. Bryant? He could care less. And why? My theory is that his game is a whole lot more about the team than it is about Kris Bryant. He doesn’t ever get sucked into a mind-funk if he’s goin’ through a rough patch, or he’s battin’ in a different spot in the order, or he’s playin’ right instead of 3rd. There’s no Hollywood in Bryant. Bryce Harper, I said put your comb down and pay attention.
Anyway, you can catch the details from Jesse Rogers or David Schoenfield or ESPN or Jesse Rogers again, or maybe graffitied on a box car somewhere. It’s everywhere. I don’t even think Donald Trump can say something that would derail this story for a few days.
That was some game, Kris. Thanks for the memory.
Hey there, bottle rockets. I just read where Mr Arrieta has to get a Coastal Carolina University tattoo cuz he lost a bet with Tommy La Stella over the College World Series. La Stella’s Chanticleers beat Arrieta’s Horned Frogs, putting the roosters (that’s what a Chanticleers is, but — full disclosure — I had to look that one up) in the College World Series finals.
The question remains: Where to inscribe the aforementioned barnyard animal?
At the risk of being indelicate — although really … this is Joe Schlombowski talkin’ here, so would you expect anything less? — I think there’s just one rather OBVIOUS anatomical appendage of the sculpted Arrieta frame that would be ideal for an image of a Chanticleer, otherwise known as a … rooster. (Unless you’re a White Sox fan, you can probably figure that one out.) Now, I have no personal knowledge of just exactly how obvious Mr Arrieta’s rooster is … but given he plays for the Cubs, is one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball, and has put a couple of notches in his no-hitter belt in the last year, I think we can agree that it falls into the “Big Swinging” category.
This brings up a couple of other questions, neither of which I have any intention of devoting even one second of thought to: 1) Would the artist have to order additional ink to finish the job? and 2) Would the Chanticleer be applied before or during the stretching of the proverbial canvas?
Alright. That’s just headed to a place that I don’t really wanna go. Time to watch some Baywatch reruns or somethin’.
Remember this, my friend: Tattoo bets always end badly for one participant, and you got a 50% chance of it bein’ you. Think before you bet with ink.