View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



July 2017



The Chicago Cubs and Their Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad First Half

Written by , Posted in General

Yesterday afternoon, I opened my garage door and wheeled my lawn mower into the driveway to fill it with gas before I cut the grass.

When I looked up, I noticed that the “W” flag that hangs alongside my garage door had become wrapped around its angled pole thanks to a recent storm. It was wrapped tightly enough that the content of the flag was hidden from view.

The flag pole is a bit out of my 6-foot-4-inch reach, so I grabbed the leaf blower to give it a gust back to its rightful position.

But then I stopped, reflected for a moment, and left the flag wrapped tightly around the pole. “Maybe it’s best to just leave it for now,” I thought.

The Cubs needed the All-Star break almost as bad as their fans did, but later today the club will begin the second half of its season against the Baltimore Orioles amidst rampant uncertainty and deserved skepticism.

When Jesse Rogers or any of the writers who cover the Cubs and ask the players, coaches, or front office how they feel beginning the second half, all will likely respond with confident optimism using phrases like, “Start fresh,” “Forget the past,” and other such clichés.

It’s understandable, really. Confident optimism is a passable coping mechanism for a baseball team that was by far the best in baseball last year and returned most of the crew in 2017.

How can the Cubs improve enough in the second half to make the playoffs? Let’s break it down.

What the Problem Is Not

The problem is not Joe Maddon. Our friend Sherm’s hissy fit last Sunday was fun to read, but as far as I can tell, it’s pretty misguided. I had trouble discerning what he actually had to say beyond the “MADDON!!! SUCKS!!!” he managed to seeth amidst wiping the foam from his mouth.

Pitchers’ ERAs are not double what they were last year because Joe Maddon likes to make up funny phrases.

Hitters’ inability to drive runs in like last year are not due to occasionally dressing up for road trips.

Blaming Joe Maddon is lazy and it’s a cop out. It doesn’t put enough emphasis on the aging pitching staff or the relative youth of the lineup.

Getting rid of Joe Maddon will not lower Jon Lester‘s ERA or give Kyle Schwarber the ability to hit above the Mendoza line.

To say, as Sherm did, that Joe Maddon should “Let the eagles fly” like Dave Roberts is doing in L.A. wrongly assumes that all of these guys are eagles.

Let us be clear about something: this Cubs team won the World Series last year, but beyond Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, we have no reason to think any of these players can maintain the kind of production they did last season.

Schwarber had a good World Series, beyond that, we have a tiny sample size of his performance. He may not be as amazing as we all had hoped.

Addison Russell is a solid shortstop, but he may not be the second coming of Derek Jeter or Omar Vizquel after all!

Javy Baez is one of the most exciting players I’ve seen in a while, but can he maintain consistency?

To say that Joe Maddon should “Let the eagles fly” like Dave Roberts does in L.A. wrongly assumes that the Cubs are made up of a bunch of polished perennial All-Stars. In reality, it’s a team of a bunch of players who, give or take a half season, could be experiencing their sophomore slumps all at the same time!

Joe Maddon can’t just gin up some “good baseball” whenever he wants. That’s not what managers are even meant to do.

Don’t blame Joe Maddon for a half-season of young talent underperforming the unrealistic expectations we all had for them following last season. That’s just lazy and it avoids looking at the real problems.

What the Problems Are

Heading into the All-Star break, the Cubs did not have one problem, they had two, and they are really quite simple:

1. Starting pitching.

Last season, the five starting pitchers had a combined ERA of 2.97. The first half of this season, our starting pitchers have a combined ERA of 4.81.

We all knew coming into this season that our starting pitching situation was going to be problematic in the future, but we may have overlooked how dire it would be in the present.

The only Cubs pitcher with a winning record is Jake Arrieta, set to be a free agent after this season. John Lackey will be a free agent and isn’t performing well. Kyle Hendricks has been hurt. Jon Lester has been underperforming. The five slot is up for grabs for anyone who wants it.

That is, until yesterday.

Yesterday the Cubs acquired Jose Quintana for four minor leaguers including Eloy Jimenez. I think the trade is incredible.

None of the prospects we traded are major blows to the system, and it signals that management believes in the young talent on the major league squad and that they are bought into it for the foreseeable future.

Sure, it would have been nice to grab Chris Archer, but he would have required at least one or two major leaguers.

