SportsMonday: Cutesy Cubs Cruise

Buckle up, Cubs fans.

Sunday saw Javy Baez diving head-first into first base after he hit a first-inning ground ball that didn't even result in a throw to first. Later on, he twisted his foot and was forced to the bench with swelling in his heel, but the shortstop who has started every game so far said he was absolutely playing the next game. He shouldn't play the next game. Oh, and a quick reminder - diving into first base is the single stupidest play a baserunner can make, by a lot.

Javy's replacement, Addison Russell, almost immediately made an understandable (he's putting pressure on himself to make big plays when he gets the chance after finishing the 40-game suspension for abuse a few weeks ago) but still brutal throwing error (he had no chance to get the guy at first). It enabled baserunners to move up to second and third but then didn't matter because the Nationals' Anthony Rendon launched a three-run home run on practically the next pitch.

Around that time there was the swinging Nationals bunt that, to the ever-lasting relief of Willson Contreras, barely rolled foul. It was a relief because Contreras hadn't bothered to hustle out to field the ball, which easily could have stayed in fair territory and would have been an infield hit thanks to the catcher's brain cramp. Contreras is probably the best catcher in baseball right now but he is still good for some sort of lapse in virtually every game.

And finally, we had reliever Steve Cishek pitching not just into a second inning after a season of one-inning appearances up until now, but pitching into a third. Now, Cishek threw all of 27 pitches while getting the last eight outs of the game, but they were high-pressure pitches, were they not? And if he goes down with an arm injury in the next month, as over-used Cubs relievers have done time after time during the Age of Maddon, you wouldn't want to be anywhere near Theo Epstein when the diagnosis comes in.

Oh wait, there is one more thing: Cutesy Cubbie Crap, The Musical (also known as Miracle) opened at the Royal George over the weekend. Among others, former respected local TV news anchors (back when such things actually still existed) Walter Jacobson and Bill Kurtis showed up in full Cubs regalia on opening night, according to Tribune critic Chris Jones.

Among the musical numbers therein was "The Voice from Above," a reverential treatment of the barely-functional-in-his-last-10-years-on-the-job Harry Caray.

You. Cannot. Make. This. Stuff. Up.

I have long railed against Cutesy Cubbie Crap. First of all, it is time to let Harry rest in peace instead of trotting out the video of him singing "Take Me out to the Ballgame" again and again and again and again. Caray died in 1998. As in more than two decades ago. As in almost more than decades before the Cubs won the World Series.

Cutesy Cubbie Crap has also included the retiring of Greg Maddux's number despite the fact that he starred for the Atlanta Braves. It basically started with the lionization of the 1969 Cubs. Yes they were an appealing team but, sorry, they choked so badly in the last month of the season that they almost lost by 10 games.

The lovable losers, the supposed curse, all that garbage started to drive me crazy especially after the Cubs blew it in 2003. And now it is all wrapped up in a musical. Great.

Ernie Banks was the ultimate Cutesy Cub but somehow he was able to pull it off. He was also the greatest Cub player who ever lived by a sizable margin. If you want to run a video paying tribute to Ernie 20 or 30 times every season, I have no beef with that.

What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, the Cubs, who improved to 27-17 on this season with a 6-5 win over the Nationals on Sunday night. The victory gave them a series win over a dangerous team that seems poised to go on a win streak now that it has its entire lineup back in place after some key injuries in the first six weeks of the season.

It enabled them to finish a week-long road trip with a .500 record and a relatively comfortable lead in the NL Central (they have four fewer losses than the second-place Brewers).

They open a series with the Phillies on Monday night. It should be a fun battle between two well-above-average teams. Oh, and Yu Darvish will start on the mound against Jake Arrieta.

We are barely a quarter of the way into the season and I am already completely exhausted.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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