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World Series Notebook 6: Stayin' Alive

As I was saying about Aroldis Chapman . . . but man, that was reckless.

Also, Chapman's eight-out performance on Sunday night has made everybody forget his failure to cover first base on a ground ball to Anthony Rizzo. Not me, I remember!

In fact, Respect 90 seems to have gone out the window this postseason.

The list of players who have violated this central tenet - Joe Maddon's only rule! - is growing, from Willson Contreras to Jorge Soler to Jason Heyward (lollygagging a throw to second) to Chapman and even Rizzo, who didn't run hard out of the box on a double that by all rights he should have been dead to rights on.

"Anthony thought it was going out, he did not run that hard," Pat Hughes said. "A good throw would have had him."

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Baez Baloney
Also overlooked: Baez bunting for a hit to load the bases in the fourth. Why overlooked? Because Baez was praised for something he shouldn't have done. I know Baez can't buy a hit these days, but loading the bases with one out and David Ross and Jon Lester coming up isn't the smartest play in the world. "Here, David, you bring them home!"

If Maddon didn't value Baez's defense so much, maybe he would've used Kyle Schwarber to pinch hit in that spot. Two runs were in, and it was a chance to break the game open. Ross did manage a sacrifice fly to get the Cubs a third run, but then the inning ended with Lester at the plate.

Now, some suggested Maddon pinch hit for Lester, which also might have been a good idea. But if Baez/Schwarber had cleared the bases, he wouldn't have had to make that decision. (Lester went two more innings, but by that time he was actually starting to feel sloppy, it was reported after the game.)

At the same time, what about hitting for Ross there? The Score's Dan Bernstein would have liked to have seen Schwarber there. "He's too cute by half," Bernstein said of Maddon on Monday afternoon, "to let Ross bat there . . . "

I'm not sure I want to see Contreras take over for Ross in a game like this - we were confronted late in the game with a rookie pitcher (Carl Edwards Jr.) pitching to an amped up rookie catcher who has gotten sloppy with the season on the line. And it was too early to take out Lester, especially given the state of the bullpen. That's why my focus in that scenario was on Baez.

In any case, we got the three automatic outs we've come to expect from that part of the lineup.

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Now, if Maddon would have pinch it for Baez, Zobrist would have had to come in from left to play second base because Tommy La Stella isn't on the roster. But Albert Almora (Jr.) and Chris Coghlan were available to play left. The tradeoff might have been worth it. Baez is an automatic out right now.

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ADDING: Bernstein and Laurence Holmes this afternoon acted like a caller making a similar suggestion was totally nuts, citing Baez's tag of a would-be Cleveland base-stealer later in the game, but it's not an unreasonable notion. There is always a trade-off between offense and defense; several times in the post-season the Cubs have sat Gold Glove Jason Heyward in search of more hits. In this case, we're talking about the key at-bats of the game for the Cubs. Get a hit there and the would-be base-stealer later doesn't matter.

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As far as Baez's hitting goes, Matt Spiegel said on The Score on Monday morning that "Many hitters have said the pressure of Wrigley Field has gotten to them."

Really? Who has said that?

Spiegel is one of several pundits, including the Trib's David Haugh, who think the Cubs are better off playing the deciding games in Cleveland. C'mon!

The Cubs had the best home record in baseball this season. Home is where players feel most comfortable. In the playoffs, home field advantage may be overrated, but wouldn't you still rather have it?

(It's also better for the fans, who get one more game, and the deciding game at that.)

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A better explanation for the Cubs' hitting woes.

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Halloween Edition
These players are scary to Cubs fans right now but not to Cleveland:
* Miguel Montero
* Javy Baez
* Addison Russell
* Jason Heyward
* Chris Coghlan
* Albert Almora (Jr.)
* Hector Rondon
* Pedro Strop
* Travis Wood
* Mike Montgomery
* Carl Edwards (Jr.)
* Justin Grimm
* David Ross
* John Lackey
* Jorge Soler

That's a big portion of the roster.

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The Cub Factor: Scary Spice | We help them celebrate Halloween.

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Eddie & Grandpa
I'm really sick of Eddie Vedder as the latest Cubs celebrity mascot, but this . . .

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Comments welcome.

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Posted on Jul 17, 2017

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