CHISportsNation

I knew it as soon as it happened. I knew the pouncers would be ready to kill Joe Maddon for the Pedro Strop injury. In case you live in a cave and don’t know, Pedro Strop is out for the remainder of the regular season with a hamstring injury. He hurt himself running to first in the 10th inning of the make-up game in Washington last Thursday. The Cubs had taken a 1 run lead in the 10th and Crazy Joe sent Strop up to hit with the bases loaded and 1 out. A double play and a tweaked hammy later, the Cubs did win the game. Of course this promoted a tirade from fans and media alike against Maddon. There’s that playing the results thing I talk so much about. The way I see it, though, the blame here is not only on the manager who has won more games in his first 4 years with the Cubs than anyone in their history, including that World Series thing a couple of years ago. No, there is plenty of blame to go around here.

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Major League Baseball. Why was it so imperative that the Cubs had to get on a plane to fly to Washington for their 30th straight scheduled game? Why couldn’t they just forget about it unless the game would end up meaning something for the post season? Yes, there were scenarios where the Cubs and Brewers end up tied for the division and that game could decide it. Or, say there was 1/2 game difference, and that game decides it. OK, if, if if. If my grandmother had wheels she’d be a wagon.  If that happens, we’ll deal with it then. The much more likely scenario is that isn’t going to happen, and the Nationals have an extremely low shot at the post season. Oh I know, they would have had to have refunded all those tickets they sold. Big deal. So it was better to play the game Thursday when half of the people who had the tickets bought for the previous Sunday, the day the game was scheduled, couldn’t go anyway. Do they get refunds? By the way, it wasn’t exactly convenient for the Nats either. They had to fly back from Philadelphia just to play that 1 game then go out to Atlanta for the weekend.

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Major League Baseball again. Or the Player’s Association. Or anyone who has a say in the National League not having a DH. Yes, I am beating this dead horse again. Every other organized baseball association, the American League, the minor leagues, college, has a designated hitter. Obviously Maddon wanted Strop to stay in the game to close it. If there’s a DH, he doesn’t have to make this decision. And the fans don’t have to watch a guy who swings a bat like a baby swings a rattle go up and embarrass himself.  What would have been a more exciting scenario? Pedro Strop up with the bases loaded in the 10th, or Tommy LaStella? Or Kyle Schwarber? Or you know, anyone who’s competent.

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Pedro Strop. Look, I know Strop doesn’t hit much. And by “much” I mean this was his second at-bat of the season. But come on, dude. You’re still a professional athlete. You can’t run to first without hurting yourself? You can also make the varied arguments I have heard that he should have just stood there and taken 3 strikes, or he should have dogged it to first like every other pitcher who bats does. I think it would be hard to tell a competitive athlete not to try, either at the plate or on the run to first. And I freely admit I may be too harsh here, but I would think the act of pitching would be much more strenuous than a simple dash to first base.

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If you want to blame Joe Maddon for all of this, that’s your right. I definitely see the logic at least. I also see the logic in wanting to keep your best bullpen pitcher in to close a game that you desperately needed, and went to all that trouble to go and play. Ask yourself this question: When you saw Strop walking up to the plate with a bat in his hand, did you immediately say, “This is a bad decision. He could hurt his hamstring running to first”? Also, what would you be saying if Maddon did pinch hit Tommy LaStella, he hits into a double play, and Randy Rosario comes in in the bottom of the inning and coughs it up?

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