The Cubs were able to acquire Quintana without giving up anyone from the major league squad. This is a win.

Quintana is sealed up through 2020 with a league option the last two years of the contract.

This is a nice stat:

Quintana is not the cure for all that ails the Cubs pitching situation, but it is a big step in the right direction.

2. Dead bats.

The 2016 Cubs run differential was +252. So, let’s say at the All-Star break it was somewhere around half of that, or about 126. Not bad.

The 2017 Cubs run differential at the All-Star break is zero, as in “0.”

Of course there have been bright spots. Willson Contreras looks great. Jason Heyward is performing well. Jon Jay has been a nice addition. Ian Happ is looking like a nice young piece.

But everything else is pretty awful.

I really think the biggest problem is the pitching, because while the hitting is problematic, even reducing the staff ERA by a run would be a huge help.

Also, I tend to trust in the ability for bats to rebound halfway through the season more than I trust pitching to rebound.

I could go on and on, but I need to stop.

Don’t blame Joe Maddon. That’s silly and not based in any real metric.

Blame the lack of effective pitching and an understandable regression by a team of youngsters who maybe outperformed themselves last year.

I still think the Cubs can win the World Series this year, even though I think it’s pretty unlikely.

I do think they will make the playoffs, but only of Quintana becomes the functional ace for the second half.

We will see!

  • Michael S.

    This should make for a fun comments section…

  • CubbieBlue023

    Let er rip!

  • 1. Sherm never minds being disagreed with. He handles it better than anyone else here in fact.
    2. The stuff you said is absolutely true. Pitching has been off, hitting has been off. The job of the manager in this situation, in my opinion, is not to fix the pitching or wake up the bats, as you plainly stated. Instead it’s his job to: a.) play the hot hand, b.) not let your “star” languish at lead off until everyone thinks he sucks even when he doesn’t, c.) bunt, d.) hit and run, e.) tell your struggling youngsters to choke up and try to slap an ugly hit instead of trying to hit a ten-run home run every time up. He needs to position his players for success and confidence even when things aren’t going their way. That’s where he fails. In my opinion.

    • Seymour Butts

      I will put a vote in for CAPS being the most “agreeable to being disagreed with” individual on this site. I often can’t even tell from his retorts that he’s aware he was disagreed with.
      I’m also guessing this was a post for tomorrow (I read the top part, my bad). I think there is no game tonight. Just as well, not sure I’m ready to go whole hog again just yet.

      • Good point. As long as you know your fax number, you can pretty much say what you’d like to CAPS.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I don’t know my phone number or address

      • You’re so right Seymour. The difference being, of course, that Sherm knows when it’s happening to him.

    • chrismartin17

      I just don’t even know what people mean when they say “he needs to position his players for success…”

      Practically, on a day to day basis, what does that look like?

      I don’t see what Maddon is doing differently between this year and last year. So I think people are blaming him more for the results than for something he is doing/not doing.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        There are things a manager can do when he sees his players pressing, like not batting them first when they are failing. He also likes the phrase be uncomfortable, well try a few hit and runs, and force your players to hit the other way. There are many ways a manager can get his players to preform properly. And as for metrics there is the batting average with runners in scoring position, runs not scored from third with less than two outs, and total errors, all of these indicate that work needs to be done or a new approach is needed.

      • chrismartin17

        Ok, yeah I see what you mean.

      • Eddie Von White

        That’s how he “positions players for success.”

      • chrismartin17

        Meaning, I don’t think hitting the guys in the right order is going to magically give them the ability to hit.

      • This made me laugh, not at you but rather because in Maddon’s specific case it can be SO literal. Stop “positioning” a struggling young eventual-star in the lead off spot and watch him flail and fail for two months. Stop “positioning” below-average fielders in difficult outfield spots (see Zobrist, Ben. Love the guy but if your pitching is struggling and your offense is struggling the only thing you have left is your defense). In fact he could stop playing everyone out of position just for shits and do that only in the case of injury or exhaustion. He could stop positioning a number two hitter in the cleanup spot (again, see Zobrist, Ben). He could have batting practice where he They do nothing but bunt. He could tell Baez if he strikes out on three swing-out-of-your-shoes swings he won’t play any “position” tomorrow. So may many things, literally, to position his boys for success. (Disclaimer: They might still suck. But I wouldn’t have as much of a beef with him.) (Disclaimer #2: Cubs management have NEVER mastered execution. Not even last year. So I don’t totally blame Maddon. But I don’t think he’s the second coming of Christ either.)

