The legend of Frank Schwindel

The NL rookie of the month for August has a familiar-sounding story.

Frank Schwindel Chicago Cubs
(USA Today Sports) 

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Good morning, frents!

Congratulations to Sean F. (new signup) and Evan A. (referrer)! They're both the winners of the Justin Fields jersey giveaway and will be looking like the future of the NFL each Sunday this fall.

Thank you to everyone who participated and passed along the contest to others. If you didn't win, don't worry. I think we'll be doing one again soon.

Perhaps in honor of No. 1's first start?

How Frank Schwindel is using Patrick Wisdom's blueprint for success

Frank Schwindel produced so much offense at the plate in August he had Cubs fans asking this question.

Is that actually a guy named Frank Schwindel, or did the Cubs just dress up Patrick Wisdom in a No. 18 jersey and send him out to first base?

The resemblance between Wisdom and Schwindel in their careers is superficial but not insignificant. They are kind of alike in several ways. Corner power hitters, both about 6-foot-1 or 2, and both about 220 pounds. Both 29 years old (until this past week, when Wisdom turned 30). Both with histories of slugging over .500 in Triple-A. Both without much on their MLB résumès other than a lot of time on waivers and — until 2021 — not a lot of opportunity to prove themselves. Both picked up by the Cubs from the scrap heap, basically, before turning into viable major league hitters, apparently.

Schwindel, who started the season with the Athletics organization before joining the Cubs in late July as a waiver claim, was just named NL Rookie of the Month for August. He batted .344/.394/.635 with six home runs and 16 runs scored in 104 plate appearances. Showing  he's not some kind of one-month wonder, he also hit three home runs over the past three games coming into Thursday's game against the Pirates. That total includes two homers in September.  That makes him legit!

Seriously, though: Sustaining success has to put Schwindel at ease. He made the Royals out of spring training in 2019, even starting the season opener, but he went 1-for-15 and manager Ned Yost didn't know what to do with him, so he was sent back to the minors, never to return to KC.  The Royals instead played Ryan O'Hearn at first base and lost 103 games.

The A's brought up Schwindel on June 30 of this season as an extra man in a doubleheader and — boom! — he hit a home run. Then they gave him four more starts before designating him for assignment in mid-July. What a life.

"Oof, definitely not easy," Schwindel told the media in August. "You feel like you're on top of the world, and then the world's all the way against you. That's baseball. It's one of the hardest games you can do. You make outs most of the time.

"But I cherish those moments — being an Opening Day starter for Kansas City and homering in my first game for Oakland. Those are moments nobody can take from me. Moments like that make it all worth it."

He definitely looks happy to be here.

He also looks kind of like Kyle Hendricks' older brother despite being two years younger.

"This is awesome, playing first base for the Chicago Cubs — can't beat it," Schwindel said, sounding like he won a contest.

"It says here in the fine print that I get to play!"

Schwindel's unusual trajectory to the big leagues was a lot like that of Wisdom, who was named NL Rookie of the Month for June. He couldn't impress the Cardinals, Rangers or Mariners enough to keep him around, but the Cubs saw something and gave him a shot.

Schwindel was the same way: The Royals couldn't use this guy, the Tigers couldn't use this guy, the A's couldn't use this guy and then, all of a sudden, he's hitting like peak Anthony Rizzo.

"He was one of the most-liked guys in the city," Schwindel said of Rizzo. "I wouldn't say I'm replacing him but I'm here and they put me in the lineup.

"Hopefully the fans like me even half as much as him someday."

That would be fantastic and amazing, considering where Schwindel came from and how he got here. Unlike Wisdom, who was a first-round pick of the Cardinals, Schwindel wasn't drafted anywhere near the first round. He was an 18th round pick by KC in 2013 out of St. John's in Queens, N.Y. St. John's is like DePaul but with intercollegiate baseball. They've produced sporadic major leaguers, notably left-handers Frank Viola and John Franco, and also infielders Rich Aurilia and Joe Panik. And former Sox-Cubs reliever Mike Proly. And now Schwindel.

"Obviously, it's been a long journey," Schwindel said. "I think I've been getting better every year, which is weird for this age, but I feel like I started to turn my game around my first year in Triple-A."

That would be 2017, when still with the Royals. Hey, if you're good enough to thrive at Triple-A, you might as well stick around as a pro until someone tells you to leave.

"I've always hit at every level," Schwindel said. "You want to get to the big leagues and see how long you can let it ride for. Obviously you want to stay."

Say what you will about the Cubs overall performance on the field, in the board room, and in scouting circles, but if Wisdom and Schwindel can stick at the corners going forward, you could almost call 2021 a wash. Almost.

Welcome to the Schwindy City! Get on your bike and ride!

Three things we learned about the Bears roster

(USA Today Sports)

The cornerback situation could be a problem, Midway Minute contributor Brendan Sugrue writes

News and results

Cubs walk it off on an infield fly against the Pirates

Because, Pittsburgh. And somehow Wilmer Difo's error on Ian Happ's popup in the 11th was not even close to the worst defensive play the Pirates made against the Cubs this year.

  • Thursday's 6-5 win was the Cubs' third straight. It's the first three-game winning streak since the team won five straight from June 8-13
    Next: Alec Mills (6-6, 4.32) vs. Steven Brault (0-3, 4.57)

Jose Abreu named AL player of the month

The Sox were off for the second time this week, but Abreu collected the fourth player of the month honor of his career. Abreu hit .330/.382/.661 with 10 homers and 25 RBI in August.
Next: Dallas Keuchel (8-7, 5.02) vs. TBD

Sky can't complete comeback in Vegas

Candace Parker had a monster 30-point, 14-rebound game, but the Sky dropped a 90-83 decision to the Aces. It was the team's second straight loss after opening the road trip with three straight wins. They're back at Wintrust on Sunday and will play their final four games at home.

United Center to require vax proof or negative test for Bulls and Hawks games

Not a big surprise here, but it might make things interesting if the reports of the NBA not allowing unvaxxed players to play in vax-required arenas are true.

  1. Two of the most prominent executives with the Hawks have left the organization in a big shakeup. The Athletic
  2. James Fox on how Chicago is cycling back to the Sox. South Side Sox
  3. Northwestern's uniforms for the Michigan State game are both Gothic and entirely awesome. Inside NU
  4. The Carolina Panthers signed a guard named Michael Jordan and Twitter had jokes.
  5. Edward McClelland on how savvy marketing made everyone think Old Style was a Chicago beer. Chicago Mag

Enjoy your holiday weekend everyone! Back on Tuesday

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