Must-Click Link: “They took Pipo! They took Pipo!”

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In Sports Illusdtated, Thomas Lake and Melisa Segura have an in-depth story about the kidnapping of Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos last November.

It’s fascinating simply as a straight-forward telling of the story of how Ramos was kidnapped, the conditions he faced in captivity and how he was freed.  But it’s also fascinating in relaying how many Venezuelans don’t believe the official account of the government and of Ramos.  Rather, conspiracy theories have cropped up about almost every aspect of it, ranging from the reasons Ramos was in a position to be kidnapped — some think he was chasing a girl — to how he was freed — some think that, rather than a firefight in the mountains, Miguel Cabrera paid the ransom.

It’s a great story that reads like a mystery. Highly recommended.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.