      • chrismartin17

        RIght. I don’t think he is perfect by any means. But like you mentioned, I don’t think these suggested changes fixes their problems.

      • Well we’ll never know, will we.

      • Which I guess is my point.

      • chrismartin17

        lol right

  • Doug S.

    I’m not so much in the fire Maddon train of thought as I am in the do your job train of thought, which could lead to the fire bit.

    • chrismartin17


  • Eddie Von White

    I blame Joe Maddon.

  • cap’n realist

    This is a poor top part. Much of what’s wrong with the Cubs IS on Maddon. The young players need to be coached. They need to be taught. They’re not learning. They’re not improving. There’s no metric for that, which is why metrics are stupid and writers who put all their faith in metrics are even MORE stupid. The game is played on a field by real men with brains, not by bloggers in their parents’ basements on strat-o-matic boards. The real men who play get better or worse based on things like work ethic, execution, and fundamentals. These are three things that this Cubs group really looks to be lacking. These three things are also the responsibility of the coaching staff, and by proxy, it’s leader. Maddon is absolutely mismanaging this group, and he has been for, in truth, the entire time he’s been in Chicago. They were fortunate if not lucky last year. Sherm is SPOT on in his analysis that the Cubs won the series despite Maddon last year, not because of him. The World Series, and really the entire playoffs were an enormous turd-pile of managing mistakes that in many cases just happened to work out the way they shouldn’t have. Sherm doesn’t need me to protect him by any stretch…but seriously douche…hissy fit? Foamy mouth? Not very good.

    • chrismartin17

      I was just poking fun. Not meant to offend.

  • Doc Raker

    Hissy fit? Foaming at the mouth? Disrespectful. Bitter. Childish.

    It is not Maddon’s fault that the starting pitchers blow.
    It is Maddon’s fault that no one is focused on executing quality baseball.
    It is Maddon’s fault that he had Schwarbs leading off with a glaring hole in his swing and his confidence severely damaged.
    It is Maddon’s fault he pulled Hendricks in game 7 after 62 pitches.
    It is Maddon’s fault he used Chapman in game 6 when he didn’t need him.
    It is Maddon’s fault that our ACE pitcher hasn’t made any improvements in his fielding ability.
    It is Maddon’s fault that a .214 Zobrist hits 4th.
    It is Maddon’s fault that players in the dugout yuk it up while getting their asses kicked.
    It is Maddon’s who said , “We lost properly” after getting his ass kicked.

    I don’t want to fire the guy who helped bring a World Championship to Wrigleyville but Maddon needs to refocus himself and the team.

    Let’s keep in respectful Martin Chris.

    • chrismartin17

      I’m just goofing. Not meaning to offend or be mean. Sorry if it was seen as such.

    • Michael S.

      If no one is executing quality baseball, how does Maddon fix that in short order? Benching 25 guys all at once is called a forfeit, and that would make us all lose our minds a hell of a lot more than we are now.

      I’ll give you that Maddon left Schwarber in a bad spot in the lineup for far too long, but the Brain Trust inarguably went far too long before sending him back to Iowa–where he probably needed to be in late April or early May–to get right, because it was clear he wasn’t good from the start. No matter where he was in the lineup.

      Lester being lazy and not fielding…hell, we don’t know what Maddon (or, you know, his coaching staff–the guys he delegates to because he isn’t there to individually babysit 25 players) is or isn’t doing to get that right. But when it comes to starting pitching, it’s not as though he has a whole lot of options–who else is going to be able to give you 5 innings of not-total-garbage with throws to first and generally not being a statue that is on the roster right now? Lester isn’t going anywhere–you know it, I know it, he knows it, Maddon knows it, the brain trust knows it. The contract is an albatross that no one would take on even if you wanted to trade him, if you release him you’re just eating dollars (and still have to find someone to eat starts), and putting him in the bullpen just gives him the opportunity to not field a ground ball in the 6th or 7th inning instead of the 2nd or 3rd–when there’s much less time to make up for any runs that inevitably score from that. Blame Maddon for being handcuffed here if you want, but really, it should either be Lester or the front office taking that on.

