The Rundown: Bryant’s Double, JD Talks Cigarette Tag, Cyle Hendricks Paints Sans Emotion, 21 Wins
We haven’t had a Rundown in a long time so I wanted to sort of dust that column off with a little twist. Rather than look around the league, I wanted to focus on some of the random minutia from the Cubs/Pirates game Tuesday night. Quick hits, kind of a recap amuse-bouche of sorts.
Bryant’s Dunston double
Shawon Dunston was one of my favorite players growing up and it seemed to me that he was superhuman. I was sure no player in baseball was faster or had a stronger throwing arm and I swear he would regularly hit infield doubles. His progress at the plate tracked by the Shawon-O-Meter, Dunston was a great character on those Cubs teams from the mid-80’s to mid-90’s.
So when Kris Bryant hit a duck snort behind first that twisted Josh Bell around before dropping safely, my mind flashed back 25 years. Sure enough, Bryant was digging for two all the way and slid safely in with a bloop “double.”
Is there where I make the joke about how that would have been a home run at Coors Field and how that alone makes Bryant better than Nolan Arenado? Yeah, you’re right, that kind of snark is better reserved for Twitter. Either way, it was a fun play and something I’d expect more from Willson Contreras. But Bryant respected 180 and it made me feel kinda like a kid again for a moment. Then I stood up and both my knee and back cried out, reminding me that I’m not that young.
JD plays cigarette tag
I don’t even remember the context for the conversation at this point, but Jim Deshaies mentioned on the air that he and his friends used to play cigarette tag as kids. While my first thought was that they were actually running around trying to tag each other with lit cancer sticks, the truth is much more benign, if indicative of a very different time. It’s just TV tag, except you had to shout out a cigarette brand when you were tagged in order to avoid being “it.”
He then proceeded to rattle off various defunct labels. Never ones to miss a trick, the WGN production crew went to commercial break with this slice of nightmare fuel.
Kyle Hendricks indomitably dominant
I love the fact that a guy who uses Sweet Emotion as his walk-up music displays nothing of the sort when he’s on the mound. Or ever, for that matter. I mean, his reaction to hanging a backwards K is identical to that after giving up a home run. Kyle Hendricks is the picture of detached aloofness as he methodically dissects opponents, all the while wearing an expression that’s somewhere between stoic and stoned. If Dexter Morgan and McKayla Maroney had a baby who grew up to teach actuarial science courses, he still wouldn’t be as dispassionate as Hendricks.[beautifulquote align=”right”]If Dexter Morgan and McKayla Maroney had a baby, he still wouldn’t be as dispassionate as Hendricks.[/beautifulquote]
Can you blame him though? I mean, there’s really nothing exciting about tossing another 7 ho-hum innings of 3-hit, no-run ball. Kyle Hendricks is the drive on I-70 through Kansas: just set the cruise and by the time you’ve shaken off the stupor of your highway hypnosis, you’re almost in Colorado and you’re leading the majors with a 2.09 ERA at the end of August. At this rate, we might have to start calling him Cyle.
Whether or not he actually finishes with any hardware, it’s been an absolute joy to watch Hendricks pitch this season. He’s not necessary flashy or exciting, but he’s entertaining in the same way you might find yourself staring in rapt interest as Bob Ross paints some happy little trees. A couple brushstrokes on either corner set the base and then a deftly placed changeup brings the picture into focus.
I can’t wait until the weather cools off and Hendricks dons one of those tweed jackets with the leather elbow patches under his jersey. Too bad they outlawed smoking, otherwise he could take a few puffs on his pipe between innings. Wait, is he a professor or is he an artist? Or is he the bastard son of a TV serial killer and an Olympic gymnast? All I know for sure is that he’s damn good.
21 W’s in August
With Tuesday’s win, the Cubs are now 21-6 for the month of August with one game yet to go, which is pretty not bad. That makes this their winningest month of the season after taking 17 in April; 18 in May; 16 in June; and only 12 in July. Remember heading into the All-Star Game when we were worried they were falling back to the pack? And not in terms of one of JD’s childhood games, but the rest of the Central and the NL in general.
Way back in February, I had taken a look at the Cubs’ schedule to check the splits and broadcast info. I also made some predictions on their records for each month: 16 in April; 18 in May; 18 in June; 15 in July; 16 in August. So I had them at 83-48 at this point, which is not too far off from where they’ll end up. For what it’s worth, I’ve got them at 17-13 with an even 100 wins to close out.
So if the picture of Deshaies scared you, just think happy thoughts about the magic number and the division lead and how the former will soon be smaller than the latter.