Good morning, frents!

And may the fourth be with you.

The best No. 4s in Chicago sports history:

  • Bears — Jim Harbaugh
  • Bulls — Jerry Sloan
  • Cubs — Billy Herman
  • Sox — Luke Appling
  • Hawks — Niklas Hjalmarsson

Just me or could any of those names also work for a Rebel pilot?

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Monday's results
Hurricanes 5, Hawks 2
76ers 106, Bulls 94
Dodgers at Cubs, PPD

Today's schedule
Sox at Reds (5:40, NBCSCH)
Hawks at Hurricanes (6, NBCSCH)
Dodgers at Cubs (1:20, 6:40, Marquee)

Kris Bryant's last stand

There are 88 days until the July 31st trading deadline, which means we have only 88 days left of Kris Bryant in a Cubs uniform.

It might be less, of course, but it almost certainly won't be more and the reasons are too many to list in a newsletter with "Minute" in its title.

You know most of them anyway and they all add up to what seems like a sure divorce between the Cubs and the only man to win a MVP for the team this century.

The only thing that wasn't certain heading into this season was if Bryant would post the kind of numbers that'd make us cling to his ankles on his way out the door.

But one month in and Bryant is making damn sure we'll miss him. The third baseman/outfielder was named the NL player of the week on Monday after a six-game tear that saw him hit .417/.500/1.042 with four home runs, three doubles, 10 RBI and six runs scored.

The Cubs were 2-4 in that stretch through no fault of Bryant's. He's hitting .323/.405/.708 with nine homers and an OPS+ of 204.  Fangraphs has him listed as the fifth-best position player in baseball behind Byron Buxton, Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

And yet barring a remarkable swerve in the storyline, Bryant will soon be headed elsewhere. The Athletic's Patrick Mooney makes a good case it will be the Dodgers, this week's visitor at Wrigley and one of the only clubs with enough prospects and cash to get something done.

That doesn't mean the Cubs will get anything resembling commensurate value in return for a trade they'll have no choice but to make.

Particularly if Bryant keeps pulling an '87 Andre Dawson and playing at an MVP level for a team on track for a losing record.

What's different this season from Bryant's disappointing 2020 and some of the previous slumping that turned the ingrateful part of the Cubs fanbase against him?

He's healthy, for one. But as Tom Verducci details in this Sports Illustrated article, Bryant and his father worked to tweak a swing that had been mastered by pitchers who learned to throw KB a steady diet of high fastballs.

The results have been readily apparent. Bryant hit just one home run off a four-seam fastball over 34 games in 2020. He already has four through 26 games in 2021.

The turnaround, of course, is bittersweet. Bryant's return to his 2016 MVP form should be cause for celebration on the North Side. I don't think any real Cubs fan believed Bryant was going to continue to struggle like he did last year.

But we're instead seeing Bryant star on a struggling team left incomplete by design. The only real happiness comes in Bryant restoring his trade value with every home run.

Still, every extra-base hit and player of the week award is a reminder of what the Cubs are about to lose — and what they might take years and years to replace.

* * *

Today's doubleheader

Game 1: Kyle Hendricks (1-3, 7.54) vs. Clayton Kershaw (4-2, 2.09)
Game 2: TBD vs. Trevor Bauer (3-1, 2.48)

News and results

Luis Robert out 12-16 weeks

Welp. Robert's hip flexor was completely torn, so this is about the worst-case scenario. Unless GM Rick Hahn goes out and makes a trade or signing — which he absolutely needs to do at this point — the Sox outfield is in the hands of Leury Garcia, Adam Eaton, Andrew Vaughn, Billy Hamilton and Adam Engel (whenever he returns) until the final weeks of the season. Oh, and the clubhouse is reportedly already turning against Tony La Russa for some of his nonsensical decisions. Other than that, things are going just fine.

Next: Dylan Cease (1-0, 2.96) goes against Jeff Hoffman (2-1, 3.33) tonight in Cincinnati.

Bears cut Charles Leno

Leno's long-term future was sealed the moment the Bears traded up to pick Teven Jenkins, but it was still a slight surprise to see the seven-year starter sent packing so soon. The Bears' cap problems played a part in the expediency. They'll clear $9 million by making him a post-June 1 cut.

Final: 76ers 106, Bulls 94

No LaVine and Vucevic meant no chance for the Bulls, who have dropped four straight. They trail Washington for the 10th spot by four games with just seven to play. LaVine could return Thursday against Charlotte.

Final: Hurricanes 5, Hawks 2

That's five straight losses for the Hawks, who were officially eliminated from postseason contention with just four games left. Collin Delia saw his first action since January 17 after Malcolm Subban let in four goals on 18 shots.

  1. The Bears blew up the Vikings' plans to take Justin Fields. ESPN
  2. Fields reportedly recorded the highest score possible on a mental aptitude test given to draft prospects. BearsWire
  3. Monday was the 10-year anniversary of Derrick Rose's MVP award so KC Johnson put together an oral history. NBC Sports Chicago
  4. Lauri Markkanen wants to start for whatever team he's playing for next fall. Sun-Times
  5. Candace Parker likes what she sees from her new teammates.  Sun-Times
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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