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In one way, the Bears game on Sunday worked out perfectly. For all intents and purposes it was over by the time the Cubs contest started further down the dial.
I'm not going to join the mob baying for a change at quarterback. Does anyone really believe Mitch Trubisky will have a legitimate shot at success this season with the roster general manager Ryan Pace has put together for the Bears? He will not. And that is definitely enough about that monstrosity of a football game.
But I will join a much better kind of mob: the one raucously celebrating the Cubs pulling out another win and burying the Cardinals once and for all in 2017. It was a great weekend of baseball capped off by the team hanging on by the tips of their breaking-ball spinning fingernails to win 4-3 on Sunday. How close was this to a loss? It was a close as giving up two hits and two walks, but no runs, in an eighth inning. It was as close as a fly ball to deepest center with the tying run on base . . . caught on the warning track. But the Cubs pulled it out to take a six-game lead on the Cards with 13 to play.
The weekend began with Kyle Hendricks putting on a clinic on how to pitch and how to act. One great thing about watching baseball on TV is that you have such a better view of pitches. And so it was that it was obvious in the first two innings alone that Hendricks threw one, two, three pitches that were clearly, easily in the strike zone that were called balls. He threw another one, right on a corner, called a ball.
So what did he do? He stayed completely cool, like he always does. The place could have been a powder keg on Saturday after John Lackey's tantrum the day before, a pathetic display that could have cost the Cubs that game and two more after he sucked in catcher Willson Contreras. Both players were tossed from a one-run game before the fifth inning was over and Contreras was later suspended for two games after he slammed his mask down and it bounced into the umpire.
The fact that it was par for the course for the incredibly immature Lackey (the dude is right on the edge of 40 years old for goodness sakes), didn't make it any better. And the fact that Cubs rallied for seven runs in the next inning was baseball happenstance. Lackey's tirade had nothing to do with it.
The next day, home plate ump Carolos Torres is missing calls right and left and Hendricks responds by . . . putting up his glove, catching the throw from his catcher and preparing to make the next pitch.
Shockingly enough, it was a much better strategy. Hendricks just kept throwing strikes and got out of the inning. He faced his toughest challenge of the day in the next inning when, despite Torres gaining a better grasp of the zone, the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out and the dangerous Tommy Pham (the guy who consistently hit the ball the hardest for the visitors all weekend) coming up.
Hendricks threw him a slider that seemed to stay too far up but Pham hit a ground ball to short that resulted in the inning-ending double play. As Hendricks then cruised through the next four innings, he got more calls than he didn't, in part because he is remarkably consistent and in part because he kept his cool when it mattered most.
The Cubs eventually won 4-1, the last run coming on Addison Russell's blast of a solo home run in his first at-bat since being out a month-and-a-half with a foot injury. It was such a memorable moment at the end of a memorable game.
On Sunday, Brian Duensing survived that scary eighth inning on the mound and Wade Davis got his 31st consecutive save in the ninth despite that scary fly ball off the bat of Dexter Fowler. (Having Davis pitch the ninth for the third straight day was probably managerial malpractice but the Cubs 'pen has been hit by a few injuries so we'll cut Joe Maddon some slack, especially with an off day today.) The Cubs roll on this week with two in Tampa starting Tuesday night and four in Milwaukee.
Sunday's victory also meant that the Brewers lost two games in the standings to the Cubs, despite going 4-2 this past week, aided by the switching of a series from Florida to Milwaukee this past weekend due to hurricane-related issues. The Cubs went 6-0.
But it could have been worse for Milwaukee. They could decimated their depth by trading four draft picks for one for a quarterback the team is now afraid to start (sorry about this rather awkward segue but it is time to wrap this thing up).
The worst thing about all the people out there yelling and screaming for Trubisky is that it is just so old. Meatball sports fans have been calling for teams to throw out the bum starter and bring in the backup quarterback since George Halas was still playing.
In the aftermath of Sunday's loss, I say all the team's assistant coaches have obviously underperformed. They must be fired and it should have been done yesterday. Actually, Bears, just try to keep it relatively quiet over there for the next month. We still almost certainly have that much time left to focus on the Cubs.
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.
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