I want to start this off by saying this post is going to be all over the place. Emotions are high on both ends of the city today, and there’s ample reason for it. This might be my longest post ever so strap in. And it’s only May. Yikes.
Let’s start with the South Side and work our way up.
Yesterday, the White Sox lost an afternoon game to the Reds in Cincinnati 1-0. Ten innings, seven total hits. Quite frankly, this game should have been won by the Sox had it not been for their manager, Tony LaRussa. 76 year old Hall of Famer already Tony LaRussa. In the bottom of the 9th inning, game still tied at 0, Tony made a double switch, sending Jake Lamb to play LF (now batting in the 9 spot) and sent Liam Hendriks to the mound (batting in the 5 spot). Sox got their ground out to end the inning, as planned, and we’re off to the 10th.
We now enter the 10th inning, with the stupidest rule in sports now in play, putting a runner on 2nd to “speed up the game.” As stupid as this rule is, it is the rule. Last man to bat takes 2nd base to start the inning. BUT THERE’S A SECOND PART TO THIS RULE: if the batting order spot for the the initial runner on 2nd is the pitcher’s spot, the batting team can put the next available runner on 2nd instead of the pitcher.
The White Sox #6 hitter Yasmani Grandal was the leadoff guy in the 10th inning, meaning the #5 guy in the lineup was to take 2nd to start the inning, which was their guy on the hill Liam Hendricks. And he sure did take 2nd. Why? BECAUSE TONY LARUSSA DIDN’T KNOW HE COULD PUT THE 4 HOLE GUY ON INSTEAD.
HE DIDN’T KNOW THE RULES. THE MANAGER. OF THE TEAM.
AND NO OTHER COACH TOLD HIM.
Then, long story short, he tried to steal 2nd with a slow runner and failed, runner couldn’t run home because he’s the FREAKING PITCHER, Billy Hamilton struck out, Reds won easily in the 10th.
The point here is Tony LaRussa cost the White Sox this game, and this isn’t the first time he has done that and did not know the rules. And after the game, he didn’t much care, admitting he did not know the rule, and also saying he wouldn’t handle the situation any differently.
Additionally, I can’t help but notice no other coach/staff/player approached Tony to relay to rule to him. I understand this is an AL team, so this rule doesn’t apply to them for more that what, 6 games? But are you telling me no one in that dugout knew the rules to the game? I can’t believe that for a second.
Here’s what I think happened. Tony LaRussa is so arrogant, so “my way or the highway” because he’s already a hall of famer, that no one can or will approach him with ANYTHING because he’ll end any debate with “I’m a hall of famer.” He also knows his best friend is the owner, who is trying to right a wrong from 40 something years ago, and his job is safe for as long as he wants. Nothing matters to Tony LaRussa, including blowing games.
Which absolutely SUCKS for White Sox fans. I am one of those Cubs fans who really doesn’t mind seeing the White Sox succeed (challenge my fandom, go ahead, try me), and this is hard to watch. Last year, although abbreviated, was like the Cubs’ 2015. They showed they have arrived and are ready to win it. This is supposed to be the year, and the biggest problem isn’t even the insurmountable injuries to the young stars of the game: it’s the freaking manager costing them games for not knowing the rules and frankly not even caring. AND THEY’RE STILL IN FIRST PLACE. That’s how good the White Sox are right now. Papa Jerry needs to admit this was a mistake, and move on. This window is not opened for long, and he is wasting the year it is opened the widest.
Ok, there’s the Sox. Now the Cubs.
The Dodgers flew into Chicago lining up Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, and Walker Buehler to face a struggling and hurting Cubs lineup. I don’t know what it is with rain delaying big games for the Cubs that wakes them up, but boy am I thankful for it. The Cubs jumped on Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of a double header, only pitching the first inning. Kyle Hendricks, while not perfect or “on it” by any means, lasted all seven innings and shut down the Dodgers. In Game 2, the Cubs trotted out a couple rookies in Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele, along with a solid bullpen showing, to hold the Dodger bats to 3 runs and 5 hits. The Cubs offensively waited out Trevor Bauer, and jumped on the bullpen in extras to walk off in the 9th. And then last night they AGAIN waited out Walker Buehler, made adjustments and jumped on him in the 5th, won in extras again, never giving up or standing down. Adbert Alzolay had a great 5 innings against the defending world champs.
The point is the Cubs just swept the Dodgers while facing their three aces, and have shown life. And everyone is contributing it seems: the starters, the bullpen, the lineup, the bench guys. Everyone is making a difference, and picking each other up.
Contrary to the situation on the South Side, David Ross is the absolute perfect man for the job for the Cubs. He has relationship with the players, he builds relationship with the players, and he knows what he is talking about. He has been preaching patience, saying it will come around, and I really think it is turning here.
Which leads me to think of doomsday, because the trade deadline looms.
We all know if we’re into June and this team does not show the life to contend for the division and a championship, Jed Hoyer is ready to tear the whole thing down. He WANTS to tear the whole thing down.
Here are some names that are not under contract after this season, just a couple: Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez.
Those names mean anything to you? Thought so.
Kris Bryant is the biggest most dangerous name for the trade deadline. The way he has been swinging the bat, his stock is only going up, and his price is only going up. Additionally, and unfortunately, the Cubs have absolutely butchered the handling of any possible extension with him. Their lack of drive and intent to get something done is apparent, and quite frankly disrespectful. Kris is the type of talent you hand a blank check to, and figure out the rest. He has expressed his want and desire to stay with the Cubs, and ONLY play for the Cubs, and the Cubs have done nothing for it. If he does stay the entire year, not only is it looking like the Cubs will miss out on re-signing him, they risk getting nothing in return for him. The only real hope for us as Cubs fans would be to have Kris test out free agency, bring back his top offer, and the Cubs match that offer + an additional 10-15%. And don’t let the Cubs fool you, they can ABSOLUTELY do this. That is the only way he stays. However, if the Cubs cannot turn it around and find themselves at or below .500 at the beginning of July, the phones will be opened, and the Cubs will take a haul in exchange for a half-season rental of Kris’ services.
As for Javy Baez, he’s another guy that you can potentially have test free agency and match the offer, but know that there is a ceiling for a price you’re willing to pay. I LOVE Javy Baez. We don’t win the World Series without Javy Baez. But if you have him, KB, and Tony to re-sign and you can only afford two, Javy is the odd man out. He lacks discipline at the plate and that can be a liability. And the Cubs can be fine up the middle losing him between Bote, Hoerner, Vargas, and others coming up the pipeline. If the price is right, you keep Javy. You just cannot shell it all out for him.
The most must-sign though is Anthony Rizzo. He IS the Chicago Cubs. He is our captain. His roots are deep here and there is no reason for him to finish his career anywhere other than here. The Cubs have offered an extension that was quickly declined, and Rizzo said he would not discuss it during the season. So unfortunately, it looks like we will sit and wait anxiously with this one all season too. There’s not much more to say on this one. There is reason to not extend KB and Javy, but there is absolutely no reason Rizzo should be left out to dry.
So while the Dodgers sweep was AWESOME and a definite morale booster for the Cubs, there is A TON of work to do to stay competitive and keep the roster intact. The Cubs need to just keep going one series at a time, one game at a time, keep the mojo going.
Remember, Jed Hoyer is waiting. He WANTS to blow it up. It’s up to the Cubs to keep it from happening.