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Post Chicago Cubs the Year After; Death of Roger Moore
Created by John Eipper on 05/26/17 7:12 AM

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Chicago Cubs the Year After; Death of Roger Moore (David Duggan, USA, 05/26/17 7:12 am)

The 2017 baseball season is not quite a third over and it may be time to do an analysis of the WORLD CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS (let's see if our editor dares to knock down the all caps).

To say no more, they have been underwhelming. After 45 games this time last year, they were 31-14 (nearly .700 ball which they would reach by the end of the month), and had never been behind another team in the standings, en route to a 103-58 season leading their division by an almost-unheard-of 17.5 games. This year they are a tepid 24-21, but only down half a game in the bunched-together NL Central division. By this time last year, they had put together an eight-game winning streak and had not lost more than two games in a row. This year they've managed just a four-game winning streak, but bettered that with two four-game losing streaks.

I won't get so deep in the weeds with other comparative statistics (I'll leave that for the Theo Epsteins [Cubs President of Baseball Operations] and other quants of the world), but having watched the Cubs on a brilliant mid-week afternoon game last week, and having covered baseball when my college team made it to the College World Series 47 years ago, I can say that they don't look crisp. Pitchers don't hit the black (i.e., the corner of the plate), infielders don't knock down a ball hit in the hole, outfielders don't gun down the runner trying to take an extra base, batters are swinging at too many bad pitches, and the relief pitcher corps needs bigtime help. Last week, thanks to a first-inning grand slam off the bat of Javier Baez, the Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-5, but after the first inning they played even. Ace Jon Lester left the game in the 7th with no out, one run in and two runners on base; still he got his second win. It took three relievers to close the game out with newcomer Koji Uehara getting the final out on a swinging K [strikeout--JE.] Tellingly, the Cubs left 12 of 15 runners in scoring position. Not good.

Still, there are signs of life and I'm not pushing the panic button. Newcomer Ian Happ is hitting a happy .357 with a .455 on-base-average. He provides switch-hitting pop, meaning that opposing pitchers can't pitch-around him and fellow switch-hitter Ben Zobrist, the MVP of last year's World Series (I can't remember when a team had two quality switch-hitters). Last year's World Series rehab phenom Kyle Schwarber (after sitting out all but the first three games of the season with a devastating knee-injury, he suited up in Cleveland and led off the top of the decisive seventh-game 10th inning with a ripping single down-the-line and against a defense stacked with four infielders on the first-base side of the diamond) has been missing in action with a .184 batting average. Talk about not hitting your weight. Stone-faced pitcher Kyle Hendricks (I'm sure he modeled for the "Man in the Mountain" profile in Franconia Notch, NH, while he went to Dartmouth College) leads the starters with a 3.35 earned-run-average, but nearly two runs more than his 2016 best-in-the-league record. The Cubs' team batting average of .244 is definitely middle of the pack. But it's a long season and every game starts 0-0. Go Cubs go.

Speaking of comparisons, I can't believe that WAISers haven't weighed in (pun intended) on the death of Roger Moore. Adolescents of any age will forever debate whether Sean Connery or he was the better Bond. In some way your first love is your best, and I'm going to forever favor the former Scottish-bred underwear model Sean. The story is that Roger was considered for the role in Dr. No, but Ian Fleming took one look at him (Moore was playing Simon Templar in The Saint, an ITV production) and said "too pretty." Since Bond was loosely based on Fleming's MI6 life, and Ian was no looker, Sean could pull off the perfect combination of Eton savoir-faire and East-End pugilism. Years later, with Fleming dead and Sean tired of the role, Moore was offered the role and gladly accepted. One post-mortem said that he provided the perfect combination of West-End drawing room understatement with a Rock-worthy arched eyebrow. Britain could no longer be overwhelming in the 1970s, and MI6 had to survive on cleverness which Moore personified.

Of course much of one's Bond preferences will be determined by which of the Bond girls you wanted to engage in horizontal refreshments with. Sean's conquests of Ursula Andress (the first Mrs. John Derek: who won the marriage trifecta with Linda Evans and Bo Derek, beating The Donald) and the impossibly named Pussy Galore (sorry Donald), I mean Honor Blackman (still alive at 91) and Kim Bassinger (from Sean's reprise role in Never Say Never; Ms. Bassinger was later Mrs. Alec Baldwin and now ex-Mrs. Alec Baldwin, who of course parodies Donald) compete against anyone. But you can't sneeze at Barbara Bach (later Mrs. Ringo Starr), Britt Ekland (former Mrs. Peter Sellers and later partner of Rod Stewart), and the all-time greatest Kristina Wayborn (nee Britt-Inger Johansson and a former Miss Sweden--just like NBA star Joakim Noah's mother). As Magda in Octopussy (sorry Mr. President), she was cornered in an Indian hotel room by Moore who is trying to abort some plot in which she was involved. Wrapped in a sarong, she escapes by anchoring the garment to a dresser then slides off the balcony while the sarong unfurls. No naughty bits were revealed to preserve the PG rating. Moore's stunned reaction was priceless.

Roger Moore, rest in peace.

JE comments:  I'm of the age where Roger Moore is the James Bond.  Yes, RIP, 007.  Time took you when no scheming malefactor could.  My least-favorite Bond is Daniel Craig, a Doppelgänger of Vladimir Putin.

(David:  you're correct that I don't like ALL CAPS in WAIS--except, of course, if you're writing WAIS.  It comes across as screaming.  But for the Cubs, and for you, I'll be indulgent.  It may be another 108 years before we can say "World Champion" and "Cubs" in the same sentence...)

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