      I’m not sure why being able to laugh in the dugout during a blowout is such an offense; would you rather there be 20-some guys sitting there staring at the sunflower seed hull and bubblegum covered floor, completely disengaged from anything but their own spiraling depression over playing like crap? Yeah, there’s middle ground there, but…seriously, sometimes a situation gets so ridiculous (read: any situation that leads to a position player taking the mound because everyone else has gotten torched) you have to be able to laugh at something–yourself, your team, a dark joke, something. Otherwise you have a whole team of guys becoming basketcases like…well, Kyle Schwarber, and you don’t have the luxury of sending the whole team down to Iowa, as attractive as that idea might be some days.

      Could Maddon be doing some things differently? Absolutely. Are any of those things going to magically raise anyone’s OBP, or performance with runners on, or lower an ERA or eliminate any appreciable number of errors, or turn their record into something resembling what you would expect of a reigning world champion? Probably not. This many players having this much worse of a season can’t be covered easily by benching guys, or any other tactic Maddon has in his arsenal.

      • Doc Raker

        The mentality of the 2016 team and the 2017 team are completely different. The 2016 team needed to ignore the curse and all the media rehashing of the 108 years of failure. Maddon’s PJ parties and promoting fun off field activities for the team worked, it kept the players away from all the media curse talk. In 2017 the danger is losing their edge, thinking winning is an entitlement, believing they are good enough and don’t need improvement. Sustaining excellence is difficult, keeping focus on working to make improvements in your game when you are the champion is not innate human nature. Maddon’s focus should be on sustaining excellence and pushing for improvement, the off field fun is overly abundant to the World Series Champs. Maddon doesn’t need to tweet out about his Anchorman suit for the flight home after a 0-6 West Coast road trip. You go 5-1 on a road trip, yuk it up, you go 0-6 the yuks shouldn’t come so easily.

        The underachieving 2017 Cubs is not all Maddons fault and I don’t want him to be fired but his leadership and focus for the 2017 is a failure as much as it was a success in 2016. If he doesn’t change the teams focus he will end up being fired after continued failure at some point.

  • Junior Von White

    I am so confused at how poor player performance excuses a manager. That would be the most stupid excuse at any other job.

    Boss: “Your productivity is down, and it needs to be solved.”
    Manager: “It’s because my employees are too tired from the record productivity the last two years!”
    Boss: “Oh wow, you’re right, we should be thankful that we had two great years. Nevermind, it’s their fault, not yours.”

    That NEVER happens. At least not in successful businesses. Maddon went from averaging 100 wins a season to hopefully 81 with the same core of players. That is not OK, and it doesn’t matter what stats, metrics, excuses, or reasons there are. I like Joe Maddon. He did this team very well for the last two years. I hope he figures out what’s wrong with this team, and I hope he stays for the long term. But if he can’t find solutions, I hope he gets fired.

    • chrismartin17

      I think you overestimate the effect a baseball manager can have on the performance of players.

      • Junior Von White

        From what I understand, the manager is in charge of game strategy, clubhouse environment, and major league player development. Correct? Perhaps I am misinformed, but doesn’t the manager hire assistant coaches (a huge part of player development), or at least have a huge role in doing so? Bench coach, pitching coach, hitting coach, etc?

        Unless I am misinformed, it would go like this, for example: the pitchers are underperforming, which is a reflection of the pitching coach. Therefore the pitching coach is underperforming, which is a reflection of the manager. Therefore, the manager is underperforming because part of his job is major league player development. Conclusion, player underperformance is ultimately the manager’s fault.

        Now remember we are talking about underperformance, which I would define as having the ability to do much better than what is currently produced. I think it is safe to say that the entire 2017 Cubs team is underperforming (they have the ability to be much better).

        I think it is safe to say they are underperforming because I find it incredibly hard to believe that every Cubs player had a great two years at the exact time. Their good performance was not a fluke, it was what they are supposed to do/capable of doing on a regular basis. I’ll go back to the starters. One starter underperforming is probably the player’s fault. Every starter underperforming? probably a management problem. One player not hitting well? probably the hitter’s fault. Every player not hitting well? probably a management problem.

      • chrismartin17

        So here’s my problem with that:

        We agree that the 2016 Cubs performed very well.

