We already knew that Frank Schwindel’s 24 hours from Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon was really weird, but it turns out there was also some (well-timed?) car trouble that made his return to the big league Cubs much easier to pull off.
As a reminder, Schwindel came to the ballpark on Sunday morning ready to play, and indeed ready to be included on the Sunday night ESPN broadcast answering fan questions. He was then told he was being sent to Triple-A Iowa, and the Cubs explained that they wanted him to work in a lower-stakes environment to get his offense back on track.
What made things really weird from there was that, by early on Monday morning, folks out in the world claimed they saw Schwindel on a flight to San Diego, where the Cubs were to play the Padres later that night. Since he was spotted and is the world’s nicest, most down-to-earth dude, Schwindel took selfies with fans and told them to keep his return to the Cubs quiet for a little longer.
But why was he returning just 16 or so hours after finding out he was supposed to go to Iowa for some longer-term work? That’s weird!
We found out later that the Cubs had a second (probable) COVID-related move on the roster (David Robertson, joining Marcus Stroman), and when that happens, you never know just how wide the spread is going to be – and you might not find out until the last moment. So bringing Schwindel back preemptively made some sense, especially since the Cubs were facing a lefty last night. Make sure there isn’t a further COVID-related drain on the roster, and then decide how to proceed with Schwindel.
Now, get this crazy detail from the Tribune:
Schwindel would have made the six-hour drive Sunday to join the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines. However, he had discovered the nail in his tire en route to Wrigley for Sunday’s game. The auto shop he planned to use wasn’t taking any more appointments for the day and all other options were closed, so Schwindel figured he would get the tire fixed Monday morning and then drive to Des Moines.
So if Schwindel hadn’t had a nail in his tire, he would’ve already been in Des Moines by Sunday night, and the logistics of getting him to San Diego by pre-game on Monday could’ve become trickier (the airport in Des Moines has limited flight options, and no direct flights to San Diego; driving back to Chicago to get a flight also would’ve really slowed things down). The Cubs still probably would’ve made it happen, but what if Schwindel hadn’t discovered the nail until he was already on his drive to Des Moines? What if he basically got waylaid somewhere along the way, waiting to get the car fixed, and then there wasn’t a great mechanism on Monday to get him to San Diego in time? You never know! Maybe the nail got him right back up to the big leagues!
Of course, Schwindel wound up having a terrible game at the plate last night, and it would likely take an explosion from him (last night through however long this stay lasts) to get the Cubs to change their minds about the best approach with him. So the nail might’ve helped buy him only another game or two in the big leagues for now.
Still. What a freaking wild 24 hours for that guy.