Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

Kolten Wong is raking, playing center field at Triple-A

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It’s been quite an up and down year for Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong. The year started out with him signing a long-term contract extension to the tune of five-years and $25.5 million. Then it featured him hitting .222/.306/.286 with a total of four extra-base hits in 144 plate appearances. That led to a demotion to the minors a little over a week ago.

Maybe now he’s on his way back up.

Wong hit two homers in a Triple-A game last night and now has four home runs and 11 RBI in six games since being sent down. He’s 10-for-24 and has walked four times. What’s more, he’s played center field the last two games which could make him an attractive super utility guy for the Cardinals, hastening his return to the bigs. Indeed, he’ll have to be something of a super ute barring injury, as Matt Carpenter has taken over at second base for the Cardinals with Jhonny Peralta playing third and Aledmys Diaz at short.

Whatever the case, Wong is making the most of his time on the farm and is making what looked to be a hard road back a bit easier.

Quote of the Day: Pete Rose says the Cubs “will find a way to screw it up”

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Pete Rose made a bunch of friends among Ichiro fans with his comments yesterday, so he’s decided to move on to Cubs fans. Here’s the Hit King on Fox Sports Radio talking about the Cubs’ great start and their World Series chances:

The Cubs right now no question have the best team, but I can’t root for a team that hasn’t won since 1907. The Cubs will find a way to screw it up I think. They’ve got a good ball club, probably the best ball club in the league right now. They’re playing like it, but again, they can be pitched to, their pitchers can be hit. It’s just a matter of who’s going to give them a fight at the end of the season, in the playoffs.

The Cubs, are they going to play good all year like last year when they won 97 games and then got swept in the playoffs? We’ll have to wait and see, because in the playoffs, you’re a different animal.

I like to pile on Pete Rose as much as the next guy, but let’s not pretend that’s not a pretty decent take. No, not the “because they haven’t won since 1907” part (it was 1908, but who’s counting?). I think he and a lot of other people put way too much emphasis on history as a predictor of the future when it doesn’t really work like that most of the time. That’s just superstition. No, I mean the “playoffs are a different animal” thing and the idea that even the best teams have flaws.

As we see each year, teams with great offenses can be “pitched to” in the playoffs. Bullpens and defense have become extraordinarily important in the postseason. The Cubs are still messing around with rando bullpen options, because they realize that could be a problem as the season wears on and the weather gets colder. They’re winning a lot now, but they’re not perfect. No team is. Ask the 2001 Mariners.

Rose may be pretty fixated on the Cubs’ century plus of failure, but he’s not wrong about there being no sure things. Also, let’s be honest: half of Cubs fans are probably secretly worrying that they will, in fact, screw this up somehow. That’s part of the essence of being a Cubs fan. If the Cubs win the World Series this year, the club erasing all of those doubts in its fan base will be a huge part of the beauty of the season. Maybe even more so than the triumph would be for its own sake.

 

Sure, Joe Maddon would appear on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

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Yesterday white dudes between the ages of, say, 30 and 45 got the best news they’ve heard in years as HBO announced that Larry David had agreed to do a ninth season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

It was a great show which I liked a lot, but the response was a tad disorienting yesterday. I just get a bit nervous when there is such overwhelmingly positive response to a cultural thing from a narrow demographic. It’s like sportswriters and Springsteen, liberal urbanites with the “Serial” podcast or frat boys in the 90s with the Dave Matthews Band. Hey, I’m glad you like that stuff and I don’t hate the thing you enjoy, but unanimity of view on anything makes me nervous. This is the Internet. We need some acrimony here and when no one is crapping on things it feels . . . off somehow.

Anyway, news of the “Curb” revival made its way to Joe Maddon before yesterday’s Cubs-Nats game. The reason: Jeff Garlin, “Curb” co-star and a big fan of the Cubs, had told Joe Maddon that if the show came back that he’d get Maddon an appearance. A reporter asked Maddon yesterday if he’d be interested. He said “of course” and that he’s in:

“His people have not reached out to my people yet. I have not been contacted yet. I haven’t seen Jeff in a while, so we haven’t communicated. We’re all happy that it’s coming back, man. It’s still the best. It’s absolutely the best . . . If he said he’s going to make it happen, we’ll make it happen.”

“Curb” has touched on baseball in the past, of course. It even helped exonerate a man charged with murder as a result of him being seen in the crowd at a baseball game at which they were filming. I figure that they could have fun with Maddon too.