        Joe Maddon has not drastically changed his management style or philosophy.

        We agree the 2017 Cubs are performing poorly.

        What did Maddon do to cause the Cubs to go from good to bad? How can he be blamed for his performance if his management style/method remains unchanged from one year to the next?

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I have been in employee benefits for over 20 years, in that time many things have changed. As a professional when things change, you change, it is either change or go home. Maddon as the manager must change things to get his players going, that is also why the Cubs traded for Quintana, things changed for the worse with the pitching, the front office changed the pitching.

      • cap’n realist

        Finally finished those gutters and downspouts, eh Jerry?

      • Junior Von White

        It’s not what he did but what he didn’t/hasn’t done. Jerry is right on in his reply. A manager should be ahead of the curve to stop dysfunction, infighting, and lousy performance. The old saying “if you’re not moving ahead youre falling behind.” His management style/method is exactly the same as the last two years, and it isn’t working for the 2017 Cubs. So he needs to change something, but he appears to be unwilling to do so.

  • chrismartin17

    I should make clear, in my critique of Sherm’s post, I am just trying to poke fun like friends do in conversation. I don’t mean to say he was being childish or anything like that in any serious way.

    No disrespect, Sherm. But I do think you’re wrong. 😛

    • Eddie Von White

      I think it would be best not to critique other people’s posts. Just write your own. It’s rather naive to think blogging is the same as talking face to face. Sarcasm is difficult to detect in print, of course all of Sherm’s friends are going to be offended.

    • Sherm

      I don’t write here for respect. I write for fun, and to express some opinions. At times, to make a point, I use hyperbole, or other means to do so, or to be (hopefully) entertaining. i.e. I don’t really want Joe Maddon’s head. I have no idea what I’d do with it anyway.

      I also have no problem with WHATEVER you write. Say what you want. It’s an open forum. Some days this blog is a love affair and other days it can be a battlefield. No matter. That day ends and another begins fresh soon enough.

      The beauty of opinion in sports is that there rarely is a right/wrong side until history has its say…and from what I know of history? It takes time.

      I like the mention above about young players needing to be coached. It’s absolutely true – and more to the point, young athletes (who are frequently MORE immature in LIFE than non-athletes because they’ve been coddled thanks to their very mature athletic skills) NEED this kind of coaching, leadership and mentorship more than anyone else.

      A great example of this is the San Antonio Spurs – who created their own little dynasty in the NBA by assembling a group of players whose fundamental skills were unmatched in the league. Young players came in and were mentored in the system by the coaching staff AND the players who had been there longer. It has become the team’s culture, and despite some great players? It’s because of Gregg Popovich. They’ve never had the “talent” that other teams in the league have had.

      Joe Maddon keeps them loose – or lets them “be” loose. I have no problem with that. He lets the bullpen dance after home runs. Fine. That’s fun. But he should be kicking the shit out of Chris Bosio every night if his pitching staff isn’t throwing enough first pitch strikes, or his batting coach every game that they are swinging from the heels in certain situations. And those coaches need to be kicking the shit out of those players until they a) understand it and b) execute it. And I think the deeper problem really is this: the players really don’t UNDERSTAND it. Just because they are good at baseball, doesn’t mean they all really understand baseball. These guys? Some from college. Some from other countries. Some played in the minors a while. Some really didn’t. Some veterans. Some rookies. The bosses job is to get them on the same page. And it’s a cop out to say that this page is “winning.” It isn’t. Winning is a byproduct of good baseball. Play good baseball and you’ll win. Not the other way around.

      My two cents, and I’m sticking with it.

  • Those first four sentences are solid gold.

    • chrismartin17

      lol thanks.

      • introspection, gusting, weird height thing, mowing.. love it

  • Doc Raker

    The mentality of 2016 and 2017 are completely different. In 2016 the Cubs needed to be distracted from the curse, in 2017 they need to be focused and working at being better and beating the challengers. Maddon was great in 2016 distracting his team AND the MEDIA from the curse and past Cub disappointments. In 2017 he hasn’t changed his focus. It’s still about yukking it up, but that isn’t what they need in 2017, they need focus. Maddon is failing in setting the framework for a baseball focused agenda.

