Gerrit Cole’s hotter-than-hot take on Cubs? Not really the best

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Jake Arrieta

Cubs fans spent Monday twisting themselves into pretzels of indignation over the following comment made by Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole on Sunday:

“I don’t really think they’re the best team in baseball,” Cole said after his team’s first victory in six tries against the Cubs this season.

Where does this guy get off saying such a thing about an organization that hasn’t proved itself to be the best team in baseball since 1908, otherwise knows as David Ross’ rookie year?

Needless to say, the Cubs have played six weeks of the best baseball on the planet. They’re 27-9. They’re 13-3 on the road, with a nine-game swing through Milwaukee, San Francisco and St. Louis beginning on Tuesday. They’ve been better than most teams — and for darn sure Cole’s Pirates — at pretty much everything.

But I’m cool with Cole holding out on calling the Cubs the best, no matter how disingenuous he sounds in doing so.

Maybe he subscribes to the vapid, yet fairly common, line of thinking that the defending league champs, in this case the sub-.500 Royals, are the “best” until a different team wins it all. Or maybe he thinks the Pirates are the best … no, that’s not possible.

Maybe Cole thinks Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo et al. just keep getting really lucky.

There probably are at least a few other stragglers in Cole’s camp, too. Aren’t there always those outliers who aren’t big on empirical evidence or simply don’t do well with change?

Ah, well. In their defense, the season is less than one-quarter old. We’ll give them a break for now.

THREE UP/DOWN

Up: Rizzo’s MLB-high 26-game on-base streak ended on Sunday, but Ben Zobrist — who batted .500, scored 12 runs and knocked in 12 over the just-completed 10-game homestand — has reached base safely in his last 22 starts. Addison Russell has done so in 18 straight games.

Isn’t it just like these Cubs to have a couple of guys ready to grab the baton?

Down: The Cubs are only 1-7 when failing to score at least four runs. When they’re off, they’re off.

Up: Is there any doubt that a virtual sea of Cubs fans will be “up” in Milwaukee and in the stands at Miller Park for Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s games against the somnolent Brewers? (Hint: No, there is not.)

1 THROUGH 9

1. Cubs: Gerrit Cole does not approve this message.

2. Red Sox: Wrong Sox? Nah. Boston has scored 78 runs and gone 7-1 over its last eight games.

3. Orioles: Chris Tillman is pitching like an ace. Adam Jones is swinging the bat like an All-Star. Plenty of balls are flying out of the park, most of them hit by the good guys.

4. Nationals: In the time it takes you to read this sentence, Bryce Harper will walk at least two more times.

5. White Sox: Frustrating to win the openers of consecutive road series, yet still lose both series. P.S. Chris Sale is as good as Jake Arrieta.

6. Rangers: Rougned Odor’s right first delivered a message to Jose Bautista’s face — and the rest of baseball — about the fight this team has in it this season.



7. Mets: They won’t consistently be higher on this list until they start hitting with runners in scoring position.

8. Mariners: Being swept at home (where they’re only 8-10) by the Angeles was not a good look.

9. Pirates:But we kid …

The real 9. Giants: Their five-game winning streak includes a four-game sweep at Arizona. If Matt Cain figures it out, look out.

Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

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