Flame-throwers, tip drills, and some life at Wrigley Field.
John Smoltz knows a thing or two about big moments in October baseball, to say the least. The Hall of Famer-turned-commentator set the table for the viewing audience in the bottom of the fourth inning last night by basically saying that the Cubs had to score in that frame or they’d be in serious trouble.
For one night at least Jason Heyward put memories of a bad 2016 behind him, helping the Cubs keep their season alive.
I can’t imagine becoming suddenly, publicly bad at something. Not that I can’t imagine being suddenly bad at something; I just can’t imagine that newfound badness mattering much to anyone. Our failures have consequences, but rarely do we have to answer for them in the village square. Sustained failure is the stuff that gets us fired, or dings our credit rating. It becomes a fact of our biographies that we aren’t proud of and may elect to fib over at Thanksgiving, but after the uncomfortable shifting in our chairs is over, people forget. You care that you lost your job, but your paperboy doesn’t.
"We light up the old dudheen and sigh with joy as the conflict opens."
If you’ve read this site for any length of time, you know that cherry-picked statistics often do more harm than good when it comes to player evaluation. When used to appreciate the Cubs’ long and tortuous path to their next World Series title, however, they tell a different story altogether.
Cleveland earned the Game 4 win, but Chicago's uncharacteristic miscues defensively helped too.
Errors are not the best way to measure a fielder’s quality. You know that. I know you know that. But still, here’s a fact for you: Kris Bryant committed just 14 errors all season, and only 12 at third base. Among players with as many innings at the position, that was the fourth-lowest total in the National League. He wasn’t spectacular, but he wasn’t bad, either—and he certainly defied expectations that he’d be unable to maneuver his 6-foot-5 frame into passable defense at the hot corner.
Breaking down Game 4, which saw the Indians out-play the Cubs and Terry Francona out-manage Joe Maddon.
Game 4 was anything but a managerial chess match at Wrigley Field, as the Indians jumped out to an early lead and broke things open for good in the seventh inning on the way to a 7-2 win that puts the Cubs on the brink of elimination. However, there were no shortage of interesting pregame and midgame decisions on which to chew, including some that could have an impact in Game 5 and, if the Cubs win Sunday, beyond.
Despite all the pregame talk of 30-40 mph wind blowing out at Wrigley for Game 3, runs were in short supply Friday night on the north side of Chicago. The only run of the game came on a pinch-hit RBI single by Coco Crisp. Starter Josh Tomlin and the formidable Cleveland bullpen combined to shut out Chicago for the second time in three games, leaving the Cubs and their fans wondering whether their offense will be making an appearance in the Fall Classic.
Coco Crisp, back in Cleveland, was the unexpected hero in Game 3.
The Indians acquired Coco Crisp on August 31 in a trade so low profile that the phrase “under the radar” might be charitable. Going back to Oakland was Colt Hynes, a 31-year-old minor-league reliever whom Cleveland had purchased for cash considerations just a few weeks earlier. Oakland used Hynes to bolster the playoff roster of Triple-A Nashville, while Crisp was brought in to Cleveland as a candidate to take the roster spot of reserve outfielder Abraham Almonte, ineligible to participate in the playoffs due to a spring PED suspension.
For the first time since October 10, 1945--when Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg and Hal Newhouser blew out the Cubs in the deciding seventh game--Wrigley Field will be home to a World Series game. Three of them, in fact, as a weekend full of baseball in Chicago kicks off tonight. Tickets are still available, assuming you're willing to sell your first born, ink a deal with the devil, and stand for nine innings next to some other crazed and significantly less financially stable Cubs fans. It'll be an amazing environment.