The Fountain

Pepper, the class hamster, gave birth to three babies the morning before June arrived. My fourth graders had just learned the different ways baby animals are born, so when they saw the naked, little things like chewed pieces of bubblegum squirming in the sawdust, they accused me of being a liar. “Mr. Brooks,” they said, “you told us a girl and a boy were needed to make babies.” I tried to think of some explanation—another male hamster snuck into the class and impregnated Pepper or she was already pregnant when I got her from the pet store five weeks prior. Neither seemed likely since I’ve never seen a rogue dwarf hamster and the typical gestation period is twenty-one days according to the internet. But it was certainly more likely than a virgin birth, because God doesn’t exist and even if s/he did, why hamsters?

Read the rest at Bird’s Thumb.

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2018 Season Preview Series: San Francisco Giants

The only thing that went right for the Giants in 2017 was that the Dodgers didn’t win the World Series. Even then, THEY CAME VERY, VERY CLOSE. Before the season, the Giants were unanimous favorites to win one of the NL Wild Card spots. Instead, they were a Pablo Sandoval walk-off homer from winning the number one pick in this year’s draft.

Since the 2016 All Star Break, the Giants have been one of the worst teams in the majors, going 94-142. In 2016, it was the bullpen’s fault the team fell apart. In 2017, it was everyone’s fault. Every player in the Giants Opening Day line-up fell short of their ZiPS projections. After Madison Bumgarner crashed his dirtbike, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Cainwere the only pitchers in the rotation to live up to theirs.

Read the rest at Banished to the Pen.

2017 Player Profile: Carl Edwards Jr.

If you want the abridged version of Carl Edward’s Jr.’s season, look at the final two batters he faced. Edwards made Chris Taylor look silly, striking him out on three straight curveballs. Immediately before that, however, he walked Yu Darvish on four straight fastballs, despite Darvish looking more like he was trying to psyche someone out in Baseketball than trying to do anything related to baseball. In short, Edwards’ 2017 was excellent except when he couldn’t throw the ball over the strike zone, but such is life for Carl’s Jr. It’s no different from his 2016 or any season he spent in the minors. Edwards still strikes out over a third of the batters he faces, but boy, when he loses control, he loses it big time.

Read the rest at BP Wrigleyville.

In ‘Wild World,’ If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

The novel begins essentially as the shots were fired in Ohio. Steve Logan and his partner Roxy Fisher, students at Brown University, witness the aftermath on television and the events propel the two onto different paths. Steve, whose plan was to enroll in law school, instead enlists in the Providence police academy hoping to fix the problems from the inside out. Roxy, however, redoubles her efforts as a peaceful protester. Steve faces opposition from the corrupt members of the Providence police force, and Steve is caught between his own morality and the dangers of going against the grain.

Read the rest at Wiki Lit.

Offseason Player Profile: Jon Jay

When it was announced the Cubs had signed Jon Jay to a one-year contract, I assumed that Theo Epstein was still on his post-championship bender. Jay hadn’t really been good or healthy the past two years, and he hadn’t put together an above average season since 2012. Nevermind that he was going to turn 32 this year and he had never been a good defender even in his prime. It seemed like a passive signing for a team primed to go into full dynasty mode, but Theo and Jed Hoyer must have seen something in him.

Read the rest at BP Wrigleyville.

Ian Happ’s Role Down the Stretch

There was a point this season where Ian Happ felt like the only thing that had gone right for the Cubs. The rookie came up in mid-May and immediately started raking. Ten of his first twenty-five hits went for home runs, and he was one of the few players keeping the team from sinking further in the standings. He even showed enough defensive capability to play every position in the outfield. He looked like the heir apparent to Ben Zobrist, but with less contact and more power.

When Happ was called up, there was a question of how long he would be up with the team. Until this year, he hadn’t played a game above Double-A, and he only turned 23 a few days ago. Happ was never immune to getting sent back to Iowa, especially after Kyle Schwarber was sent down to get his swing back. But Happ carved out a place for himself on the 25-man roster, even if he’s looked overmatched in the past thirty days.

Read the rest at BP Wrigleyville.

Appreciation for Brian Duensing

Halfway through the season, it’s become apparent that we’re living in one of those alternate PECOTA-projected simulations where the Cubs are a .500 team, the Brewers are just good enough to hold on to first, the Diamondbacks and Rockies are legitimately good, and the Giants are having one of the worst seasons in their history. There have been a lot of surprises this year, most of them unpleasant, like biting into a bone hidden in your sandwich. Surprise! You chipped a tooth. Surprise! Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber can’t hit anymore. Surprise! The rotation unanimously decided to self-immolate.

Read the rest at BP Wrigleyville.