    In 2016 the Cubs were playing against themselves and the curse. They had just finished an exciting 2015 season and everyone was feeling the expectations of 2016. The young talent was coming of age, three pitchers were Cy Young Candidates in 2016. Everything was right, Maddon’s job was to just keep them playing baseball and ignore the curse. Maddon did that in 2016 like a genius. He did fun stuff to keep the team loose and keep the media curse talk away. Let the media talk about the funny PJ’s they wore on the flight instead of rehashing past Cub disappointments. It worked. But then Maddon started to believe everything he did worked, pitchers making great plays in left field, bunting with 2 strikes with you worst hitter up to win a game on a squeeze play. But then in the playoffs Maddon over managed, almost losing game 7 on pitcher mismanagement.

    The Heyward team meeting during the rain delay was all about the players forgiving and forgetting about Maddon’s mismanagement and going out to win the game for themselves and Joe. “We all make mistakes, Joe made a mistake, let’s go out there and pick him up.” That’s what that meeting was all about.

    Enter 2017, the curse is gone. The Cubs now KNOW they are one of the best teams in baseball and can be for a long time. The Cubs also know that their manager makes mistakes. No one worked out in the offseason except for Heyward. Everyone was on the celebratory event circuit, going to banquets and making commercials. No one needs to be managed anymore, they all know everything now. Schwarber and Rizzo could hit .600 by bunting into the shift but instead they choose to try and pull everything and hit ground balls into the shift. Two bunts were laid down in the first half of the season by Schwarbs and Rizzo.

    On the west coast trip after dropping the first 5 games Maddon tweets out that he found his Anchorman Suit for the flight home. You are 0-6 on a road trip, your team is underperforming for the season and you are yukking it up about your spoof team party. The 2017 doesn’t need distractions like they did in 2016. They need focus, they need to work at being better.

    I don’t think you fire Maddon because he isn’t what this teams needs in 2017, I think Maddon needs to change his focus. But if he never changes his focus he will never win again and will be fired eventually.

    Sustaining excellence can be harder that winning just once. This team has no chance of sustaining excellence if Maddon doesn’t set the tone.

  • Adam Peters

    So, does anyone want to talk about the Cubs landing Quintana?

    Do you think this will get the Cubs headed in the right direction? I have my doubts. I mean, obviously, replacing Montgomery in the rotation with a legitimate, proven ace will be an improvement, but will this do anything to shake the other four back into form? I suppose it could.

    This is a great move for the Cubs. I think I would have preferred they traded Schwarber rather than Jimenez, but whatever.

    • Kyle

      Maybe they can still trade Schwarber for another missing piece.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Sonny Gray

    • cap’n realist

      I agree that I’d rather they’d traded Schwarber, but I don’t believe for a second that the White Sox ever make that deal for Schwarber right now with that hole in his swing.

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      What I hope happens is that Quintana, Lester, and Hendricks all pitch consistent Quality Starts, all three have been doing so more recently, Then the offence can start to relax and start playing to what they are capable of. They offence has been pressing because they have been consistently been behind in every game. If Quintana takes some pressure off, I believe that the Cubs will make the playoffs.

      • Adam Peters

        *If* the Cubs make the playoffs, does Maddon have the balls to tell Lackey that he is the odd man out as far as the starting rotation goes?

      • Excellent question Adam. I hope we get to see the answer!

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I hope we find out the answer is yes!, and I hope that the answer is he is left off the playoff roster.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Off the roster is going too far. He can still contribute from the bullpen.

      • Bryzzo1744

        If he doesn’t, that’ll show how terrible he is. Not even his mentor Scoscia would have him in the rotation. I don’t even think the ultimate players manager, the Dust Bag, would be that stupid.

      • Doc Raker

        No he doesn’t. Lackey should be in the bullpen right now

  • Karen Hirsh

    Insignificant trade. Should have traded Schwarber to American League as a DH.

    • Bryzzo1744

      Who says they won’t?

  • Michael S.

    Just a side note, is the display of the site on mobile a little wonky for anyone else? Comment count is underlined blue hyperlink instead of black text, really any non-top-part link that normally blends in is…

    • Joe Aiello

      Yes, I had a few things tweaked. Is it better now?

    • Michael I can’t follow what you mean but the site looks about the same as always to me on two different IOS devices and one Chromebook. My comment count is black and not click-able.