Riding a wave that has but to crest, the Chicago Cubs swept the San Francisco Giants to solidify their spot within the wild-card chase whereas shifting up on the Milwaukee Brewers.
Every recreation issues, and each second is magnified from right here on out.
Here are 4 observations from the Cubs scene.
1. Talk-show debate
“This is good,” Cody Bellinger stated. “This is a lot going on. A lot going on.”
Bellinger was mic’d up by Marquee Sports Network within the prime of the third inning of Tuesday’s 11-8 Cubs win over the Giants. The wind was blowing out and Bellinger was taking part in middle subject and speaking to Boog Sciambi and Joe Girardi on the published.
Then got here a expertise malfunction throughout a query from Taylor McGregor on his friendship with Joc Pederson. Bellinger stated he couldn’t hear something, simply as Pederson launched a line shot towards him in middle.
“Right at ya,” Sciambi informed Bellinger, who fielded the ball after it bounced close to the bottom of the wall and threw it in. “Better throw would’ve got him (at second),” Bellinger stated. Girardi assured him it wasn’t his fault.
That usually could be the tip of the story. But a large section of Cubs followers thought the dialog with Sciambi through the play triggered Bellinger to get a late soar and take a nasty route. It was a troublesome play, however Bellinger has had a Gold Glove-caliber season in middle.
So I needed to ask: Should Marquee be interviewing gamers throughout a recreation in a pennant race?
“We didn’t break any ground with that, ESPN does it all the time,” Marquee common supervisor Mike McCarthy stated Wednesday. “We are always trying to bring the best kind of broadcast to the viewers, and I think we’ll pass on pursuing another usage of live mics during the games until next season.”
Because of the time of the season?
“We weren’t going to do it again either way,” he stated. “But yeah, it was an experiment. We’re trying to understand some of the implications of it and we won’t be pursuing it again.”
I don’t suppose Bellinger may’ve caught the ball, however he shouldn’t must entertain followers along with his recollections of taking part in alongside Joc Pederson whereas he’s making an attempt to give attention to the job at hand. Whether ESPN does it’s irrelevant. ESPN doesn’t personal the groups it televises. The Cubs are co-owners of Marquee Sports.
When he was common supervisor in Boston in 2005, Theo Epstein fought with the division heads exterior of baseball operations whom he believed have been placing the advertising of the group forward of successful. Cubs President Jed Hoyer ought to be sure the 2023 group doesn’t fall into the identical lure through the pennant race.
2. Big Z’s tears
Players’ careers go by so quick they generally lose sight of how good that they had it after they performed. Former Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano returned to Wrigley Field on Tuesday and obtained a number of lengthy ovations, together with his efficiency through the seventh-inning stretch.
It would take a number of pages to chronicle all of Big Z’s epic moments in Chicago, however suffice it to say he pitched with an depth and anger not typically seen nowadays. He admits to “making a lot of mistakes,” lots of which I criticized over time. We laughed about a number of of these incidents, however Zambrano turned severe when requested concerning the reception he obtained from Cubs followers.
“I had goose bumps, and I was nervous for the first time in my career,” he stated. “Like I said, the greatest fans in all baseball are Chicago Cubs fans. It was special. I cried when I got back to my hotel room and thanked God for letting me play for this team in this town before these fans.”
3. Morel conundrum
Manager David Ross made a declaration of types Tuesday when requested about sticking with the identical lineups.
“Look, we’re in a really good position to win,” Ross stated. “The guys that got us here are going to play, and the guys that are on the bench, they’ve got roles.”
Christopher Morel was not within the beginning lineup and had been slumping the final month. But he most actually was one of many guys who acquired the Cubs the place they’re, and sitting him is a danger. Morel pinch hit within the third inning and hit a monstrous house run within the six-run seventh.
On Wednesday, Morel was within the leadoff spot and went 1-for-4 with a run batted in.
Hopefully Ross can discover a blissful medium, and Morel additionally understands he must do greater than hit house runs and carry out bat flips to earn at-bats through the stretch run.
4. Sign of the occasions
Crowds of beneath 30,000 in September at Wrigley Field aren’t surprising when the Cubs are out of rivalry. But good climate, a surging group and an essential collection towards one other wild-card contender had some scratching their heads over the attendance figures of 28,684 on Tuesday and 27,433 on Wednesday.
Obviously youngsters are again at college and the vacationer season is over. But the smaller-than-usual crowds for giant video games recommend the Cubs have overpriced tickets for September video games and plenty of followers are nonetheless feeling the pinch from inflation.
Naturally, the Cubs are growing costs by a median of three% in 2024 based mostly on this yr’s on-field success. Someone has to pay for Bellinger’s yet-to-materialize new contract.