Friday, August 7, 2015

Here come the Cubs

So it's August now, and I suppose I could talk about NFL training camps opening up, or about Nick Saban's somewhat Soviet notions about controlling his own message, or even about the Republican debate last night -- which apparently was Donny Trump spouting his usual demagoguery to wild applause because, by God, he might not have a workable solution to anything, but we love it when he calls people names.

Instead, let's talk about this: The Cubs.

I know, it's August and the Cubs should have stopped being a relevant topic two months ago, but these are not your Cubs. These are Theo Epstein's Cubs. Which is to say, they're suddenly loaded with exciting young talent and are starting to look unnervingly like the team of the future in the National League.

One of the kids, former IU star Kyle Schwarber, clubbed a three-run homer to take down the Giants last night, and suddenly the Cubs are in the magic circle. It was their eighth win in the last 10 games, and, at 59-48, they've overtaken the Giants for the second wildcard playoff spot.

There's a long way to go yet, so it's probably the height of lunacy to say this. But my money's on the Cubs here.

Yeah, they're young, but they've got an old head (Joe Maddon) on the tiller, and if Maddon knows nothing else he knows how to get teams through a playoff chase. As ESPN writer Jesse Rogers pointed out, last night he pulled starter Jason Hammels even though Hammels had thrown only 76 pitches and was sitting on a 5-2 lead at the time. But the first two Giants in the fifth had drawn walks, and Maddon saw momentum stirring in their dugout.

So he yanked Hammels. As Rogers noted, it was an October move executed in August, and one maybe only a guy who's seen a few Octobers would have considered making.

At any rate, the Cubs hung on to win 5-4. Bet against 'em at your risk at this point.

And when's the last time you could say that?

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