I was putting together box scores last night at work and it hit me hard.
The starting left side of the A’s infield this season could have conceivably been Josh Donaldson at third base and Addison Russell at shortstop.
In case you ever needed a reason to send Billy Beane a fruit basket and thank you card, there you have it.
Sometimes, tweets and headlines are simply there to grab your attention.
I had no issue with the basis of Patrick Mooney’s CSN Chicago piece on a potential Cubs/Dodgers postseason match-up.
Lost in the Twitter silliness from the wake of the Cubs’ 1-0 loss (in which the game’s lone tally scored via hit-by-pitch, a throwing error and a mental error) was the fact the Dodgers remain a damn good team and World Series contender.
The Dodgers have dealt with a slew of injuries, multiple Yasiel Puig distractions and other bits of randomness to overcome what at one point was an 8-game lead for the Giants in their division. Some left them for dead when Clayton Kershaw went on the DL. They shouldn’t have.
Dave Roberts’ team could be a playoff problem for the Cubs — especially if they get Kershaw with a clean bill of health and a fresh arm that hasn’t been overworked during the dog days of summer. His return would be a welcome addition to a team with an elite closer (Kenley Jansen), starting rotation depth (Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias), an NL MVP candidate (Corey Seager) and steady veteran leadership (Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley, Justin Turner).
But here’s the thing, any one team can be a playoff nightmare for another playoff team.
Baseball’s postseason is unique in the sense that it is more exclusive than the NBA or NHL, which have 16-team tournaments. There is no .500 team scraping to get that final spot to be the postseason sacrificial lamb for baseball’s best teams. Not having scrub teams truly adds to the high drama of baseball’s postseason and makes the Cubs’ goal of winning the organization’s first World Series since 1908 that much more daunting of a task.
As for the other headline…
I pride myself on being a consumer of sports media. Online, in print or over-the-air, I want to read the best of the best and every angle possible. Even the ones I disagree with.
Yet, I haven’t read any columns/stories/blog posts/thinkpieces on the Cubs being a playoff nightmare for other teams.
Which seems strange considering the Cubs have baseball’s best record, two MVP candidates, the reigning NL Cy Young (leading a rotation with four top-30 pitchers in WAR) and a top-10 player at five everyday positions.
The Cubs have played so well this season, it’s almost easy to forget that they’re actually living up to the offseason hype and attention that was given to them this winter. And that is rare to see. The postseason is a different animal and there is minimal correlation between regular season success and winning in the playoffs. But you can’t make the tournament if you don’t make it through the grueling 162-game schedule.
It appears as if the Cubs have put themselves in a position to do just that, and their reward will be another roll of the dice come October. And that’s all you can ask for at this point.
The Bears are a mess and no one captured that more than Tribune columnist David Haugh, who wrote a strong column in the wake of the team’s third preseason loss on Saturday.
It’s rare when I see eye-to-eye with the Trib’s lead columnist, but he hits every important point. The highlight for me?
“Most of it has been fixable,” Fox said.
Maybe to Fox’s trained eye but, to casual observers, the Bears have shown little evidence of improvement, no signs of coaching no matter how much management trusted Fox to hire an elite staff. At some point, a staff living off Fox’s reputation must start producing noticeable results. In Year 2 under Fox, the Bears still can’t imagine seeing the playoffs without a periscope.
The Bears’ offseason hype train never comes to a stop and it reminds me a bit of the Cubs of my childhood. Get a little good fortune here, some unexpected production there and something good might happen. Of course, that could come to fruition, but the Bears’ talent deficit is apparent to casual observers and experts.
The lack of depth is concerning and the fact that they have let go of three dynamic offensive playmakers (Marshall, Bennett, Forte) in the last two offseasons isn’t likely to make things easier for quarterback Jay Cutler.
The offensive line is a mess and their best player (right guard Kyle Long) has an injured shoulder. The defense still leaves much to be desired, especially if their best pass rusher (Pernell McPhee) is going on a second year of fighting injuries.
The top-10 pick (Leonard Floyd, pass rusher from Georgia) is a project and so is their 2015 first-round pick (WR Kevin White). With the Bears not blowing down the doors in free agency during their rebuild, hitting on draft picks is essential to the team’s future success.
And only time will tell if we’ll see it from players selected in the last two years.